Nature At Its Best In Aceh
Trip Start Mar 22, 2012
25Trip End Mar 26, 2012
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Where I stayed
Hermes Palace Hotel Banda Aceh
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Read my review - 5/5 stars
I was told that they rebuilt the airport from the funds they received during the tsunami aid. Truly, coming to think about it, the tsunami was a blessing in disguise to them which enabled a lot of funds to flow into the country.
Upon clearance of immigration which was extremely fast, we were greeted by the driver just outside the waiting hall. This man, Mr. Sunari, just started out on his own tour company, joining efforts with his younger brother. He recently also bought a Suzuki Van MPV which was in a very good condition and seemed like a very obliging man. From my observation, he seemed to know limited things and was too obliging for a tour guide, but I guess since he is knew to the trade, over time he would learn the rough edges of the trade.
Well, with that being said, we then proceeded to one of the largest mass graves in Aceh which has more than 100,000 bodies. From the 2004 tsunami, Aceh has the largest amounts of deaths amounting to 220,000 people dead and missing. This is also the largest amount of deaths ever recorded in a natural disaster since time immemorial.
It was a sad sight and I did not even feel like taking a photograph here but just passed my respects and condolences to the deceased and then moved on to head to a local restaurant for lunch. Well, at this time, the entire city seemed deserted with no vehicles on the road. That was when the driver informed us that since it was a Friday and it is prayer time, it is compulsory for all business to close and for all Acehnese who are Muslims to be at the mosque, failing which the penalty is hefty. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia which practices Shariah laws, similar to that of Saudi Arabia. There are no commercial courts here and all governance is carried on by the Shariah courts. The penalties include that of from public caning, to whipping and even to stoning. But of course, these apply to the more severe crimes like drinking alcohol, drugs, rape and etc. Well having no alcohol during vacation is surely not a good news. Hehehe
Well, that much being said, lets head back to the day. Somehow, he took us to a shop that was about to close and the moment we entered inside, they shut the front doors but left the back doors open. Hmmm seems like some of these activities does happen, especially with the inflow of foreign tourists. But the good part is that, all these rules does not apply to foreigners so it was quite safe and understanding from the rulers part in this perspective. Well, if we look back at the history of Aceh, they were all rebels fighting against the Indonesian government all these years and the state was at constant war until the tsunami which wiped out the war and allowed for peace talks between the federal government and these fighters and finally a peace accord was signed. Seems that the tsunami did more good than bad to them.
Back to the restaurant, my first taste of Aceh food was simply excellent. I just loved the food and it tasted similar to Indian style of cooking. There was this one dish which was a gravy of fish and banana leaves, which was simply superb. All the while, I have tasted many parts of the banana tree but usually Indians use the leaf as a base to serve food but this was the first time that I had seen it being cooked in a dish and it was simply great.
After lunch, we headed to the beach side at Siron, which was far towards the north eastern part of Aceh. This was also a badly affected area in Aceh but not the worst. The beach was simply beautiful. Today, this area has been restored and an Aquaculture center has been built here. This centre was funded by the Dutch government.
Somehow, the weather in Aceh is extremely hot. Though I am used to the heat being in Malaysia, I too felt that the heat here was unbearable. But what to do, we came here to see the outside world and it would not make any sense for us to head back to the hotel just because it is hot.
After visiting this beach and taking some photographs here, we headed to the new settlement that had been funded and built by the Chinese Government. In fact, today this is the most organised and nicely built residential project in Aceh. This new residential project was built for the residents who were previously staying at the earlier beach visited and whose homes were completely destroyed by the tsunami.
Located on a hillock, the previous beach was clearly visible from here as it was just around 600 meters from the earlier location. With this place visited, we head now to discover another location in Aceh.