During the civil war and tsunami

Pulau Weh Travel Blog

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As I only did one dive today, I had some time to chat with the owner Marjan. I didn't get the chance last year and had been curious about how things were like before peace came to Aceh and the day of the tsunami.

During the civil war

Before the civil war was ended by the tsunami, fighting was only in the rural areas. Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh were fine to visit except that foreigners couldn't enter the province ... so tourism was limited to Indonesians who were smart or brave enough to realise that the fighting wasn't everywhere.

In fact, the first group from a Jakarta dive club came with some guns. Marja insisted that these be locked away in the safe. Their busines was small and limited to the dive centre with guests staying in locally-owned cottages.

I suppose Marjan and her husband Ton, both being Dutch, had "means" of being in the province legitimately!

During the tsunami

During the tsunami, there were divers in the sea. They felt some movement as did the boatmen who were some way off the coast. The impact was felt on the shore rather than out at sea. They only saw the destruction on Pulau Weh upon their return but couldn't land due to the amount of debris. They had to wait several hours for it to clear.

No one was killed on Pulau Weh but the severity of the situation back in Banda Aceh wasn't known to anyone due to breakdown in the communications.

Business grew when the civil war ended and they eventually added their own cottages.  It got even better when in 2007 when AirAsia introduced cheap and direct flights from KL ... and Visa on Arrival followed a couple of years later.  

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Pulau Weh
photo by: Stevie_Wes