BIMA - EAST SUMBAWA
The former palace in the town of Bima has been turned into a museum
devoted to the ancient kingdom of Bima. Dara, a village two
kilometers from town is believed to have been the seat of this
The city of Bima has a bad reputation with
foreign travellers. It is said to be crowded with islamic fanatics
which hate foreigners. As usual in eastern Indonesia, appearance is
fake. Admitting that the local rules for what concerns privaty and
politeness are somewhat different than those of the West. In the
West it's nothing strange if a woman doesn't wear a bra; in Bima
even a prostitute doesn't even dare to undress like that. There are
some stories (from the early 1980's) that 'indecently' dressed
Western women were stoned, but a lot has changed since the huge
numbers of tourists, on their way to Komodo, make a stop in Bima.
This doesn't mean that they can wear whatever they want. It's
probably accepted, but why would you insult your hosts and
The first impressions of Bima, a small and busy city which is full
of horses and card - nowadays named benhur - don't envite you
to stay. You can visit one of the kampongs of Raba, especially Ntobu
and Rada Dompu, where the women produce ikat-fabrics on traditional
weaving machines. Think about it to agrue about your price.
You can also take a benhur to the seaport for a nice price.
Maybe you can see an islamic girl playing volleyball in her
traditional clothing: long skirts and the rimpu, a scarf over
the head and shoulders. The strong Muhammadyah-system still demands
the white rimpu, but nowadays they prefer a variety of
colors. The girl with the yellow scarf is nobility; only daughters
of sultans can ware a green one.
The seaport usually is one big business; there are nice wooden ships
and big metal ones. In the dry season the seaport is home to
numerous blue bags of sals, destination Kalimantan or Jawa, and
every once in a while you will se waterbuffalo's and cows waiting
for transport to Surabaya and Jakarta. Much food is also shipped to
Jawa: garlick, soybeans and especially shallots, the main export
product of the district of Bima. Other export products are dried
seaweed, made into agar-agar, and carragene, young bandang which is
put in ricefields, and huge amounts of dried squids.
Sumbawa doesn't get the crowds of tourists
you come across in Lombok or Bali. It has its own character and some
travelers will find it to be an interesting place to visit.
You can take a bus all the way from Jakarta to Bima if you wanted or
you could take it in small steps and travel by public transport and
overnite at some of the towns along the way.
You can cross to Sumbawa on the ferry from Padang Bai in Bali. You
then take a bus across Lombok and get on another ferry to Poto Tano,
a tiny port in Sumbawa. There are a few hundred small homes there
but if you don't have wheels it might not be a good place to get
stuck because there are no stores, loseman, or warungs..
A surprising thing was that the homes
there all had tile roofs. Some of the bamboo walls were straining
from all the weight that they were supporting and were tilted to the
Maybe it had some thing to do with the unavailability of the palm
that is used for roofing on most of the other islands. Even the
outbuildings had tile roofs.
Coming over on the ferry gives you a chance to meet a few people.
Indonesians love to talk to foreigners.
Usually it's the standard: How old are you? Are you married? What
religion are you?
In Sape on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia horse carts called
dokar and motorbikes are the main forms of transportation. There is
a big traffic jam at the market in the morning with all these horse
carts and it is kind of a unique experience.
A ride costs about 50 cents for up to 5 kilometers. There are a few ojeks
(motorbike taxis) but the most common transport in town is these
There is not a lot to do in Sape once you've seen the market except
wait for the ferry to Labuanbajo on Flores.
The ferries do not stop in Komodo on the
way but at one time they did. If you are on your way to see the
dragons it is easy enough to organize the trip from Labuanbajo.
Sape - Sumbawa
the east end of Sumbawa lies the seaport of Sape. You can take the
ferry from here to Labuanbajo in Flores. It leaves in the evening
and gets to Labuanbajo pretty late in the nite, around 3am.
You can try to get some sleep on the way over if you can get used to
the seats on the ferry and stretch out on 4 of them.
As far as I know the ferries do not stop in Komodo on the way over
but it might be better to base yourself out of Labuanbajo anyway as
there is a pretty established tourist infrastructure there.
easy to organize transport to Komodo and Rinca from Labuanbajo.
There are also a number of scuba diving shops there that go to the
islands between Komodo and Flores. Some include a stopover at Komodo
and ther are plenty of boats available for charter in town.
The lonely planet claims that the people
call the dokars Ben Hur but I didn't run across anyone that called
them that. There is a lot of good info in the lonely planet however
and most travelers use it as a reference at least in well traveled
market is very interesting with many dokar creating a traffic jam in
the morning. There are a lot of vegetables and fish for sale but no
rumah makans or places to eat down there.
There is a lot of boat building going on
along the beach and most of the houses near the pier are up on
stilts. There is even a mosque on stilts.