It should be an honor for me among the media folks of Citilink starting having coffee together and shared self experiences while in Aceh at one of public cafes in Banda Aceh.
In fact, most of them have their own unique images or thoughts about Aceh before they touched down in Banda Aceh. Honestly, it is all about a feeling of fear.
Their images or thoughts on Aceh vary from a political conflict between the Free Aceh Movement and Indonesia Forces to a devastating Tsunami, from Serambi Mecca to a life fully coloured by Islam, from Hijab to Jinayah Law being applied in Aceh and from a fabulous nature to a vibrant sense of culture, not to mention about Aceh’s unique culinary other than coffee, which are mostly hunted by the visitors, such as ayam tangkap (Aceh unique fried chicken with curry leaves and onion), mutton, chicken and beef curry, Aceh noodle, etc.
To our surprise, all the distorted images on Aceh faded away when they travelled and explored some part of Aceh’s wildlife. In other words, the image on Aceh is not that beautiful outside there. But, they find Aceh with a fantastic scenery, people with their hospitality, local culinary with strong Acehnese tastes and aromas and culture colored by Islamic soul.
My words started with the Syariah law being applied in Aceh. It will not be a stumbling block in convincingly promoting Aceh as Halal Tourism and Lifestyle. Otherwise, it will be another interesting tourist attraction that will add values to Islamic-based tourism we are developing and promoting while enjoying and experiencing local wisdom and Islamic life among the locals.
However, the best testimony ever to promote Aceh post Tsunami is to come and enjoy life there. Most visitors might be pleasantly surprised with a kind of relaxing atmosphere in the air with gentle smiling people, welcoming faces and a sense of safety which is sometime lacking in other Asian destination.
In shorts, Aceh is all of this and even more. Seeing is Believing. Believing is Loving. Let’s see Aceh very closely.
You will surely fall in love when you believe it.