The icon of Aceh, Masjid Raya Baiturrahman.

Aceh is one of the places in Indonesia that I really wanted to go since I was in high school. Aceh is the most impacted location in the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake which struck Aceh on 26th December 2004 at 9.1 Mw that caused series of Tsunamis up to 30m.

The province of Aceh is located in the Northwest of Sumatra Island and the capital is Banda Aceh. Aceh has a long struggle to gain political independence from Indonesia. However, the Tsunami 2004 had changed the Aceh Government to be more open to the amicable solution. The long fight ended with the Helsinki Peace Agreement which was signed on 15 August 2005as they agreed to remain as a province in Indonesia.


This catastrophe occurred when I was in high school and at that time, everyone was suddenly knew this big word TSUNAMI. Malaysia is also affected by this as there were quite a number of fatalities at the northern part of Peninsular of Malaysia.


Reached Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport.

The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Aceh take abot 1 hour and 30 minutes. Hence, I got ample time to enjoy Nasi Lemak Pak Nasser in AirAsia flight. Haha..

The flight landed at Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport that is located around 17km from Banda Aceh. Usually, I will straightly go to Roti O outlet once touched down but somehow I just go to one of the restaurants at the airport which is Serambi Airport. The toast and Cappucino were good and since they played Ed Sheeran in the long list, I stayed at the restaurant for quite some time. Hahaha.

Serambi Cafe is a must once you touched down.
My toast.

From airport, you can take taxi, angkut and you can use Gojek Apps. Since I prefer more on e-hailing service, I take Go-jek to go to Banda Aceh and the fare is IDR 50,000 which is about RM14.


Masjid Raya Baiturrahman.

Masjid Raya Baiturrahman is a focal point of Banda Aceh and it is very obvious once you arrived at the airport. Everyone will ask you whether you want to go to Masjid Raya Baiturrahman. Once, I reached the masjid, I realized that the masjid was full of activities even it was not at prayer time.

At the left side of the mosque.
It is a multi purpose place.

Masjid Raya Baiturrahman caught the limelight after the devastating Tsunami as the structure of the masjid was still intact while the vicinity structure perished entirely.

The big umbrella were added during the restoration work after the tragedy.
At the front side.

Masjid Raya Baiturrahman was built by Sultan Iskandar Muda Mahkota Alam pada at 1612M. This masjid was under fire in 1873M during the big fight between The Dutch and the Acehnese. It had caused more tension and big war ensued. 4 years later, The Dutch rebuilt the masjid as a measure to reach an amicable solution. From that time, the masjid underwent a series of expansion until what you can see today.

The white columns are the main features inside the mosque.
The mimbar.
Facing the tower of the mosque.
The black domes.
Well maintained.
The beautiful tower.
Focal point.


The Gunongan.

Gunongan was built during Sultan Iskandar Muda period in 16th centries, as a gift to Queen Putri Kamaliah known as Putroe Phang, the Queen from Pahang-Johor Malaysia.

Taman Sari Gunongan.

After Aceh won the battle against Pahang, Sultan Iskandar Muda took the Pahang Princess and married her. One day, The Queen missed her mountaineous neighbourhood in Pahang and then Sultan build the Gunongan (small moutain) and a beatiful garden as a gift for his beloved Queen.

The white colour draw the attention from afar.

It consists of multiple series of blinding white peaks with narrow stairways and a walkway leading to ridges, which represent the hills of the princess’ native land.

Good spot to take photo.


Pantai Ulee Lheue.

Ulee Lheue is a coastal port town of Banda Aceh that located at Meuraksa Sub-District. The word Ulèë means “head” and Lheuë means” little peninsula”. The area is located approximately 6km from Banda Aceh and you may take any mode of transportation to Ulee Lheue.

The 9.1 Mw earthquake and tsunami in 2004 had wiped out completely the Ulee Lheue. The tsunami destroyed all of the vicinity buildings except for the completely changed the features of surrounding area.

The sea water is blue and clear and the area is the best spot to enjoy the sunset. You must come early in the afternoon to get the best spot for the sunset. Apart from that, many people would enjoy some fun activities like a family vacation, picnic, sightseeing, strolling, BBQ, and many interesting activities.


Mmasjid Baiturrahim

source: www.indonesiakaya.com

Masjid Baiturrahim is a mosque that is located at the junction of Jalan Banda Aceh and Jalan Pelabuhan Lama Ulee Lheue. This mosque had been featured in many articles and posting after the 2004 earthquake and tsunami disaster as it is the only structure that remains intact at Ulee Lhueu while the structure in the vicinity totally vanished. During the catastrophe, there were only 9 people safe at the mosque as they climbed until the roof of the mosque. The mosque was only damaged by about 20%.

Masjid Baiturrahim after the tragedy.

source: www.nasionalisme.com

After almost 15 years, the mosque has been refurbished and had become the focal points of people around Ulee Lheue and become a tourist spot due to its history,


PLTD Apung 1 at Desa Punge Blang Cut.
The monument shows the time and date when the tragedy hits Aceh.

PLTD Apung 1 is an electric generator ship owned by Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN). PLTD means Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Diesel and it was deployed to Aceh as a back up during the conflict between Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) and Indonesian Armed Force. During the conflict, the team from PLN was having difficulty to enter Aceh for technical assistant and this had caused disruption of electric supply for a countless time. The deployment of this generator ship was requested by Governor of Aceh at that time, Mr. Abdullah Puteh. This ship is 63 meter in length, and the weight of the ship is 2600 tonne and able to generate 10.5 Megawatt.

