As you cruise the meandering road alongside the picturesque rift of Mount Geureundong on the way to Takengon, a small town with population no more than 230,000 in Central Aceh, your eyes would be entertained with visual concert of passing pine trees on your sides, series of tropical vegetations dotted with semi permanent dwellings, and stupefied looks of local children as your persevering labi-labi pass them by. The breeze on your face would be gradually chillier, as you pass coats of mists. Here, the average temperature is almost permanently around 20 degree Celcius, or a convenient 68 degree Fahrenheit. Finally, 100 kilometers from the westernmost edge, the small town of Takengon welcomes you.
Takengon is the capital of Central Aceh district. It sits to offer you a handful of rareness you must see. The food is unique and it’s worth noting. Agro-tourism and activities around the Lake Laut Tawar (sea of fresh water) are the reasons to extend your stay. Not to mention the legend of a princess that turned into stone with her observable unseen guards. It is far from nonsense when we mention in the first place that Aceh is truly a spiritual gateway to Indonesia.
Come and see the attractions for yourself. The stories you tell would be too good to be true, and too precious to miss. This is Aceh, and it makes a wonderful inception for your journey to the whole archipelago.
Cafés available in Takengon are :
1. Miso Samalero, Jalan Abdul Wahab, Kebayakan
2. Kartika Restaurant, Jalan Sengeda
3. Kedai Murah Senyum, Jalan Pasar Petani
4. Kenanga Café, Jalan Sudirman
5. Mama Café, Jalan Sengeda
6. Centro Café, Jalan Lebe Kadir
7. Delima, Jalan Malem Diwa
8. Adi Warung Kopi, Jalan Sengeda
9. Al Hilal, Jalan Pasar Inpres
10. Bismi, Jalan Blang Mesra
11. Blessing, AgamJalan Malim Dewa
Lake Laut Tawar is the most visited attraction in Takengon as it is the most prominent icon of the town, followed by the Loyang Putri Pukes Cave. Lake Laut Tawar, or sea of fresh water, is rich with trout and fishing is very possible. Skiing and boating are also available in several spots. Soaring cliffs around the lake is truly a scenic beauty. Furthermore, it is an ideal place for rock climbing. If you are an adrenaline addict and having experiences in climbing many cliffs around the world, why don’t you have a try out here in Takengon.
Loyang Putri Pukes is a cave bearing a local legend named Putri Pukes. She was once to marry a man from a neighboring village. As she embarked on a new life, she had to leave her parents residence. The process was too depressing for her, although her mother told her specifically that ‘you shall not turn your head back to our home as you are heading for your husband’s village’. She failed to follow the warning, and suddenly she turned into stone. It is a legend that is so vividly alive in the local’s tale. Archeologists found several caves around the lake and they were once inhabited by cave dwellers 3,500 years ago as stone axe and other fossils were found.
However, these scientific facts are often contradicts with such legend as visitors are regularly offered to watch through their digital cameras the unseen guards of Putri Pukes. Believe it or not, but it makes an interesting story. Do you notice many horses here? It is because Takengon is a center for traditional horse riding. They don’t call their horses by names, but they know how to ride them. Children are taught to ride horse since the earlier age. Go to Pente Menye – Bintang to know how horse riding is so popular here.
Central Aceh is well known for its flavorsome coffee production. Takengon is responsible for all the fine smelling organic Arabica coffee, if you were wondering where those people get the coffee beans that are ground and served in ubiquitous coffee shops all over Aceh. Ask the locals to visit the local coffee production and also the pineapple farm. It is a different kind of agro-tourism experience you might want to have.
Coffee plantation, together with its factory is in Bener Meriah. You can learn how coffee bean is plucked and processed into a product ready for export. True, not only it is locally on sale, but also sent abroad as it is high in quality. The United States, Japan, Netherland, and other European countries order their coffee from Takengon.
Right before Krueng Simpo on the way to Takengon, do stop by the strings of street kiosks, where the curious locals sell snacks and native meals. You might have seen Padang food sold everywhere, but here everything is a bit distinct. Even the satay does look distinctively as they dip it in a bowl of soup. The raw meat burnt on flaming charcoals radiates a flavorsome aroma. They call it Sate Matang. Do try to buy local snacks like kripik pisang (banana chips), fried cassava, and nagasari, delicacies that words cannot describe. Eat it along the way to the clouds uphill.
In Takengon, when you find a place to eat, order Ikan Depik (Ikan = fish, pronounced as e-khan). Ikan Depik is uniquely Takengon, and most people say it is unique from Lake Laut Tawar.
Going to Takengon is convenience when you are in Banda Aceh. Please turn to Banda Aceh article for accessibility to capital city, Banda Aceh. From the capital city, you can take a bus or a rented car. In some cases, labi-labi (the local public transport in Banda Aceh) can also be rented for a trip to Takengon. It takes 8 hours to get there.
From Banda Aceh, a traveler usually passes Bireun, which is an easy drive as the long road is almost straight. From Bireun to Takengon, a driver must pay extra attention to the road as it is winding and gorge is right at the side of the road.
If you depart from Medan, take a bus from bus station going to Banda Aceh, and stop in Lhokseumawe. Medan – Lhokseumawe trip is about 4 hours. From Lhokseumawe to Takengon you can take a minibus and it takes 3 hours to get there.
If you happen to be in Kutacane, there is also a public transportation going to Takengon.
Takengon is a town around an altitude of 1,200 meters. It is far different from Banda Aceh. When Banda Aceh becomes merrier as the night comes, in Takengon, it is the opposite.
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