Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:59am EST
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By Masako Iijima

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters Life!) - Banda Aceh, the northwestern tip of Sumatra island ravaged by the Indian Ocean Tsunami five years ago, has bounced back, and is increasingly becoming a tourist destination.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the more out of a short stay in Banda Aceh, which is the only place in Indonesia to implement strict Islamic sharia law.


6 pm - Walk around Ulee Lheue, a beach known as the "zero point" of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It was from here that giant waves crashed into Banda Aceh, killing some 166,000 people. There is now a stone embankment which is often crowded with families, young people and fishermen enjoying the sunset.

7 pm - Dinner at Rumah Makan Hasan's, an eatery on stilts that specializes in fried chicken. It's a 15 minute drive out of town, but worth the trip. The goat curry here is also popular: Acehnese have long used marijuana as a tenderizer to make goat more palatable and while restaurants will never admit to using it as it is illegal, everyone knows the secret ingredient.

Banda Aceh is staunchly Muslim and almost completely dry, but non-alcoholic beer is available.


9 am - After breakfast, head to the fish market, where the catch is from the depth of the Indian Ocean, including tuna that would meet the approval of Japanese sushi chefs. It's a wholesale market, so if you want to buy, you'll have to buy by the basket.   Continued...

<p>An Indonesian youth takes a picture of his friend in front of the Baiturrahman mosque in Banda Aceh December 24, 2009. REUTERS/Beawiharta</p>