A Travellerspoint blog

Sumba

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Arriving around 7, it took half an hour to fight my way off the boat, resisting sometimes grabby hopefuls in deference to their attendant buses. Still unsure as to my intentions, a quick appreciation of diminutive Waikelo's beach and preponderance of bananas left little obvious reason to loiter, and I opted for the straight through service to the regional town of Waikabubak instead of nearby Waitabulo. That proved to be a good move since Waitabulo, besides offering a large array of traditional tombs scattered around, was more asporadic settlement than a real town and I saw on the 43K trip that those tombs would be a readily repeated feature elsewhere. Other initial impressions were of traditionally dressed men sporting turbans, black sarongs and waist bands with a Keris sword tucked into them, other folk red toothed and black mouthed from the chewing of betel nut. An ambulance dedicated to malaria cases was a dispiriting novelty, and a pig running down the main street was another. From Waikelo we passed through Waitabula with its market ensconced in the dirt, before climbing up into tropical forest rasping with insects. Prominent Christian tombs, on occasion complimented by a rustic corrugated iron church with a bull's head idol set another tone, even evidence of a Catholic political party which perversely qualified an excellent revelation in the probable availability of Bintang beer. More tombs of unusual design were habitually great solid raised slabs of stone, some with decorative lobes on top or painted with animal figures, and architecture came in 2 separate hues it seemed of either tall wedge shaped or square based pyramid roofs of thatch. Very rocky and unfertile in parts, Sumba still boasted hoards of bananas everywhere however, and the very narrow undelineated road was at least a good surface, even if you did often leave it in order to overtake.

The bus crew unusually left it until alighting to collect the fares, which rather helped me in resisting their sadly inflated demands. Not pulling any punches, the boy tellingly reduced his demands but I stuck to my aggressive stance of "I know how much it costs". Prevailing in the end meant I had surely been right, but it was a tricky juncture here moreso than most places in singling out well intendedadvice from the gamut of ulterior motives and ruses. It was always another gamble in the search for a hotel bed whether I should make a beeline for it in anticipation of subsequent hoards that might book places out, but this time I had a more pressing need for sustenance which I gambled would alternatively allow the previous nights' itinerants to check out. Obviously in fine fettle, I elected for the latter and in the meantime gave myself a heavily laden trudge in search of the town's sole alleged passable restaurant, failing to trace it but chancing upon another. Beer for breakfast was a bit outrageous but after my night's discomfort I was ready for it, using it to wash down a Nasi Cap Cay (fried vegetable rice) Seafood. The immediately apparent ready supply of beer on Sumba had indeed been explained by the propensity of Christian tombs and churches, Catholic in the main, but I'm not sure it was the intended priority of the 19th century missionaries. I was grateful all the same. I then screwed my nose up and managed to knock down the price of one of the remaining better rooms at the Hotel Artha, a suitably clean spot with a qualifying garden courtyard and rare facility such as a clothes horse and towel which made all the difference. Perhaps the beer was a mistake but my fatigue then enforced an involuntary all day slumber which meant I got little else done that day apart from an initial recce of the town, finding it a friendly laid back place, honest and unprettified. I did however come across a nearby Kampung which boasted a 7th generation 500 year old tomb amongst an excellent 2 level village. Full of friendly engaging locals, they happily did not look upon me as a money making rap, the kids just wanted to play. Still there was no internet to be had in town but I bagged myself an overdue 50p haircut in a tiny shack with no trimmer and a dirty razor. After eating my dinner by candle light during a telltale power cut I headed back to the hotel to belatedly afix plans for the morrow, picking up a pretty useless glossy tourist leaflet welcome still for its rarity value, and then enquiring as to the availability of a motorbike. It had been the main impetus to stay there at the Artha that they were used to lining up such requests, and the 3 quid asking price was what I knew to be honest and cheap. Frequention of another more up-market hotel had predictably availed me of no further information, just a moneygrabbing culture where a bike would cost suckers double.

