The wild and rugged coastline of Sumba, Indonesia has yet to be discovered by most travelers to Indonesia due to the allure of other popular islands, namely Bali, Java and Lombok. Sumba has yet to be developed and there are only a handful of accommodations spread around this large island catering primarily to surfers seeking the fabled monster waves that break on its reefs. The beaches are long stretches of soft white sand and you will most likely have them to yourself. The villages on the island are very primitive and constructed of timber and tall thatch roofs. Sumba is serviced by air a couple times and week at tiny airstrips in either Waingapu or Waitabula. Cancelations are frequent and I ended up stuck on the island a few days longer than I had anticipated. Sumba feels like you stepped back in time a couple hundred years and it's a real adventure.
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Fiasco: Get A Guide
Traveling around the countryside on the island of Sumba, Indonesia is quite an adventure. My wife and I asked our hotel to call us a driver that could give us a tour of several local villages. However, we were under the impression the driver would escort us into the villages and translate for us, but he did not leave the car. So our initial arrival was always awkward to say the least, accompanied by a lot of hand gesturing and uttering of a couple of mispronounced phrases we briefly rehearsed with the hotel owner before setting out.
Entering the villages was generally the same drill. First you get attacked by a mob of kids. Next a few adults approach saying, "smoking, smoking?" with two fingers motioning towards their betel stained lips. Eventually you are led to the chief, who invariably is the last person in the village you'd pick out as being a chief. Usually a young teenage boy with the only western clothes in the village. After an introduction, you are asked to sign a guestbook and pay a donation to the village. Just keep handing the chief bills until he seems happy, so don't break out your entire billfold. Lastly, the chief turns you loose to amble around the village and people offer to sell you things, but most of the villagers appear to be shy or surprised at your presence. It was quite an experience to see people living an ancient lifestyle in this modern world.