Clearing the airport arrivals lounge and into the heat and haze of the day one is immediately accosted with entreaties by numerous  taxi drivers looking for a fare. We availed ourselves of one and drove into town to find the “Citi-International hotel”. The title being “aspirational”, however perfectly adequate for our needs. We spent a couple of days in Medan looking at the Mosque and a Sultan’s palace, but we were keen to get up to Aceh province.

We flew Medan to Banda Aceh on the 15.06.2012 . One could see on the approach the topography of the area was complicit in exacerbating the effect of the wall of water that came in. Banda Aceh sits at sea-level flat lands on the coast and is surrounded by distant mountains. The people had no chance. There was nowhere to run to. The buildings by and large were/are single story. Apart from a school and some office blocks nothing exceeding two stories. The wall of water came in at between 50 and 60 feet high.170,000 people lost their lives and 500,000 left homeless.

Help from all around the world flowed in. Logistical, infrastructure expertise, medical expertise, the response was fulsome. The Aceh people gave us, on numerous occasions, their thanks for visiting their city and it was sincere.
Overall, a very moving experience. Walking through Banda Aceh one can see that the improvement in infrastructure: roads, sewerage system, electrical infrastructure etc. has been of great benefit and utility.

We had heard that the island of Ei about 40 minutes off the Banda Aceh coast was well worth a visit, so we jumped onto a fast ferry to do just that.We were so glad that we did, it was enchanting.                        

After spending an idyllic week or so on the island, we needed to get back to Medan. (unfortunately Medan is a hub so one is forced back in order to get anywhere else).I had long since wanted to see the site of the (at the time) worlds largest super volcano at Toba and it’s lake. It was about a four hour ride out of Medan. However prior to that there was another place we had heard of called Bukit Lawang. This is a small jungle township by the Bahorok River in northern Sumatra. There, one finds  wild Orangutan, however they are in quite challenging circumstances so an effort is being made to support them by way of an outdoor sanctuary(no fences,they come and go as they please). These are wild and powerful animals, so one moves through the forest with deference and diligence. We took on a two day “jungle trek“.          

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The trek was quite taxing as the humidity was really energy sapping. However seeing the Orangutan in their natural environment was such a privilege.

The trek finally ended with a most welcome two hour raft ride back down the Bahorok river into Bukit Lawang.

Looks like it’s very hungry!

Please don’t eat me!

Bath time!

Steady there girl!..Not exactly the Tacoma Narrows Bridge,..but non the less!

Our room for the night!..Air conditioned, River View, and Lots of Wildlife!

Although quite challenging, and physically taxing in many ways, Bukit Lawang was definitely worth the visit.
It was a fag having to go all the way back to Medan, to come back out again but that’s what we had to do to get to lake Toba.


One hundred kilometres long by thirty kilometers wide. Between 69,000 and 77000 years ago one mother of an explosion took place here.

It is classified as the largest explosion anywhere on earth in the last 25 million years. How the science is arrived at to calculate that, I’ve no idea. However, being there and just sensing the quite beautiful, magnificence of the place for me was quite moving. I feel really privileged to have seen it.

We needed to get back to the UK as we wanted to support our daughter for her second operation. She was also coming over with her japanese boyfriend (YuYa) and they were going to tag on a holiday for themselves in the UK prior to her procedure. We flew Medan to KL and then out of KL on the 10.07.2012

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