Hotel Nightmare

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hotel Sinabung

Flag of Indonesia  , North Sumatra,
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Berastiga is probably most notable for it's proximity to two relatively active volcanoes, Sibayak, 2100 meters high and Sinabung, 2400 meters high. Sibayak is constantly smoking and, after laying dormant for over 400 years, Sinabung, in Sept of 2010, erupted pumping black smoke 5km into the air. We weren't planning on climbing either one, and with the overwhelming burn-off smoke blanketing the area, we couldn't even get a good view of the two sleeping giants.

We did get some close-ups of the early stages of a local wedding as well as a Muslim music festival with various competing school groups (the most entertaining part of this was watching the vans pulling into the parking area with kids pouring out of the vehicle in much the same manner as the endless line of Keystone Kops did in their heyday). How many kids can you get in one van- it was like guessing how many jellybeans are in the jar. The wedding was just a chance encounter- we were wandering by and after some tentative first steps, the whole family welcomed us in and we were encouraged to take as many photo's as we wanted. The bride, groom, family, and guests were all in traditional Karo Batak wedding costumes and embraced us with a warmth that made our short stay a bit of a wow highlight.

The lowlight of our stay in Berastiga had to be the one night in a hotel that had the gall to promote itself as one of the best options in North Sumatra. After months of uneventful hotel stays, we seem to be on a streak of bad experiences- after the Penang noise and smoke nightmare that I wrote about, we had a room in Medan that was directly under the flightpath into the airport, surrounded by 5 mosques with full-volume calls to prayer at 5:00am, with an open-air bar down the street that had some sort of pounding drum thing going on until 3 in the morning. But in Berastiga, we may have hit rock bottom- as with many hotels in Asia, there seems to be a lot of effort put into the lobby area and the grounds but the rooms seem to be left to age in a less than graceful manner. Mould on the ceiling, roaches in the bathroom, smoke odors, stained sheets- no big deal, we've seen worse. What we hadn't experienced was a hotel that promoted a late night, window-rattling karaoke event in the pool area directly below the rooms. And if that didn't ensure sleep deprivation, there was a hotel sanctioned speaker-enhanced aerobics event in the lobby area that started at 5 in the morning (just after the calls to prayer finished) with an instructor that was armed with a megaphone. Perhaps the most stunning thing about this was that none of the hotel staff saw the flaw in mixing a hotel with ear-shattering noise?? 
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Carol on

I loved your pictures of the wedding! It is so interesting seeing how different celebrations can be in another culture. They all look so proud! Interesting to see the sign about the dog meat, when I was in China they didn't tell you if you were eating it. At one point we had soup with what I thought was beef and beautiful veggies but it turned out to be dog! Sad thing was it tasted good, but when I found out couldn't finish my soup. It is just like in India, they wouldn't think of eating beef, but it is normal for us westerners. That is what makes this world so amazing, our differences!

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