Alhamdulillah we're back from our 4D3N visit to Medan, Indonesia on 29 December. Husband and I had a nice time there, thanks to the staff of TM Tours & Travels, Kuala Lumpur and their agent, Mutiara Holidays of Medan. Everything was arranged by the agencies including the air-tickets, so all we had to do was to pay for the trip, pack our bags and board the plane, hehehe.
It was my first visit to Indonesia and my husband's second trip to Medan. Upon arrival at the Polonia airport at noon, we were ushered to our official car, a Toyota Unser [renamed Kijang there] by our friendly Indonesian driver, Mr Ramadhan. After a set lunch at a Minang restaurant, we travelled for almost 4 hours to Parapat where Lake Toba is situated.
The houses along the roads remind me of some buildings in the rural towns of Trengganu and Kelantan belonging to the poor. Life seem to be slow there. Some houses which were better built had floor-to-ceiling tiles on their walls. Along the journey, we could see many churches along the road. I was told by our driver that the majority of people in Medan are Christians.
The narrow roads and busy [rather crazy] traffic had me worried for a moment. Interestingly however, I did not witness any traffic accidents during our stay there. I was told that road tax and insurance are not compulsory in the country. Only a handful of motorcyclists were seen to be wearing helmets. I like the red and yellow cannas planted along both sides of the roads all the way to Parapat. Beautiful!
Alhamdulillah, we arrived at our hotel, Danau Toba International Cottage in the evening. Situated at the highest part of the small town, it overlooks Samosir island and Lake Toba. From the hotel's restaurant, we had a lovely view of the island. We took a boat across Lake Toba, a ride of 45 minutes and arrived at Tomok town whereby it was a hike up the road with souvenir shops on both sides of it. As a handicraft enthusiast, I couldn't help but buy an ulos, a traditional Batak woven cloth fabric for myself and sarung wangi samarinda, which is soft has an nice orange smell, for husband.
Almost all the residents there depend on the Lake Toba for their living. The lake provides them fish and water. The island which is the result of volcanic eruptions becomes their source of income, as tourists flock to the island. Everything, the flora and fauna as well as the animals, are given by Allah. Due to poverty and lack of education, most of the people there are simple-minded and seem to accept their lot without much complaints. They live with just basic amenities, lacking good medical facilities and proper sanitation.
And as I observed the way of living there, which my husband describes as Malaysia during the 1960s, I learn to be thankful that I don't have to live such as a lifestyle. Thankful for what I have and what Allah has given. Remember that there are others who are underprivileged due to lack of opportunities. To praise His greatness and be humbled by knowing that He has created everything, and with His will, can also destroy everything with perhaps an earthquake or a volcanic eruption.
My experiences in Medan has reminded me that our lives are fragile and everything we have is actually as Allah wills. So as 2010 approaches, I shall be more thankful and less fretful with my lot. To learn to continue to observe His wonderful creations and feel His presence in my life indirectly.
Forget the midnight fireworks and pop concerts. No resolutions every 1st January for me. 2010 is just a number and an addition to a day in the calendar. InsyaAllah, I'll add to the calendar of my life with more memorable and beautiful events as the days continue to pass and as I get nearer to akhirat. In fact, I'll be happy if my iman continues to be steadfast if not stronger, as recited in surah al-Fatihah 5 times a day.
Have a relaxing January 1st holiday with your loved ones. Remember that another Gregorian calendar year has gone by, and may we not repeat our past mistakes in 2010.
[more stories and photos of Medan, and Berastagi later]
map from: http://www.ilec.or.jp/database/asi/img/asi10-01.gif