Banda Aceh, What To See And How To Get Around
If tsunami didn’t came to Aceh, perhaps I would never visited the most western province of Indonesia for my entire life. Trust me, I was not happy when it happened. Instead, I was shock, sad, and afraid in the same time. It was hard to believe that less than one hour, more than 200 thousands people died and another thousands lost their family, relatives and their houses. This disaster did not only bring me to the city that had internal conflicts for many years but also change my life in the next following years.
I will not tell more about disaster since this blog is for my travelling stories. I came to Banda Aceh in 2007, after hard and quick decision to leave Nias, the small island in Indonesian archipelago where I worked before. The job offering I got from one of humanitarian organization concerned to Aceh recovery was really interesting. I immediately said yes when Koni, later to be my boss, offered me a job.
Living in Banda Aceh was one of the best moments in my life. It’s not only knowing the fact that I had interesting job but also for perfect social life that I couldn’t find any complain while i was there. During the week, it could be exhausted when I must spared my time to visit beneficiaries, planned future program and monitoring projects in the same time. However, in the middle of hectic and crazy deadlines, after work I still could manage to have coffee times with good friends and companions at coffee shops which are spread in the city. When we completed the works within the limits, it means I had free full weekend to explore the city.
So, perhaps you are wonder what you could do in Banda Aceh both for travelling or using your free times in the middle of business trips? Banda Aceh is not a big city. However, it offers many attraction that should not be missed when you’re in Banda Aceh. I would be glad to tell you what they are.
Baiturrahman Grand Mosque. Located in the middle of the city, this mosque is landmark of Banda Aceh and also symbol for religion, culture, strength, struggle and nationalism of Acehness. It has survived from tsunami disasters in 2004. Visitors must cover themselves properly in order to enter the mosque.
Tsunami Museum. The building is purposed to remember more than 200 thousand people as victims of tsunami disaster. It’s also the media to learn about Indian Ocean Tsunami happened. Designed by Indonesian famous architect Ridwan Kamil, its shaped resembles the boat as symbol of survivor of Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.
House of Cut Nyak Dien. Cut Nyak Dien is one of the most famous heroine in Aceh. She had important role to fight Dutch colonialism in Aceh together with her husband, Teuku Umar. There is no entrance fee since it’s funded by state government. However, there are some guides inside that would be happy to take you around and explain the history of Aceh and Cut Nyak Dien. You can give a free will to them.
Aceh Museum, where you can learn about Aceh culture and see how original Aceh stage house is. It’s also one of the oldest museum in Indonesia.
Poetra Phang Park. A city park where you can spend your afternoon by walking and enjoying the green.
Beaches in Aceh are extremely beautiful. They are everywhere, easy to reach, with fantastic views that could help you to release your stress. There are two beaches that I kept visiting when I was in Aceh. Lampuuk Beach and Lhoknga Beach. If you like swimming or playing beach volley ball, Lampuuk is the perfect place, even though there are some locations which are not recommended to swim due to its strong rapid. If you just want to sit in silence while watching the sun went down and seeing fisherman trying their luck, Lhoknga Beach is the place where you should see.
How to get around?
Transportation system in Aceh is far from perfect. It has labi – labi (public mini van bus) operating within the city. Nevertheless, It doesn’t reach many areas in the city therefore you need to use taxi or becak (three wheels bicycle ) to explore the city. If you have more budget, renting a car could be a good option too and you will have more flexible time to go around.
So, what do you think? Are you interested to come to visit the city?