BANDA ACEH, Indonesia
A Turkish blogger was surprised to see the enthusiasm with which local people embrace nearly five centuries of brotherly ties between Turkey and Aceh, Indonesia's westernmost province.
Elif Kubra Genc said she was flattered by the appreciation expressed by the Acehnese for her ancestors who set foot in the land 480 years ago.
"I'm very proud that our ancestors are still respected here," the 29-year-old woman told Anadolu Agency in the city of Banda Aceh on Tuesday after a celebration to commemorate 480 years of brotherhood with Turkey which go back to the Ottoman era.
During the celebration, Genc was welcomed by local officials and residents who surrounded her, requesting pictures.
"I'm glad to be here," she said.
Her visit to Aceh is part of the "Sun from Turkey" program initiated by the Indonesian Student Association in Turkey to forge closer ties between the two countries.
On social media, Genc said during her trip she enjoyed strolling around the beach and blending in with the locals.
The pictures she posted on Instagram portrayed the raw beauty of nature Aceh is blessed with.
"Just happy, #indonesia #aceh," said the caption of a selfie she posted with the Lampujang coastline in the background.
Her posts garnered global attention, with her followers expressing admiration for the beautiful sights.
"You're lucky to be in heaven now, hope you enjoy it," she quoted one of the comments written on her post.
As an influencer who actively promotes tourism, Genc said that she was glad to invite the Turkish and international community to visit Aceh.
"I'm very pleased to introduce Aceh to the world as it has a lot of natural, historical and cultural destinations," she said.
"One day, I will come here again as a guide," she added.
Genc flew to the archipelago with fellow Turkish social media influencer Edanur Yildiz.
"Being able to come to Aceh is a dream come true. I am happy to be here,” said Yildiz.
The 21-year-old student has been actively promoting the culture and lifestyle of Indonesians, especially those in Aceh.
She expressed her interest in writing about Indonesia as the largest Muslim country in the world, adding that Aceh has abundant treasures from the history of its relationship with Ottoman Empire.
"I promote Aceh and Indonesia through Instagram and Twitter," said Yildiz.
"The Muslims here live an Islamic way. After evening prayers, I saw kids recited the Quran until night," said Yildiz, who is also learning to speak Indonesian.
Aminullah Usman, the mayor of Banda Aceh, said on Tuesday that his administration is determined to establish tourism cooperation with the Turkish government.
"We will arrange an memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation," Usman told Anadolu Agency.
He said the pact is scheduled to be completed by 2020, conveying his hope for effective cooperation.
"Insha Allah [God willing], we are ready to be invited to Ankara to see [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan," he added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.