Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 19 January 2012 • Itinerary
From one of our nationalist songs, we learn that Sabang is the far west city of Indonesia. We’ve been taught this song since elementary school. But it was after I learned Geography, I knew that Sabang is located on an island called Weh Island. Only a few people would visit this island just to set foot on the KM 0 of Indonesia, but it’s a popular place amongst divers. It has various dive sites and so much to see. Doing 8 dives didn’t break my amusement towards this island. On the contrary, it built up my fondness to it. I SAW A SHARK! And little did any of my group know that this island is also beautiful, kind, and so laid back for travelers.
From friends of Indohoy: Vindhya, Endi, and Norman, we connected with Rubiah Tirta Dive Center. They organized all of our dives around the island. Out of the 18 sites, we did 8 locations, which were really a lot of dives in 5 day trip. Some of the group did a 9th dip by doing a night dive, one that I was not allowed to participate since I had performed poorly in the previous dives *SOB!
Rubiah Tirta Dive Center
Yudi was our DM. He is the son of the founder, Mr. Rubiah. It’s a family business and I can say, I’m so glad his children are still keeping the business alive.
The best thing about diving with Yudi is, he has insane eyes. He might wear glasses on land, but once he’s in the water, he can point out the tiniest creatures you’ll ever see with your mask-covered eyes. There were many times the could spot mini nudibranches that really looked like a piece of fish hair or something. He’s that good!
You can only do 2 dives a day with Rubiah, except if you’re doing a night dive. Not only does Yudi and his center try to keep divers of being too ambitious, he has to take care of his fellow DM. It’s always a tight schedule in Iboih, and his boys can’t be in the water more than 3 dives a day.
While I can’t remember exactly all the spots that I dived in, I do remember a few spots that stood out.
I have to give credit to this spot just because I saw the Spotted Moray Eel for the first time. It’s gorgeous! I could look at it all day. I’m not exaggerating! Look at it! I ain’t lying!
It’s B to the E to the A UTIFUL! It’s like a giraffes neck gone missing and decided to be its own species. I declared it my favorite eel so far!
For the first time I was really exhausted swimming against current. It was a constant hard drift. I didn’t have any gloves on, so you could imagine how I cut most of my fingertips. Kids, get gloves when you dive here, but still avoid touching anything!
Nagging and surviving the current were only my initial thoughts. After about 15 minutes in the dive, the fun started. We saw a giant Trevally. I think it was longer than me!!! It looked like a huge double decker bus for fishes and it was parking on some rock. Awesome!
But it didn’t stop there…. I SAW MY FIRST SHARK! Holly molly was it exciting! Ok, it was a usual black tip coral shark, but it still had sharp teeth, thank you! I still could’ve lost a finger or one of my ears to the least. After that, we saw a few more, which could be the same one just circling around. The biggest and closest shark was about more than 1 m in length and about 10 m away. Seeing a shark is a definite adrenaline rush and an addiction. Super awesome! *fist pump
After a few dives on similar kinds of topography, aside to the shark sightings, we were getting the hang of the scenery. Personally, I really didn’t think there was more to it. But, as usual, traveling proves me to be a smart ass.
The mini canyon starts with a canyon gating your entrance. From that point, consider yourself in diving heaven. There were endless curtains of Anthias on the walls and everywhere you see. The sea fans were huge and abundant! Add to that the Napoleon fishes, sea fans, moray eels, and so many many many more. All you have to do is float!
Our last dive was quite memorable. One dive was divided into 2 dips. We had to spare half a tank on each location.
We descended right in front of Sabang city. This wreck was much fun since it was very different to the other sites. It was only about 12 m deep, enabling us to save a lot of oxygen since it wasn’t too cold. It became a kind of playground where we can observe something for a long time. We could also swim in and out of some of the compartments for fun.
Predictably, our kicking and screaming made the water a bit murky since the floor was sandy. But by the time the water decreased in visibility, it was time to come up.
This location was the best closing we could ever ask for in our trip. Weh Island apparently is located on top of an underwater volcano. So to end our dive trip, we decided to see and play with the bubbles generated from the sea bottom. The floor wasn’t deep, only about 9-10 m, but the bubbles were abundant. There were curtains and curtains of bubbles coming out of the sand. We just swam around, enjoying the last floating sensation that we were going to experience for a while. Of course, we’re still Asians in the water too, so we took a lot of photos.
During this trip, one could not use any kind of jewelry because the risk was that it would turn dark due to the sulphuric bubbles. I was a bit paranoid and really kept my mouth shut. I was scared that my braces would turn black 😀 I wouldn’twant to be a BLACK METAL MOUTH. That would’ve been too hardcore! m/
Forgive us for we didn’t do much other than diving. But we played on the beach swing… does that count as activity? 😛
We did visit the point zero of the country or known as KM 0 monument, or what’s left of it. It’s located right on the edge of the island, on a hill with a nice forest taking us to it. We used a rental car to get there. What did we do there? Let’s just say what happened on KM 0, stays at KM 0. Haha!
