16 Mar - 20 Mar 2012 Banda Aceh

Republic of Indonesia
Jalan Jend. A. Yani 19
Hotel Wisata +6265121834
Spacious and clean double room (no. 334) with private bathroom and river view for IDR 120,000.- or US$ 13.00 per night. Homoeopathic wifi on each floor.
Beer-free environment due to the strict enforcement of Sharia law (“…infractions upon the locally perceived interpretations of Sharia law may result in arrest by the Sharia police with physical punishment and public ridicule imposed upon an offending Muslim..."); Happy Detox, dear traveller!

Click below for an interactive road map of the Hotel Wisata in Banda Aceh and for directions:

Covering our arms and legs (quote from a sign for infidel visitors: “…think globally, dress locally…”) and exploring the this-worldly and other-worldly highlights of ultra conservative Banda Aceh, e.g. (i) drinking famous and halal Aceh coffee together with local fishermen at the new, post-tsunami fish market aka pasar ikan, located on the eastern bank of Sungai Krueng Aceh and one of the liveliest in Sumatra, and listening to their sad stories about the horrible 2004 tsunami, and (ii) visiting the Grand Mosque aka Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman whose brilliant white walls and charcoal-black domes are the most famous landmark in Aceh (built by the Dutch colonial masters in 1879 CE as a conciliatory gesture towards the Acehnese after the original one had been burnt down).

Noticing the haunting legacy of two overwhelming floods which hit Banda Aceh in its recent past and which have changed the lives and values of many local people: (i) the flood of water and mud which followed a horrible tsunami from an earthquake of magnitude 9.3 (the epicentre was about 250 km off the coast of Banda Aceh), which stroke the coast on 26 December 2004 and killed about 150,000 people, and (ii) the flood of attention, affection and help from up to 850 international aid agencies and NGOs which swamped the area after the tsunami with large aid funds (enough to finance the bombastic Aceh Tsunami Museum, a self-congratulatory and embarrassing memorial for the international aid industry) and with megatons of interesting merchandise and booty (now being called “tsunami assets”), both with the side-effect of inflated and fanciful expectations among the locals towards foreign beneficence.

Hiring a side-car becak (IDR 2,500.- per person, one way) to Desa Lampulo, Kota Alam, and gazing in amazement at the famous 20-ton wooden Boat on the Roof which had been boarded by more than 50 people during the ongoing tsunami - who all eventually stranded in safety on top of Misbah’s residential house - a few kilometres on shore.

Taking the black minibus/opelet (locally known as labi-labi) no. 5 from the opelet terminal in Banda Aceh to the new, post-tsunami ferry port Ulee Lheue (IDR 6,000.- or US$ 0.65 per person), thereafter the slow car ferry KMP “Tanjung Burang” (“We Bridge the Nation”) in economy class to Balohan on Sabang Island aka Pulau Weh (about 15 nm, 2¼ hours, IDR 18,500.- per person, +6265149977) and eventually hiring Putra's side-car becak, +6282168572420, for the final roller-coaster leg to Iboih Beach (32 km, ¾ hours, IDR 35,000.- per person), a rather rugged shanty town of cheap and mostly dilapidated but romantic jungle/beach shacks which caters for Sumatra’s best dive/snorkel sites and which harbours Pulau Weh’s friendly and highly professional Acehnese diving brethren Ismayudi, Iskandar and Isfan from PADI’s Rubiah Tirta Divers +626523324555, the longest operating dive shop on the island: SalĂ©um, Pulo Weh.”

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2012 Map Konni & Matt

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