This weekend, we have what I've been told is a relatively rare two-day weekend, giving us time to do errands and (for me) take my first photos of Banda Aceh. On Saturday, Juan Gonzalez moved into a house he rented for the duration of the project. His wife Pam will move over from Las Vegas next month. Our secretaries helped him buy some starter stuff for his house, and I tagged along. Here are the photos:
This is a shot of guest house where we stay. I occupy a big bedroom with attached bathroom in this house. They serve us a simple breakfast of eggs, which I augment with a bowl of Quaker oatmeal that can be bought in a big bag in town. The landlady told me that "God was good to us. Our house was not touched in any way by the tsunami, not even a burned-out light bulb. Our neighbors were not so lucky." She added additional bedrooms to the house and now uses it to house visitors like us. A recent visitor (before I got here) was a personal acquaintance of hers, the former Malaysian prime minister,Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed.
The house has a pretty impressive interior: a koi (carp) pond and a sitting room is visible when I step outside my room.
Our neighborhood mosque, barely visible from the upstairs of this house, has a gleaming silver dome. It and the other mosques in the area serve as a built-in alarm clock, with the call to prayer blaring out at 5 am every morning through loudspeakers. This mosque's meuzzin has a decent voice, but unfortunately the same can't be said for the others around us. Check out the prayer in the Wikipedia entry for Azaan.
At 7:40 am, one of our project cars shows up to transport the three or four of us that stay in this house. Here's Brad Philips, the project director, getting into the car. Brad's a former Thailand Peace Corps Volunteer. His dad lives in Meadowview Commons in Elk Rapids, MI.
In our temporary office (we move next month to more permanent office space), I sit across from Heni (L) and Shanti (R), typist and filing clerk, respectively. You'll see them again later in this blog.
This is the house that Juan just rented. It's Saturday afternoon, and we're off to hunt for some basics that Juan needs to keep the place going until his wife Pam shows up next month. Many nice houses have been built lately for the expatriate market, accommodating the flood of foreign aid workers and engineers coming into Aceh.
This is the street scene outside the premier department store and supermarket in Banda Aceh. Note the motorcycle-driven rickshaws known as becak (pronounced bey-chak). Years ago, these becaks were driven by bicycles instead of motorcycles.
First, the towels and other linens.
While Juan, Heni and Shanti are puttering around the linens, I check out the household dry goods/hardware section. It's very well stocked.
There are checkout counters on every floor. A cashier and bagger staff this floor's checkout unit.
Our last stop is the grocery store (supermarket) on the ground floor. Also excellently stocked with local and imported goodies.
We locate sugarless jam and sugarless peanut butter! Very important for a low-carb diet. (No, I didn't say low-calorie!)
Heni and Shanti take a break from helping Juan and pose for a photo.
Familiar supermarket checkout scene: cashier-and-bagger teams man the checkout counters. No so different from anywhere else!
We now move on to another area, a more traditional market, to buy more stuff. We drive past the provincial mosque for Aceh, whose formal provincial name is Nanggröe Aceh Darussalam.
We reach a more traditional market area, looking for bed linens. This is the main street outside the alleys that we scoured to find the linens.
There are a lot of fruit vendor stalls along the streets. Note the long papayas typical of SE Asia, unlike our Hawaiian ones that are shaped more like eggplants.
Another fruit vendor, this one selling out of his pickup truck.
This guy is a banana specialist (with a few mangoes thrown in)
Some folks, like this gentleman, come to the market on becak's...
while others, like these young girls, roar through on their motorcycles!
Juan, with Shanti doing the bargaining, found a set of sheets for his bed. This being a traditional market, none of the prices are fixed and you have to bargain for the best price. As a foreigner, you'll probably not get as good a price as a local would. This area got hit by the tsunami pretty badly. Some of the stores upstairs in the buildings are still shuttered --- the owners did not make it during the disaster.
We finished this outing by visiting what has become a tourist attraction... this barge was a municipal electricity generating plant offshore. When the tsunami hit, it was lifted up and deposited on this residential neighborhood (which itself suffered substantial damage).
Another shot of the barge. Note the houses nearby. One of them is an ad-hoc restaurant catering to the tourists who come to gawk at the barge.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now it's Sunday. I take some time off from doing GIS homework and decide to walk around the town a bit (at least the parts nearer to my quarters)... I manage to wander into the area where we've been eating dinner the last few days...
I walk past a bunch of guys hanging out at a local coffee shop. They ask me to take their picture, so I do. And here they are!
In this town recovering from the effects of the tsunami, there's a KFC... the economy must be doing well ...
then I run into a Pizza Hut! Could there be more examples of fine US cuisine?
You bet! There was an A&W restaurant in the part of town nearer to our guest house! Hmmm... is this the US idea of disaster relief? (Actually, the US AID is building roads and other solid infrastructure in Aceh ... these fast food places are the Indonesian franchisees of the US brands.)
The local corner news-stand is busy with hangers-on this Sunday afternoon. The news-stand owner and his buddy graciously agree to being photographed.
... as did the parking attendant
I then stumble onto a nice, fancy coffee shop. They serve local coffee (Acehnese !) in press pots and serve sandwiches and western fare. I savor the local coffee. Note the not-so-local baseball cap I was wearing today.
I end today's blog with a photo of a local member of the true Master Race, who's not too pleased at having his nap disturbed...
NEXT: there will be a hiatus between now and the next blog; I am seriously behind in my GIS course, and need to catch up!!! ... Will let you all know when to look!