Pulau Nias 7 - 12 January 2008
The crossing was actually ok, as this time the cabin was a proper private cabin so we got a decent night’s sleep prior to arriving at 5.30am. The islands are about the same size as Bali and located 125km off Sumatra’s West Coast, on the same longitude as the Mentawais. We got a bus to Teluk Lagundri which took about 3 hours. This is a very beautiful horseshoe bay with a nice swimming beach as well as a superb surf break “the best right hander in the world” for those who are into such things! The island is pretty poor people mainly living off fishing and it suffered due to the Tsunami and earthquake so many of the roads were quite broken.
We moved into a small losman overlooking the surf break and Andrew was soon out there. I was supposed to be surf photographer but was not too good finding it hard to balance on the rocks and by the time I worked out it was Andrew on the wave and got the camera up it was nearly all over! The evidence here is not really fair to the surfer I feel I must say!
The local kids were also keen surfers and they were amazing being like tiny agile little ants… great to watch.
We went for a trip by motorbike to some of the local villages which were fascinating. The architecture is very striking comprising wooden ship-like houses over looking wide cobbled streets, the only signs of the times being the satellite dishes! We went and saw the Chief’s House in Bawomataluo, which is the oldest and largest in Nias and very impressive. There is a stone jump in the middle of the village. Once upon a time jumping over the stones of almost 2 metres (which then were topped with sharpened sticks to make things even more interesting!) was war training for Nias warriors, now it is done for financial reasons and we couldn’t afford it!! We did buy the postcards though!
We had a lovely relax at Nias and Andrew really enjoyed the surfing. The food was very good as the lady of the house was a great cook and we enjoyed (again!) plenty of fresh fish.
The only downside was, perhaps due to the poverty, there was a perception of foreigners as being unlimited sources of money. This meant that it was impossible to step foot outside without being accosted by sales people who simply refused to take no for an answer and stuck to you like glue. As we really didn’t need/want to buy anything this rapidly became a bit tiresome. Sometimes there seemed to be an undercurrent of menace which made me a bit uncomfortable. I guess it is better in the high season (June- August) when the surf is bigger and there are more people so attention is a bit diluted. I often had the beach to myself on the plus side but the downside was I was rarely alone!!
In one of the villages we met “Mr. Massage” a local man of almost 90 who is a trained masseuse, and we both treated ourselves to a massage which was wonderful. Then, feeling rejuvenated, it was back on the overnight ferry to Sibolga. No cabins this time it was a smaller ferry with big open plan padded areas set up like bunks. They were actually surprisingly comfortable but all attempts at sleep were thwarted by the sub zero temperatures as the air con was blasting away! Arrived back at Sibolga in the pouring rain feeling a bit bleary and headed straight to the Polizi where we had left the car for safekeeping –on that point thanks to Hadi the Commander who had insisted on taking us for lunch and running us to the ferry in the police car, and was generally very helpful.
And so, back on the road again this time heading north to Danau Toba.