Bima

sumbawamanta1_022.jpgBima on Sumbawa

Sumbawa doesn’t get the crowds of tourists you come across in Lombok or Bali. It has its own character and some travelers will find it to be an interesting place to visit.

You can take a bus all the way from Jakarta to Bima if you wanted or you could take it in small steps and travel by public transport and overnite at some of the towns along the way.

You can cross to Sumbawa on the ferry from Padang Bai in Bali. You then take a bus across Lombok and get on another ferry to Poto Tano, a tiny port in Sumbawa. There are a few hundred small homes there but if you don’t have wheels it might not be a good place to get stuck because there are no stores, loseman, or warungs..

sumbawamanta1_012.jpgA surprising thing was that the homes there all had tile roofs. Some of the bamboo walls were straining from all the weight that they were supporting and were tilted to the side.

Maybe it had some thing to do with the unavailability of the palm that is used for roofing on most of the other islands. Even the outbuildings had tile roofs.

Coming over on the ferry gives you a chance to meet a few people. Indonesians love to talk to foreigners.

Usually it’s the standard: How old are you? Are you married? What religion are you?

But some make interesting conversation.

sumbawamanta1_015.jpgOne girl I talked to was coming back from a 2 year stint as a caretaker for children in Saudi or Dubai.

She was dressed in the latest fashion with nice pointed leather shoes she just got in Jakarta. She was a real sweetheart and glad to be going home and was the only woman on that boat not wearing a jilbab (headscarf).

In Indonesia people will just come and sit next to you and start talking. They don’t have that invisible shield of space around them like we westerners do.

Another guy that I met, Haji L Marsi was an older fellow that had been around. He worked a few years in Papua helping to remove the trees from the rainforest. He had saved enough money to make the Haj , or the pilgrimage to Mecca. He says that only those who have made the Haj should be wearing the white peci (Islamic hat) and he was quite proud of that.

sumbawamanta1_041.jpgOne of his sons apparently works for Simon of the Blue Marlin dive shop in Senggigi in Lombok. He invited me to go with them to Calabai. They had a big truck full of goods and many of the villagers were riding atop the load. I was sorely tempted to go with them but decided to stay in Sumbawa Besar.

I stayed at the Loseman Saudera across the street from the mosque for 25.000 rupiah. The first place I checked didn’t take foreigners.

I was famished and there was a warung right outside that served chicken satay and rice for 6,000 rupiah.

I took a shower and slept like a rock (riding on the buses is tiring). In the morning I had a big breakfast across the road at a rumah makan with the muslim men for 7,000 rupiah.

sumbawamanta1_005.jpgThe people in Sumbawa were a friendly lot and some asked about the war in Iraq. My grasp of the Indonesian language is weak so all I could say was that war, in general, is not a good thing and let it go at that.

On the bus this guy Jaenel sat next to me and invited me to stay at his place in Bima with his family.

He seems like a cool bloke so I take him up on the offer and dropped my bag at his house where he introduced me to his parents, wife and kids.

We took a dokar (horse cart) to the dock to look around. There were the usual fishing boats and one loaded buffalos and cows. Scuba divers sometimes call a boat loaded with divers a “cattle boat” but this was the real thing.

sumbawamanta1_028.jpgsumbawamanta1_030.jpg

We decided to stay out till later when everyone would be retired for the night. The house was kind of small so we would be out of everyones way while they did their thing.

I had to get a new pair of flip flops anyway because the strap broke on mine. Usually I only travel with one change of clothes, some dive gear, and my flip flops, but no shoes so this was serious. We found a new pair in the market for 5,000 rupiah.

sumbawamanta1_023.jpg The Koran reading regional championship was being held at the park that night. They had a wide screen set up so everyone could view the contestants. Loudspeakers were strategically placed around the square.

There were good. A lot of girls were in the competition too which was kind of surprising. The first place contestants got to go to the nationals and if they were good enough to the international competition.

If you are staying in a muslim country you can get used to the call to prayer early in the morning and even start to miss it after a while when you leave.

holycow_020.jpg Finally after growing weary of the recitations we made our way back home. Everyone was in bed but Jaenel’s wife got us some tea.

It was a beautiful nite so we just sat outside on a bamboo bench looking at the stars and enjoying the nite with our tea. The frogs started croaking and it was peaceful. Then Janeal remarks, “You know, we muslims don’t eat frogs.”

I have to admit, I’d never thought about that.

Bima – Sumbawa – Indonesia

selamat jalan

May 31, 2006 www.dutchpickle.com

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