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Back to Bima

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MUSEUM DANA MBOJO

This dynasty began as early as 775AD, converting to Islam under Abdhul Kahir Kumata 1620-1640, the last Sultan Muhammad Salahuddin rescinding his power in 1951. The modern nearby palace which resembles a more humble government office is now home to his heir, a government official retaining a symbolic title. With the original palace having been destroyed by fire in 1925, the present one was built in 1927 in the Dutch style. Traditional black costumary of the Donggo people included buffalo skin sandles and cross over tunics, it reminded me of an old photo of traditional Chinese. A Dutch inspired battle drum with a lion rampant wielding a sword and a fistfull of arrows was inscribed Pro Patria Indorieni 1640-82. A contrived saddle made from looped rope and lengths of thatch for a cushion betrayed the function of pairings ofdeer horns I had earlier spotted, they were slung across the horses back and used as hooks for carrying sacks of rice. A new weapon here was a Sumpi, a kind of bolas. Portugese weapons were tellingly imported to resist the Dutch 1642-82, the old "my enemy's enemy" adage. As well as chain mail and crude large bore shotguns, local tastes included multi-bladed lances and pikes. Accosted by one of the officials who had broken English, it was uncertain as to whether I had any choice in being herded around by a guide, though normally I resisted such a distraction. I'm not sure I learned anything which wasnt already apparent or explained by a few scant poor English translations, and the periodic interjection of how poorly they were paid (200,000 Rupiah a month allegedly, a little over a tenner), and that I should not forget my guide. I gave her 5,000 in the end which she managed to coax up to 6 in the supposed absence of change, that was double the peanuts entry fee. The headscarved official's real worth was proved when she related that she hailed from Wawo, the district through which I had just journeyed that morning and spied Lenge Wawo once again from the road. In contradiction to the guidebook she explained that the second traditional village of Sambori boasting 3 tiered original houses was not nearby at all but in the same region as Donggo in the opposite direction. Lack of transport meant that that would remain just a dream, but at least I was now in the picture. I tried to promise myself that I would return to Sumbawa a little bolder one day and finish the job, but who knew when that might ever be. Crossing Sumbawa had been palatably straightforward however, and Bali was still a convenient entry gate. It had been a presumption by many in Sape that I was there to continue the natural eastward lineage of Nusa Tenggara to the island of Flores, even the Losmen owner chapped my door that morning in view of the ferry's imminent departure, but consideration of the scant available services had also excellently revealed Sape as the departure point for another island which lay off the already little beaten track, isolated to the south, the ferry running just once a week. Not to be confused with present locale Sumbawa, this land of mystery held the promise of the most unadulterated traditional living of all Indonesia, testimony to its isolation which rendered Africa as its unlikely distant westerly neighbour, a problematic detour which just had to be done. The island of Sumba.

