The bungalow was shaking. Door wide open, I could hear the angry gusts and howls of wind. My ears woke up first, followed by my fatigue-stuck eyes. Only an hour ago, the sky outside had been a pristine blue. Now, in the rectangle of space shown through the open door, it was a very, very angry grey. A frustrated, formidable grey that was joined by an equally grey sea below it. Rain spurted through the door and into our room. The bungalow shook once more. Spatters of water dripped on my face through the thatched roof… we were in the middle of a fierce storm.
What happened? I thought. We were in paradise a couple of hours ago. The bungalow shook a third time, and Jack walked over, still half snoozing, to close the door. As exciting as being in an Indonesian storm was, the land of nod was beckoning our sleep deprived eyes.
* * *
We had arrived at Pulau Kepayang only an hour or two prior to the storm. Sun shining, a forest of palm trees and a beachfront entrance to welcome us, our eyes and smiles did little to conceal the excitement that we felt upon seeing our home for the next few days. We alighted the boat and planted our feet on the sandy shore. Monstro-sized granite rocks congregated around the bay, a particularly massive one acting as official guard to the left of the island. We could see more further on into the island, one portly rock happily plonked right in the middle, next to the island’s reception. The island was like a miniature jungle; the far side was inundated with forest and leafy vegetation, whereas the right of the island was more sparse, but still covered in tall, skinny trees and our mammoth friends, the granite rocks. Heart shaped leaves crawled up and along the granite, and coconuts and other odd looking bunches of fruit (sometimes quite suddenly) fell from the tall trees.
After following an earthy path lined by thigh-high plants, we found a row of cheerful looking bungalows, all raised and neatly lined up before us. All built from thatched wood and bamboo with the calm sea stretched out behind them, it was a postcard picture full of charm; the perfect beachside getaway. But it was nothing compared to the surprise hidden behind the other side of the bungalow.
We walked up the thin porch steps of our bungalow (which was whimsically named the Nemo Bungalow) and entered our large wooden bedroom; minimalistic but spacious, rustic and wonderfully cosy. We walked over to the back entrance and set foot upon our back porch – my face lit up with glee.
‘This is ours? Just for us?’ I said, eyes wide.
The beach and the sea, was our backyard. It was low tide and a massive flat slab of granite lay at the edge of the shore. Looks like the perfect bed for a mermaid, I thought to myself, definitely have to go and lie on it before we leave here. To the left, a few large, curved granite rocks protruded proudly from the sandy ground, surrounded by a floor of sharp and jagged sea rocks, that only half an hour before had been completely hidden by the tide. All of this untouched, untamed nature – all of it only five footsteps away from our porch. I looked over to Jack, who was also looking at our immense, new garden.
‘Let’s just stay here, yeh?’
Despite completely buzzing from the wonder of our new surroundings, our total of two hours sleep took its toll and an afternoon of slumber and snoozing ensued.
After being abruptly woken by the angry storm, we waited for it to calm down and disappear. We then decided to climb down the rickety wooden steps that led to the beach and explore the wonders of our new beach garden (and of course, go and lie on that big slab of granite and grin madly like a smug cat).
*Tune in next time for some Sumatran island hopping and flying purple jellyfish…
Go Go Go!
Where: Pulau Kepayang (sometimes referred to as Pulau Babi) is one of the seven major islands that populates Belitung’s waters. It sits directly opposite Pulau Lengkuas, the famous lighthouse island.
Accommodation: Belitung Adventure runs the accommodation on the island, as well as a turtle conservation. The island has around six bungalows, but has other cottages and tents to rent for a cheaper price. (Saying this, it is all very reasonably priced. The most expensive form of accommodation, which we booked, was only 300,000 RP a night – around £16.) Rooms are basic but spacious, and have a bathroom with hot water during the day (and western toilet, no squatters, woohoo!).
Electricity is turned on from about 5 or 6pm in the evenings, which really doesn’t create too many problems as most people are off island hopping and exploring during the day. http://www.belitungadventure.com/?lang=en
*On a side note, I would like to say a massive thank you to Belitung Adventure, for being so cool and accommodating – and for allowing me to come on a reservation I had paid for and had intended to use earlier on in the year. I was unable to come at the time and they saved it as a voucher, allowing me to use the same length of stay and the same accommodation at no extra cost. Thank you!