It took me 3 days to finally see the view from my hotel room at Hermes Palace. Wasn't bad, but wasn't exactly spectacular, either.


It was hectic today. Fabio and I were at breakfast at 8 something when he got a call that 2 luxurious hotels in Jakarta were bombed. They were the Ritz Carlton Hotel and J.W. Marriott Hotel.

Speculations emerged soon after the bombing which killed 9 people, 2 of them being completely destroyed. Some security analysts said that although it was too early to decide who was behind this, there was a possibility that Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) was behind this. Politicians linked the bombing to the election since it was just a little while ago the Presidential election of Indonesia was conducted.

In the mean time, Indonesian football enthusiasts were deeply disappointed and angered by the occurence that soon after the news went worldwide, famous English club Manchester United had to cancel their trip to Indonesia given the fact that they were supposedly to be staying in Ritz Carlton hotel.

So we spent the day going for rounds of live interviews with the government of Aceh while in the mean time making calls to some analysts so that Fabio could write it in the 30 minutes to one hour window time he had within one interview and another.

Change of ticket

We survived the day, nevertheless. And I've decided to stay longer to see more of Aceh. Vincent did not like the idea, but I hardly saw anything during my three-day stay. I just had to change my Garuda ticket so that I could go home on Sunday.

World Bank Aceh staff

I like them. They're sweet, friendly, very accommodating, and helpful. Some of them like photography and so I shared some of photography tips with them and they almost immediately thought that I was a pro photographer.

"I am not," I said, "But I will be."

That's a positive thing to say about your future career. Hehe...

This is Dhea. She works at the front office and she definitely has an interesting face. I also found out that Dhea and the other WB girls seemed to collect cute stuff and display them on their desks. Look at this one over here.


One of the most important things in my travel is the specialty food of the region I'm visiting. I made some research in advance and decided that I wanted to eat Ayam Tangkap, just because of its name. Ayam means chicken and Tangkap (verb) means to catch. Wasted name like that caught my interest. I mean of course you have to catch the chicken first before you kill it and cook it, right? Anyway, below is Ayam Tangkap.

Review: I have to go rough this time, I'm sorry. But ayam tangkap is not that much of a special food. It consists of small pieces of chicken that are deepfried along with some herbs of I don't remember what kind (I don't think I've ever heard it before). I liked the fried greens but the chicken was just.... ordinary.

Those are some pictures I took on day two. It was a busy day and I didn't go out much. I've got one short comment, though.


One of the things that made me curious about Aceh is to see how the sharia law is implemented here. Indonesia may not be an Islam country, but it has more Muslims than any country in the world. However, the spread of them is not the same in each region. Bali, for example, is dominated by the Hindus. While Aceh is obviously dominated by Muslims - not quite the moderate ones judging from the fact that it is the only province in Indonesia where sharia law is implemented side by side with the government law.

In an interview with the culture department of Aceh two years ago, I knew that the sharia law was imposed to the Muslims, and not the non-Muslims. However, I feel the need to respect their culture.

Whilst staying at a nice hotel with a nice swimming pool (plus with the alarming signal I got when I stood in front of the mirror and saw that I had three layers of tummy), I thought I'd go for a swim. The problem is: I only have a bikini. So I asked one of the World Bank/MDF staff here, Friesca, if it was okay for me to wear a bikini to swim.

"I think it's okay. But you need to tell the receptionist that you're going to swim so that they could close all the curtains that see through the lobby area and the restaurant."


I immediately thought it was not worth the embarassment. If they're embarrassed, I think I should too. No?

Warung Kopi

Warung kopi (coffee shop) in Aceh is very popular. It is not the same with the filthy small warung kopi in Java, or fancy warung kopi in Bali, leave alone the easy-access-of-weed coffee shops in the Netherlands. But it is a warung kopi a size of decent warung or restaurant with a 32-inch flat screen TV. I was told that it was a place where people hang out the most.

What I wasn't told was that women don't normally go to warung kopi.

So I arrived there with Fabio and two other men from the MDF to find out that I was the only woman coming there. When the waiter came over, he took a note on everybody's order and of course I would like to have the famous kopi Aceh.

One of the guys said, "Really? You drink coffee?"


I am still to find out whether Acehnese women do drink coffee or if it is the privilege of the men.
Half Day Journey.

So I'm in Aceh for work. Wednesday, the 15th I left my house at 5 o'clock to catch my early flight to Banda Aceh. I arrived in Jakarta at 7 (8 Bali time) and had a 2-hour transit before the plane left for Banda Aceh. Wait a minute, I mean I thought it was a direct flight to Aceh from Jakarta. But I was wrong. We had to drop off most of the passengers in Medan, picked up new passengers, then finally flew to Aceh.

Aerial views of Aceh
Aerial views of AcehAerial views of AcehAerial view of Aceh - dry

We arrived at 13:30, my face so greasy, my eyes red and my whole body hurt. I longed for a comfortable bed so I could lie down for 10 minutes. But hey, it so happened that we didn't have enough time to rest before our first interview. So we went directly to the World Bank Aceh office.

Single Night Out

My boss decided that he was not hardworking enough, so he opted to stay at the hotel and work some more.
The hotel I'm staying at the moment

Me? I was freaking tired and the only thing I wished for was to sleep and rest my body, but realising that my time was very limited in Aceh, I thought I'd forced myself to go out after a quick lovely shower.

First Acehnese food I ate was in a warung in front of the Hermes Palace hotel, where I stayed. I had the usual nasi campur (Aceh), which tasted surprisingly similar with East Javanese nasi campur. But it was good.

Then I took a stroll while swearing when my Rp500,000 high heels got stuck in the mud and started to get my feet swollen. Immediately I tried to find the closest convenience store and bough a pair of red flip-flops. Felt much better.


ceh's becak (pedicap) is quite peculiar compared to the Javanese one. The idea is the same: passengers sit on a sort of bench on two wheels with the driver. However, while the driver in Java normally sits and paddles his becak from behind, here they sit next to the passengers on a motorbike attached to the becak. Less energy out, more passengers in (compared to ojek). Clever.

Grand Mosque Baiturrahman

I decided to go to the nearest, biggest attraction of the city. Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman. It is big, though I imagined it would be much bigger. But it's got a spacious garden. I paid Pak Fuadi, the becak driver, Rp 20,000 to get me there and back. I wasn't sure what the good price was. A becak driver right in front of Hermes Palace asked me for Rp 50,000 with the hope that I would bargain. But as usual, I never bargain when the starting point is already too high. Also because he knew that I was staying in the fancy hotel. Sorry, Pak. I am not paying for the hotel. The second one asked for Rp 30,000, which sounded more reasonable, and I haggled it to Rp 20,000.

Anyway, I wasn't too impressed with the mosque, especially at night when my shots tended to be blurry since I didn't have my tripod with me. But at least I saw one part of the city, which in December 2004 suffered from the most devastating tsunami ever recorded in the world history.


Guess what picture it is below. If you are correct, you'll get a clap!

This is too hilarious to be missed.

The video shows the Air New Zealand crews explaining how to use the safety tools in the airplanes. It is a common procedure for every airline to do this before the plane takes off. What is different from Air New Zealand's video is that the crews were all naked. What looks to be uniforms they are wearing is actually bodypainting.

This trick works its wonder as now more people on board are paying attention to what air safety is and how to use it.