The adventurous swamps of Mentawai

 

Under me the swamp and above the sky


Take the Mentawai Fast from Padang (only twice a week!) to Muara Siberut and you will get close to the last native inhabitants of Sumatra, who live in the swamps of the island.

Muara Siberut

Muara Siberut is a busy small town. It takes around 20 minutes by ojek (motorbike taxi) from the harbour to get to the town. It shouldn’t cost more than 25.000Rp. Ibu Ar (mum Ar) and her guest house is well known in Murau. The lady owns and managing the hostel on her own, her husband passed by last year. Her full name is Ibu Ar Syahruddin and if you ask the guys at the harbour to bring you there, they will do it and you won’t need to discuss any more with them about who knows what else.

Ibu Ar’s Phone: 0813 6304 9506

You can contact her before you arrive but actually it is absolutely no need to book in advance, so you can go there wherever you want and there will be for sure somebody at home.

It is a wooden house, the rooms are small but nice and tidy. The price for two is 100.000Rp. Toilets are outside.

Ibu Ar’s guesthouse

 

The homy balcony

 

In Muara itself you will still have a phone signal, your mail server and what’s app will work more or less but it is easier to forgo Facebook. You will have electricity by night and in the morning but it can happen by daytime that it vanishes for some couple of short hours.

Muara has shops, you can buy drinks and food. You will find medicaments as well and a lot of warungs (local restaurant). For your basical needs there is a service.

The Indonesian government started with aid projects, organised villages with small schools, shops and religious education (Islam, Catholic) came into being in the swamps of Siberut. Most of the natives live nowadays in those communities. There is still no electricity over there, no signal but what you will find for sure is an incredible beauty.

A great chance to get closer to the tradition and culture of the natives of Mentawai is to stay with them in one of their villages.

Madobag village


 Madobag is the village of my friend Gejeng. He is a very competent guide with license. He must be around 35 years old, nobody knows it exactly, as he was born in the jungle and lived there as an aborigin for a very long time.

My beautiful friend, Gejeng

I asked Ibu Ar to become our contact to reach Gejeng, then Gejeng himself still doesn’t have a phone or email.

So if you would like to see and experience the daily life of the people in the jungle, if you would like to stay there for a night, some days, a week or even longer, Gejeng can help you and show you the almost forgotten spirit of Mentawai. He is a swine herd, which is the traditional work of the Mentawai natives and a hunter with his six dogs.

Stay short or long, everything is manageable. One night in a village with a small trekking tour to visit people who still stay outside of the “civilisation”, or some couple of days with longer treks, it is up to you and your imagination. Our phantasy is their daily life.

A traditional house

To contact Gejeng just ask Ibu Ar, she will send somebody for him and Gejeng will come to Murau.

Which means, you don’t have to book any tour from the mainland. You can go there, have a look first and you can organise your tour by yourself. Gejeng became my friend, he knows and loves his land; his mind is beautiful.

How can you prepare yourself for the jungle? Gumboot. The only thing which is indispensable is gumboots as you will cross swamp area. There are enough gumboots in the villages, it is not necessary to bring your own boots.

Gumboots or bare feet
Daswan and Tarason, the shaman

 

Tarason and me

Gejeng works together with his friends. There are five more guides in Gejeng’s village. I had the chance to get know Andi. He joined our tour and was really good taking care of me.

 

Andi. Sometimes there is a chance to cross the river dry.

 

Inside a traditional kitchen

 

Enough for everybody

 

Gejeng, me, Andi and Rostam

 

And if you wish to explore South Siberut riding a motorbike by yourself, just ask for a Honda and enjoy.

Pompon – a wooden fishing boat

 

The abandoned beach next to Muara

 

For a walk
At the river side

If you have any questions, would like to know more about your possibilities, see more pictures or everything else, you are always welcome to contact me on:

smile.theworldsmiles@gmail.com

On the way
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Visit Bangkaru

The second biggest island of Pulau Banyak ’99’ islands is Bangkaru, the turtle island. Every night throughout the year you can see green turtles laying eggs on the marvelous beaches  of Bangkaru Nationalpark.

Beaches are plane

Bangkaru is for sure one of the most special places on Sumatra. The Island is a desert island, there is only one cottage (pondok) built up by the government for the rangers, who take care and protect the turtles.

I heard, ten years before there were nearly on every island turtles and the locals say, you could get lobsters even at the toilet in the villages. The business was booming until the eco-system couldn’t catch up with the mass fishing any more. The province Aceh woke up, sent rangers to the last turtle paradise to save this treasure of nature. But one thing is remained completely untouched by the people: the island itself. The reason is funny, the locals believe Bangkaru is a place of ghosts, so they never came to log trees and never killed the animals on the Island. I was there this summer (2015), I couldn’t see any ghosts but a real jungle with giant plants.

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Giants

If you stay on Bangkaru you will stay together with the rangers. Real hard outdoorsmen, which means they also know how to cook like heaven…

Night by night they are observing the eggs laying turtles and if is necessary, which happens ever and anon, they protect them as well for the fishermen who come to steal the eggs – ever and anon.

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Their trace

Mr. Usup is one of the brave rangers. There is no phone signal at the Island – about the internet is no need to speak. So the guys are really alone with the nature. And if something happens, it is Usup who is running up the mountain, which takes two hours, to be able to contact the outside world.

The pondok is big enough to have some dormitories for us visitors.

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The pondok

As I came to Bangkaru, my friend Langlang Buana (he is a speed boat driver) took me there.

