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Sumatra’s major metropolis, and Indonesia’s third-largest city, has a bad rep in Southeast Asia backpacker circles and it frequently pops up in ‘What’s the worst place you’ve ever visited?’ conversations. Question the city’s detractors a little further though and you’ll find that most have merely rushed straight through without giving the city any time. It’s true that physical tourist attractions are somewhat lacking, and that, compared to squeaky-clean Malaysia, the pollution, poverty and persistent catcalls of ‘Hello mister!’ could be an unnerving jolt of dirt-under-your-fingernails Asia. But it would also be fair to say that this is a city with real Indonesian character, something that can be lacking in many of the more popular North Sumatran tourist towns. So get over the culture shock, give Medan a bit of time and discover an amenity-filled, leafy and modern town with more than a hint of crumbling Dutch-colonial charm.