This might not be some significance for foreign visitors, but it’s some achievement to a few Indonesians… moi included. As an Indonesian tourist, I like being able to reach the border of the country. There’s a sensation of taking it far, although it’s not far at all compared to the hard accessed places on the country or the world. But there’s that feeling that I did pick up my ass, take it somewhere, and show it more of the world than just couch at home. Now, I’ve also known a bit more about my own country. I have something to tell my little cousins, niece and nephews, and hopefully my grandchildren *teary.
I’ve reached somewhat of the south on Rote and then Aceh, time to plan North and East 😀
We ventured a bit on the island to find local dishes that we could gobble up. We ended up in the Sabang food court. There were a few options that were open and available.
Nasi bebek is rice with a piece of duck cooked in a very thick herbal curry. The taste of the curry smacks you in the mouth once it lands on your tongue. Most distinct taste is the hot herb, which I can’t say for sure what it is. Pepper, nutmeg, bah… I’m no chef. It was a yummy interesting taste! The duck was tender and a good munch. Love the curry!
Is the Octopus endangered? It isn’t, is it? Not being sure then, we were venturous to eat octopus for the first time. When grilled, as satay would be, the octopus becomes tender, chewable, and delicious!
Octopus apparently is a regular on the Weh Island menu. As the lady that sold it told me, it was getting harder to find octopus lately, but she claimed that it was because the fishermen just didn’t look for them anymore. I can’t justify anything other than the good taste of the satay. The ‘Bumbu Padang is better, just saying’.
It’s the most common dish from Aceh, however we didn’t find anything too special about the Noodles and Martabak of this food court. The noodles probably were a bit more spicy than the usual. It was good, but nothing out of the ordinary from what we could have found at any Aceh venue back home in Jakarta and Bandung. We weren’t lucky on this.
The martabak itself was an omelet served with raw onions. I wasn’t interested in it.
We decided to eat our last dinner at the seaside restaurant we kept on passing to and from Iboih. Just in front of it was our tugboat dive site, and it felt appropriate to eat there. Again, the food was good but there wasn’t anything special. We did try the Ayam Tangkap and we noticed that there was nothing special about this chicken although we tasted it for the first time.
As organized by Vindhya, we stayed at the Sumur Tiga Resort, or some might know it as Freddies. This resort was super! Thatched roof and bamboo weaved huts were scattered on the sharp slope of the area. Bungalows rose high over the white sand beach and facing the west.
The dining areas were great! Some were in the main kitchen and you could find Freddy himself cooking for the guests. There are other separate terraces to sit and enjoy the sea breeze. There are also beach chairs just beside the sand. It is JUARA or translated to ‘we have a winner’. It was really really good!
And to top it off, each room had a hammock! Now that’s a resort that understands me. There was a decent hammock on the beach, but Poppy and a foreign little girl tore it up. Such animals! :p
A room cos IDR 230,000 / night on weekdays, and IDR 275, 000 / day on weekends excluding breakfast. You can preorder the breakfast buffet which cost IDR 30,000 / person, while dinner cost IDR 65,000 / person. There are no air-cons but there are fans for those hot tropical nights. All rooms are attached to a bathroom that had a powerless showerhead. Tea, coffee, sugar, cups, and a powered dispenser are provided in every room. Could you ask for more?
What? You wanna know more? Head down to their website then, greedy beings!
One must cross a strait because it is an Island we’re talking about here. Get yourself to Banda Aceh. Garuda promotional return tickets cost IDR 1,800,000 / pax. Other airlines also fly to Aceh. Check our links to check out other flights to Aceh. From Banda Aceh, head to the Ulee Lheue ferry port.
You can choose the fast boat, which will take you to the island in 45 minutes. The fast boat departs at 16.00 (16.30 pm on Fridays) and 08.00 from Sabang to Banda Aceh. The most expensive ticket cost IDR 85,000/pax
You can also choose to save up and take the slow ferry that takes about 2 hours. The ferry departs daily at 9.30 am from Banda Aceh to Sabang and 16.00 from Sabang to Banda Aceh. The most expensive ticket cost IDR 85,000 / pax.
As part of our diving package, we were picked up and dropped of at the resort every day except for the last day where we decided to see the KM 0 monument. We hired a travel mini bus from one of Freddy’s reliable driver, Pak Asim. He’s use to taking foreigners, but honestly I don’t know if he can speak English. You can be first to tell us :D.
Pak Asim: +6285277611056
They rented the car for IDR 450,000/day, fuel included with him driving and guiding us around.
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