16 Mar - 20 Mar 2012 Banda Aceh

Republic of Indonesia
19 Jalan Jend. A. Yani
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 travellers!

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Covering our arms and legs (quote from signs for travellers: “…think globally, dress locally…”) and exploring the worldly and otherworldly sights of conservative Banda Aceh: (i) drinking the 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 the 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 and help from up to 850 (!) international aid agencies and NGOs which swamped the area after the tsunami with large funds (including the bombastic Aceh Tsunami Museum, a self-congratulatory and embarrassing memorial for the international aid industry), with high expectations towards foreign beneficence and with megatons of interesting merchandise and booty (now being called “tsunami assets”).

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 houses Pulau Weh’s very 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

Click below and see more Konni & Matt Pictures

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