So, continuing on from yesterday’s story…after enjoying burgers and fries by the pool, Rijal the superstar becak driver picked us up to take us home. After driving for a while we realised we weren’t heading directly home.
“Where are you taking us Rijal?”
“Jalan jalan sore” (which roughly translates as “afternoon drive/stroll”)
Jess had picked up on the very festive vibe earlier in the day (think of that meat market as a supermarket on Christmas Eve) and by 5pm the whole town was feeling silly. The cat calls to our becak were particularly ridiculous. One old man walked up to us while we were stopped in traffic and said simply “You and me? I love you, do you love me?” wiggling his finger back and forth between us both as if to say “don’t you feel the connection baby?” Best part: he was about 170 years old and didn’t seem to mind that he was declaring his love to two girls simultaneously. Instead of being creepy like these shout outs sometimes are, this day they were a bit cheeky and funny, like “it’s Hari Meugang, to hell with being serious!”
After plowing through traffic in the centre of town we headed towards the suburbs by the sea. Everything was destroyed by the tsunami in this part of town and the roads are brand new (well, they’ve probably been rebuilt three times since the tsunami but at the moment they are brand new), so we hooned around on the wide, sealed roads as the sun when down, ducking in and out of small village streets, onto big thoroughfares with beautiful views of the sea and the mountains and the sunset.
This is how much fun it was:
And then…everything fell into place. It was obvious…Jess had to drive the becak.
Jess was an INCREDIBLE becak driver. All was going well until the brand new road ended.
“Jess!! There’s NO MORE ROAD! STOP!”.
“I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE IS THE BREAK!”
Fortunately, Jess handled the situation amazingly, like a real becak driver (who hasn’t figured out where the break is yet). Jess slowed down and everything was OK. Rijal resumed control of the becak and we continued on our jalan jalan sore. We went to the edge of town where the water meets the hills and Rijal showed us the entrance to a hike through the hills to a secret beach. We drove along a road built on top of a man-made sea wall that looks like it connects villages that were cut off by flooding to the rest of the town (this is 100% speculation, no facts were used to develop this theory). There is water on either side of the road as you ride along it. We saw monkeys and a lot of cows who were lucky to have survived the day (but probably didn’t survive the next). I don’t have any photos of this, sorry. Trust me when I tell you it was pretty darn nice.
THEN (yes, this day really went forever), we drove out of town to the beach where our friends Enda and Jen were having a joint farewell/birthday party. The party was at Joel’s, an icon for the foreign residents of Banda Aceh. We ate wood-fire pizza (but not a lot because we’d only eaten burgers a few hours ago) and drank beer (hence it’s iconic status for foreigners) and got a little bit creeped out by a guy who befriended us. His name was Tom. Was he friends with Enda or Jen? Yes, I am. He just wanted to make friends, but as Rijal put it “he’s a little bit crazy”.
After delicious chocolate and banana cake was served, it was 10.30pm and Sarah was TUCKERED OUT! I was so ready for bed that I hopped on Rijal’s becak and drove it home. Well…I drove it to the end of the street.
As we drove back into town, Jess and I discussed how we were going to handle the separation (our day had started at 7.30am when I arrived at her house for a hot shower and by now it was 11pm). I bid Jess adieu and Rijal drove me home. I went straight to my room and crawled into bed.
Jess and I went back to the hotel last night for the massage and facial we’d planned for Saturday…We went in a little highly strung and came out as two very chiiiilllllled individuals. I wish I had a photo of us as we practically sleep walked out of there. But I was too chilled to think about my camera…