07 Apr - 09 Apr 2012 Banda Aceh

Republic of Indonesia
Jalan Jend. A. Yani 19
Hotel Wisata +6265121834
Spacious and clean double room (no. 328) with private bathroom and river view for IDR 120,000.- or US$ 13.- per night. Homoeopathic wifi on each floor, but not inside the room.
Beer-free landscape due to the strict enforcement of Sharia law.

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

Exploring the manicured parks and gardens of Banda Aceh, (i) the Gunongan, a 17th-century CE playground and bathing place for Sultan Iskandar Muda’s wife Putroe Phang from Pahang/Malaysia, (ii) the Taman Putroe Phang, quite obviously pepped up to "western standards" with post-tsunami excess money from international donors, and (iii) the ubiquitous green Padang, and having lovely and invigorating encounters with all sorts of gracious and friendly Acehnese people, such as (a) a young and wild boys’ soccer team (...who trained for their new avocation as photo models), (b) a diversity of sedulous market men (...who wanted to marry Konni’s passport), (c) a jolly one-eyed beggar (...who loved to pose with his new peci nasional), (d) a sexy cross-dressing coiffeur (...who was ready for anything) and (e) a frilly local beauty (...who was head over heels in love with pink).
“In a well-functioning democracy, the state constitution is considered more important than God's holy book, whichever holy book that may be, and God matters only in your private life.”

Wandering through the colourful central market aka Pasar Aceh Central and Banda Aceh’s many well-assorted souvenir shops (mainly for domestic tourists from all over Indonesia) and becoming acquainted with traditional Acehnese art: (i) daggers aka rencong which have a convex iron and Damascene (etched or inlaid) blade with one sharpened edge, a handle made of buffalo horn and a sheath made of rattan, (ii) fine gold and silver jewellery and (iii) Acehnese embroidery using gold-coloured metallic thread aka soedjoe on tapestry, cushions and wall hangings (decorated with mirrors, sequins and beads).

Hiring a rickety, convertible side-car becak (IDR 15,000.- or US$ 1.65 for the ride) to Banda Aceh’s new and useless Bus Terminal and thereafter taking the black Cv. Tenaga Desa +626557030825 minibus from Banda Aceh to Meulaboh (245 km, 5 ½ hours, IDR 80,000.- or US$ 8.70 per person) on the excellent new coastal highway (between Bandar Aceh and Calang, built by USAID), thus passing through the somewhat eerie combination of new settlements of post-tsunami low-cost prefabs and palm-fringed picture-postcard beaches - the next tsunami could hit this fateful west coast of Sumatra at any moment since Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes this vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.

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

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