The enormous generator ship.
At the platform outside the stranded ship.

During the catastrophe, the enormous Tsunami had caused the ship drifted 5 km to the land and had crushed and landed on 2 houses at Desa Punge Blang Cut. The body beneath the ship could not salvaged as it is too heavy to remove the ship. Hence, it is considered as a graveyard as well. There were 11 crews that worked on the ship but only 1 crew survived.

This ship had drifted 5km to inland.

The ship had been modified in order to suit its new purpose as a museum and there is an observation tower and monument at the compound of the museum. This place is open to the public everyday starting from 9.00 am to 12.00 pm and 2.00 pm to 5.30 pm WIB. Please note that it is closed during lunch hour from 12.00 pm to 2.00 pm.


The area of adult grave.

This is actually a mass grave where approximately 14000 bodies were buried after the deadly 2004 Earthquake and Tsunami tragedy. This is the second largest mass grave after Siron Mass Grave where 40000 bodies were buried there.

The mass grave after almost 15 years.

There is no marker for the grave. The area is divided into two areas which are grave for adult and children. It is quite a mixed feeling when visiting the grave as it is difficult to imagine that the area is a place where thousands of bodies were buried together without proper preparation as the death toll was large.

The commemorative signage.
The big gate of the mass grave has a profound message.

There are several other mass graves in Aceh and if you have ample time, you may visit the mass graves as each location have a different story.

Just a random photo after visiting the mass grave.


Museum Tsunami Aceh.

Museum Tsunami Aceh is located at Jalan Sultan Iskandar Muda and it was built to commemorate the 2004 Tsunami Tragedy.

At the entrance.

It was design by the Governor of West Java, Ridwan Kamil which is the founder of architect firm, Urbane Indonesia. The shape of the museum can be defined from two angle which from the top, it resembles a big wave of Tsunami while if it is sighted from the side view, it is looks like a big ship.

Once you enter the museum, you will go through a sombre, dark, cold and narrow corridor with the splash of water and various sounds that give you a feeling about the imminent tsunami. Please walk through it alone, you will get goose bumps. The tunnel named Space of Fear. While walking along the tunnel, I could imagine people frantically run for their life while the big wave hit the land and all the people, animal and building perished. It is advised to wear hat as you might get splash a little bit with the water or just enjoy the splash as you will feel the sombre mood of the tsunami tragedy.

The Space of Memory.

After the tunnel, you will reach a room named Space of Memory that features photo of the aftermath, search and rescue process. Again, it is very sombre and actually I just look at certain photo as it is very devastated to see the impact of the tsunami. The mirror around the wall and the dim of the light create mixed feeling of fear, sombre, sad and sympathy. It is the environment that you feel once you hit the rock bottom and helpless.

The names inscribed at the wall.

Then, you will reach the prominent part of the museum which is the Chamber of Blessing that will take you to another level of sombre.

The calligraphy of Allah at the top of the chimney.
The wall at Chamber of Blessing.

This is a chimney-like room which almost 2000 names of the victim inscribed at the wall and at the top of the chimney, there is calligraphy of Allah. The feeling while staying at the space is indescribable. It is a mixed feeling. I did not spend much time there as the mood is very overwhelmed.

Jembatan Harapan.
The roof with 54 falgs.

Then, you will reach the open space that brings you to the next floor which is Jembatan Harapan. At the roof at the Jembatan Harapan, there is flag from 54 countries that had offered help after the incident with the words ‘Damai’ or Peace in multiple languages. The roof reflects the Tsunami incident as well.

The unique design.

At the second floor, the are photos, miniatures, collections of the tragedy. One of the photos that catch the attention is the big dome of a mosque that drifted and moved away approximately 2.5km form the original location and landed at village of Gurah, Peukan Bada, Aceh Besar.

The drifted dome.

source: steemkr.com

It is actually a dome of Masjid Jamek at Lamteungoh village and after the tragedy, it is known as Al-Tsunami Mosque.

The replica of masjid.
The replica of museum.
At the entrance.
The roof is a place for evacuation.

This museum was designed as an evacuation centre in the event of similar incident in the future and due to the purpose, it is called Rumoh Aceh Escape Hill.

The damaged helicopter.

There is a damaged helicopter and truck at the outside of the museum that showed how enormous the wave was as it had caused such damage.

The damaged truck.

The entrance fee for children and student is IDR 2000, for adult is IDR 3000 and IDR 10000 for the foreigner.


I went to a cool cafe at Banda Aceh where they serve coffee upside down. The cafe is called Kuphi Khop. How to drink? Haha.. There is a method.

Coffee served upside down. How to drink?


People of Aceh are very friendly and they always offer help whenever I need. They are strong people that rose from the deadly earthquake and tsunami. For every conversation with the local, each of them has lost their family members but somehow they managed to build up and continue with their life. Amazing.

Good service by Pak Ridwan. He lost many family members during the tragedy.


This outing taught me about perseverance, steadfast and tenacity. Never give up on your life. You must be stronger from what you are suffering. This lesson is so priceless.

At the bandara.
To departure.
At the departure.
Nice design of ceiling.
Bid goodbye.

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