Avoiding Europe in the summer…and other places to go instead.


We’ve seen way too many tourists this summer. Europe always has a lot of tourists, there’s a reason it is most people’s favorite continent (including ours). We’ve spent the last 3 summers in Europe. But I think we’ll be taking a break from that over the next few years. It wasn’t just our recent stay in Lisbon – we were in Split (Croatia) in July and it was unbearably packed with tourists. Split is one of the places we love but, as with Lisbon, the character of a place changes when there are too many tourists at one time: prices rise dramatically, locals are suddenly not as friendly, food quality drops. Parts of Europe also get unbearably hot in summer. [Read more…]

Beautiful Lake Maninjau, West Sumatra – and going Rambo on the locals


After Lake Toba, my mom and I took the bus back to Medan where we boarded a flight to Padang in West Sumatra.

I never really took to West Sumatra for reasons I will soon explain. The highlight, geographically, was Lake Maninjau. Like Lake [Read more…]

Misadventures in Lake Toba, Sumatra

views over lake toba, sumatra

Above: from the island, looking out around the volcanic rim surrounding the lake

Romlan (run by a German lady) consists of 8 large and comfortable bungalows with hot running water. The setting is spectacular; I would wake up every morning to views of [Read more…]

Medan to Lake Toba and the Trans-Sumatran highway

scary highway
Medan, Sumatra (Indonesia)

“A natural wonderland of luxuriant forests, fast-flowing rivers, vast swamps, cool highland lakes and imposing volcanoes…”. I kept repeating this to myself, wondering how my initial impressions could be so far off the description given in the guidebook. Flying into Medan, Sumatra’s largest city and the entry point to the province of northern Sumatra, I was first struck by the washed out colors below. Unlike Malaysia, the hills and fields were a sickly, yellowish-green. Cracked and potholed roads, reddish-brown with mud, split the landscape, the roads bordered by one-story corrugated metal shacks and brick buildings, all with rusty roofs of the same dirty brown. Grey clouds and pools of coffee-coloured water in the fields testified to the onset of the rainy season and contributed to the rather dreary, uninspiring scene.

[Read more…]