Friday, August 22, 2008

Aceh Post

Am whiling away time b4 going to Bandung... Zippo inspiration for a blog post, but not much else to do at the mo...

Just got back from Banda Aceh. As I said previously it's expensive. There's more jilbabs around than other places in Indo, less beer, funny names for stuff (lili is angkot for example) but at least it's superficially similar to other parts of Indo...

Went to the Raya mosque, and a gay guy asked for my number -- surprising in the Sharia part of Indo eh?

Asked a waitress to recommend a drink (all non-alcoholic on the menus up there) and she suggested Bintang (nice!).

All the Independence day paraphernalia was out in force. They held their parade on Wednesday instead of Sunday though (why??).

Quite a few backpackers about. All looking quite nervous and smelly with their greasy and or dreadlocked hair. Not a fan of the backpackers.

I went to Sabang island. It's a vv beautiful place! I took an executive VIP boat over, the girl sold it to me by saying that there was karaoke, tidur and snack on board. Think was the comfy seats were also next to the megawatt karaoke machine.

Once I got to Sabang I realised however that there were no boats back for the rest of the day. Got a real bad sinking feeling, cos my flight back to the big durian was the next morning. So I raced over to the other side of an island and rented a fisherman's boat for the 3 hour trip back to Banda Aceh.

The views from from that little 5 or 6m boat which circumnavigating Sabang islands were truly phenomenal. I was nervous as hell, not knowing what the waters might be like, and never having had much to do with the sea -- I can't even swim!! The captain / fisherman just puffed away on cigarette after cigarette hand on the rudder. Probably a veteran arms smuggler or drugs trafficker for GAM I thought.

When it got dark, I could see lighting storms on the left and right of us. The milky way was clear up above. Got an odd splash of water. The trickiest part was finding the right part of the harbour to anchor off. Banda Aceh harbour is segmented into 4 or 5 parts. We went into one segment after an other, not sure how the fisherman knew which was the correct one, but eventually he sai "Allah, Allah [something soemthing]" and I knew we'd hit on the right part.

Luckily a becak was close by and I got back to my hotel wedged in next to another passenger. Drank a really nice can of Bintang beer and probably the best Satay I've ever eaten back at the hotel.

I should've taken pictures, but I don't think they'd have done Sabang justice. It's a must see place! Just take care of the bloody ferry schedules!!

9 comments:

M said...

cool, very cool. smiled when reading ur stories.

i have tons of stories about Aceh. but i am not an original Acehnese. I am acehnese by heart (gypsi and bedouin by heart too :)
i lived there for almost 2 years after the tsunami and those are the best years of my life, as well as my career so far.

u rented a fisherman's boat to visit Sabang? haha..if its' shorter than 15 meters, i can imagine. i travelled once with 12 meters fiber boat and pretty heavy waves, i arrived in land with full dizziness.
too bad u didint go to Melabouh in land cutting the road from Pidie. It was an amazing view as the area was closed during conflict period, hence kinda virgin.

i almost wanted to type "i'll be in Jakarta too. till when will u be there?" BUT, then i read..
"Not a fan of the backpackers"

jajajajajajajajaja....

i am a backpacker, couchsurfer, restless traveler.
do u still think we can be friends when we meet? or doubt it :P

Tata Surya said...

John: There's more jilbabs around than other places in Indo
Tata: Yaeyalaaaahhhh...^o^

John: a gay guy asked for my number
Tata: ehm...ehm...u met 3 gay guys, and one of them asked ur number. So u met a gay couple and a 'jomblo' gay, then.. Hohoho...

johnorford said...

hey mulia, yeh i'm sure we can b friends when we meet : )

i'd love to hear some of your stories from aceh!!

johnorford said...

tata: jomblo??

TaTa Surya said...

Jomblo = single

(Jomblo is also the title of Indonesian movie. I've told u to learn Bahasa Indonesia by watching Indonesian movies... ^o^)

tere616 said...

John .. automatically there are a lot of jilbabs compare to other places in Indonesia. Aceh is rule by moslem regulation, a lil bit different with other places in Indonesia.

Your story made me remember of my company plan to open office branch in Aceh, where my team reminded me to wear kerudung (jilbab) if I have to visit Aceh. The jilbab or kerudung is fine with me, but what worries me is my shirt :-(

I like your story and lil bit curious of taking picture in Sabang regulation.

johnorford said...

thx tata!!

why ur shirt worries u? i saw many girls in banda aceh without jilbab... your mileage may vary, but at least on a superficial level, banda aceh seemed fairly relaxed...

tere616 said...

It's because of the cloth.
It's hot in Jakarta and since I have to travel to 3 building at least twice a week, then I always wear shirt with sheer material besides the lovely v neck.

So, according to my friend, it's also in appropriate "shirt" to wear if I went there.

johnorford said...

well, i am not 100% sure, but i got the impression things rn't quite as strict as what ppl say. but suppose it's better not to risk it anyways... a pity, cos banda aceh seems like an alright place.