Our Robinson Crusoe Experience on Sabang Island


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Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Pulau Weh
February 4th 2015
Published: June 25th 2017
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Stan's  Best Robinson Crusoe ImpersonationStan's  Best Robinson Crusoe ImpersonationStan's Best Robinson Crusoe Impersonation

As usual, there is Stan, "owning" the hammock! 😡
This is our first trip to Pulau Weh Sabang Island, and we knew before coming that this was an exploratory visit to check it out for future possibilities, since it is renowned for its diving, just as Banda Aceh is for its world class surfing. Unfortunately, our schedule only allowed us to book two days here, but it only took us about two hours to begin planning for our return.

The boat ride over was an adventure. It was a huge Vancouver Island sized ferry with three or four hundred locals - most tourists use the fast boat that is three times the price, or about $9 - and it was good to once again be in a population of almost entirely local people. Although no one spoke English, several people gave us the thumbs up when they saw us carrying our bags, and always offered welcoming smiles and gestures to help us figure out where to go.

But then there was the absolutely delightful ride from the ferry terminal to our guest house. We, along with our two large backpacks, two small packs, and my guitar, were all stuffed into a one bench two seater motorbike sidecar, known here as a becak ( pronounced "bachak"). So our first experience on this island was this wicked motorbike ride. We could not stop smiling and commenting on how we are now travelling again, for real.

Since arriving, we have really not ventured far from our hotel, other than walk the amazing beach, go snorkelling almost literally from our doorstep, and visit with the hotel staff and restaurant personnel, most of whom speak very little English. As such, it has been a great opportunity for me to practice my Bahasa Indonesian and pelan-pelan / slowly slowly begin to build a vocabulary. But everyone here has been so nice, so willing to help, so friendly, that we are beginning to think the people of Sumatra are as friendly as those we met in Sri Lanka, who until now we felt were the friendliest people we have met anywhere in our travels.

Over the years, we have done a lot of traveling and stayed in many types of accommodations, from very basic to extremely luxurious hotels that we could never afford in North America. But our latest discovery at Freddie's Place on Pulau Weh / Sabang Island, Sumatra, is - at
View from the BalconyView from the BalconyView from the Balcony

I did say we were just metres from the ocean. Not lying. How is this not Robinson Crusoe-ish?
this moment - one of our favorite spots. It is not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination; it is in fact very rustic, with wall hooks on which to hang your stuff, plain wood floors, and bamboo walls, roof, and bed. But we fell in love with the ocean breeze just metres from our balcony flowing through the five huge windows with the slightly frayed curtains blowing in the wind. We fell in love with the hammock with the rusted hook overlooking the beach right below us, so much so that I've had to fight Stan for my share of time on it - cause he does tend to monopolize those hammocks! We even had chats with the gecko who lives in our cottage and spoke to us occasionally. And then there was the nightly buffet, cooked up by the owner himself, who is renowned throughout the island and attracts people regularly for his feasts. Perhaps the best descriptor I can give this place is that it feels to us like a Robinson Crusoe experience - minus the hot shower - and we are totally stoked and can't wait to return here again.

However, it is possible that
Our Rustic RoomOur Rustic RoomOur Rustic Room

The best thing about this room, aside from being right on the beach of course, is all those wide open windows and doors letting in that cool ocean breeze and keeping away all mosquitoes. A very different story would unfold if they had to be closed on a hot day and there were no breeze . . .
we just hit the perfect time and weather for this particular accommodation, given that it has no air conditioning and no screens on all those windows to let in the ocean breeze. We have since spoken with a couple travellers who had stayed in the same room only one week earlier, when it was both hot and calm, and they were plagued by mosquitoes and sweltering in the heat with no ocean breeze and only a fan to cool them with the windows closed. We remain grateful for the excellent experience we had, apparently being in the right place, at the right time for it.

This little island, like the big island of Sumatra itself, has so much to offer that we have not yet had time to explore - world class diving and surfing ( the latter to watch, thank you very much ), roads that are often in rough shape but not busy, and therefore good to explore on motorbike, and still those orang - utans in Bukit Liwe that we did not get to this trip, but have since heard so many travellers say they are not to be missed. Yes, we will mark this paradise of beautiful people and places on our bucket list as "still to be completed".


Additional photos below
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Beautiful Fishing BoatsBeautiful Fishing Boats
Beautiful Fishing Boats

Truly works of art, these Sumatran fishing boats harboured just a short walk down the beach from our place reminded us - with their fine artistry - a little of Venetian gondolas.
Fisherman Coming Home From SeaFisherman Coming Home From Sea
Fisherman Coming Home From Sea

The moment he saw us, he gave us a big smile and a wave, like so many people here have done. Beautiful people!
The Evening Buffet at Freddie'sThe Evening Buffet at Freddie's
The Evening Buffet at Freddie's

Every night Freddie serves up a buffet of freshly made home cooked delights that blew us away with their originality and gourmet recipes, and left us wondering if in his other life in Britain, his country of origin, he were not a gourmet chef. The price - $6 CAN. so good.


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