Like any other city in Indonesia Medan has been rapidly changing over the past ten years. And especially when you live in the city it can be observed that many of those changes are quite positive. Although to Westerners the pollution may still seem severe, it is not half as bad as it was before the local administration decided to require all motorised becaks to clean up their act by changing their trademark smokey exhaust pipes with less smoke-polluting alternatives. In addition exclusive residential areas are mushrooming around the city. The establishment of several international hotel chains like Swiss-Bell, Marriot and Aston give the city's happy few full access to internatiional service standards and cuisine. Across Aston Hotel is Merdeka walk right in the city centre and is one of the few outdoor hang-outs with plenty of restaurants and the opportunity to take a stroll around the merdeka square where many locals perform their daily excercise in the late afternoon.
Airasia is a Malaysian low-cost carrier operating direct flights from Medan to holiday destinations such as, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Phuket and Bandung. Another upcoming low cost carrier is a subsidiary of Malaysian airlines called Firefly that only flies with propellor planes.
Medan's most upscale malls are Sun Plaza and Cambridge. There are several Carrefour supermarkets and a very competitive supermarket called Berastagi Market. The Italian restaurant chain Trattoria opened up a branche in Medan and at walking distance is 'Medan Club' a popular watering hole located in an old Dutch colonial building. 10 minutes down the road behind Polonia Airport, near a residential complex is an Irish Pub provides a good get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
For those who wish to enroll in an Indonesian language course, Australia Centre Medan, Jl Kartini 32 provides good quality courses with professional teachers. It is a reputable language school operated under Australian Management. It is also an IELTS testing centre and the Australian consulate is accomodated in the same building.