Planning on heading to Indonesia sometime soon with a stop in Banda Aceh? You’ll definitely need some transportation to and from the bus station or airport, and you’ll probably want to check out some of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami memorials and museum while you’re in town. You may also need some information on where to get some supplies and or random other info about the area and what not. Look no further for help, it’s right here!
I found a man who calls himself Little John on WikiTravel.org who turned out to be a joy of a becak (tuk-tuk) driver and guide for a few days. I contacted John by texting him from Sabah, Malaysia, and even though it was long distance texting he got back to me right away about a ride from the Banda Aceh Airport to our hotel I’d booked a day earlier (Hotel Wisata, Rp225,000 w/Hot Water & Private Bathroom).
John found us easily and right away as we stepped out into the thick muggy air of Banda Aceh and had a sign waiting with my name on it just in case. He drives a local styled motorized tuk-tuk (called becak’s here in Indonesia), and actually has mobile Wifi through 3G on the becak in case you need it! In years of traveling in SEAsia I have never seen this once. Pretty impressive. He’s a smiley character that speaks English (and Japanese) very well, and is full of info on whatever it is that you may be curious about.
Upon arriving at our hotel we immediately booked him to be a tour guide for the following day to take us around to some of the Tsunami memorials and such. He was a few minutes early, and beyond taking us around to the memorials, assisted us in getting some string we needed to patch up some clothes, Jess’ contact lens replacements, Kopi Luwak, and even brought me to his friend’s chop shop because I told him I was a motorcycle geek and wanted to rent a bigger bike if possible. It was an incredibly packed day full of great food, history, errands, and more.
Overall John’s insight is whats most valuable: we asked about dogs and why they are unholy for Muslim’s, SIM cards with internet packages ($3.50 will get you 4.5GB with simPATI!!), and he also translated what the all kids were asking us, plus told us where to go for the best stone markets here.
We’ve actually booked him again for tomorrow to take us over to Lampuuk Beach where we plan on staying at Joel’s Bungalow’s for a few nights before heading off to Pulau Weh for my birthday and some more diving!!
John would appreciate you contacting him a few days ahead of your arrival by Facebook, but you’re more than welcome to text him as well. Here’s John’s info:
Phone: +62 81360231339
Facebook: Little John Banda Aceh – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006284559205&fref=ts