Tag Archives: Water

Want to have a super weekend in Banda Aceh?! Here’s how!

It was a busy weekend in Banda Aceh this weekend. And like the best weekends it lasted for three days. Sunday was Indonesian Independence Day so a public holiday was observed on Monday.

Friday was the 3rd anniversary of the cessation of conflict between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement. There were public events all day and I quickly dropped in on one in the afternoon to see one of our NGO partners perform (they have a band). All I found was the Deputy Governor giving a ratherlong speech…and a sign telling me where I could stand.

Pria (men) to the left and wanita (women) to the right. Sex segregation in the middle of the day? Really? When I first saw the sign I hoped it was directions to the bathroom…

Later that night at the same location there was a concert with the very popular and very awesome Acehnese performer, Rafly. The segregation plan failed and there were boys and girls sitting wherever they felt like it. Standing was strictly forbidden though. I guess it might have led to…dancing! Gasp! Rafly really knows how to rock your socks off so it was a killer to remain seated when the music was telling you to shake your bootie. Occasionally some boys lost control and jumped up to dance…but they were very quickly reminded by crowd control to sit down (crowd control=military so you actually have to listen to them).

On Sunday, Independence Day, there were all kinds of festivities around town, including panjat pinang where groups of men from the local area climb a slippery pole to grab the loot at the top (the loot consisted of electrical appliances at the one we saw). A few of us headed to a local park to watch as groups of men tried with varying levels of success to reach the top of the pole. There were two poles, each was smeared in grease and was the height of maybe 6 or 7 men.

Here are some men at the base of one of the poles.

This group have almost made it to the top.

And this guy was the first to reach the top.

He proceeded to detach the boxes and throw them down to the ground. Fortunately the boxes were symbolic. The appliances had been removed before being attached to the pole. A friend of mine saw one of these competitions in which the victor threw down a blender from the top of the pole and it smashed.

On Monday a few of us decided to go for a walk to the secret secret beach. I call it the secret secret beach to distinguish it from the regular secret beach, which is not a secret at all because everyone knows where it is and it’s easy to get there. The secret secret beach actually deserves its name….we walked for a few hours and couldn’t find it.

Here is the wholesome hiking troupe making our way along the track. At this point we were pretty sure we were on the right track because our GPS told us so (that’s right…we even had a GPS and we still didn’t make it!)

We continued along the track but eventually arrived at a cliff that was very clearly a dead end. Fortunately this was the view at the dead end:

Can’t be too sad about finding a view like that.

At this point we were low on drinking water and it was very hot, so like sensible little hikers we turned back. We had received some guidance (relating to both navigation and life) along the way from an old man who stayed in a hut along the track. On our way back we stopped in at the hut for a chat. He was deaf so our communication was limited, but he did give us some life lessons (because what else is an old man in the forest going to do?)

Life lessons from the old man.
1. get married
2. have babies
3. getting married and having babies is good
4. Hedgehog is tasty and good for virility

I was pretty much ready to sign up for marriage and babies by the end of the hike.

Here, Simone and Marcus are sitting in the man’s hut.

Here, Cat is talking to the old man.

A little further on from the old man’s house is a natural well he collects water from. It’s salty so you can’t drink it but it’s perfect for pouring over your head, as demonstrated so beautifully by Simone.

After making it out of the forest we stopped in at the easy-to-find-secret-beach for a quick swim and then headed to Joel’s for drinks and pizza. Marcus ordered our drinks while Simone and I used the showers.

We came back to the table to find (each):
1 big bottle of water
1 pocari sweat (isotonic drink)
1 coke
1 pineapple juice

We were pretty thirsty.

This weekend was probably as good as they get… I reflected on this as I had a hot shower (it was truly glorious) at Marcus, Simone and Cat’s place after returning from the beach. How can you beat that?

Sunday is also a great day for the beach

I spent another lovely day at the beach this weekend. I know I should be posting about the millions of things that happen in between beach trips but it takes more time than I have today to prepare those posts.

