Batu Jarang – a little paradise

Since my bag didn´t fit on Adek´s motorbike (it just fits on an automatic one, but no chance on a manual), I had to take a bus to Padang. There I would leave it in the accommodation where we would stay when we would return from the island. Adek would go by bike and meet me at Yani Homestay in Padang. I had already booked the bus, when Adek met a friend who had just dropped some tourists from Padang in Bukittinggi with a private car. He asked him if he could take me the next day. He wanted to have a few hundred thousand since it was a private car. We argued that I had already booked the bus for just 60K and would for sure not pay more than that, he could also go back empty and get nothing. I wouldn´t have minded taking the bus at all, but like this I could help a friend of Adek to get some extra cash. Since he wouldn´t tell his boss it would go directly in his pocket. We agreed on it and I canceled the bus again. The next morning I got picked up at 8 and we drove to Padang. It took quite a while to get out of Bukittinggi since he stopped every few meters to ask locals if they need a ride.

When he finally succeeded in finding someone we drove on and of course he also dropped this guy first so it was already quarter to eleven when I arrived. Adek was already there, but he had only arrived a few minutes earlier since he was running some errands on the way. I paid the driver, stored my luggage and off we went on Adek´s motorbike. We got some fruit and I went to an ATM again and then we left the city. On the way we got some lunch in a local place. Then we drove down the road to Sungai Pisang, the village from where we would take the boat to Batu Jarang. We got some tea and coffee and ordered our dinner for later. There is no restaurant on the island. You have to order your food in the village and they bring it by boat.

We arrived at a quite impractical time since it was low tide and the boat couldn´t get close to the shore. So we had to walk through the water with our stuff for quite a bit and also from the boat to the island. We had to walk over the corals, I didn´t like that at all. But since people here don´t care too much about environment and throw their anchors on the corals, step on them and destroy them with fishing, there is anyway not much alive anymore. All the waste, especially plastic lying around and swimming in the lakes, rivers and oceans also doesn´t help exactly. Unfortunately this is also a part of this otherwise beautiful country. We checked in and got a really nice room with ocean view and a mosquito net. The bathroom was outdoors, really cool setup. Unfortunately there was no western toilet, just a local one and no toilet paper. But it was really nice!

We took pictures, relaxed a bit, had a look around, took a cold shower (no warm water there) and went down to eat our dinner. We talked a while to the owner Rakai and John and then I wrote my diary.IMG_3312 (FILEminimizer) It had started to rain by then and we got quite wet on our way back to the room and also while using our outdoor bathroom. We got up quite early since Rakai said we should go for a paddle to look for sea turtles between 8 and 9 and have breakfast before. We got banana pancakes for breakfast (this is included) and then I took off with Rakai in the kayak (supposedly also included). A couple of days ago there had been a big storm for a few of days and the sea was still unusually rough and turbid. So we only saw one turtle. But we had fun paddling, even managed to stand up both at the same time.

While we were paddling Nof arrived with our lunch. We talked to them for a while, ate some of our fruit and since the sun finally came out, I put on sunscreen and went to the beach with Adek for swimming and reading. Lunch, more fruit, diary, napping,… Just enjoying our time on the island.

In the evening Adek and I got the kayak and we paddled into the sunset.

We had dinner in the “café” and went to bed.

IMG_3345 (FILEminimizer)
this is how we got our food delivered

The next day we slept in a little and had banana pancakes again for lunch. It was the first day with really nice weather from the morning on. Unfortunately also our last on Batu Jarang. We went swimming again and had a little photo session on the beach.

After a shower we had lunch. We decided to stay a bit longer and watch the sunset on the island before heading back. I still hadn´t got a confirmation of my flight the next day with Lion Air. So I wrote them an email just to learn that they don´t have any reservation under my reservation number. Great, so I didn´t have a flight after all. I tried to book it again (took ages since you hardly have reception on the island if at all), but they didn´t take my credit card. I heard of this problem from several people already, so I was not surprised. In the end I had no other choice than asking Roni if he could book the flight for me. I gave Adek the money in cash so that he could give it to Roni when he would be back to Bukittinggi. Thanks Roni for saving me there! Finally having a flight we went to our room and packed our stuff. Then we went to the beach to watch the sunset. The fishing boats had also finally returned after the bad weather.

Nof already came at around 3 pm with his boat and was waiting for us. So far it was a beautiful time on the island Batu Jarang. Then it was time for paying. Rakai apparently got infected by the tourist rip off virus since he suddenly asked more for the room than I was told before and also the “free” kayak suddenly cost something. And not only a bit. Even in the very touristy and thus rather expensive place Tuk Tuk at Lake Toba you pay less than half of what he asked for the kayak and you can rent a motorbike for a whole day for the same price. The room would be about the same price only that Batu Jarang is rather infamous, there is no western toilet and no toilet paper. Even the bus from Padang to Bukittinggi costs less. I got really angry, not because of a few Euros more or less, but because of the way he was suddenly treating me and the ridiculously high amount of money he was asking for. When I told him, that I think that is too much he completely ticked out and started screaming at me and throwing the money around. In the end we just took off and he had all the money he wanted, because I was tired of arguing any longer. This whole drama overshadowed the great time on the beautiful island very much though and I can´t really recommend it with a good feeling anymore. I hate being ripped off and being jelled at when you have the courage to mention it. If he would have asked less for the kayak I would have paid without saying something, although it still wouldn´t have been ok. But being so greedy and then not even being willing to discuss it or bargain about it in a normal way is just too much. So be prepared for being ripped off if you ever happen to go to the Sumatra Ecolodge on Batu Jarang! The boat and the food have nothing to do with that though. Nof got us safely back to Sungai Pisang. There I had to pay for the boat and the food (normal, decent price) and we got another tea/coffee. On our way back to Padang we stopped for some Nasi Goreng on the street somewhere and also for some pictures.

After we checked in at Yani Homestay we quickly went for a coconut. Adek met some friends in the homestay and I had to get some organizational stuff done. Then we went to bed. The next morning it was time to say good bye. I got picked up by a mototaxi (motorbike) with my luggage and we drove to the airport. Mototaxi is a lot cheaper than a normal taxi. There is no breakfast at Yani Homestay and I only had our two remaining small bananas. I was hoping to get something at the airport, but I didn´t have time and had to learn that at the domestic part of the airport there is no opportunity to buy anything anymore once you passed security. I ran into a German couple from Bavaria and got some cookies from them. They were also flying to Medan. The flight was fine, but Lion Air doesn´t serve any food on a short flight like this, even not for extra charge. From Medan I had booked a bus to Bukit Lawang. But that will be part of the next blog post.
Thank you Adek for a great time! I wish I could have stayed longer, but I also want to see more of Indonesia and I already spend 2.5x longer than I had originally intended to. Wouldn´t want to miss this time though.

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