Difference between revisions of "Aceh"
Revision as of 08:55, 16 January 2013
Aceh (pronounced "ah-chey", various spellings include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin)  is a province and special territory (daerah istimewa) of Indonesia, located in the northern part of the island of Sumatra. Population 4.2 million.
The province of Aceh is located in the Northwest of Sumatra Island with the area of approximately 57,365.57 km square or 12.26 % of size of Sumatra Island. It consists of 119 islands, 73 major rivers and 2 lakes. Aceh is surrounded by Malacca Strait in the north, North Sumatra Province in the east, Indian Ocean in the south and the west. The capital of Aceh is Banda Aceh.
Aceh was long known for its desire for political independence from Indonesia. When the 26 December 2004 Tsunami hit the coastline of Aceh, the Acehnese welcomed and accepted the help offered from outside donors and communities in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the province.
The tremendous loss of life also influenced the thinking of political figures of the province, and the Aceh Government became more open to peace talks. The 29 year long struggle for special control (autonomy or independence) subsequently ended with the Helsinki Peace Agreement which was signed on 15 August 2005, and the decision to remain a province of Indonesia. Since then, the peace process has been quite smooth, without major incidents.The "AAM" (Aceh Monitoring Mission) funded by the EU oversaw the process.
There are a number of major towns, among them: Banda Aceh (capital), Lokhseumawe, Meulaboh, Sigli, and Calang. Also the island of Sabang (an hour ferry ride from Banda Aceh), considered a diver's and snorkeler's paradise, belongs to the province.
For many years, travel in this part of Indonesia had been restricted by the Government due to a long war with an Acehnese separatist guerrilla force. More recently, on 26 December 2004, the coastal portions of the area were devastated by a huge earthquake triggering a tsunami, which is estimated to have killed up over 160,000 people in Aceh and completely devastated coastal infrastructure (including the capital city of Banda Aceh), and made over 500,000 people homeless.
Since a peace agreement was signed in Helsinki on 15 August 2005 between the Indonesian Government and Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (Aceh Independence Movement), the Indonesian Government, in cooperation with the European Union, has been working with the local militia to disarm weapons, with great success. After the tsunami, the UN and numerous international aid agencies moved in, in a quest to reconstruct the area.
Conservative dress is expected.
The largest portion of Leuser National Park is in Aceh Province, and provides habitat for many endangered species, including the Sumatran Tiger and forest Rhinoceros.
Bahasa Indonesia is spoken by most Acehnese, but sometimes you will hear Bahasa Aceh (Acehnese), Bahasa Gayo (Gayonese), and other more minor languages.
Banda Aceh is now a visa-on-arrival entry point. There are two direct international flights to Banda Aceh. Air Asia  offers flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, while Firefly  connects four times a week from Penang. Prices of tickets range from 15 to 70 USD. Indonesian consulates and embassies abroad also issue 60 day tourist visas.
Domestically, there are daily flights between Jakarta and Banda Aceh by Garuda Indonesia , Lion Air  via Medan and Sri Wijaya . Sri Wijaya is the cheapest but Lion Air and Garuda fly generally newer aircraft.
The road from Medan to Banda Aceh are now reasonable. Especially the express night buses from Medan 10 hours,200 000 IDR are a good deal. Non express day and night buses are cheaper (150 000 IDR) and take longer 12-14 hours.
The Ferry from Penang to Langsa with a capacity of 138 passengers commences operation from the 21st of February and costs RM 180 return .
There is no need for travel permits anymore in Aceh. Taxis, rental cars and motor taxis are available in Banda Aceh.
There are many hotels and also other types of accommodation available in Banda Aceh and the surrounding area. There are many cheap guest houses in the popular local beachside areas of Lhoknga and Lampuuk, there are a range of very affordable guest houses which cater mostly to international tourists, particularly surfers and adventurers.
Aceh is rich of events, attraction and unique cultures that will fascinate anyone. Aceh is also rich in natural beauty, waves and sea garden which is suitable for diving. Some of the most beautiful Aceh tourism and historical sites and beaches have been damaged by the massive earthquake and Dec '04 Tsunami.
Highlights: The Baiturrahman Great Mosque, Aceh State Museum, The Graves of Sultan Iskandar Muda and of Teungku Syiah Kuala, Salahuddin Graveyard in Bitay (Turkey village), Ujong Batee and Lampuuk Beaches, Tjut Nyak Dien Museum, Rubiah Sea Garden, Simpang Balok Hot Water Pool, Linga Isaag Hunting Area, Leuser National Park, Cakra Donya Bell, remains of the Samudra Pasai Kingdom and Teungku Chik Di Tiro Heros Cemetery.
Aceh for Nature and Outdoor Lovers Arrive in Medan, travel from Medan to the jungle resort of Bukit Lawang from there you can go to the more remote Tangkahan. From Tangkahan travel to the mysterious Danau Laut Tawar near Takengon were you can hike and climb some spectacular volcanoes. From Takengon you can travel to Banda Aceh. There you can visit some great beaches and mountain biking and hiking. Banda Aceh is also the place to get a ferry to Sabang or Pulau Weh where you can dive and snorkle.
Fantastic diving on Pulau Weh (called "Sabang" by the locals, the name of the city on the island). If you're certified, expect to pay €25 for your first dive, €20 for every dive afterward.
Aceh is also great for hiking and mountain biking and bicycling.
Surfing is great at Lok'na beach where you can also rent boards and do surfing courses. Also in nearby Lampuuk (3km NE of Lok'na) a variety of beachside and mountain recreational attractions and activities is developing very rapidly. Many restaurants and fresh seafood stalls have been established since 2008, with some of the restaurants providing very affordable accommodation, some with panoramic views of the mountains, beaches and seaside area.
Arab, Persian, and Indian traders influenced food in Aceh although flavours have changed to be little like their original form. Amongst these are curry dishes known as kare or gulai, which are rich, coconut-based dishes traditionally made with beef, goat, fish or poultry, but are now also made with tofu, vegetables, and jackfruit. Popular Acehnese food includes roti cane and mie aceh.
New restaurants and seafood stalls are popping up all the time in the local Lhoknga and lampuuk seaside areas of Banda Aceh as the local economy develops.
The insurgency may be officially over, but Aceh remains a somewhat unsettled place, with a rate of violent crime — partly political, partly not — exceeding most of the rest of the archipelago. In 2009, a German Red Cross worker was shot in broad daylight in Banda Aceh.