North Sumatra & Aceh in 10 Days (7): Weh Island

21/01/2013

Okay, this is it, my last day in North Sumatra.

I rise up early morning, packing my stuff, and check out from the hotel. El and I ride a betor to Polonia Airport to catch our flight to Aceh. It’s Monday and we’re in the middle of rush hour. If we were at Jakarta, we’d be 100% late, but Medan is a small city, we don’t have to worry about rush hour or even a traffic jam.

Touchdown Aceh

The flight’s schedule is on time, a thing you wouldn’t find often in most of Indonesian airlines’ flights. We board on the plane safe and sound, it’s time to say bye-bye to North Sumatra, it’s been a roller-coaster-fun journey. After 45 minutes flight, the plane lands smoothly at Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport. The fact that this is a nice, clean airport without any sign of rusted metal, rotten wood or fogged glass indicate that it has been built not too long ago, perhaps right after tsunami.

Our next plan is to catch a ferry to Weh Island. We still have many time but we won’t take any chance, so we’re heading straight to Ulee Lheue harbor with a rented car.

It’s 12 PM, and apparently we’re two hours early. Well, since we’re starving and there’s no decent lunch place in the harbor, we decide to go back to Banda Aceh for lunch and drop by some places. Our first visit is Tsunami Museum, unfortunately the museum is closed for two hours. Disappointed, I choose to take a few pictures around this well-designed minimalist museum, following by having lunch in a restaurant near the museum.

After lunch, I think it’s a good idea to visit one more place. We’re trying our luck to another tourist attraction: “PLTD Terapung”. But it’s already closed. I never experienced something like this. In many places, even in a lunch break, the tourist attraction is still open. Perhaps it’s something to do with Sharia law in Aceh. During prayer time, there should be no activity.

There’s nothing we can do, so we decide to go back to the Ulee Lheue harbor. One hour later, we board on the ferry and sail to Weh Island.

Iboih

The usual 2-hour trip now takes 3 hours because the main harbor in Weh Island is under repair, so the ferry has to take longer route to the temporary harbor on another side of the island. We plan to spend the night at Iboih beach, but there’s no public transportation leaving for Iboih. To reach the beach, all we have to do is ride a van, but the van must be filled with at least 5 people otherwise the driver won’t go or we have to spend great amount of money just to reach Iboih. The second alternative is to ride a betor, but I won’t recommend it because the road to Iboih is quite far and there’s 100% chance you’d catch a cold. Use it if there isn’t any van available (usually after dark).

We arrive at 6 PM, searching for a place to spend the night. The room rate in Iboih is variable, from the luxurious package to the backpacker budget. We choose a budget room at Tirta Rubiah and meet the caretaker, Bang Jack, an elderly cool guy with tough frame. Since we have arrived at Weh Island, visiting 0 km monument is a must, so we rent a motorcycle from Bang Jack and hurrying up to the site because the night starts to creep over Weh Island.

0 KM monument is located at the end of the road. Like many tourist attractions in Indonesia, it’s quite unorganized and poorly maintained. Graffiti in a few spots, wild grass around and on the monument. We plan to enjoy the sunset, but the cloud covered the horizon. Our plan has failed, nevertheless we reach the 0 km anyway. It’s dark and time to get back to the Iboih.

At Iboih, Bang Jack lead us to the one of the bungalows. Right beside the beach, it’s nice and cozy, with front porch facing the ocean. Unluckily, there’s a power outages. Bang Jack said that this isn’t uncommon in Iboih, after many useless complaints to PLN, they’re getting used to it. One hour later, the outages ends and we’re rapidly charging our smartphones to the max.

After having a mediocre dinner at the nearest restaurant and back to the bungalow, we’re sitting on the porch while enjoying a cool breeze of wind and listening to the sound of the ocean side by side with the song of leaves rustling on the branches. Ahhh…it’s gonna be a peaceful night.

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