Great island, amazing beaches, dive & tsunami

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Erik Place

Flag of Indonesia  , Aceh,
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Five years had passed since the tsunami hit Banda Aceh in Indonesia. I've never thought that I would go there until one of my clients talked about diving there. The awesome Air Asia flies directly to Banda Aceh from KL. We arrived in Banda Aceh a few hours before the ferry left to Pulau Weh. So, we decided to check out the infamous ship that was stranded on the mainland during the tsunami disaster. I was flabbergasted when I saw a huge ship in the middle of the village. It is now a monument and serves as a reminder of what happened for the locals and visitors. All around it, you could only see small houses and judging by their appearances, they were still recovering from the disaster that struck in December 2004. It was mind-boggling to see such a huge ship at this unlikely place. From the deck, I could see the sea very far away.

From there, we went straight to the ferry terminal. As soon as we got to Pulau Weh, we board on a van to take us to Iboih Beach. We managed to find a couple of travelers who were going to the same place so we were able to share the cost. Iboih was a lovely village. It was very small and there was nothing to do here. Well, you could dive and just 'lazy-ing’ on the beach. I didn’t plan to dive, but after the first day I figured I’d go crazy if I didn’t do anything for the next 4 days. So I signed up for my Open Water Dive Course. I dove with Rubiah Tirta Divers. They were great. They’re local people. I prefer to support local business instead of diving with another dive shop owned by Europeans.

So, the next few days, I was just busy with my dive classes. There was a girl from the UK. We had the same instructor but she was doing her Rescue Diver Course. So, apart from my own diving, I had to be the casualty many times for her rescue practice. It was really fun. This place was just beautiful and peaceful. At night, you could see thousands of stars on the sky.

A few days later, I finished my Open Water Course. So we decided to check out the other part of the island. First up, we went to Sumur Tiga Beach. The locals said it is the best beach on the island. I couldn’t agree more! In fact, it is probably the best beach I’ve ever been. Even better, when we got there no one was around! Later in the afternoon, a few local kids came along and had a splash. I had a great time at the beach after riding the motorcycle around the island. It was a nice way to explore the island but it was really hot. After a few hours, we were back on the motorcycle. This time, we rode all the way up to the northernmost tip of the island (perhaps the northernmost of Indonesia too?) and waited for the sunset. It was beautiful but it was a bit scary going back to Iboih after that because it was dark. All we had was the headlamp of that old motorcycle.

There was a small coffee shop on Iboih where I had my last brekkie on the island and enjoying the sunrise. I didn’t want to leave! I’ve had so much fun here. We arrived at Banda Aceh a few hours earlier that the flight to KL. So, off we went to check out the recently built Tsunami Museum. It was raining and it was not close to the airport so we took a taxi. Talked to the taxi driver and asked him about the tsunami and how it affected him. He said that he lost 2 kids and his wife. Poor guy. The museum had not opened yet, so we just took some pictures of it. It was a nice building. The design is supposed to look like a wave, to commemorate the event. That was the last place we visited in Banda Aceh. I hope I will be back here someday!
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