27 July 2016

When In Lhok

Moslems all over the world just celebrated a big holiday Ied al-Fitr (Hari Raya) 3 weeks ago. During Hari Raya holiday, I went to Aceh again to visit my parents with my husband and daughter. Since there was no direct flight to Lhokseumawe (Lhok), my hometown, we needed to transit in Medan first. From there, we could take another smaller plane for about 45 minutes, or take road trip by bus/car for about 7 hours.

On the flight from Jakarta to Medan, my little daughter (who's still an infant) cried the whole flight. She did not want to sit, and asked us to hug her while standing in the aisle of airplane. My husband had to stand up for the half of the trip (poor him). All the toys we brought, that usually could distract her, were not working at all. It was a nightmare for her, and for us who felt so sad seeing her screaming and crying. This was not her first flight; she had taken airplane last year but not as drama as this time. Maybe at that time she was still too little to be afraid. Fortunately, from Medan to Lhok we got in the car together with my cousin who lived in Medan and wanted to go home to Lhok too. No flying, no crying tantrums, but she got carsick and bored on the way. But still better than 2 hours in airplane.

We arrived at home in Lhok around 6pm, just on time before breakfasting. Sunset in Lhok was around 7pm, not 6pm like in Jakarta, so on that day I was fasting 1 hour longer than usual. It was a long tiring day, but we had a long rest the whole next day. It was also extremely hot during the day in Lhok, so we couldn't go out until in the afternoon. During the day I played boardgame with my siblings, and helped to ruin cook Timphan (Aceh traditional cake) for Hari Raya.

We finally went out at 4pm, and it was still super hot, oh my God! Our first stop was Bukit Goa Jepang (Japanese Cave Hill). Been living in Lhok for 15 years, then visiting Lhok 1-2 weeks every year since then, but I never knew about this place before. It was located on the main road Jl. Medan - Banda Aceh between Lhok downtown and Arun. Like its name, this cave was built by Japanese army in 1942, the last Japanese cave before Soekarno declared the independence of Indonesia in 1945. People believe it was used by Japanese army to spy on enemy coming from the sea. The cave is quite small, without bunker, only about 100 metres with some branches and dark scary rooms. Maybe because at that time there was no other visitors except 7 of us, no guards either, so it felt more eerie. It indeed had a scary history, where people involved in Communist Party being killed in 1965. It was also used as a temporary camp for rebels who were being caught by Indonesian army during Aceh Independence Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka / GAM) civil war. This cave is located 100 metres above sea level.

Bukit Goa Jepang, they provided some helmets to use when going inside