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Jakarta Post

Enchanted by Aceh’s iconic landmarks

Wed, December 6, 2017   /   10:56 am
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    Under the blue sky: The Baiturrahman Grand Mosque stands tall in Banda Aceh, Aceh province. JP/ PJ Leo

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    After the adventure: Two foreign tourists leave Iboih Beach at Weh Island after snorkeling and diving. JP/ PJ Leo

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    Harmonious: Students of a state high school in Sabang city, Weh Island, perform the Ratoe Jaroh dance during the Quota Donation Movement program presented by mobile services operator XL Axiata. Unlike the Saman dance, which is performed by an odd-numbered group of men, the Ratoe Jaroh dance must be performed by an even number of women. JP/ PJ Leo

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    Seizing the moment: Swiss tourist Lina (right) takes a picture of her friend, Naja, posing in front of the Zero Kilometer Monument on Weh Island. JP/ PJ Leo

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    Morning has broken: Clouds block the view of a sunrise at Iboih Beach, Weh Island. JP/ PJ Leo

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    Welcome to my paradise: A sticker that reads ‘The Light of Aceh’ is seen on the window of a tourist bus in Banda Aceh. JP/ PJ Leo

Visiting Weh Island, Aceh province, on the westernmost tip of Indonesia, is incomplete without setting foot on the Zero Kilometer Monument, located in the island’s Tourist Forest area in Iboih Ujong Bau village, Sukakarya district, Sabang.

The monument, inaugurated by then vice president Try Sutrisno on Sept. 9, 1997, serves as a unique geographic landmark that not only pinpoints the farthest western end of the country, but is also Sabang city’s historical tourist attraction for domestic and foreign visitors.

Aceh is one of Indonesia’s provinces with many natural tourist spots, but the region, popularly called the Veranda of Mecca, is somewhat different from other parts of the country, particularly because it abides by the principles of sharia.

Therefore, most foreign visitors coming to Aceh — especially women — prefer Weh Island, where they can enjoy the coastal waters by snorkeling and diving under relatively lenient rules, compared to those in Banda Aceh and other regencies.

During a tour initiated by cellular telecommunication operator XL Axiata, The Jakarta Post stopped by Banda Aceh to observe the icon of the provincial, Baiturrahman Grand Mosque. Built by Sultan Iskandar Muda Mahkota Alam in 1612, its beauty and magnificence resemble the grandeur of the Taj Mahal in India.