Early morning Banda Aceh

The strangest thing happened at 6.30 this morning. If I were to tell you without giving background I am sure that the bulk of responses would be along the lines of “you were awake at 6.30am?” or “you do exercise?”Allow me to explain.

Most mornings I go out at about 6.30 to get some exercise (usually jog but this morning all I could muster was a brisk walk). My favoured approach of ‘incidental exercise’ (i.e. walking to work and taking the stairs) doesn’t really work here in the land of chauffeur-driven cars and sexual harassment from boys on motorbikes so I have to make exercise happen….early in the morning.

I go out early because by 7am there are lots of cars, motorbikes and people around, which means two things:

  1. I could get hit by a moving vehicle
  2. I get stared at because a sleepy white person running around in trackies and listening to an ipod is just plain weird
But Banda Aceh is itself quite weird at that time of the morning for the following reasons:
  • The sun is just rising, so it’s not dark anymore, but the light is super creepy.
  • It’s quiet, which is just impossible to believe at any other time of day or night.
  • There are so few people around we all say hello to each other and pretend we live in a less densely populated country where everybody knows everybody.
  • There are few enough cars and motorbikes on the road that you can actually look away from oncoming traffic long enough to notice the mountains surrounding the city.
  • The cows. They take over the streets at that time of the morning and I have to get way closer to big bulls than I am comfortable with. To be totally honest and share my fears, even the regular sized cows are pretty scary.
But, this morning an even weirder thing happened. I was walking past a house and a little girl, maybe 1 year old, was stumbling around her front yard crying. Like really bawling. In her left hand she had a really big knife. It was the sort of thing you would use to hack at something.Usually I don’t approach little kids here because they are scared of me and my creepy white face, but it didn’t seem right to walk straight past this baby that was crying. So I stopped and talked to her, and made very subtle attempts to take the knife out of her hand, but all it did was focus her crying — towards me.

Then her dad came out of the house and saw this foreigner girl harassing his baby and making her cry. I new it was futile trying to explain that I was only a secondary cause of crying (the first cause still unknown), so I just ran away.

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One thought on “Early morning Banda Aceh

  1. Josh

    This is a very interesting story. Disturbing. Emblematic somehow of the struggle of life. Rather like a dream sequence.

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