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Gunung Sitoli to Pantai Sorake (Nias)


Arriving in Gunung Sitoli presented a problem. Not only would it leave me with at least another 4 hours of buses to reach the beach, but only 3 months after the tsunami which had hit Nias bigtime claiming 122 lives, the main town had been reduced to rubble by an earthquake killing another 4 or 500. You were never far away from nature in Sumatra. After the habitual ritualised sit out over a cup of tea, the touts had rescinded sufficiently to allow me to reason that the single Colt loading up for Lagundri was a godsend option. I was lucky to belatedly bag the last seat with the help of a local boy for something approaching the real price for the 3 hour jaunt south. Passing through Gunung Sitoli with a brief pause at the bus terminal, I witnessed much evidence of the devasation wrought on the place, with new concrete constructions going up interspersed by flimsy wooden structures seemingly hurriedly slapped up recently in between. I was surprised to find myself on the best Sumatran road thus far here though, being wider than normal and complete with boundary markings, but it soon degenerated into the habitual narrow snake of potholes and eroded sections. It mattered not though, since the road south revealed a trully tropical paradise of sunshine, palm trees, beautiful river crossings and banana plantations in the main, complimented now by very rustic shacks and people living doubtless happy humble lives. There were early indicators of the fascinating traditional local architecture too, the Nias houses boasting even more otherworldly ostentatious roofs with pointy spires and double canted slopes to all four sides. Where the road touched the coast, post tsunami beach communities lay scattered with piles of rubble and building materials, even whole buildings now lay abandoned at unlikely angles free from their foundations like discarded packing boxes. A lone traditional shack memorably epitomised it as it groaned supine, its walls sagging outwards devoid of ground fastening so that natures contortions had created gaps revealing the interior inhabitants living under a precariously sagging thatched roof. Teluk Dalam the main town of the south struggled to justify its title, and coaxed on as ever by touts I just squeezed into an attendant cattle class Bemo with the many cramped ranks of benches struggling to even accommodate the many schoolkids aboard. In negotiating a place to coop up upon arrival, I finally managed to track down Cam and Keith who fortuitously were already in the process of moving to my intended den of choice. The Toho Surf Losmen now mirrored its many recently rebuilt neighbours in its ugly open air ground floor wielding heavy duty concrete stilts, they had obviously been recreated with the consideration of another tsunami or quake in mind. All around lay scattered dead remnants of the pummelled coral reef, and spare the rooms everything remained rudimentary and unprettified. Just offshore Pantai Sorake lay its main drawcard, a wedge shaped curl of surf which attracted a surfing fraternity from all over the world, though fortunately I wasnt made to feel an outsider amongst guys who spoke more than anything else of catching waves, good surf spots and all the jargon that goes with it. It was just one more subculture which I had chanced upon and I was happy for the insight. You wouldnt catch me joining them though! Our quartet was made up by Pat, an older long time surf dude from the States, now periodically switching home between the Philippines and Hawaii, a really nice guy with an enviable lifestyle. Though our first day in south Nias was blazing, the winds werent favourable for good surf and it must have been a frustrating wait out for the guys amidst days of very stormy changable weather. With a contrasting agenda I managed a foray out on foot to check out the nearby beach though, with my ultimate goal being the nearby traditional village of Botohili. More friendly locals pointed out the way up the very steep, badly eroded track until the abrupt traditional entry staircase appeared, adorned with carved supine monkies.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Indonesia

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