Blogs from Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, Asia - page 5


Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh February 13th 2006

“Where are you from?” “How old are you?” “Are you married” That is the exact order of questions when you meet an Acehnese person. The last question is the only one I have a slight problem with. It’s not asked in a sleezy, pickup kind of way, just part of normal conversation. They probably assume most people my age (33), would answer “Yes, I am married,” and the conversation would pleasantly carry on. But in my case, the answer is: “Not yet,” (a simple “No, I’m not married,” elicits strange and worried glances). Lucky for them, I don’t know enough vocabulary to explain that I don’t think the whole point of life has to be to get married and have children. But in Aceh, that seems to be exactly the point of life, and dating in ... read more
Sunset Cruising
Ulee Karing Coffee Shop

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh January 23rd 2006

I've been feeling the distance lately. Not only am I twelve time zones apart from home, I am apparently living in a black hole. The phone network has become unbelievably more unreliable lately, so much so, that my work has installed CB radios in all our houses and cars for emergencies. In addition, as I discovered when trying to book a flight to Vietnam, it takes two days to get anywhere from here - one day (two flights) to get to a regional Indonesian airport, then another flight to get to an international airport where you'll be able to make connections to Earth. How do people survive like this?? Magically, even though you can't get a phone call through, you can often send/receive text messages on your mobile phone. They call that SMS here ("text messaging" ... read more
Curious Faces
New Place, New Friends
Directions to Aceh from NYC

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh January 13th 2006

Yesterday I went to one of our "rebuilding livelihoods" projects to get a haircut. Before the tsunami, the hairdresser, Agus, ran a busy hairdressing salon out of her home. When she lost her home, she also lost her husband, son, parents and way of life. Now she is living in temporary shelter (barracks) and has just begun to cut hair again using a chair in a friend's salon. The organization I work for has given her money to buy some materials to get her business started again. Our staff reporter wanted to do a story on Agus and I was asked if I would go along to get a haircut. I willingly accepted because 1.) i wanted to get out from behind my desk and into "the field" to see some projects, 2.) i desperately needed ... read more
The Salon
Stylish young Acehnese Girls
Barracks housing in Aceh

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh January 9th 2006

It has been a stellar month for inventions here in Banda Aceh. It just goes to show that necessity promotes progress...and with that, I present to you the top three most remarkable new inventions (patents pending) that will no doubt benefit thousands of people in Banda Aceh (not to mention the inventor herself): 1.) Hot Water - this amazing improvement on plain old water, will allow people to have their bucket "shower" in relative comfort, thereby solving the morning "shock and awe" routine. There are a number of other inventions that have resulted from this including instant tea and one-minute oatmeal. 2.) Fillet of Fish - Pulling fish bones out of your mouth is a constant occurance at meal time...choking on fishbones, unfortunately, is also common. The "fillet" technique cuts the fish into ready-to-cook pieces that ... read more
The "Shower"
Enjoying fresh brew

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh January 4th 2006

So, many have asked - "Erica, what exactly is your job?" Ah, good question. As you probably know, I work for an International NGO (Non-Government Organization). My job title is "Admin Systems Training Advisor" and it actually describes quite well what I do, but to most people it sounds complicated so I often say "Operations." You see, you can kind of break NGO work into two sectors 1.) OPERATIONS: administration, finance, and logistics (procurement & delivery of supplies) and 2.) PROGRAMS: direct services to our beneficiaries, for example, like our doctors who set up clinics and treat patients. I work on the Operations side of things. And here's exactly what I do: Admin In Aceh, my organization operates in 4 provinces employing 300 Indonesian (national) staff and 15 International (Expatriate) staff. That makes for a lot ... read more
My boss, Gail
Admin Team
Biljana - CDR Advisor

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh December 29th 2005

I'm heading to Sabang for New Year's weekend. It's an island about 40 minutes away by ferry where they don't really enforce Sharia (Islamic) law. There's no running water and generator-only electricity, but there IS: beer, parties on the beach and diving/snorkeling around the amazing coral reefs. I've been there once before so i put some pics up to give you a sneak peek. I'm glad to be leaving Banda for this holiday weekend. A letter was issued to all aid agencies here this afternoon from the Head of Islamic Sharia office in Banda Aceh. Here's an excerpt: "Head of Islamic Sharia office in Banda Aceh, Natsir Ilyas, emphasized that his area must be cleared from trumpet sounds on New Year’s Eve and prohibited international NGO staff from having night parties. It is suggested that Banda ... read more
The Beach Bungalows - mine was the one on top
Beach at Dusk
Iriya shows off his catch for the day

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh December 26th 2005

Today is the one-year anniversary of the tsunami. It's been an emotional time for many of our local staff, and there's been quite a few that have gotten sick the past couple of weeks. Some of our employees lost their entire families, some lost their parents and some are still living in temporary shelters (tents). I've been here for 2 months but the scale and horror of the tsunami is still difficult to comprehend. When driving around, you can see enormous boats and other things that were carried inland by the waves but are too big to remove now. Every few kilometers there's a patch of land about the size of a basketball court with a fence around it and a sign that says "mass graves." In Calang, a coastal village the IRC works in, only ... read more
Shoreline at Ulee Lhee
Tents in the Middle of the City
Muhammad Thalal's Wedding

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh December 25th 2005

OK, so it’s been a while since I made a Blog entry, what can I say I’ve been busy, it is the silly season after all. So I may as well get straight to the point: Christmas Day. Now I’d presumed that being overseas in foreign lands, Christmas would be a rather subdued affair. I was wrong. I thought that I was on top of things in October when I brought my family Christmas presents in Malaysia and posted them home. I had no idea how busy I was going to be! Little did I know that Christmas would turn into a full scale Logistical Operation! Nick planned a full Christmas dinner for the Expats at IRC and a few hangers on. I offered to help, and between running around buying vegetables, wine glasses and everything ... read more
The Food!
The Cooks!
Slaving away

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh December 19th 2005

I hosted a holiday party this past weekend at my house and, if I do say so, it was so much fun! Stats for the party: • 23 people from 11 different countries • We sang Xmas carols (not quite DePiero family style - more british pub drinking style) • Lots of dancing (latin of course, but Robbie Williams too - sorry richie) • 17 Swapped gifts - far too civilized. We played by British rules, not Sicilian. Interesting gifts: blow up spiderman balloon; Sphere handbook • About 5 or 6 Indonesian friends showed up - the first Christmas party for all of them • Everyone was very appreciative of our homemade Xmas decorations, improvised decorated (palm) tree and initiative to have a party • Lots of drinking - people brought beer that they bought clandestinely ... read more
Erica and Danda after dancing
Spiderman and Barbie Purse for Suleiman!
They both draw number 13

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Banda Aceh December 13th 2005

I'm in a work meeting right, but the presentation is entirely in Indonesian, so I don't feel too bad about doing other, ahem, work. I have been trying to learn the language and I actually feel like I'm making quite a lot of progress in the 7 weeks I've been here. It's not a difficult language - there are no verb tenses or conjugations, so pronouns (he, she) and time-sensitive words (yesterday, tomorrow) are crucial. After all those years in NY, it's fun to be the foreigner for once. I get to mispronounce things in a cute way, smile and elicit sympathetic laughs from the native speakers. Our meeting is being held in the kitchen because it is actually our only indoor meeting room. Most meetings are held outside but it is threatening to rain today. ... read more
Shoe rack outside the office
Our Main office in Banda Aceh

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