Back in the early of 2014 when I was in Medan City, my hometown, due to a long semester break, I decided to take a day off from my freelance projects to exploring some great places around North Sumatra, not too far from Medan.
Several days before deciding to travel, I had a hangout with my old friends. As usual we spent hours sharing stories, laughing very hard, and doing so many familiar things together just like the old days. It was very fun, of course. But something quite different than what we used to do happened that day. I later noticed that we were too busy with our smartphones. Two of my friends were even playing games on their laptops, while the others, including me, were checking our social media accounts on smartphones. Although each of us shared our own stories, laughed very hard enjoying those stories, but for a hangout after being separated for months even years, that was a strange hangout.
This digital era has changed the cultures. We could hardly stay with ourselves without being disturbed by the use of smartphones. I understand that such a thing happened all the time, and that’s just too bad. After noticing that there was something strange on our last hangout, I decided to test myself whether I could live without a single digital tech or not.
After thinking about it, I made a plan to spend a day without a single digital tech. I was happened to complete several of my freelance tasks. My client asked me to do a simple translation which I could finish just in a few hours on the day before. So after that I took a day off, wrote an automatic response message to tell my clients that I was off of any jobs, and decided which places I was going to visit.
I made a list of possible great places around Medan or not too far from Medan, which I decided to visit, several of them include:
- Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni, Tanjung Selamat, Medan.
- Taman Buaya Asam Kumbang, Sunggal Medan.
- Taman Alam Lumbini, Brastagi, North Sumatra.
- Sipiso-Piso Waterfall, Tanah Karo, North Sumatra.
- And some major tourism spots around Brastagi, Kabanjahe, and Tanah Karo.
After making that list, I wasn’t quite sure about having a day-trip without a single digital tech. There are several things on my personal smartphone, which I couldn’t live without. Actually I was quite nervous about that plan because several destinations on the list were the ones that I had never visited. I knew that there’s always the possibility for hard situation. Of course I was worried about my safety.
Not to mention, my parents asked me to keep my phone active so they would be able to reach me easily. That’s when I couldn’t tell my parents about my fixed plan to take a day-trip without a single digital tech. But when it’s decided, it’s decided. To make the things clear and because I didn’t want to waste my precious time for that day, I decided to visit the places that I had never visited before. I re-arranged the list and around 6AM I took a public transport, named Sinabung Jaya, that is usually used by locals who want to go to Tanah Karo and its precincts.
The first region I visited was Brastagi after spending 2 hours of departure. I went exploring some notable places like Organic Markets, The Museum of Karo, Mickey Holiday, Gundaling etc. And from Brastagi, about 15 KM away, I went to Desa Lingga (The Village of Lingga). It is an ancient village of the past Karonese. There are some traditional houses of Karo, which had been established since 250 years ago.
After spending about an hour admiring those ancient big houses, I moved back to Brastagi. While on the way back, I was told by a local old man, whom I called ‘Kila’ (a Karonese word that represents ‘Uncle’), that I must visit Pasar Buah too. Brastagi is known as the importer of fresh; high quality greens and fruits. Pasar Buah is a market for organic products, mostly fruits, which is open on a regular basis every day. There were so many stands by the locals peddling their high quality organic products. I bought one kilogram for each orange and strawberries. So fresh and delicious. I met with a rambutan seller whose surname is the same with mine and jokingly ordered me to call him ‘Pak Uda’, the same with ‘father’. He was very excited meeting me, so was I, and we had a chat in Karonese language.
He then gave me a pack of rambutan for FREE. When I was trying to pay for it, he declined and said, “No father who’s able to receive money from his son while he can still work. Every father should give the results of their work to their sons. I can’t give you money, I’m giving you rambutan instead” in Karonese language. I was really grateful for that, and to be honest, I could still remember the exact words and his expression when he said it to me.