The Captain’s Log
August started in the Banda Islands assisting the schools and health services. The Banda islands are not poor in the way people of East Timor are. These are islands where almost anything will grow and the waters are teaming with fish. What the people need and want is help catching up with the outside world. There is one flight a week and one ferryboat every 2 weeks. In many ways they are still about 20 years behind the times which for visitors is a wonderful thing to enjoy, but for the education and therefore the future of local children it can be a nightmare. Technical training materials and help with basic English language skills, math, and sciences, even help with sports equipment are important educational needs. The health services try hard to provide modern health care with very limited facilities and supplies. One of their biggest demands was in the area of up to date medical reference texts.
The elementary schools on Banda Besar urgently need support with expendable supplies for the students. Many of the families there cannot afford the cost of these basic educational materials for their children. The clinics are usually old buildings in need of repair and could seriously use a bit of modernization. These needs are just as important as those of the people we are helping in East Timor.
Helping orphans and children from poor families.
On the Banda Islands orphans and children whose families cannot afford education are still cared for by a system of semi volunteer teachers. To learn more »
Places to stay and eat out in Banda. Read more »
Rubbish in Paradise. Rubbish is a problem everywhere these days, but nowhere does it show up so starkly as in a pristine natural environment like Banda. Doing your part not to contribute to the mess is much easier than it might seem. The people of these islands do an admirable job of keeping their islands clean and neat by gathering and burning most trash. The real problems start when the weekly ferry arrives or large yachting events like Sail Indonesia. To learn more and how to help rather than hinder these efforts. »
Good bye beautiful Banda. We could have stayed in the beautiful Banda islands forever, so friendly and open are the people there. So it was a sad moment when on the morning of the 10th a crew of friends and well wishers gathered on VEGA’s fore deck to help us with the long arduous task of hauling our 100 kg anchor from a depth of 30+ meters. It was a task that took almost an hour even with 6 strong fishermen helping. More than one of us mentioned the great hope, almost a distant dream, that our friends in Singapore will at last be able to get the anchor wench working when we arrive there in October.
Once the big anchor was fished and catted we hauled the kedge anchor we had been ridding to while we pulled the main anchor. That little 40 kg fisherman looks exactly like every other fisherman anchor, but for some reason always digs right in and almost never drags.
With both anchors catted and many fond farewells our friends left in their boat and we set sail for Bali and a long list of yearly maintenance jobs.
Wet days in Banda. The weather in Banda is rainy most of the year with the only dry seasons being the transition months of April-May and October-November.
More about the sail from Banda to Bali »
There are several small comfortable colonial style guesthouses in Banda Neira. Most are quite reasonably priced and offer very good local cuisine with a limited offering of European dishes. With the quality and variety found in the local cuisine I doubt you will even notice the lack of your usual favorites. Fish is top of the menu followed closely by chicken and both are prepared in so many novel mouth watering ways each meal becomes an enticing new experience eagerly looked forward too. Meggi is a good cook and usually we far prefer our own cooking to what we find in most restaurants, but in Banda it was all we could do not to eat out every night.
Mutiara Guest House is one of the finest examples of gracious island living at extremely reasonable rates. It is owned and run by Aba Bahlawan and his lovely wife Dilia, Although we did not stay at their guesthouse many was the night we could be found sampling the magnificent culinary offerings. His email is email@example.com. We can highly recommend the place for peace, comfort, friendly atmosphere, and great food. Please tell Aba, Shane & Meggi sent you so they know we didn’t forget about them.
Another good and very interesting place to stay on Banda Niera is the Maulana Hotel. This fine little hotel belongs to Des Alwi who has made quite a few documentary films about the islands and worked with such greats as Jacques Cousteau. Des, who is 83, is a real character that will happily regale you with his exploits, screen his documentaries about the islands, or arrange for a visit to the famous Api Gunung volcano, of coarse Aba will be just as happy to help arrange visits to old nutmeg plantations on Banda Besar, and the volcano as well as some magnificent world class snorkeling or diving trips.
These are only two of the places we found while there. There are many more and even the small stalls in the market have good wholesome snacks and meals. Half the fun is in finding your own favorites so get out, make new friends, and explore. You will be well rewarded with new sights to see and some great little meals.