Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 15 April 2011 • Itinerary
Finally, I got to see the lovely side of Kisar, the island I transit to and from work the past 2 years. Kisar is one of the very many islands of the Maluku Barat Daya or South West Maluku regency, and in short there is nothing here. But of course, by nothing we mean nothing as in the terms of not much development but a lot of nature.No matter remote this island is, it is still in progress of trying its best to sell its assets in tourism. So what are they? Let’s travel (again) in to nothingness, this time in Indonesia and off that beaten track.
Kisar is such a small island. Unashamedly, I’ve just heard about it when I started working here. Hey dude, there are 17,000 islands in this country, I can’t possibly heard of them all?
There are still small ‘kingdoms’ in forms of villages, each with a ‘king’ but only respected as a mere leader. On special occasions you can see them wearing their traditional outfits.
Although isolated, it has a growing economy. They have a mobile telephone service, being Telkomsel, they have a supermarket, there is about 8 hours of electricity every night, and many more luxury compared to other islands. Wetar is way bigger yet hardly can compare to Kisar.
There is one particular thing I like about markets in the east. Besides the type of produce is different, it’s how it’s presented that interest me. Not only is it so different to those sold in cities especially the west, they lay it out in bunches having a specific price for a bundle. It’s like a supermarket but without stereo foam and Saran wraps.
Check out these 2 veggies. The first is the snake veggie (sayur ular). The next are these seaweed kinda things which are sold for a certain price (can’t remember) for a plate as seen. Not sure how it tastes like but would really like to try. Gotta find a local cook and try it!
When talking about a small island, there is no doubt the ocean is the first thing that comes to mind. Then comes the beaches *grin
Kiasar is said to be the origin of this islands name. It’s a beach located on the south coast with its special 7 wells of freshwater. Although the wells were recently concreted, the locals believe that they are sacred. Not really sure why. Apparently Fani, my travel companion at the time, didn’t know why either although she has been living in Kisar for years.
Kiasar is small narrow beach with cliffs closing in. Tempted but I couldn’t swim when visiting. I was leaving in 2 hours with my boss, didn’t wanna look soaked. But what this beach offers best is the view. Climb on the rocks a bit, and you will see Timor Leste, the east side (probably the Baucau area).
When leaving or arriving on a plane, you will see a long stretch of sand just off the airport area. Or when you’re heading to the airport by land, you would pass a big open land, which has a small path to Purpura beach. Oh it’s such a joy seeing a beach that’s just so long and all mine…! Muahahahahaha!
The reef, well, it’s not to be proud of. They’re more damaged than enacted, but still with colorful fishes. I’m not sure if it was from bombings or anything. But the beach is really enough to enjoy a great swim. Especially if it’s all mine…! Muahahahahaha!
This beach is quite seasonal. During the east winds of around June – August, waves on this side of the island are pretty harsh. I hardly think anyone can swim during these months.
Jawalang is also great beach. Have I said any that aren’t, yet? It’s not as small as Kiasar, making it a more pleasant beach to hang around. On the day, the sun was hot, the water was cool, and I had my sunglasses on. How can anything else go wrong?
The time! This beach is a seasonal port. During the west winds, mostly through December through March, boats come to this beach to load and unload passengers and goods and it was when we visited the beach. The visit was alright, since we knew a few people from the company boat which lead to knowing one or two locals. Mark my words, I will return for a swim!
Surprisingly produce is pretty expensive, especially compared to the other island. Even fish is way off the charts of the big city being IDR 20,000 for 2 fish as big as the palm of your hand. Oh the horror! Even in the big city, you could get a half a meter of fish for that price. This has to do with the fact that it’s so isolated and fuel is such a luxury.
Out of all the food I’ve tried on this island, nothing really marks as good food. Imagine that! Me, chubby cheeks, can deny food?
The best food is the Nama port restaurant, especially its grilled fish. It’s a pricey IDR 35,000 of a grilled fish with rice, but it’s so worth it since they give you plenty fried shallots bathed in soy sauce *drool. Oh sorry, fried shallots is one of my favorite spices. And they will also provide you with a type of dabu-dabu or chopped chili, tomato, and shallots condiment to put the umph to the dish.
There are many restaurants around, with mediocre taste. Nothing that I would recommend so strongly.
Vilian Hotel (Homestay?)
I’m not sure if this is a hotel, it’s more of a homestay I say, but I guess they try.
This hotel is located …err….near the market of Wonreli? Can’t say for sure about the address but people know about this hotel, and it’s located just behind the PLN, in front of the army barracks. Ask around and for sure people will show you where it is.
The rooms are very clean. Out of the 6 rooms, there are 2 rooms that have AC. However, electricity only comes on at night, so there is no cool air during the day other than the unpredictable breeze.
There is one toilet and one bathroom, for the whole occupants. Which means, you share the same bathroom as the family. Fortunately they’re very clean. We just have to understand that in the morning the 3 kids have to take showers to get to school.
At the moment, there are 2 flights to Kisar. One by Merpati Air, the other by Susi Air.
Merpati flies to this island once a week, from Ambon and continue to Kupang. It usually, and let me emphasis on USUALLY, lands in Kisar on Mondays. But since this is the only plane that actually roams the whole Maluku/Moluccas island, the schedule can change under oh-so-very-short notice without the company paying any compensation. Please be careful of booking connecting flights when using their services. Tickets from Ambon to Kisar can be about IDR 500,000 / pax. Probably because it’s not a popular destination. Yet, Kisar to Kupang can be about IDR 1,000,000.
Susi air is a more reliable air service that promise of a schedule.
However, considering what Kisar offers, a boat ride is worth more than a plane ride.
The boat schedule is tricky. The public boat to this island has its own schedule that is sometimes publicized on the Internet. And even that is still uncertain since they can spend more time at an area than what is scheduled. But it’s the only transportation that shows you not only Kisar, but most of the islands of south Maluku/Moluccas and Tanimbar.
Boats can come from Surabaya, Kupang, or Makassar, and head out to Ambon and Saumlaki.
There is hardly any public transport. There is rarely a bemo passing by. I can’t really tell which goes where since there is no signing, so it’s really about asking the driver where he’s headed. So I rely on my favorite transportation choice, the ojeg.
And I present to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, the first… ever… *drum roll please… LADY OJEG! *double summersaults in the air. I finally found the first female Ojeg driver.
This is Mia. I got hold of her from a friend on the island. Her husband is officially the Ojeg driver, but when necessary, she does a few routes. Sudden breaks are no longer uncomfortable. Besides friendly, she’s willing to do all the asking should we ever get lost. But how can I get lost in a small island like this?
She might not speak English, but she sure reads and writes. So communication with a piece of paper and a pen should get you through a conversation to what you want to do and where you want to go. Contact us should you want to get a female service (oops that came out wrong, but you know what I mean!).