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Stranded boats in Banda Aceh

   
  - darkometer rating:  4 -
 
In addition to the big PLTD Apung 1, many smaller vessels, especially fishing boats, were also carried inland by the 2004 tsunami in Banda Aceh. At least one that came to rest on top of a house has been integrated into the local tourist infrastructure as a special attraction, but there are also other, less commodified specimens.
  
  
More background info: see under Banda Aceh
  
  
What there is to see: At the better known location presented here, the so-called “boat in the roof” this is precisely what you get to see. A ca. 75ft (25m) long wooden fishing boat that the tsunami deposited on top of somebody's house. In this case it was actually a blessing. People living in that house took refuge on board the boat as the tsunami waters were ravaging the area. They believe that without this boat they too would not have survived. Hence the boat is sometimes called a “mini Noah's Ark”. 
  
The site no longer looks as raw as some of the photos you may have seen. In the meantime it has been much altered and commodified. The most noticeable change, other than a bright new coat of paint, are the steel supports that now hold the boat in place. I suppose these were necessary to prevent the boat from finally falling off the roof after all. The walls could presumably not have supported the 20t weight of the vessel forever. 
  
So it should be safe to walk under the boat – which you can, meaning you can also walk through the house ruins that have become the boat's unnatural pedestal, so to speak. 
  
The steel supports also allowed a walkway to be constructed that leads all the way to a platform that is directly adjacent to and level with the boat's deck, so you can even look in (but you can't go on board!). 
  
In addition, there are various plaques and a small amphitheatre of sorts … maybe they hold ceremonies of some description here from time to time? An information panel also has a text in English and some photos from the days after the tsunami, including the famous one showing the boat stuck in the roof before any supports were built. 
  
So the place is commodified as a local visitor attraction, but not quite as heavy-handedly as at the PLTD Apung 1. Still, it does all look a little artificial and just a little too polished to get across any real sense of the drama of the tsunami. But with a bit of imagination …
  
The other location with stranded boats that I was taken to on my tsunami-themed day tour of the city (see under Banda Aceh) was completely different in nature.  It was neither signposted nor officially commodified in any way. These were just boats still lying stranded in somebody's garden, basically, and it looked much more like this had happened only very recently. There was merely a simple hand-painted sign marking them as tsunami sites. 
  
The two boats lying here came to rest tilted and at a slight angle bow to bow, almost as if kissing one another. One is a smaller grey steel boat (with the legend KN 430, Malahayati on the stern), the other vessel is larger and has the letters KPLP on the side, i.e. it was a coast guard boat … I found this slightly ironic, as it so visibly was quite unable to guard its coast when the tsunami came.  
  
There are ladders on the sides of both boats, so in theory you can clamber aboard – but given the angles at which they lie on their sides, it must be difficult to walk around on them (I didn't try). 
  
Another stranded boat that is often mentioned, and that you may have seen images of, used to be at the Hotel Medan where it came to rest in the hotel car park after the tsunami. But this boat has long since been taken away. 
  
  
Locations: The boat in the roof is in the north of Banda Aceh, near the fishing harbour, some 2 miles (3 km) from the city centre, in the district of Lampulo, at Jl Tanjung. The other boats are just a few hundred yards from the PLTD Apung 1, but in a very secluded place that isn't quite so easy to find … and where the streets have no names ....
 
Google maps locators:
  
[5.575, 95.325] – boat in the roof near the harbour in Lampulo district.
    
[5.5472, 95.3046] – two boats in a garden nearer the city centre.
  
  
Access and costs: partly signposted, partly not, and thus tricky to find without help; free to access, but getting there could incur costs. 
  
Details: The boat in the roof near the harbour is well signposted from the harbour-front road, but you will need some form of transport to get there from the city centre.  As the sight is pretty well-known locally, it shouldn't be too difficult to organize, say, a motorbike ride or a taxi. 
  
The other boats mentioned above are tricky to find, despite their more central location. You could try fiddling through the little back streets from near the PLTD Apung 1 site on foot or by bike with the help of the map locator above, but you could quite easily get lost. There is no signposting here, or even street names, to help you navigate. 
  
When I went to Banda Aceh I hadn't even known about these more hidden boats. They were more like my local guide's little secret – and it was he who took me there (so I had no navigating to do at all). So presumably asking just any taxi or motorcycle driver may not be the best solution in this case. You may indeed need a guide who knows about these much less touristified stranded boat locations – see under Banda Aceh
  
Access is free at both sites and at any time, in theory. But of course only during the daytime makes sense.  
  
  
Time required: not long at the individual sites, perhaps 15 minutes each. But getting to the various locations can easily take longer than that.  
  
  
Combinations with other dark destinations: in general see under Banda Aceh
  
The most obvious choice for combination has to be the PLTD Apung 1 generator vessel that was carried by the waters of the tsunami right into the centre of the Banda Aceh and is now one of the most-visited tourist sights in the city. 
  
The other top tsunami-related sight is the Tsunami Museum, also in the city centre. Opposite this museum is the Thanks to the World Park.
  
Away from the centre, closer to the new harbour the Tsunami & Disaster Mitigation Research Centre can be found and is recommended.
  
  
Combinations with non-dark destinations: see Banda Aceh
  
   
   
  • 0 - boat on a roof0 - boat on a roof
  • 1 - ignoring the traffic sign1 - ignoring the traffic sign
  • 2 - as it looked shortly after the tsunami2 - as it looked shortly after the tsunami
  • 3 - signposted3 - signposted
  • 4 - similar boats still afloat in the harbour today4 - similar boats still afloat in the harbour today
  • 5 - more stranded boats5 - more stranded boats
  • 6 - in a far less touristified location6 - in a far less touristified location
  • 7 - just lying in a local garden7 - just lying in a local garden
  • 8 - you can even go up to enter8 - you can even go up to enter
  • 9 - rusting away9 - rusting away
    

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