Summer 2018 Language Fellow: Aceh’s Natural Beauty [Part 2]

There is little doubt about the resplendent natural beauty Aceh has to offer. For one, its beaches are absolutely serene:

Paradise at Pulau Weh

 

How can water look so turquoise?

 

Breakfast

Post-swim

 

 

 

 

 

 

These beaches are on an island off of Banda Aceh called Sabang or Pulau Weh. I didn’t have an water-proof camera to show pictures of the incredible colours of marine life one could witness underwater.

It was also fun that we got around on “mario carts:”

From the beaches down below, Aceh has magnificent mountains above as well. Another popular location is the coffee growing region of Takengon:

Mosque under the Mountains

 

Open padi/rice fields, in the mountains

 

Backyard Padi

 

Fish Farm in the mountains, Lake Laut Tawar

 

 

Gayonese coffee is internationally renown, and grown right here:

“Seladang: Have your Coffee in the Coffee Garden”

 

Red fruits are ripe; Green ones are not.

Where coffee comes from: the seed of the coffee fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving south, here’s a shot of a beach in Meulaboh:

Sunset over the Bat Cave

Even Banda Aceh, the capital, has terrific sights:

Fisherman at Lho Nga

 

A crowd assembles for the sunset and returning fishermen

 

The road between ocean and aquapond

 

Coloured Boats

As a claustrophobic city kid who grew up in Singapore, even the sight of expansive open green space (with a volcano in the backdrop) absolutely takes my breath away.

In my most recent trip, I heard that Singapore was often used by separatists’ propaganda as a posterboy of what Aceh could look like if only it got independence. While Singapore can often be attractive as a model of catch-up development in Asia, I wonder what gets lost in the pursuit of “development” – nature, but also heritage and spirit – themes that Singaporeans are all too familiar with.

Searching for heritage: each grave stone comes from a different era

Ironically, even as Acehnese are looking to Singapore for a model of development, Singaporeans are looking to retrieve something that which has been lost through their experience of development, that which has been endearingly called “the kampung spirit,” or the spirit of community (associated with the village).

The hometown coffee shop of a friend. The architecture encourages maximum ventilation for the tropical weather.

For many Acehnese, the site of the community is in the WarKop (Warung Kopi, or Coffee Shop). I will take up this theme in my next blog post.

 Amoz JY Hor is PhD student in Political Science at the George Washington University. His research explores how emotions affect the way the subaltern is understood in practices of humanitarianism.

 

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