With another precious day left to kill until my ferry departure that night there was only one course of action which made bitter sweet sense, I would retrace the 2 hour jaunt back to Bima and at the third time of trying hopefully avail myself of it's museum. A cheap Ojek transfer was the superefficient means of getting me out to a bus stand in deference to the seemingly underemployed terminal, the resultant slow climb out of town allowing more careful consideration of valleys hued into garish green rice terraces and horse and buffalo pastures. It was still very dry here however despite the onset of the rainy season, a corner of Indonesia which obviously only saw its fleeting influence as a stagnant river bed betrayed. Its as well to note here that though I had failed to get off the beaten track, Sumbawa had not been the arduous assault which I might have anticipated, and indeed there were compensations in being able to efficiently negotiate transport options with not the slightest hint of anyone pushing for a rich tourist premium. In all my time in Sumbawa I had not seen a single white face upon which to prey and so that culture had simply not evolved. In returning to Sape that afternoon I was even surprised to be unusually issued a ticket at a lower than expected fare for the rickety bus, it was just a pity that this trip became the sole example of a hot squashy convoluted journey with people being travel sick around me for good measure. I didnt get back into Sape until almost 7 which prompted an immediate Ojek transfer to the port, resisting the pushy ones and laughing at the guys' ambitious demands. Telling him in Bahasa that I knew the price was all it took, and so for a third and hopefully final time I caught a glimpse of Sape's mosque and hotchpotch of shop fronts. I immediately bagged my ferry ticket lest there be any last minute surprises to deal with but secured it with ease from friendly professional officials at under 2 quid for the overnight cruise. I then had just enough time for a cheap and scrummy Padang cuisine splurge and a quick wash before grabbing my bag and boarding the surprisingly passable looking tub. Though predictably small, the RORO design appeared from the exterior to put the Flores ferry to shame, and despite mountains of cargo and baggage lining the car deck in great piles, the upstairs passenger area was remarkable in being almost civilised. Where I had expected to encounter great swathes of bodies sprawled everywhere on mattresses or "slave ship" racks, rows of plastic seats and TVs were a redemption of considerable value, the modern vibe completed by a disco suite pumping out drum and bass Bemo style. That didnt prevent the continuing uncertainty over departure times however, we finally pulled away almost 3 hours late. We headed East with a gibbus moon shining in our wake, the slow pace dictating that it would take all night to cover the 100Ks or so to port town Waikelo on Sumba. The only white man on board, I had not seen another tourist in all my time on Sumbawa.

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Bima to Sape

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Having stayed up most of the night for a football fest, I still rose early to confirm that in now realising it Sunday and not Monday, the local museum remained infuriatingly shut. Settling for a stroll of its grounds, I chanced upon a habitual collection of cannons of which one still vaguely bore a crown emblem, the year 1815 and the word "Solid" stamped upon it, it might have been British. I then had to see to practicalities in view of my imminent descent into a dearth of services and standards, stockingup at a supermarket before chasing up an ATM. Considering it would probably be my last chance of cashfor a week or more, it was exasperating then to find one bank branch now vacated and the other cash machines around unwilling to play, there was even one with the appropriate logos which thanked me audibly in a newly familiar fine Scots brogue for using the service, a pity then that the bitch couldnt go so far as to give me any money. God knows what the locals must have made of it. Another long hot slog left me short changed until I sought the help of a gaggle of "Hello Mister" admirers, the pretty headscarves infuriatingly pointed me back to a point just beyond where I had just given up the ghost. Ever hotter and sweatier, I then became at least 2 million Rupiah heavier, and so bagged a Bemo for the run back out to Raba, finding the bus terminal maybe 3K further than the 2K ascribed in the guidebook. The bashed and trashed bus with burst cushions clawed back some time by thankfully departing immediately, and though it was later than I had intended I still felt I could get away with splitting the 2 hour trip out to easterly port town Sape. The road out of Bima proved to be for Sumbawa an unprecedented grinding climb for 30 minutes or more, also witnessing here for the first time some lurid green rice terrace vistas and switch back topography. Though amidst confusion I missed out on the chance of stopping off at the village of Sambori, the locals were more helpful in shoving me off right at the proclaimed entrance way for Lengge Wawa, an enclosed compound of fantastically traditional houses separated from its more conventional mother village of Maria. I proved once again how fluent my limited vocab Bahasa was these days in ribbing my kiddie escort, and upon entering the fenced off enclave asked the sole male incumbent if it was OK to wander around. In spite of a large sign proclaiming its heritage it was a breath of fresh air to be let loose nonchalantly with not a hint of the potential visitors book or entry fee. What really blew me away though was the enclave itself, a concentrated rank and file of tiny stilt elevated dwellings of 2 contrasting designs. Front and foremost were the pointy pyramid thatch roofs of shelters so primitive they smacked of teepees, and the the other more abundant sort were high elevated tiny timber boxes with variously thatch or tiled roofs and impossibly small doors. I strolled around along unrefined boulder paveways unmolested, as only a few women habitually slumbered on a raised platform under thatch, one preparing rice with a giant mortar and pestle, dressed all in black. The very quiet locale left me wondering if perhaps many of the dwellings had been relegated to more prosaic use in deference to more conventional housing, yet it was simply amazing to still find a settlement of this particularly primitive style at all. Dodging a passing shower as well as more human attention, the first transport onward to Sape proved to be a squashy Bemo rather than a bus, but I was just happy to be on my way again. I might be pushing it to make a ferry connection for all I knew. In dodging the touts upon arrival the only memory of Sape was a shiny ATM kiosk where one should not have been given the isolated location, before electing to chance that my instinct would lead me in the right direction for the port. That it did, but I hadnt banked on it being maybe 5Ks away. Ever the pragmatist however, it availed me of some fine rural vistas and local practices, with the propensity for traditional costume here betraying the strength of Islam as much as their heritage. A man gathered cattle fodder into a horse and cart as women paved the road side with bundles of freshly cut grass for the incredible number of elaborately pompommed Cidomo steeds. Later an official sign at the port would refer to them as "Benhurs", surely too much of a co-incidence for it not to have been an adoption from the film. Certainly, the charioteers raced along sometimes as though they were rampaging around the Colliseum, but none could have rightly been considered anything close to Charlton Heston. At still a mile from the port, the road upon reaching the water split into 3 distinct prongs, and I had to guess in view of the badly truck molested surface that the middle causeway was the headland for the ferry.

