Thursday, April 18, 2013

Banda Neira, my home in another life :) - Part One -

It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong

(Feels like home - Chantal Kreviazuk)

The song is really suite this trip I had. A memorable trip, a trip to this tiny piece of heaven on earth, called Banda Neira. The view, the people, the experience, it was definitely a full package of happiness.
Banda map. Photo courtesy @sofyanard
There were 13 of us, head filled with the image of a beautiful island. We've been planning this paradise trip for quite sometimes, 6 months to be exact. Idea of going to this island was popped out during our joyful trip to Komodo island, well not all of us. This trip can be considered as a though one, as there's no direct flight whatsoever. The easiest way to reach Banda Neira is via Ambon, either by a small plane (pioneer aviation by NBA) or ferry crossing (by Pelni). It took only 45 minutes for flight and about 8 hours for ferry crossing. NBA fly 3 days (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) each week, and as for Pelni, only God know their fix schedule. I, personally have this "small plane paranoia" prefer to go there using the ferry crossing. Unfortunately, until 1-2 months before departure, I still can't get the fix schedule. I started to gather the courage and went there by flight. And since it's only a small plane, there's only limited seat available on each flight, so we have to be divided into 2 groups. I joined the first group.
Photo of the year :) courtesy of @soyfanard
Us, and Abba, discussing about the itinerary. Photo courtesy +Sofyan Ardianto 
After one night transit in Ambon, we finally reached the paradise! Once the plane touch down in Banda Neira, I kept telling myself, "God, is this real? I'm in freakin' Banda Neira! Hurrrraah...". I was overwhelmed with happiness. As it's only a tiny airport, we didn't found any difficulty searching our baggage. Abba, man of the island, picked us up and transferred us to our hotel, Laguna Inn. Though it can be reach by foot, but the luggage made us rent a car to drop us to our hotel. On our way to hotel, it felt like we're back in the 50's. The buildings, aah, the buildings are so beautiful. They've done a great work to make the island the way it is. Abba told us that there's a specific regulation there, in Banda Neira, to keep maximum of 2 storeys on each building built recently. Wow, good job!

Hello, Banda! Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Touch down Banda Neira! Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Laguna Inn, our home for the next week! This is one of hotel in Banda Neira which owned by Des Alwi, an Indonesian historian, diplomat, writer and advocate of the Banda Island. Despite its troubled management, I fall in love with this hotel. It has a great view of Gunung Api, and the pier, oh my, you can see fish swimming around from the pier! I can't had enough with this amazing view :). As we arrived during breakfast hour, the hotel managed to arrange a simple breakfast for us. A fluffy bread + nutmeg jam served with hot tea. Ah, what a huge temptation for me, who happened to be fasting that day. 

Home sweet home - Laguna Inn. Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Welcome to Banda! Photo courtesy +Fuyanto Fu 
Abba's future Inn, still under construction. Photo courtesy +Fuyanto Fu 

There were no specific itinerary for our (1st group) first day in Banda Neira, so we spend the day stroll around the island and getting to know the island a lot better. And, of course with Abba as our guide. It was one day before Ied Adha so the island was filled with people doing preparation for the yearly festival. So much fun to see their enthusiasm! We also manage to visit the traditional market and bought a huge fish only for 75K, wow, yes, it's a gift! On our way back to hotel, we stop by at Delfika, a local guesthouse that also open as a restaurant for an early dinner (also a breakfasting for me). I tasted the most delicious tea there! Yes, believe me, it was super yum! Ah, how I wish to be there right now for just for the sake of the tea :). The day is not over yet, we still have a huge fish to grilled and eat! So, there were 7 of us against 1 huge fish, sadly, we lost :( 
Dinner time, at Delfika. Photo courtesy +Fuyanto Fu 

The fish, before. Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 

The fish, after. Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Ied day! Rain continuously since last night, made us overslept and missed the chance to do Ied Pray in Banda Mosque (so sad!). This would be my 2nd time celebrating Ied Adha away from home. Yet, it's much better than the last time since I was surrounded with great people! Although Ied Adha falls on this day, yet Bandanese celebrate it with a festival on the following day. The 2nd group arrive today, so this would be day we actually go as a complete group. Same as yesterday, itinerary on this day would be city (or is it island) stroll on foot. Our first stop was Delfika, as it was already lunch time when we went out from hotel. We had a festive lunch, a buffet with various and delicious menus. And did you know how much it cost us? 50K each! Cheap, rite? Love it, love it!

Good morning, Banda Neira :)

Short break after lunch. Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Let's go for a stroll! Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
After a festive lunch, then it's time for some workout by strolling the island on foot, yeay! We went to several places, such as Rumah Budaya Banda Neira, Sjahrir House, Old Church, Parigi Rante (Historical monument of Banda people heroism against Dutch occupation), Nassau fort, Istana Mini and the famous Belgica fort. The most memorable moment was in Istana Mini where my camera captured a glimpse of Charles Rumpley's aparation (hiyuuh...!) and the time we took photo of the year "Kabinet Banda Neira 2012", and not to forget, the challenge given by Belgica fort caretaker, LOL! This 4 hours stroll really made fall, really hard to this island. Somehow, i felt attached to Banda Neira. It's indeed my home in another life :)

Family photo (with additional member). Photo courtesy of +Sofyan Ardianto 

In front of Belgica Fort. Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Belgica fort, here we come! Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Can you see the apparation? LOL
The day isn't over yet, not yet. As we walk back to the hotel, on the way we stop by at a victualler who sold a traditional food made of cassava called suami (or is it swami?). We make fun about this swami as it's sounds like "suami", which stands for husband. And since I haven't got any "suami" yet, so I insist on bought it for myself. Sad, I know, LOL.

My "suami"! LOL. Photo courtesy +danny ramadhan 
Ah, it's only day two and i wrote this many, I haven't reach the part of our snorkeling trips! I might have to divide the story into some parts. So, stay tune if you want to know more about Banda Neira, a little piece of heaven on earth.