Day 1- Made it to Medan!

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hotel Cahaya Bulan

Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatera Utara,
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Well here we are in Indonesia!
Since my camera battery charger exploded and I am without a camera for the time being I'll have to do my best to paint the picture with words instead. I don't expect to
do it much justice but don't worry I'll get that camera up and running as soon as possible.

We touched down in Medan last night at around 8pm (Indonesian time) after a long flight from Seoul and a stop over in Jakarta. The flight went well, I managed the first one
with only two pills and one vodka and the second one drug and alcohol free!

Our layover in Jakarta was somewhat chaotic since, in true Asia style, the law changed two days ago. Now when transferring at Jakarta you must go through baggage claim and immigration and then re-check in for you next flight, despite the fact that we were flying on to Medan with the same airline in the same country. Unfortunately for us this meant a lot of hurried bag lugging, dog collecting and under the table transactions to get us and Sophie onto the next plane in our short window of 1 hour 30mins! Fortunately for us money goes a long way here and we were able to cover 23kilos of excess baggage (Roger!), tips, dodgy dog dealings with importing Sophie and being hurried through to the next plane for less than 70 US dollars ( Although I'm sure that next time we'll be haggling it down in Indonesian to 10). Everything fell into place nicely and despite a lot of running and a bit of confusion, we made it on the plane! From what I've seen so far, when it comes to service here, the opposite rules apply to those in Korea. Someone is standing around waiting and willing to help you with a cost. Everything runs on tips. Foreigners will get charged double for everything.

I can't say that the flight from Jakarta to Medan was fun (small, old, bumpy plane)! But the sunset and the clouds were amazing, there were thunderstorms going on all around us, really beautiful. I heard later that the company we flew with (Garuda) were actually the safest and most reliable, in which case there's no chance I'll be trying the others!

So Medan...Well I've been here almost a full day now and so far it's been pretty intense! It's busy, dirty, noisy, colourful and big! It seems to me to be like a slightly milder version of India, looks the same, but slightly cleaner and with a few less people. Because my house is unfurnished we are staying in a hotel for a couple of days. It's basic, but it has a bed, old TV and even older air-conditioning so we can't complain. I'm not sure about the lack of toilet paper or suspicious stains on the bed but I've not seen any weird bugs so that's what counts right?! The bathroom is interesting...but Korea helped me prepare for wet floors and cold
showers so nothing too shocking.

We've been out a few times to explore. Our first time out of the hotel was to take Sophie for a walk where, a few steps down the road, we came across a rat almost as big as her, stepping aside to avoid it I nearly trod on a cockroach equally as big...we are not in Korea any more Sophie!

We were very bad travellers this morning and headed into Starbucks (seriously they are EVERYWHERE!) to order the cheapest coffee they had and take advantage of their free
Wi-fi service. It was in Starbucks that we met our first random foreigners, a really nice couple here from the US as missionaries. They've been living here in Medan for a year now and they leave in December to go back to the states for a year, before coming back here to start an English speaking church. They told us of their 14 hour ferry journeys to help people on remote islands off Indonesia, about how much they've loved living here in Medan and reassuringly, how
safe they've felt here. We are meeting them again on Saturday for curry (Yey curry!).

On the subject of food, we've been getting stuck in and trying whatever comes our way (this may lead to problems later...Roger is looking a little green right now). Last night we ate at a street stall down one of the busy side streets. We got two dishes, one chicken Satay and one noodle dish with random meat and vegetables, both served on a leaf and both amazing! Those, a
star fruit juice and a water for 5 dollars, probably double what the locals pay, but still pretty good! Today we tried sugar cane juice and various other curries...and we get to eat with our hands! Got to remember not to use the left hand though, that's reserved for toilet
duties apparently...hence the lack of toilet paper!

My house is big, it's a tall thin house on 3 levels, the top level being the roof. Right now it's empty and I mean seriously empty, I'll be showering Indonesian style with a bucket of water...but at least it has a toilet! The living room is bigger than my entire first apartment in Korea, I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing with all the space, but for now I have two rooms
and Sophie has two rooms...we'll share the garden and the roof.

We went in to see the school today, really nice place and my classroom has been painted with trees and mountains and a farmyard scene, love it! Maybe it's weird to be excited about a job, but I'm so happy to be given the chance to really get my teeth into something, I get to interview people for the position of my teaching assistant which is cool and I'm going to start planning the curriculum this week. My boss seems like a really nice guy and my co-workers are cool too, really happy about that! And, big plus, they've given me the week to settle in..oh how far
from Korea I am!

Well that's day one for now anyway. Can't wait to get my camera back in action and show you all the sights, too much for words! Tomorrow I'm going shopping for a bed and some furniture for my new house and hopefully I can move in!

I'm missing everyone loads and so looking forward to visitors, you're in for some fun times when youvisit this's certainly going to be an experience!

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mum & dad on

Great to hear you arrived and are settling in well. Don't let Wendy know about the cockroaches or she'll never visit.speak at the weekend. lots of love. xxx

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