One of the stilt houses in Bitombang village. They may look rickety, but they are nearly 200 years old, so they must be fairly solid. We had lunch in one of them that wasn’t quite as dramatic looking as this one. This one is the highest one in the village, next to the mosque.
Jason showing off his height next to a woman standing on a ledge.
Another view of the house that is falling apart in the stilt village.
Our dinghy tied up to the police launch at the dock in Benteng.
Kids and their instruments in the welcome ceremony. The green and gold cylinders were used in the dance and then given to the audience as gifts. They are made of bamboo with a plastic circle attached to the top that can act as a tiny drum or a lid. The cylinders represented ones originally used to carry food and/or liquids by travelers. We carried ours around on the boat until we reached Belitung, further along in the rally and then gave it away to a little French girl.
Our welcome feast was the result of the culinary competition here. Groups of ladies prepared traditional dishes and drinks and once they were judged, we got to choose whatever we wanted to eat.
Another view of a table of food for us to choose from. Often we had no idea what the foods were. Gotta be adventurous eaters to get full here.
Karen trying on the woven palm hats in one of the stands. They gave them away to us, so I took one and used it often as the brim was quite wide and kept more of the sun off.
Jason goofing off with one of the weirder hat designs. The tuft of palm leaves on the top made it look funny and nobody wanted to keep that one.
This is more like it. A useful hat but he rarely wore it in reality.
We went snorkeling out to the reef across the water the next day. The divemasters are the two guys on the left and right. The boat driver and owner is in the middle. They all seem to smoke–that surprised us about the divers, but so many men in Indonesia still smoke.
The “knees” of the outrigger on our snorkel boat. this is the boat that was so loud, we couldn’t talk to each other as it was running and it vibrated so much that my eyeballs jiggled in their sockets and I literally couldn’t focus on anything until the boat stopped! These wooden branches were tied onto the bamboo outriggers and cross members with twine and allowed a lot of movement as we motored across the water. I’m sure they search hard and long for pieces of wood that bend just at the right places to use for this purpose.
A view from the vice-regent’s private Cliffside villa. He is building a tourist lodging facility next to his house to make money in the tourist trade. When you’re a top gov’t official, you can afford to build such homes on beautiful beachside property.
Looking the other direction, you can see part of the beach that rings the shallow bay. We were invited to bring our yachts here and stay a couple of days. Believe me, we thought really hard about doing just that, but in the end we had to get moving on.
Jason with the vice-regent’s daughter and her son. She openly admitted that she was divorced, not something we heard often in this Muslim country. She is a Dr. at the local hospital, a dermatologist. Jason and Chris met her at the Regent’s home on their tour and she invited us to dinner at their villa that night.
The wooden steps down to the beach. There is a concrete stairway also, but this one is more interesting and adventurous.
Patterns in the sand at low tide as the water runs out.
Our dinner party group. We are at the beach next to the Cliffside home. I didn’t bring my bathing suit, but Lyn did and she and Chris got into the water and showered off at the villa afterwards.
Another day, another tour, this time to the Turtle Village. There were giant tubs of the little turtles that had been raised by the villagers and were ready to be set free in the ocean. We paid 25000 rupiahs each to set one free (about $2.50 UDS).
My turtle in a coconut bowl to carry him to the water.
Jason’s turtle was a bit rambunctious and tried to climb out of his bowl before even getting near the water.
Karen and her turtle to release. The scarf around my neck was a welcome gift in the ceremony when we arrived.
My baby turtle in the sand, ready to crawl into the surf to go live a life in the ocean.
He’s found a friend already.
After a traditional lunch at the Turtle Village, we made our way up to the village of Tentro to view a “dingin dingin” ceremony. That is where bad spirits are invited into a body and then cast back out again. The host body is put into a trance and women dance and carry “dupa” (incense) around and around the body, chanting. The spirits create a cold draft and several folks claimed they felt it. The woman awoke from the trance trembling and in tears. Other women around her were also crying emotionally.
Jason carrying one of the water pots out of the trance house. Women weren’t allowed to touch the pots of water after the ceremony and they were one man shy, so asked Jason to carry the pot out.
Once the bad spirits are again out of the body, the villagers sprinkle water on you to bring good spirits back in. The locals here get involved and throw water on the tourists. The kids here are just waiting for the word to get to splashing the visitors and each other.
The women make an offering of fruits and veges to the spirits.
The local men are the only ones who can handle the water used in the trance ceremonies. They sprinkle it with palm leaves onto the folks in the crowd.
After all the ceremonies at the different locations in the village, there was a fun bit for the ladies who’d been in the trance. They got to swing in this bamboo swing, held up by some coconut palms tied with twine. Two men used a rope across the stomachs to pull the ladies to get them to swing higher and higher. This was the “attojeng” ceremony, a treat after being put into a trance and having spirits come and go in/out of their bodies. This is a very superstitious village! After the local women, we were given a chance and Lyn and I went for a swing. Our two bule butts barely fit in the swing seat!.
Our lunch at the village
We were given the woven rice baskets that we were served with at lunch. A nice souvenir. Note the sealed plastic cups of water; we were given little straws like on a juice box and this was often our only source of drinking water all day. The guides brought cases of these for us to keep hydrated. Such a shame as we saw so many of these plastic cups and straws discarded everywhere. Locals have to buy water to drink, too.
The head of the village showing off a metal mesh helmet, one of the old Chinese artifacts that he keeps at his home.
Chinese antiques that are kept in the village chief’s home. They brought them out to show us and we all donated a few rupiah for him to keep maintaining them.
We got talked into staying longer on this island than we’d planned. The local tourism dept rep is taking Jason up the old path to the oldest mosque on the island. It dates back to 700AD and they still follow the original prayer rituals as they did when Islam first came to the island. They haven’t changed their religious rituals as most other places have to keep up with the changes in the times.
The first time to the mosque, visitors must touch their heads to the stone a the entrance to the mosque area. We all had to stop and touch our heads to this stone, with the film maker capturing our activities.