Budget Travel Indonesia | Banda Aceh & Pulau Weh | Getting There & Staying Connected
When we went to Aceh last February, we got quite a deal for our Air Asia air fares even though we only purchased the tickets 2 days before our departure date (even cheaper than what we saw a week earlier).
We only spent something like 800++ ringgit on return tickets for 3 pax including 2 checked in luggage and another 100++ on parking for 4 days at KLIA2 car park.
We did a 4-day-3-nighter in Aceh, spending the first 2 nights in Weh Island (locally referred to as Sabang) and the last night in downtown Banda Aceh. So when we reached Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport at 1.45 pm, we immediately hopped on a taxi (which were easy to get) and made our way to Ulee Lheue Ferry Port.
The cab fares from the airport are already standardized according to destinations so for our trip to the jetty, we paid Rp 120,000. Saved our time and energy on price negotiation there hehe.
Because there are only 2 trips to Sabang on the express ferry in a day, we had to catch the 4pm one. The other one is scheduled at 930am daily whilst other trips travel with slow boat.
This left us ample time for a few stopovers; the journey from the airport to the jetty would have only taken around 30 minutes if we didn't make these stops.
Our first stopover on our way to the jetty was the largest mass burial site for the tsunami victims in Siron, an area located along the way to the airport on Bandara Iskandar Muda road. Knowing the magnitude of the tsunami blow, of course there are a few other sites like this around Banda Aceh, but the one we visited was the largest one with 46,000+ bodies laid to rest here.
And oh yeah .. for the record, this brief stopover was actually offered by the cab driver himself - at no extra charge. How nice of him right?
Next, we stopped by at a 'ponsel (cell phone) shop' to get me an Indonesian prepaid sim card. Data cost is friggin' cheap here, I couldn't believe my eyes! Behold ..
10GB data at Rp87,000 only?? That's dirt cheap man, below 30 ringgit. If you were to ask me the things I like most about this country, its internet cost would top my list for sure. Plus, I hail from Malaysia .. almost everything is expensive here; GST and all just make life tougher for consumers and small businesses alike.
So I got me the 1.8GB sim card which only costed me Rp20,000; a 'whooping' 6 ringgit y'all lol.. I can't believe it to this day. I normally use 2GB of data every 2 weeks (or less) for 38 ringgit and here I am in the suburbs of Sumatera where 1.8GB of internet data equals to the cost of a plate of *nasi campur in Malaysia with uninterrupted connection if I might add.
Okay, I'm complaining a little bit about my country but that's not what this blog is meant for ^^ .. so moving on ...
Our third and final stop before we boarded the ferry was Masjid Baiturrahim, just a few minutes away from the jetty. If you have seen any footage from the tsunami aftermath of mosques standing alone in the middle of 'cleared' lands in Aceh, this could well be one of them. It's only around 100 meters away from the shoreline so you can imagine the impact around this mosque. More on this mosque here.
|The restored Baiturrahim Mosque|
We had enough time to perform our Zohor & Asar prayers (jamak) here and did a bit of a tour before we made our move to the jetty.
When we reached the jetty, we had just enough time to buy our tickets which costed about Rp110,000 per person for executive (air conditioned) seats. Said bye bye to our driver, and then boarded the ferry to Weh island.
*nasi campur - literally means mixed rice; a plate of white rice usually eaten with various types of sides like meat and vege. A staple in Malaysian dinners and lunches.