Motorbike Ride around Pulau Weh

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Aceh,
Monday, April 12, 2010

We drove on every paved and pseudo-paved rode we could find. It was nice to see other parts of the island after hanging out at our resort most of the time. We went over to Iboih, which is a cool backpacker area. I'm posting some nice pics, and I especially like the video of Lindsey and the little girl on the beach.

This is a general list of travel notes I made during our time in Indonesia. It's the good, bad and neutral we encountered in various parts of Sumatra. I'm posting out of order, so some of this wasn't until the end of our trip.

HD video of Iboih. Watch it in 720. It's pretty.

Some Notes:

The following are all considered amenities in Indonesian hotels and must be requested. They are listed in descending order of obviousness.  Air conditioning, showerheads, hot water, fans, screened windows, temperatures conducive to life, flushing toilets, electricity, enclosed roofs, and an absence of bats. 

The following creatures have lived with us in our bungalows at some point during our trip: mosquitoes, wasps, grasshoppers, ants (flying and non), spiders, cockroaches, geckos, other lizards, moths, bats, and we're pretty sure a snake. 

Coffee still has grounds in Indonesia, so it’s a stiff drink. It’s made like they’re mixing instant coffee into hot water, but it’s actually coffee grounds. So it brews in the cup and leaves a nice layer of sediment at the bottom of the beverage.

They ask personal questions as soon as they meet you, like "How much money do you make?" “How old are you?” and “Have you gone to see a doctor about not having babies yet?” Seriously.

Muslims have to bathe 7 times if a dog licks them. 

Indonesians all smoke like chimneys and are doomed to lung cancer, but they believe drinking hot tea and coffee will make them impervious to these ravages. They told us so.

They are super ambitious about learning and practicing English.  They are all quick to smile and very friendly.

I saw a very old lady on a mini-bus in a headscarf bouncing her head to Big Pimpin' by Jay-Z.  Someone’s partially veiled grandmother was bumping to lyrics like “You know I thug 'em, f*** 'em, love 'em, leave 'em - cause I don't f'n need 'em." It was fascinating.

They don’t wai like Thais, but they have a very endearing way of touching their heart after they shake hands.

They eat with their hands. We actually watched a woman scoop rice and curry sauce out of a plastic container WITH A SPOON into a bowl so she could then eat it with her hands. It was like watching someone use a fork to put something on a chopstick.

I have mixed feelings about religion, but I did make the following note while I was in Sumatra:

Islam is woven into the fabric of life in Indonesia, literally in the intricate patterns of the prayer rugs that people kneel on 6 times a day, and figuratively in their ever-present relationship with their god and one another. Every few hours, the call to prayer reverberates melodically through city streets, off the cliffs surrounding lush valleys, and across the terraced rice paddies that roll across the country. It inspires a sense of community with one another and a communion with the divine, and instead of the austerity and severity we often associate with the religion, Indonesians are quick to smile, playful of heart, and open and gracious to visitors from all nations and creeds. Their faith is not something they visit briefly for an hour a week or just on holidays, but something that permeates each moment of their lives and sustains them as much as the food on their plates or the clothes on their backs.

Indonesians definitely embrace Islam, but not at the exclusion of other religions.  Even in Aceh, which is under Sharia law, tourists and non-Muslims are allowed to drink alcohol and wear Western clothing.  Far from the image I’ve often had of severe and unaccepting Muslims, Indonesians are warm, hospitable and friendly.  They smile as much as Thais and are actually much more open and talkative.  They are quick to practice whatever English they know and invite you into their communities and homes.  The presence of foreigners never seems an annoyance, even when the locals are hard at work and the wealth disparity cannot help but be noticed.  In fact, a woman was happy to let me kick off my flops and trudge into her rice paddy to help her plant, patiently showing me how to separate the stalks and plant them in perfect rows in the mud.  Their friendliness is infectious, and we’ve found that our smiles last long after we’ve gone back to our room for the night. 

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Arde on

That is awesome picture... (Y)

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