We caught a taxi out to the ferry and one hour later we were on the small island of Pulau Weh. I say small, it was still another hour to get to the beach of Iboih, but in comparison to Sumatra it’s a mere pin prick.
Iboih is a small collection of huts strung out mostly along the hillside. It didn’t take us long to have our sea side real estate secured. Sure a Jenga tower looked far more stable than the rickety mess that we agreed to rent but it came with two hammocks, a large balcony and only five steps to walk down until your feet touched the ocean. Two more and we were underwater dodging schools of fish ranging from the miniscule to the frighteningly large. Lion fish, sea snakes, trigger fish, the cast of Finding Nemo and thousands more that I could never hope to identify.
Most of the time on the island was spent in-between a hammock and the ocean. We broke the trend on one afternoon and hired a canoe. The owner looked excited when we pointed at the sign and he pointed at the canoe. A traditional thin boat made out of wood and outriggers made out of piping with a finishing coat of Rastafarian colours. It was entertaining if the distance covered was minimal. Paul got the short end of the stick by getting into the boat at the back and hence forth became the paddler. I perched at the front attempting to keep the balance of the boat.
Initially we directed the boat around the small island that hovered just off Pulau Weh. We soon discovered the open water that was revealed was no place for a traditional canoe. Steering went out of the window as the sea got choppy and the currents cut in. Before we knew it we were back near our accommodation. Instead we rowed over to the small island and pulled the boat as far onto the beach as we could. Just in case we tied it to a rock and wedged it in between another one. Who says Bear Grills is not one of England’s finest educators?
On the far side of the island was a coral garden. After a couple of photos with visiting local tourists we were allowed into the water and swam between them floating aimlessly with the waves in their life jackets. The coral wasn’t in its best shape but some parts were living. There was a typical abundance of fish and a sea snake which was all rather exciting. Getting back in contained the typical problem of not standing on the coral as the tide had an altogether different idea.
Upon getting back to the beach we were relieved to find the boat as we had left it, on the beach, not in the ocean. Unfortunately however it seemed to have lost all buoyancy. The first attempt to launch it was hastily called off as it began to sink. After an investigation and minor fixes we took to the ocean and paddled as fast as possible to get it back to the restaurant without it sinking. It was touch and go, a lot of bailing out took place!
We left Pulau Weh the following day. If there is one problem with the island it is that it is in the middle of nowhere. Neither of us dared to think just how long it would take to reach Bukit Luwang.