I was supposed to go on a boat trip on Sunday. Some of you may recall me writing about these trips here, and they are without fail a really great day. But I woke up on Sunday feeling tired and unwell so I stayed home and Sas cooked me a breakfast burrito.

Fortunately, there were a few other boat trip rejects (illness, work and other things got in the way of their participation), so around midday Simone, Cat, Azeemah and I went to beach, wandered and collected shells.
Later in the afternoon we met Marcus and ate crab with noodles for lunch. So delicious. I forgot to take a photo of the crab but you can see in this photo of Simone the remainders of our feast. We stayed at the beach for a looooong time. It was so great to be out there for the whole day, although I am now quite burnt (but only on the very few bits of skin that see daylight. I was wearing a high-neck, long sleeve shirt and a long skirt).

As you can imagine by looking at the photo below, we were a group of very happy and chill people by the end of the day.
Oh! I almost forgot the greatest moment that happened after this last photo. We went for a swim as the sun went down and the undercurrent was so strong that my legs were pulled from under me and I was dragged out to sea…only to be thrown back to shore a couple of seconds later…and then dragged out again…thrown back to shore. I had no control over this process at all. I don’t really know how I broke the cycle but it wasn’t without effort and getting tangled in my own skirt while doing it. Ahhhh, funny.

Wenesday is the perfect day for the beach

After a week of inefficiency and time wasting I am trying to turn the productivity dial up to maximum force, so I will just post some pictures from a walk along the beach on Wednesday (a very rare and welcome UN-observed public holiday).

We found a fish. Marcus wanted to kiss it.

Then we found this thing….Any ideas on what this is? Anyone?

Then we rested and reflected on the spectacles we’d seen.

Power returns

The power is back on! It came on last night just as I was about to venture out to find a friend with a generator so I could have a shower.

My bak mandi (the tiled bath/trough that holds water) was mysteriously empty when I got home from work so I had no water at all. I started concocting conspiracy theories (e.g. the cleaner used my water to wash the floors…) and realised first hand the tension and complexity of water politics.

I expected the power to go off again but it seems to be here for keeps this time. And that’s not the only good news.

Yesterday I received two pieces of mail. TWO! One piece of mail was a very cute photo of the twins (who have changed enough that I can’t tell which is which) and the other was this:

A package from the delightful Elisa!

Look at all those lollies and chocolate (the snakes were already half consumed when I took this photo…about 2 minutes after I opened the package).

The blue thing in the corner turns into this!:

The photo isn’t great but I was too excited to worry about photo quality. What a great bag! It’s from Douglas & Hope, one of my favourite shops in Melbourne. I’m so pleased to have something so nice here. I will take it to the shops tonight and dazzle all.

Thanks Jess and Elisa for the great deliveries.


I got back from KL yesterday around lunchtime (48 hour round trip. I love it!) and walked into a monster blackout. Yesterday was day two of a blackout that is predicted to last three or four days. The electricity was out since morning and came on for an hour around midnight and is back off again, presumably for the whole day.

Blackouts have their good points but they also have their bad points.


  • No lights and no TV means a quiet house and relaxed occupants. Last night I had wound down so much that I was asleep by 10.30pm.
  • You have no choice but to go out and find food at one of the restaurants with a generator.
  • Your laptop will run out of battery power so you’re forced not to do work (one organisation sent everyone home at 5.30pm last night so they could turn off the generator and our generator is going off at 6pm tonight).


  • Without electricity the pump doesn’t work so we have no water. That means no showers and after a while the bak mandi empties too, which means no washing at all and no flushing the toilet. Fortunately an hour of electricity at night allowed me to run around the house turning on all the taps (but not all at once, it seems that two taps at the same time is the pump’s limit).
  • No AC or fans. Usually the discomfort of sleeping in the heat can be overcome by taking a cold shower. Please see the first point. (My friend Jess told me last night that she took water from the drinking water dispenser to wash! This is true ingenuity.)

I’m not bothered yet because I arrived freshly washed from KL yesterday, but I’m guessing the novelty will wear off soon. I’ll keep you posted.