Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sumatra: Pulau Weh

Monday 4 October: Indonesia's most northwestern island, off the most northwestern tip of Sumatra. This is where I planned to start my journey down the vast Indonesian archipelago, and finally I'm here.
Tuesday 5: Raining all day. Hitting Indonesia after Ramadan, I'm travelling southeast in a weather window, hopefully in front of the sweeping monsoon (I had planned to be here a fortnight ago).
Wednesday 6: Pulau Weh's best scenery is not the landscapes or seascapes but the undersea views and I spend the whole day snorkeling in the gin-clear waters. In the morning, close to shore and in the afternoon I swim over to the reefs at Pulau Rubiath, the island opposite. The shoals of multicoloured fish and corals are specular. Unfortunately my camera doesn't work under water but my video camera does, after a fashion, when it's taped to my mask - the colours are no match for those in reality.
In the evening a huge lizard, about a foot long, appears on my hut wall
, crunching mouthfuls of insects - I like lizards.
Thursday 7: It's an early start to catch the 8:00am slow boat KMP BRR Aceh back to Banda Aceh to begin the long-haul southeast. While Pulau Weh escaped the worst of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Banda Aceh did not - 170,000 people in this province lost heir lives. Poignant evidence of this is the 2,500 ton fishing boat carried by a colossal wave more than two miles inland and wedged in the first-floor of a house - remarkably this saved the lives of the 59 aboard. Most of the town's infrastructure is now repaired - new ferry port, roads, homes, mosques - but hearts and minds take longer.
Photos of Pulau Weh and undersea videos of Iboith Bay (to follow when I find a fast internet connection).
Overnight bus (15 hours, it broke down) to Medan's Padang Baris terminal, 11:00am local bus (3 hours) to Bukit Lawang.

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