9 Days In Sumatra

I landed in the semi chaotic and slightly overwhelming, sprawling capital city of Sumatra, Medan. The streets were loaded with hungry motorists, racing for an edge over their competition. Hawkers hustled for the next Rupiah, eating portions of rice along the way, yelling their product for the street to hear. On my first night I met nearly 20 locals who were all extremely friendly, talkative, and loved to help in any sort of way. It was from this moment that I discovered the warmth and hospitality of Indonesians that was to come.

The next day my body was rattling around like dice in a cup in a mini bus to the village of Bukit Lawang, in search of the Orangutan rehabilitation forest. I signed up for a 2 day trek through the jungle, which included sliding through jungle thickets, up and down mud logged hills, and scrambling over the roots of giant trees and vines. It didn’t take more than an hour to spot our first orangutan, basking in the morning sunshine in her nest with her offspring. A few minutes later, the tables turned and the mother and child were hastily swinging from tree to tree, avoiding an aggressive male on the prowl. Orangutans swinging on the vines or as the guides called them “jungle taxis,” was a rushing sight.


Moving on I visited Danau Lake Toba, one of the largest and deepest volcanic lakes in the world. The town of Tuktuk on the shores of the Samosir Peninsula on Lake Toba was a quiet, ultra relaxing village, sure to inspire even the most amateur poet. Calm warm waters, sharply cutting into green volcano edges, slowly paddling fishermen, and flickering sunsets, all added to the scenic atmosphere. I could have spent a month here, pondering ideas, and writing my thoughts.


Nine days in Sumatra and it was time to move on to the next island, Java. Though in that time I barely scratched the surface of endless possibilities on Sumatra let alone the Indonesian archipelago, I dove from the appetizer to the main dish with some incredible experiences. I would love to encourage you to travel to Indonesia as well as other countries around the globe. Sumatra is an incredible island with amazing activities, adventures, flavorful food, and friendly people.

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  1. says

    Hi Mark,
    I recently came across your site and absolutely love it! My boyfriend and I are currently planning a 2 year backpacking trip through Asia and Europe (while also running a website acoupletravelers.com – which is right now in it’s beginning phase) and I have found your site incredibly helpful in my planning process. Specifically in terms of Indonesia I had a couple questions hopefully you don’t mind answering. We wanted to spend a month there split up between Sumatra (lake tobo and the orangutan jungle trek) Java (Yogyakrta, and Bromo) and Bali (Ubud, Amed) Gili Islands and Lombok. Do you think Jakarta is worth including in this itinerary? I imagine we will be pretty tight on time but I really would love to experience and travel around several areas of Indonesia but have been having a hard time making up my mind! Any recommendations and pointers would be greatly appreciated!

    • says

      Hi Vicky!
      Thanks for stopping by and glad to hear that you’ll be traveling around SE Asia soon. Indonesia is still one of my favorite destinations – amazing things to do and see. I’d say that with those other plans in mind, Jakarta is not necessary. It’s quite similar to any other giant city in SE Asia – so there are things to see, but there are better things outside of the giant city. I did almost that same route, minus Gili and Lombok. Sumatra was my favorite island, especially Lake Toba.
      Thanks again for the comment and let me know how your trip goes!

  2. Amelia S. says

    Hi Mark,
    I love your site, especially about Thai food. I’m quite dissapointed that you only put few of Indonesian dishes. Next time you’re going to Indonesia again, you should visit Mount Bromo, Komodo Island, Raja Ampat at Papua. You need to taste more Indonesian food there’s a lot variety than any other countries dishes.

    • says

      Thank you Amelia! I agree with you, I would love to visit Indonesia again. When I first visited Indonesia, I had just started to blog and write, and really had no idea what exactly I was doing. Indonesia has so much to offer, it’s an incredible country. Are you from Indonesia? What part?

  3. says

    Hello Mark, today is my first day reading your blog because I was googling about Myanmar which I will visit in couple of days, nice to know and thanks for your awesome blog btw. Im from Indonesia exactly from Pematangsiantar, the small town that you need to pass by from Medan to Perapat City (Toba Lake).

    I found that you are very love to eat and about food, me too! And I admit that the food in North Sumatra is the best of all and the worst is in Kalimantan (my opinion, no offense) I would like to recommend you to try the food in my hometown, next time if you visit, just email me and I will make a list for you, sorry I can’t make a companion because I already move to Jakarta since I graduate from my highschool. See you!

    • says

      Hey Miyoko, great to hear from you. Hope you have a wonderful visit to Myanmar! I had a great time in Indonesia, but I would love to return again. Next time I can visit Sumatra I will definitely let you know!

  4. Jemma says

    Hi Mark!
    Really enjoying reading your blog, I am travelling around indonesia for 5 weeks in september and was wondering how you found all the travelling? I am hoping I have enough time to do Sumatra, Java and Bali but dont want to feel too time constricted. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Jemma, good to hear you’re going to travel around Indonesia. I would have loved to spend more time in every place I went, but due to just having a 1 month visa is the reason why I didn’t spend too long. But it was still alright, I didn’t go too many places so it was still slow paced, not going somewhere every day. How long will you have in Indonesia?

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