Bukit Lewang is pretty remote being at the fringe of the rain forest and as you would expect services are fairly basic. Most places do have Internet access but it's dial up speeds at best and that's only when it's working. When it goes down it goes down for the whole village and it's pretty much a daily occurrence. That didn't bother us at all as we were happy to be cut off from the rest of the world in the seclusion of our small bungalow however it did make it difficult to arrange any further travel once out of the area.
We wanted to spend our last week in Sumatra up at Pulau Weh at the very Northern tip of the island and it would mean 2 days spent traveling there and 2 more coming back to Medan for our flight back out of Indonesia if we went overland so we decided it was best to spend the little bit extra on getting a cheap domestic flight from Medan up to Banda Aceh where we could hop straight on the ferry to the island
I left Dani at the bus stop and walked a mile down the road to the nearest store only to find out our reservation had expired and we needed to book again. With no Sim card or data we had no way to get back on-line so hopped on the bus anyway in the hope we could still get seats on the flight and pay at the airport
A few hours and two buses later we were in the airport and at the counter 2 hours before the last days flight was due to leave. Unfortunately they also employed the same policy and we could not pay on card, only cash so we tried the stupidly expensive option of trying to withdraw cash on our credit cards at the ATM only to discover that I couldn't remember my pin number and Dani's company had put a fraud caution on hers for trying to withdraw abroad. Great, we were now stuck in Medan airport for the night.
This did give us plenty of time and some half decent inter-net to do some research though and we eventually found a third party website that would let us book flights for the next morning on our cards so with everything finally sorted we spent the night in the customer services room getting very little sleep.
The next morning we were on the first flight out and when we landed we managed to grab a lift from Banda Aceh airport to the ferry thanks to a local guy on the plane who's friend was picking him up
Once at the ferry port we discovered that we had just missed the first slow public ferry by a matter of minutes and there was only one more ferry that day in another 5 hours time.....this was all going smoothly and very well I thought, idiots abroad springs to mind. But hey such is life, there are worse things we could be doing than slowly making our way to a beautiful Indonesian island.
Finally on our boat over we settled in for the 2 hour ride and were really happy to spot dolphins swimming about, a beautiful sight to see and something you would usually pay a lot of money to go and experience. Perhaps this wasn't such a bad day after all.
Once at the island we grabbed a Tuk Tuk to Iboih beach where we wanted to stay. Typically Iboih is at the opposite end of the island to where the ferry docks and it took one more final hour to eventually reach the very small village there
In Bukit Lewang, Pino, the dude who sorted our local herbs out for us lived in Iboih for a while a couple of years ago and he recommended a place to stay where his friend works who would also be able to sort us out with some herb, so after a short climb up a winding path we arrived at the aptly named Greenhouse guest house and were introduced to his friend 'Daddy cool' I swear you could not make this shit up if you tried! There were already a few other travelers sat around enjoying a smoke and within all of 5 minutes we had our bags in our room, a smoke in our hands and the hassle of the past two days of travel disappearing in a heady plume of smoke. Time to relax.
The next day despite meeting our new green fingered friends we headed further along the path in search of somewhere different to stay
The days just disappeared and melted into one. We grabbed a motorbike for the day to go off exploring, in particular looking for a place called secret beach, which was apparently that big of a secret that despite spending an hour riding backwards and forwards and asking locals, we never managed to find it so ended up taking a spin to the opposite end of the island to a beach named Pulau Kasih
The next few days were brilliant, spent either in the water enjoying the fish, along at The Greenhouse having a smoke and some food or sat in the hammock on our balcony enjoying the peace and quiet. It was a very relaxing few days indeed and we didn't want to leave at all. Similar to Myanmar we regretted only having 3 weeks here. We could easily spend a month or two on Pulau Weh, swinging in the hammock and swimming with the fish.
But all the good things eventually came to an end and before we knew it our time there was over and we were up early and in a Tuk Tuk at 6:30am heading back to the ferry port and on a boat bound for Banda Aceh. I'm sure Pulau Weh will be a place we will come back to again in the future, we miss it already.
Island of fish and emerald waters.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia