Beyond Indonesia: Sumba

August 12, 2014

Traffic and pollution in Bali? I try other Island , here the best.Sumba is an island located in eastern Indonesia in South East Asia, part of the Lesser Sunda Islands group in the province of East Nusa Tenggara with a population of approximately 670,000 people. The island is known by some as “Sandalwood Island” as it is famous for is exportation of sandalwood. Sumba is unique and beautiful in many ways, starting with its rich cultural history. It is considered a magical place by many who visit its exotic picturesque landscapes and pristine beaches.

A unique destination, its physical characteristics bear hardly any resemblance to the other islands of Indonesia. Sumba had contact with Europe in 1522 and before then was inhabited by Australian and Polynesian people, however despite contact with the western world, Sumba is a land held onto many of its beautiful traditions. In Sumba they bury their dead in giant stones called megaliths, which has been a tradition from the bronze ages and has only survived on the island of Sumba. The Sumbanese speak several closely related and localised Austronesian languages with not much English spoken.

In Sumba they still have the tradition of donning hundreds of horse riders with large spears and playing a deadly game called Pasola to celebrate the rice-planting season. The game is played by throwing wooden spears at the opposing team while riding horses, and it requires a high level of skills. The cultural, religious and supernatural beliefs behind this game run deep, and the spilt blood is believed to be a sacrificial act to fertilize the land and is a part of a more complicated spiritual ritual. The largest town is Waingapu with about 50,000 inhabitants and there are a number of villages on the surrounding limestone hills.

The island has over 200 species of birds some of which only exist on this island and some are under increasing risk of extinction. Deforestationis an issue that makes it hard for these birds to survive and threatens the overall well-being of this island. While western Sumba is more ethnically and linguistically diverse with a richer and more fertile land, eastern Sumba has a more traditional history with a ritual hierarchy called Castes. There are a variety of languages spoken, and the most commonly used language is the Kambera language. Most of the population is Christian and up to 30% practice the animist Marapu religion, which traditionally believes in spirits and an eternal heaven. Sumba is one of the poorest islands in Indonesia and malaria and other diseases are very common here.

There is a high rate of infant mortality and access to water is a challenge. The streams and rivers dry up during the hot dry seasons and villagers, mainly women and children, have to trek many miles a day just to get access to water. There is access for tourists on this island as well, with the Puru Kambera beach, which is 26 kilometers from Waingapu. There is also Tarimbay Bay, about 5 hours drive from Waingapu and has 3 meters waves for surfers to ride on. Two hours away from Tamboloaka are white sandy beaches and cliffs at the Kodi, but its not recommended during the dangerous rainy season. Many places in Sumba have not changed since the Stone Age with some villages unchanged for centuries. A visit to the luxury resort in Sumba, Indonesia is truly a trip back in time. Immerse yourself in splendid isolation on this island paradise.
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