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bricolage \bree-koh-LAHZH; brih-\, noun: -a dump site for anything at hand, in mind-

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Three Nights in Kutaraja

I'd be here for three nights. For a work that would require me to stay in a certain place instead of moving to different areas and can only roam around the streets in the evening. Last night, Kutaraja which now is called Banda Aceh was especially bustling. "Rex", my favorite alfresco dining square in Peunayong is boasting is colorful lights, with two "Satay Matang" place, several ready-to-eat rice in push carts made of aluminium and glass, then "Acehnese Noodle" kiosks with a box of live crabs. On the other side of the square, "Javanese Satay" hawker is fanning those teeny tiny satays. Although when I was making my entrance into the area everybody threw their glances like the old times, it felt somehow different this time.

There was a novel peaceful feeling. Compared to 5-8 years ago when I often visited the city for at least once or twice a year. Around 9 PM, four years ago; two soldiers were sitting on a motorbike taxi with an SS-1 rifle on a ready-to-aim position. Rex was peculiarly empty and at that time almost every single soul was staring at me. On my way back to Kuala Tripa Hotel, which now has became an empty lot full of debris, there were another couple of soldiers near the Grand Mosque. They were tall and fit.

There was a small traffic jam down at Simpang Surabaya in the late afternoon. If you leave the Grand Mosque behind you and arrive at Simpang Surabaya, then go straight ahead, you'll arrive at Lueng Bata area, where the Power Utility facility is located. Five years ago, after 6 PM no one would go that way. Now, from the direction of Bheurawe to Simpang Surabaya, there was a new avenue that heads to Lampeneureut. The new avenue will take us to Lambaro and then the airport, as well as to Keutapang and Lhok Nga. In the beginning of 2000, Bheurawe Bridge was still under construction, but now it bears the burden of after hour traffic jam like Tendean Flyover towards MT Haryono in South Jakarta.

No more army trucks parked in several corners of the city. No more militay tactical vehicle with windshield fully covered by a sheet of steel, leaving a narrow space for the driver to see the road. No more..

A dozen of bulldozers and construction workers were doing their best to build the new building of Sultan Iskandar Muda (SIM) Airport. The brown cows who usually serves as an indicator that you're approaching SIM's ATC, no longer roamed the area because their field has become a new asphalt roads to the airport. The nearby acehnese lamb curry place was closed when I arrived that late afternoon.

Teuku Panglima Polem, one of Banda Aceh's busiest two lane streets was dressed with colorful billboards and neonsigns of various fast food restaurants. Then above the bridge that ran across Krueng Aceh near Simpang Lima from the direction of Panglima Polem towards the Grand Mosque is now decorated with Luna Maya in pretty hejab, posted on a giant billboard, washed under high power down lights. Pante Pirak, the largest supermarket stands tall under the billboard. It's busy busy and very busy. Simbun Sibreh across the Grand Mosque was still standing tall. Back in 2000, it was the only shop that old clove ciggarettes which advertising forced you to think. Across Simbun Sibreh, there was "Cek Yuke", a coffee shop where students hang out and serves coffee that stirred your head a bit. The place moved a block behind the old location now.

My other notes on Banda Aceh are here:

Banda Aceh, 2002

Displaced in Banda Aceh, 2005

- Pavilyun Seulawah, 6 Agustus.



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