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Published: June 25th 2017
Banda Aceh, and the nearby coastal town of Muedula, were at the epicentre of the Tsunami that hit this part of the world on December 26, 2014, just over ten years ago. As such, we made a point of spending a half day touring a number of key areas in the city. In addition to the Tsunami Museum, we visited the fishing boat that had been launched on to the top of a house about 4 kilometres from the sea, where it subsequently served as a lifeboat saving fifty nine lives. We also visited the huge ocean freighter that was launched inland kilometres away from the ocean, testifying again to the strength of the tsunami. It was powerful and touching to be in the heart of the vibrant fishing village today, and realize that this same tiny village alone lost 950 people that December 26th morning, along with I believe over 250,00 others along the Sumatra coast. Witnessing the vibrant life here today was also another testimony to the strength of the human spirit and to that of all the nations who came together to help rebuild this area afterwards. I am so glad we had the opportunity to experience this,
and wish I could somehow share these stories with my TAG students at WKC who immediately after the Tsunami raised funds to donate to the Canadian Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund.
We did not realize, until we arrived, that we would be staying at a hotel managed by the Indonesian Red Cross, and that all profits earned by the hotel are donated back to the ongoing Red Cross projects in Indonesia. The hotel name Rumoh PMI actually translates to mean "Red Cross House", as was explained to me by one of the staff working in the Hotel Red Cross Office. This was definitely an added bonus for us, and another one of those serendipitous moments! Connection to a great cause aside, this hotel was an excellent choice for us. The rooms were basic, but exceptionally quiet and clean, with hot shower, air conditioning, a self serve continental breakfast, and very friendly and informative front desk staff, as well as free airport and ferry transfers. For all of the above reasons, we would definitely stay here again, and highly recommend the hotel to others.
Although the focus of our day was to visit the memorial tributes to this tsunami
epicentre, we also had great fun once again ripping around town in a bacek with our fun tour guide Jack, who was more than thrilled to show off his brand new vehicle and his new, one of a kind, unique melodic horn that he did not hesitate to sound frequently. Before the day was over, Jack took us to his favorite restaurant where we were served a variety of local dishes. Most importantly, we had the opportunity to hear Jack's story, as he himself was a survivor of the Tsunami, but lost his wife and others in the disaster.
And because Banda Aceh is no less than ninety per cent Muslim, I felt it only appropriate to wear my headscarf the same way a Muslim woman would. This was also a lovely experience, because every time my scarf would come apart, which it did frequently as I did not have the right kind of broach to hold it in place, I would have another opportunity to ask a Muslim woman to help fix my scarf! On three different occasions the women I asked immediately and very warmly reciprocated, and I got to make more new and positive connections with
a culture I know little about. It was great and I loved it.
I know I have said this many times already, but I must repeat it again. Every experience we have had here in Sumatra with the people we have met has been warm and wonderful. Smiles are freely offered everywhere, and we are made to feel welcome wherever we go.
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