Finally we made it to Pulau Weh…
It took a bit of work but we’ve been able to relax for the last four days. We are in Pulau Weh, which is a small remote island off the Northwestern tip of Indonesia, just off Indonesia’s largest island of Sumatra. To get here you must go through Banda Aceh, which took the brunt of the casualties from the 2004 Boxing Day Sunami – they lost over 70,000 people here.
Since it’s relatively difficult to get here, the diving is challenging, and there is little development – it keeps the hordes of people away and creates a sleepy diving paradise that leaves you feeling as if you have the place all to your own. There are 5 restaraunts, 3 dive shops, and perhaps 10 “hotels”. Accommodations are not for the faint of heart, but after some adjustment have an infectious charm that only Pulau Weh could provide.
We’ve done 5 dives so far, ranging from easy shore dives to exciting battles with the current. Our instructor, Will, has brought us up to Advanced Open Water divers and shown us loads of morays, lionfish, turtles, nudibranch, rays, blue ribbon eels, and more tropical fish species than could possible be counted. We are much better divers than when we started and look forward to our Rescue Diver course next week.
The people here are extremely friendly, but also shy and traditional. They see no reason to make more money than they need to eat and provide shelter for their families, and work just a few hours each day – which couldn’t be more contrasting than the mentality in the United States, it’s very refreshing and forces a lot of introspection about what a person really needs to thrive and be happy. It’s the week after the end of Ramadan, which means many Indonesians are here vacationing, far more than Westerners, and they motor bike in each day from nearby Sabang town. They delight in taking pictures with Val and I and rarely fail to say “hello mister” with large and genuine smiles of excitement to see us.
I was under the weather for the first few days before trading places with Val who is just getting healthy now. The food is delicious and is a mix of traditional Acehenese style and your regular island fair. Last night we enjoyed an Acehenese feast with many of the instructors and other residents of the island – curries, greens, fish of all kinds, fried delights, soups, and more filled the table and we laughed ourselves into obesity with friends from Switzerland, Finland, Brittain, Japan, China, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Germany, and of course Indonesia. We’ll be here for a few more weeks, and honeslty aside from the odd scary spider encounter there’s nowhere we’d rather be.