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Bima

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For the last time in many I had arrived in town only to hit what I believed to be the local museums closure days, and though I reckoned I had no choice but to kill a day in Bima in any case in view of the non availability of an onward connection, I did not invest the day as I should have done in tracking down some of the regions traditional villages but less inspiring forays around town. The small hill town of Donggo lay about 40Ks away and served as a focal point for many small communities still living amidst indiginous architecture and megalithic remains, yet my only realistic means of reaching them was to hire a motorbike. Though I had done it twice to good effect in Sumatra I was very reluctant to put my neck so deliberately on the line, devoid of a map and more importantly now recently expired travel insurance. My sensible head won the day and so after a bit of a lie in to recuperate from the day previous's bus bashing, I took in another film before hoofing the considerable distance out to Bima's twin town Raba where all the government offices lay. Failing to trace anything resembling a town centre, Raba appeared to be just a long line of penpusher dens, testimony to a culture of deeply entrenched bureaucracy and corner minding, there must have been all of a hundred agencies, most of which were untranslatable. Part of the instigation for my sweaty slog had been to have another stab at tracking down a tourist office, a particular priority since I was now reliant solely on the suspiciously scant offerings of the guidebook. I knew from experience there had to be a lot more out there to explore if I could just find it and Sumbawa's air of mystery had redoubled my resolve. In the end though it was too much even to trace the source however, where the tourist office should have lain there was now only a telltale patch of waste ground to puncture the endless snake trail of ministries, outnumbered only by the "Hello Mister" count. The statue, memorial and architectural oddity discovered en route were scant payback for my efforts and I finally headed back to Bima by Bemo having failed to track down a bus terminal supposedly only 2Ks away though I had traipsed perhaps 5. Checking that the museum was indeed closed, a small but very fine mosque caught my attention by the central Padang, opposite which I also came across a statue of a matching white rearing horse, a testimony to Sumbawa's importance as a horse breeding region. Perhaps it was down to the expensive beer I had unexpectedly stumbled upon in a hotel restaurant adjacent to my pad, but I then found renewed vigour for yet more petty wanderings, this time in a desire to check out the scene along Bima's port, Sumbawa's biggest. I immediately loved the more reassuring vibe in this connection, passing by many down at heels hovels and decrepit warehouses which may or may not have been colonial, and the port didnt disappoint either. Dodging kids playing football barefoot in the dirt and their melee of predictable greetings, I found a very atmospheric gaggle of Bugis style schooners the like of which I had seen in Jakarta and elsewhere, these ones palpably less seaworthy tubs within which whole families lived and traded. One was even ready loaded with a foredeck lined with water buffalo and bales of feed. The strange light here gave the offlying topography the vibe of another world removed, and certainly I was constantly reminded of being an alien. On the way back I resisted the repeated attempts of first a young headscarved chick on a motorbike and then an evidently affluent local boy with a 4X4 to oblige me with a lift, more testimony to the fact that I might just as well have come from another planet such was the level of fascination. The boy was obviously successful and so I concluded corrupt, and my resistance paid dividends when I soon made a couple of good chance discoveries. First, lying in the dust I spied what appeared to be a banknote, and sure enough thats what it was but not a kind hitherto encountered. The tiny 20,000 Rupiah note bearing the portrait of defunct female president Megawatti Sukharnoputri was the size of a cigarette card, and as Jeep Man confirmed "Habis" (Finished). With a face value of over a quid, more than many here earned in a day, I could only deduce that it was now a discontinued remnant of Indonesia's late 90s economic crisis when it would have assuredly been worth much less. A nice souvenir though. Then my resolve to walk was further qualified by chancing upon a Christian cemetery, where some old crumbled obelisks just had to be colonial. Sure enough there were perhaps a dozen or more Dutch graves in total, most surprisingly still with their inscriptions present and discernible. Sadly most were of young children and a few of spouses lost tragically young in their 20s, there were no insights into particular circumstances but the testimony to the liability of a tropical climate in a far off land was enough. Even here the "Hello Misters" did not let up.

