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Itchy Feet "I am going because I would have no peace if I stayed" - Donald Crowhurst.


INDONESIA | Saturday, 16 August 2014 | Views [346]

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius.


Day 16.  Travel day from Medan to Banda Aceh to Pulau Weh (Sabang).


We saw Danny Trujo & Morgan Freeman’s Indonesian doubles at the airport!  They say that everyone has a double somewhere in the world…


Today we flew from Medan to Banda Aceh.  We were the only Westerners in the airport & on the plane.  Sometimes Indonesia is so easy.  A man named Fidos approached us.  Taxi?  Yes.  Simple as that.  He drove us to the port where we bought our Express Boat tickets and then he drove us around to look at the sights of Banda Aceh for a few hours until our boat departed.


Fidos lost 1 sister & 15 other family members in the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004, that killed approximately 167,000 people in Indonesia & over 31,000 people in Banda Aceh.  Fidos told us that at first he was very sad about the tsunami but then as time passed, people were happy that it had occurred because “now there is no more war”.  (He was referring to the civil unrest & the Free Aceh Movement). For three years before the tsunami he hadn’t worked because people were just shot in the street.  He stayed very close to home.  “Now it is better” he told us. 


Fidos took us to the Boat on the House.  This boat landed on a house during the tsunami & the 64 people in the boat survived.  The government paid for the owner of the home to have a new house elsewhere & this house with the boat on top of it, is now a tourist attraction.  A somber one at that.


We also went to the Giant Ship which is 2,600 tonnes and was carried inland 6 kilometres.  The ship housed a power generator and only one person was on the ship at the time of the tsunami. 


The streets of the city of Banda Aceh were very quiet.  There were hardly any people & there were no car horns blaring, which is quite the norm.  There were lots of green trees and the city had a big country town feel about it.


We went to the Tsunami Museum which cost $5 million US Dollars to build.  You walk through a dark, narrow passageway which has water running down the walls.  It is meant to give you some idea of what it would have been like to be inside a wall of water.  The museum doubles as a safe place in case a tsunami strikes Banda Aceh again.


We said our goodbyes to Fidos & got his business card for our return journey, then hopped on the boat to the island of Sabang (also known as Pulau Weh), located off the western tip of Sumatra.  We paid for executive class on the express boat & were rewarded with arctic air conditioning and non-transparent windows.


We stepped off the boat onto the island.  Someone approached us, “Car?”  We said “yes”, arranged a price and off we went.  There were 3 Indonesian adults and one child sharing our vehicle.  The little baby could not take his eyes off Dave for the entire journey.  We were chatting with the 77 year old man when suddenly he climbed over both of us in the back seat to sit in the middle seat of the car.  So agile!  Wow!  I cannot imagine a 77 year old in a car doing that at home.


It was a beautiful 30 minute drive to Iboih on mountainous, windy roads.  They were the best roads we have seen so far in all of Indonesia.  Not one pot hole in the entire journey.  Very spine-friendly!  We passed an entourage of posh, black, flag-bearing cars - someone important no doubt. 


We arrived at Iboih with nowhere to stay.  I left Dave with our bags & walked up the path that lead to all the accommodation in the village.  I asked at two places.  “Penuh”.  Full.   At the next place 2 French backpackers were being turned away.  “Penuh”.  I overtook them both and scored the very last wooden shack in the entire village.  It was very, very basic.  A little wooden shack on stilts with a bed & a mosquito net.  That was it.  No shelf.   No sink.  No toilet.  No shower.  We had to share the bathroom that belonged to Olala’s restaurant.  And we shared our room with the largest gecko I have ever seen.  Later as we sat at the restaurant having a beer & counting our lucky stars that we had somewhere to sleep, we watched a dozen more backpackers arrive in the village and get turned away again as there were ‘no more rooms at the inn’.  I felt bad for the French couple I had overtaken, especially when they told us they had just arrived from Europe!


After our huge day today: car, plane, car, boat, car, sightseeing & luckily snatching the last available room, we slept reasonably well on our bed with missing slats & woke in the night to a lovely, heavy tropical downpour on our tin roof.

Boat on the House.  Banda Aceh.  After the Tsunami.

Boat on the House. Banda Aceh. After the Tsunami.

Tags: banda aceh, iboih, pulau weh, sabang, sumatra, tsunami

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