North Sumatra & Aceh in 10 Days (9): Strolling Outside The City


At 6 AM, I prepare my backpack, fill it only the essentials for one night at the mountain: A jacket, a raincoat, one pair of wool socks, a set of clothes and of course: my camera. I’m gonna climb Goh Leumo at 2 PM. It means that there’s an eight hours free time. First, it’s time for a breakfast.

In Aceh, people usually have breakfast in a coffee shop which is open as early as 6 in the morning. My friend from Aceh said that here, people would drink coffee as many as 5-6 times a day: after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, afternoon coffee, after dinner, and sometimes at midnight. That’s a lot of coffee! At the coffee shop, I choose nasi lemak as my breakfast, a kind of meal that Bondan Winarno would say something like “Maknyus!” or “Top markotop!”

The first destination is Pasir Putih beach outside the city, about 20 km from Banda Aceh.  I stop at the top of the hill on the road to the beach to photograph Malahayati seaport. The port’s name is taken from the 16th-century admiral in the navy of Aceh Sultanate: Keumalahayati/Malahayati, probably the first woman admiral in the world.

Photographing the port from above the hill with clear blue sky is a bliss, considering it’s still rainy season. I continue my ride to the beach. It’s just another common white sand beach, nothing special, but what makes it different is the tree formation on the water, making it unique and perfect objects for landscape photography and forced me to stay a little bit longer on the beach, nearly one hour.

Next stop is Fort Indra Patra. Built in the 7th century, this fortress has been a tough survivor for 14 centuries through the golden era of Hindu kingdom to present day. It’s so badass that it could withstand the great tsunami in 2004.


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