Sunday, November 04, 2007

More Sightseeing

Today, Desy took me around to see the 'sights' of Banda Aceh. Namely, the Baturrachman Mosque, the Banda Aceh museum and a large oceanliner stranded by the tsunami in the middle of a small village, 5-6 km from shore.

Me in the Mosque compound. When we first entered, a big group of men got all mad because my hair wasn't covered (look, I was just through the gate, to the lawn I wasn't actually going to go inside the building...). Luckily, there was a little street market next door, so Desy took me shopping. I actually really like it - and it's very comfortable - especially if you're having a bad (or a string of bad) hairdays!

Part of the Banda Aceh museum - a traditional Acehnese house. I forgot to take a photo straight on, so the only one I have is this "artsy" one I took through the pillars of a bell.

The stranded ship, about 5 km in land. What do you do when a ship lands on your house? Desy made a special explanation though - the house ruins you see infront of the boat are fresh, they are not tsunami related. She thinks the owners are rebuilding.

I have to hand it to Desy - she did a great job of being my interpreter and safe-keeper today. Even with the flux of development workers around, I still felt I caused quite a stir whereever we went. Desy quietly stood her ground (especially amongst those mean men at the mosque) and worked around it. She even helped me buy some beautiful tunics by bargaining on my behalf. She said she was able to get better prices by saying "You'd better not be giving me a bule price or else she'll be mad!" Seriously, I wish I could take this woman home with me.

We also had a couple of really great discussions about being and becoming muslim, family traditions (Idul Filtri vs Christmas) and being "unclean." She told me she was exempt from praying today, as she was "carrying the woman's burden" (nicely euphamistic, isn't it? - took me a while to catch on to that one). I told her that most religions I knew of felt that away about women - but that personally, I thought it made us more godlike than dirty, as it means we can create and carry life - and who else but God can create life? Of course, that's a notion that's still pretty radical by Western standards, so I don't know how well it went over with her. As I learned in Japan, listening to what is not said is often more important - and I don't know the "unspoken" language here (let alone the spoken one!) well enough to know if I brought up an interesting notion or really deeply offended her.

Anyway, by 4 o'clock I was completely beat. I've been puttering around at the hotel since, trying to get on internet and watch a little HBO, but the electricity in this (brand new) hotel goes on and off about four times an evening, so it's been a little challenging.

Tomorrow, it's back to the office!

1 comment:

~moe~ said...

Ah, the head covering for the mosque. I was in Turkey for a work trip once and we were able to tour The Mosque there. Only 2 of us on the trip were women and for awhile we didn't think we'd be allowed in because it was segregated - men in the main sanctuary area, women in a back room. They did let us in but we had to cover ourselves and lose our shoes.
I felt very uncomfortable touring the place like it was a museum or tourist trap, taking pictures like it was just another location. it was a place of worship, and I was an intruder. But I was thankful they did let me in.