After going through a series of unfortunate events in the form of a delayed flight, a forced transit in Medan, and a bumpy plane ride, I finally arrived in Aceh. THE Special Region of Aceh. Yay!
In my eyes, Aceh is shrouded in an incredible veil of mystery, grace, and innocence. It seems to be closed. Without stories. It keeps its beauty to itself. In a word: mysterious 😀 Therefore, when I became one of the winners of #NescafeJourney and was awarded with a trip with my aspirer, Imam Darto, I was so happy that I would finally be able to set foot on the special region.
One thing that I knew from Aceh: it has its own Sharia Police.
As a province known as the Terrace of Mecca, Aceh is apparently strict and straight to the point in implementing the policies that they see fit and right. Have I prepared myself for this? Oh of course! I went out of habit and bought myself a long-sleeved shirt! *I would probably cut the sleeves upon my return from Aceh though…hihihi*
Today was my first day in Aceh and I prepared my outfit with care: cotton slacks (bye bye shorts!), T-shirt (I still wore my short-sleeve shirt), cardigans (which meant I wore long-sleeved outfit, right?), and pashmina as my veil. I was all set and ready to explore Ac…
Someone just yelled at my travel buddy Iffa and I when we were walking around the Grand Mosque of Baiturrahman.
“HEY!!” – the same shout.
Iffa and I turned around and found a security guard was staring at us with his squinting eyes and lowered eyebrows.
“Jklkifhwefnkbcjb,” he said rapidly in a thick Acehnese accent without making any move toward us.
“Sccuse me, Sir?” I asked him while we approached him.
“Jeulbclkshcknfwi,” he said – and we still had no clue whatsoever what he was trying to say.
“Anything wrong, Sir?” I asked him again as we were getting closer to him. He was still talking while gesturing with his hand in our direction.
“Am I not allowed to take any pictures, Sir?” I asked him. Several places of worship forbids people taking photographs inside, but I am a traveler who quite aware of that rule and will not take any pictures if I see the signage to not take photographs. I didn’t see any.
“YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE PANTS LIKE THOSE TO ENTER THE MOSQUE!!! I HAVE BEEN WATCHING YOU FOR SOME TIME, I THOUGHT YOU WERE GETTING OUT BUT YOU JUST WENT AROUND THE MOSQUE INSTEAD!! IT’S FORBIDDEN!! GET OUT!!”
Iffa and I were flabbergasted. We were in a shock phase! We briefly looked at each other and the security guard yelled at us once again, “OUT!!!” with his right hand pointed out to the distance. OMG, this is for real!!! Not a soap opera?? For real?? Were we just got kicked out of a mosque?!
Iffa and I turned around quickly, walked outside of the mosque area and took a turn towards the entrance through the market. Iffa was very shocked. I was still at a loss for words.
So it was true that we were kicked out of this mosque? OMG, what would our children and grandchildren thought of us? Hehehe.
At the entrance, we met two young Acehnese girls who wore tighter and shorter pants than Iffa and I. We asked them whether they were also not allowed to enter the mosque. They said, “No, we got in…”
What the? It’s a double standard!! Huhuhu… *punching the security guard’s shoulder*
What did I get from this experience?
Apparently, the (sparsely admitted) information that I got from the Internet about how to dress in Aceh could not be trusted as is. Acceptable clothes in Aceh were not only the ones covering your entire body, they would also have to be not tight, not showing the shape of your body, and probably other kinds of ‘not this and not that’. So what’s the safest choice? It would be a maxi skirt, a loose top, and a hijab covering your head. :))
Thank you for the snap on the first day, dear Aceh. Even if I had to endure yet another yelling (oh but hopefully not!), I am still eager to savor every inch of beauty that you offer!
PS: I still laugh every time I reminisce how Mas Once – the fixer who went with us – did an impression of the shell-shocked Iffa, standing beside the entrance while wearing her praying clothes. It got funnier because Iffa determinedly refused to open her praying clothes even after she finished praying because she was traumatized by the security guard’s shouts.. 🙁 Poor Iffa.. *hug*
What about me?
Of course I was quite surprised, but oh well I just strolled on. No biggie. Hihihi.
Written by: Bulan
Translated by: Silka from the post Dibentak di Aceh!
Final edit by: Bulan