Note: I only have a slow dial-up connection, so I'll add photos when I return to Banda Aceh.
Traveling the roads over the last week and Monday we’ve seen large numbers of domestic animals along the sides of the roads, mainly cows and goats, and a few sheep. They all are left loose to graze where they like. Some even graze along the narrow medians found in some towns. They seem to have good instincts around traffic, unlike our deer! They’ll wait patiently until you pass or, if they feel they have enough time, they’ll wander across the road. The cars avoid them with minimal honking of horns. Along with the fore mentioned animals we’ve also seen monkeys, chickens, and water buffalo, not to mention one horse, a few dogs, and some cats.
In Banda Aceh cats are everywhere. The people here seem to have high regard for the cat, so they are well fed and enjoy a good scratch if offered. Many of the cats have bobbed tails. When we questioned one of the IFRC staff, he told us (with a straight face) that the Indonesians consider cats to be perfect but since only Allah can be perfect they cut off the cats’ tail to give it a slight imperfection. When we tried to verify this with our two interpreters they laughed and said the cats have natural bobbed tails and that our compatriot was just kidding us. I'll have to do more research.
You see very few dogs around, it appears that Muslims don’t like the dogs. If a dog’s saliva gets on their hand they have to go through a ritual of seven washes to cleanse them. What must they think of us and our pets!
Monday was a good day on the road. We travelled from Banda Aceh to Bireuen with a stop at Sigli to properly ground their radio and antenna mast. In Bireuen, at an empty hotel, the girl behind the reception desk refused to rent rooms to Glen and I, she would not even make eye contact with us. This is very unusual as the Acehnese people have been very friendly, especially if you can say “Hello!” in Bahasa, their faces break into smiles. So, we went to another hotel that did welcome our business.