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Mr. Langlang Buana

The most comfortable, straightest and easiest way to get to Bangkaru is to contact Darmawan (Tel.: 0821 6645 7040, Email: dmawan_ skl76@yahoo.com). He speaks a great English so you will enjoy a very informative trip and he is also a really cool man; it will be a great experience with him. You will find our Darmawan on Facebook as well under Dar Mawan. He is also Director of CV Pulau Banyak Travel, so wherever you would like to travel by car on Sumatra, he can help you.

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How much does it cost to get to Bangkaru? If you are a group it costs around one million rupiah per person, if you are a couple the price is three million for you two. And if you are alone, life is always an adventure…

Why is it so expensive? It is special, that is for sure one of the main reasons. The organizer pays permission for you as well. On the other hand the infrastructure is not given, too. Everything, the food, the drinks, medicaments, everything is from the mainland. Last but not least there is one more exciting reason behind the price: it is a bit difficult because of the waves to enter the island. You need for sure a speed boat and an experienced driver as well. He has to catch the right wave and so you will surf easily, safe and quickly to the welcoming beach of Bangkaru. Enjoy.

Telefon & Internet & Money on Pulau Tailana

If you have an Indonesian SIM card from Telekomsel, you can use your phone 24 hours a day but no other provider works on the island. If you have a SIM card, your internet is going to work but only edge, so you can receive and send emails or use what’s app but to use Facebook is not funny.

We have solar energy on the island and the old generator is still working as well. Which means maybe not for 24 hours a day but we have electricity. It is not a problem at all to charge your electric devices but in your bungalow the light is still romantic by petroleum lamps or torch.

You should cary cash with you. The German DKB Visa card and Mastercards may work in Singkil but the safest way is to take money from the bigger cities around.

About Pulau Tailana

Pulau Tailana is one of the stunningly beautiful islands of the remote Pulau Banyak situated about 30km west of Aceh Singkil at the east cost of Sumatra in the Indien Ocean. Pulau Banyak (lot of islands) is a cluster of many mostly uninhabited islands with ginclear waters, white beaches and vast quantities of palm trees.

Tailana’s crystal clear, calm water is home for corals, lobsters and small fishes -the big ones are already on the market. The small tropical island is indeed a great spot for snorkling and relaxing. It belongs for sure to the last Beauties of the world.

Stormy weather

 

Tailana means slop oil in the traditional language of this area. Mr. Mali’s ancestors bought the island 1905. He starts to built up  the first three bungalows on his palm tree island after the Tsunami in 2004, in 2013 two new cottages followed, today we have eight.  

As it is…

 

Daswan, now 33 years old, became the manager of Tailana four years before. Afternoon by afternoon he caught the fishes for his handful guests and prepared the food by himself alà traditional cuisine, so that Tailana became a culinary place. If you don’t like fish, don’t worry, the vegetable dishes are excellent as well but you will (almost) never meet meat on the island.

 

Coral grouper

 

Herman started working on the island half a year after Daswan. By daytime he used to cruise around the islands with his guests. It should not happen but anyway if something hurts or we get sick, he knows a medicine.

Not only the Tailana cuisine, which makes the island special, but the music. If we are lucky after dinner Daswan and Herman take their old shabby  guitar and sing heartbreaking songs of the fishermen.

Daswan & Herman

 

Rizki is Daswan’s cousin. He is the youngest in our Tailana-family, he is 19. He arrived this year in June to Tailana and became very fast our right hand.

Rizki

That is the story, how became Tailana a spot of touristic interest and how our Tailana-family grown.

Time goes by… Tailana is still a spot of touristic interest, but we moved on, our life got changed. (See more above in chapter Haloban – Daswan&Reka Homestay)

Activities around Tailana

  • Visit Haloban, the fishing village next to Tailana. It takes around 25 minutes to get there by fishing boat. 80% of the population works still on the sea searching for fishes, octopi, crabs and shells by day, by night, by storm, by sun.
    Haloban
    Be part of the game

    In a silent evening.
  • Visit Ujung Salit, the only Christian village in this area. Its inhabitants originate in Nias.

    Ujung Salit
  • Relax and snorkel around the stunningly beautiful small island called Pulau Pandan.
    Pulau Pandan
    The only visitors: we
    Indeed small

    Same same but different
  • Visit Air Dingin (cold water) to have a refreshing bath and see some monkeys.
    Around Air Dingin
    Wilderness
    Great vegetation

    Our fishing boat
  • Be part of traditional events
    Wedding ceremony in Balai

    Wedding decoration in Haloban
  • Cruising around the islands. Catch sight of dolphins, turtles and if you are lucky sometimes you can see dugongs.
    Departure from Tailana

     

    On the way to Pulau Ragu Ragu

     

    On the way back to Tailana

Activities on Tailana

  • Just relax…

    If reality makes you feel prepossessed
  • Play volleyball

    We are ready
  • Kayaking

    It is not so far but far enough to the next island
  • Snorkling directly around the island or nearby

    Between the sun above and the corals under you is your skin…
  • Fishing

    The fishes are not akways willing but often
  • Surfing à la Tailana

    *wuhuuu*
  • Cocking and eating
    Happy non-birthday

    …and who ordered lobster today?
  • Enjoy the sunset…

    Amin

Prices on Tailana

We have eight bungalows on Tailana.

Single: 100.000Rp

Double: 125.000Rp

Triple: 150.000Rp

Facilities: 125.000Rp per person which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, tee&coffee all the time, drinking water, fruits, electricity and laundry possibilities.

It means:

If you come alone: 225.000Rp per day/night

If you are two of you: 375.000Rp in total per day/night

If you are three of you: 525.000Rp in total per day/night

 

Bungalow on Tailana

 

Interior design

 

Canteen

 

 

Everywhere dill around the cottages

 

Also the kings visit this place on foot…

 

Pulau Banyak