Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 14 January 2016 • Destination
Tags: Travel Indonesia
There have been a few attempts to count the amount of time it would take to step on all the 17,000 islands or so of Indonesia. Answers come close to a lifetime. It’s actually considered mission impossible, but that doesn’t mean I’m discouraged to visit as many as I can. A spontaneous call brought me to pack up and visit Saparua Island, a neighboring island of Ambon to the east. I spent 3 days and 2 nights roaming Saparua Island before visiting Banda Neira, with minimal preparation and a loose itinerary. Yeah! I’m that kind of girl.
The information online pretty much says it all. With little to do, all has been written. To my consideration it’s pretty much off the beaten track, which was pleasant. Walking around the village kinda feels like you’re just another village kid finding something to do. Little attention was drawn to you as there were less people around; hardly dense. However, it can easily drag you into confusion as to what to do on such a laid back and hot island. So let the child in Firsta, Vindhya, Adlin and me, give you a few ideas.
Because we were staying at Rumah RP, naturally we would swim at the pier nearby. The concrete pier is perfect to spend the afternoon as the sun sets in front of it. One afternoon, we dragged beach chairs out to the pier and swam in the ocean till nightfall. It’s also the playground for the local kids. So, that afternoon was well spent jumping in and out of the water and having a few laughs.
At the time, the sun set behind a hill, another part of Saparua Island. Not dramatic, but no less beautiful. When sitting in beach chairs, anything would be more beautiful than it really is.
Photo by Adlien.
I heard that Saparua Island also had an intact fort, but I didn’t realise it was so nice. Being the center of the Lease Islands, it would have been logical to place for a fort. It could be one of the bases for the VOC, as there was a lot of area to be covered. The fort is located just on a small hill beside a white sand beach, giving it a beautiful ocean view from the guarding towers. Also, a great splash for a hot day.
This website did warn visitors of the possibility the fort might be locked with no guard insight. It was exactly what happened to us, but this time our curiosity caught on faster than the wait for the key holder to come open the doors. Upon the approval of locals working around the fort area, my travel mates, few local teenagers and I latched on the opportunity, climbed Om John’s shoulders (who worked at Rumah RP and tagged along) and broke in.
Not much of the inside was left but the walls were maintained well, giving some idea to the space within the fort. Some areas probably had some extra work on it, but the overall shape was still intact. Oh I felt a little too old for my own good but I hiked my ass up that fort wall and got to see the inside. Again, this is upon approval of a lot of locals!
Apparently, Maluku is home to many karst islands, which means there are a lot of fresh water pools within caves. The Maria Cave or ‘Tujuh Putri’ Cave is one of the many located on Saparua Island. Compared to the ones that I’ve visited, this cave is smaller and shallower. Hence, with the presence of just a few people, it already felt very crowded. During my visit, tragically, there were a few women doing their washing using detergents and also bathing using shampoo. It was a shame but I really can’t blame them. Water might be scarce, there is limited modern infrastructure, or it has always been their way of living. The cave is an easy solution to their hygiene necessity.
The recommended beach that apparently people keep on telling us to visit was the Kulur Beach. Located about half an hour from Rumah RP, our accommodation, it was the white sand beach with turquoise water. The ocean floor slanted slightly into deep water, giving enough base to play and submerge ourselves in. Because it was facing a channel, the current was a bit fast so we didn’t swim out too far.
The most absurd moment would have to be the passing of a local ferry. Kulur Beach is also home to the port for the huge ferries that visit the island. Rarely do I swim being watched by a ferry passing by. Usually it’s the other way around, but I guess there’s a first for everything.
Some landscapes on Saparua Island were interesting. There were fields that met up with sharp hills, giving it a dramatic sight. As appealing as an infinity view of the ocean, Saparua Island made me realize (yet, again) that I enjoy the view of the ocean with a land background.
Another favorite sight has to be the colorful wooden boats suspended in the air by wooden poles. The locals say it was to prevent them from drifting away during high tide. Because it was oddly for me, it felt like I was at an art exhibition, looking at different colors and shapes of boats.
On the other side of Saparua Island is Ouw Village, known mostly as the place for pottery. We visited home of Mama Tenis, which was the most prominent pottery place on the island. She has been making clay crafts since the 70s and has even taught her husband who currently helps her. Their workshop is very humble yet sufficient, far from a well-established studio. However, they’ve made the craftsmanship alive till today and still provide the local needs of pottery for the island, including pots for cooking and sago molds. They have also succeeded in exporting some of their work.
Their workshop opens pretty much all week, except for Sundays where the shop is open but no work can be seen live in their workshop.
Although Saparua Island was charming as many of the small islands of Indonesia, it pains me to admit there was a lot of trash lying around, both on land and in the sea. At parts, it was so bad, you wouldn’t know where to start. A friend of Indohoy said in short, it’s probably due their exile life up in the mountains after the riot in ’99. During that time, he says, people didn’t dispose their trash well and eventually the trash ran off to the sea in every rainy season. Hence, the massive amount of trash. Probably, because there are a lot of places in Indonesia that face the same problem. Again, I wouldn’t know where to start.
Motorcycles are available for rent, but we figured with four people it would be better to hire a local ‘mini bus’ that usually runs as public transport. A few other people, like the hostel staff, could tag along (good thing ‘cause, remember I climbed up his shoulders to break into the fort?) and the sun was unforgiving, so better stay shaded.
Car rent cost about IDR 400,000/day. All were arranged by Rumah RP.
There are no direct flights to Saparua Island, Maluku. To get there, you must fly in to Ambon, Maluku, to then continue on a ferry from the Tulehu Port, located about 45 minutes from the airport. a ferry ticket to Saparua Island from Tulehu was about IDR 75,000 / pax. From the port, make sure you’ve arranged transportation to get to your accommodation, in this case to Rumah RP.
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