Notes from Sumba

My brother and his girlfriend are traveling for 6 months. They already spent some time in Thailand, Myanmar and China. And now they’re in Indonesia for a month. I took them to Sumba to start off their Indo adventure. They are living the dream for sure. IG: @Larsapv and @Naomigumaer

Surfing with the locals

We arrived at our resort in Sumba, rented two scooters and headed down to the beach. The horizon was stormy looking, and the waves a bit chaotic, but obviously surfable. While we were discussing where to paddle out, all the locals who owned a board were getting ready to accompany us. They were super excited to have visitors surfing their spot. A very unusual behavior for surfing locals.

The surf was big and chaotic. The ocean was deep, dark and scary. There was a lot of current dragging us in, sideways and out. All at the wrong time. Not the best conditions for surfing a spot for the first time. I caught a couple of waves, my first waves in Nusa Tenggara Timur. Check. Having the locals in the lineup felt comforting, but all of a sudden they were out of the water and already walking back up the beach. Both me and my brother were exhausted before we started paddling back in.

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The only pictures I took this day was of my younger, fitter and better looking brother and his surfboard.

Chewing betel nuts

There is blood on the streets. That’s what it looks like anyways. Chewing on betel nuts makes your saliva red. Your teeth turn red too, and then they fall out. “Sehat untuk mulutnya” (healthy for the mouth) they said, smiling, showing off the last of their teeth. In West Timor we brought betel nuts to all the villages we visited. Lonely Planet told us to do the same in Sumba, but our driver said the locals preferred cash.

I started feeling a bit dizzy. I was chewing and spitting, while the locals were laughing. Lunchtime was way overdue. They said the effect of betel nuts is about the same strength as tobacco or caffeine. I don’t know if I felt slightly drugged or super hungry, but I felt better after eating a pizza, like always.

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If you wanna buy betel nuts in the market, this is what they look like.
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These are the dealers that got us hooked. They gave us our first fix for free, then they showed us how to mix the ingredients and where to spit.

Collecting ikat

You’ll find ikat all over the place in Nusa Tenggara Timur. I already bought one piece in Rote and one in some village in West Timor, so of course I had to buy one in Sumba as well. Ikat is a woven blanket. It’s very versatile. It can be used as a skirt, as decoration on your wall, or be kept in a drawer…

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The locals gave us a tour of their village and inside one of their houses. Then they dressed us up in traditional ikat clothing. We all had a good laugh.
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Seems like they all agreed on how a roof is supposed to look like in Sumba. They store food inside the pointy upper part of the roof.

A day at the beach

We spent the day at an empty beach, surfing empty waves, and emptying fresh coconuts. This place truly looks and feels like paradise. Between the three of us, we only brought two small bottles of water, and one banana each. Great planning! There was one other person on the beach. A local who claimed it was his beach. I asked if he could help us get coconuts from the palm trees. He came back five minutes later with three big fresh coconuts, and a bunch of curious kids. Best coconuts ever!

Our hero of the day!
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“Sumba is like I thought Bali would be before I went there the first time.”
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Empty beach in Sumba.

That’s it for my Sumba notes.

Terima kasih,


Note to self and others:
Sumba is raw and beautiful. Don’t expect too much comfort outside your resort. You can fly directly from Bali or Kupang to Sumba with Garuda. Garuda let you bring a surfboard as checked in luggage without extra charge. Don’t expect epic highways and (fast) internet connection. Language can be a bit of a challenge. Not many people speak English very well. I got good use of my basic Bahasa skills. Like everywhere in Indonesia people are friendly, but in Sumba they seem a bit shyer than some of the other parts of the country.
 Plenty of surf. I don’t even know the names of the spots we surfed. Just go have a look! You’ll find something. One of the locals warned us against sharks close to the river mouths after heavy rain…
Eat: Had most of the meals at the resort.
Sleep: Stayed at Sumba Nautil Resort. A rather expensive option, but still not the most expensive one in the area.
Repeat: I hope so. I would like to explore more of this island and hopefully surf the waves with better conditions.


Etc Sumba Surf trip

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