Saint Augustine once said “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”, and as a person who religiously followed that statement, I could not say no when there was an offer to explore Banda Aceh.
Banda Aceh is the capital and the largest city of Aceh. It is located in the Sumatera Island, or about 1800 kilometers from Jakarta. Fortunately there are several direct flight to Banda Aceh for 2:45 hours. To maximize the fun, me and my travel buddy, Cerya, decided to take the afternoon flight to Banda Aceh. Sultan Iskandar Muda is a small yet clean airport in Banda Aceh. The only way to go the downtown is by taxi or renting a car. No worries, the taxi tariff is already settled, the one way trip to the downtown will cost you maximum IDR100,000. Luckily, there was airport shuttle facility from our hotel so once we arrived in the airport, we were happily greeted by the hotel driver that we already order.
We stayed in The Pade Hotel for 3 nights. Our first impression in the hotel was full of Mediterranean ambiance, especially the building. In Banda Aceh, there are only one four-stars hotel and some three-stars hotels, including The Pade Hotel. Pade itself means paddy in local language, and it is no surprise that in almost public room in the hotel you can find a pot filled with paddy and as an ultimate treat, you can find splendid paddy field view from your balcony.
Both Banda Aceh and Sabang are well-known for its famous landmark. Once we arrived there, we decided to go to PLTD Apung Monument. Located in Punge Village, PLTD Apung once was a ship that serves as a power plant for Banda Aceh people. In late 2004, when the tsunami hit Banda Aceh, the ship was washed from Ulee Lheue Port to the Punge Village (which about 5 kilometers away). Imagining 2600 tonnes weighed ship could easily moved by tsunami wave give us unexplainable chill. Near the ship you can also find the monument and photo gallery as a silent proof when the tsunami came. In the evening, our driver took us to Baiturrahman Mosque, 10 minutes away from the PLTD Apung. The huge white mosque was built in 1292 and become the symbol of nationalism, struggle, and religious for Acehnese people. Baiturrahman is considered as one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. And when we stepped in into the mosque, we were easily convinced. The architectural detail in the wall and in the ceiling is breathtaking. Every surface is carved with precision, such an masterpiece.
When we were in Sabang , we managed to visit Monument 0 Kilometer of Indonesia. Yes, it is a spot to signify the beginning of Indonesia. For quite long time, we had been strive to see how the edge of Indonesia looks like. In front of the monument there are some locals selling souvenirs and traditional food. The view near the monument is spledid, you can see huge cliff where you can see clear horizon, such a prefect place to enjoy the sunset. What i really like the most from this place is you can also get sertificate as a solid proof that you have been visiting the westernmost part of Indonesia. You can get the certificate for IDR. 30,000 with your name written on it. Uber cool !
Banda Aceh is extremely rich of their cuisine. For you who fancy culinary will be indulged by the spice explosion all over your taste buds. If you are a noodles lover, of course you should start by the legendary “Mie Aceh”. You can find Mie Aceh almost in every food stall. But I was told to try Mie Aceh Razali, the most well-known Mie Aceh in the city. Since it has several branches, we decided to try the one in the downtown in Panglima Polem street. Well, the place was pretty swarming when we arrived. I ordered Mie Aceh with crab, which seemed to be what they were famous for, and it did met my expectations. The one whole crab was covered with the noodles, showered with tasty broth, completed the enormous portion I had that night. Feeling hungry yet? We also tried “Ayam Tangkap”, another signature dishes from Banda Aceh. Ayam Tangkap is slices of crispy chicken covered by fried leaves such as pandan and turmeric leaves. Overall the combination of those leaves making the Ayam Tangkap have an unique taste and fragrant.
Moving to Sabang, you have to try the octopus satay at least once. As an island surrounded by the sea, Sabang has privileged to access the seafood. We found the octopus satay in the Taman Wisata Kuliner in Sabang’s downtown. This place is open from 5pm to almost midnight. The satay was cheap yet delicious. We even asked for second round.
Visiting Banda Aceh and Sabang will not be legit if you have not tried to sip the glorious Gayo Coffee in the coffee stall all over Banda Aceh. Our driver told me that the rendezvous trend in the coffee stall started in around 2007. The coffee stall is the place where the local people and the tourist blend together enjoying coffee. If you are a coffee intolerant like me, no worries, they also serve teh tarik, a mix of tea and milk which make you crave for more.
Well readers, i hope you are doing well, sorry for the late update, the second part of the story is coming soon. Happy weekend *smooches*