Ashore at Saumlaki


Evening: Square things away. The lady crewies present the men crewies with a solid gold tinfoil toy medallion and pretty ribbon for our safe arrival. They later provide further reward with a lovely dinner. More deck covers have to be put up as another rain shower comes through over the top of us. Just enough to dampen our mattresses on deck ready for bed. Never mind. That’s cruising.

Tue 25 Aug 98
017 undercoverLeft:  Waiting on deck for a morning shower to pass through before going ashore.

Morning: Everyone had a great sleep. The girls put on freshly cooked damper for brekky. Another shower comes over but it doesn’t last long and there isn’t a lot in it. Relax on deck enjoying the sights. Some debate about a black object in the water drifting out towards us. It’s a dead pussy cat which unerringly passes right alongside casual as you please. Welcome to Saumlaki. The water no longer looks quite so inviting for a quick swim.

018 pussycatRight: One of the locals floating out to give us a welcome. Poor dead pussycat …..

1200hrs: Seek out the Harbour Masters Office ashore with Martin. Give that official copies of everything. He’s friendly and we don’t encounter any problems of any kind. He’s the only official we could find. There are no ‘Immigrasi‘ in the Tanimbars.

We didn’t visit the Police but a couple of nights later a man comes to our hotel in civilian clothes and talks to us. He claims he’s a policeman but doesn’t provide identification nor does he ask for any papers. He just makes enquiries about who we are and our intentions then leaves us. No more is said.

Take a quick look around the local streets. Find the Harapan Indah Hotel where we’re going to stay. Leave Martin ashore and go back out to the boat for the ladies.

1430hrs: All ashore at the Harapan Indah. Stunningly beautiful solid timber furniture and fittings throughout. It has a timber boat deck built out over the water. From here we can see Lowana IV out beyond the reef. Care has to be taken negotiating the reef but it’s generally passable from about mid tide.

019 hotel deckLeft: Coming in by dinghy to the boat deck at the rear of the hotel.  Quite a handy facility. You can go directly to and from your own boat from here.

As mentioned before the winds can be quite strong in Saumlaki Harbour yet seem so mild on shore. It’s often deceptive looking out from the boat deck. There is not much land between the harbour and the east coast of Yamdena Island to absorb the full brunt of the 20~30 knot trade winds with which we travelled here. I was a bit concerned about leaving the boat unattended, fearing that she might drag her anchor onto the reef. As it happened she never moved an inch.

1530hrs: Take a walk and a look around. Martin stays back at the hotel re-acquainting himself with Bintang beer. Check out the market place and shops. Feeling hungry as haven’t had lunch yet.

020 old and new 021 downtown
Above: The newer and traditional boats. Lowana IV can be seen at anchor beyond the reefs in the background. It’s actually closer than it looks here. Above: The main street of Saumlaki. Taken during a ‘siesta’ in the hottest part of the day when most people tend to go off and have a little nap somewhere. The Harapan Indah hotel is the yellow and blue building about midway along the left.
022 around town 023 markets
Above: Typical side street. Above: Part of the marketplace in the town proper. The fruit and vegetables are generally of a very good standard.

Try out a little restaurant named Sido Hampir which becomes our favourite place to eat. Order some white rice, gado-gado – vegetable salad with a coconut cream sauce which is very nice. Total cost including 6 cups of aqua – water, peanuts and chips is Rp13700 (almost A$2.00) for three people.

025 restaurant familyRight: The family that owns the Sido Hampir Restaurant make us welcome. The owner at left provides excellent meals and a very clean standard. The lady on the right and behind Ann is Corrie. She’s works at the hotel and is our tour guide.

(1) Currency: The currency is called the Rupiah. The exchange rate at the time of our visit was Rp6090 to A$1.00.
(2) Local Wages Comparison: Jamie is a Steward at the hotel. He works 7 days a week for 12 hours a day. He does not work hard though. His wages are Rp100,000 a month (A$16.40).

After the meal we walk up and down the main road past the hospital and power station and back.

1830hrs: Return to hotel. Have some more drinks with Martin out on the boat deck and watch the sunset.

2000hrs: Padang restaurant for dinner. These places are fairly common throughout Indonesia and serve Sumatran dishes. You don’t order as such. They place everything on the table and you eat what you want. At the end they come and count up what you have eaten and charge you accordingly.

The food is usually quite good but like any restaurant there are good and bad. Tonight a full meal for 4 of us cost Rp40900 (A$6.71) including Bintang and coffee, which was awful. Martin is very entertaining with the kids in the shop who are delighted by his antics especially since he can talk in their language.

2200hrs: Return to hotel, have a quiet chat and go to bed.



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