Now given that I was under pressure of time to get a move on, a satisfactory but rather inconsequential second night in Bima might have seemed unwise, yet upon checking with a travel agent I was assured that I had a day to kill. Unsure for some time as to what day it was, rarely a consideration over the last month of beach and pub crawling, I thought I had figured it out to conclude my desired ferry departure from Sumbawa imminent. With only one sailing a week, the guidebook had suggested Monday at 5pm, yet the travel agent assured me Sunday at midnight. Believing it to be Saturday, that meant quite good positioning then but Bima would serve better to kill a day than the alleged underwhelming little port dump of Sape 2 hours away. Able to redress my demanding day with a power shower, TV and beer back at my palace, it had all made sense until I spotted a fleeting reference to Euro 2008 on the box. Surely not.....? But yes, I had got my days wrong, today was Saturday and not Sunday as I had deduced. As well as upsetting my ferry connection plans and affording the realisation that I had slumbered late that morning whilst the museum ostensibly lay open, I now saw that the all important football ties had yet to occur. They were showing Man U v Roma, but with Euro 2008 titling occasionally catching a glance. Could it be....? It was in ecstatic subsequent amazement then as the football mad Indonesians gave way to pictures and commentary live from Hampden Park. In otherworldly Sumbawa of all places I was about to realise a dream which even modern world Java and Bali had failed to muster. My 6 quid starchy sheet room was now looking a seriously good investment.

The picture was simple. In their final throw of the dice in what had been a thoroughly accomplished campaign, Scotland needed to beat Italy to simultaneously gain qualification and put the Azzuri out of the tournament. Normally that might have seemed an impossible demand, and yet the form which had seen them defeat France both home and away as no other team had done in over 50 years meant that there was a real chance. Having worked so hard to overcome the once habitual so near and yet so far hard luck name tag, fate tested Scotland immediately as the Italians scored with their first attack of the game. They showed their character in a feisty performance however, riding their luck and missing a couple of sitters before getting their just rewards in the 65th minute after a goalmouth scramble. Pushing for the winner in the final quarter, there was a real perception of possibility before history came back to haunt them at the death. Just into injury time the referee blew for a free kick which should have obviously gone Scotland's way, and yet it was awarded just outside the Scotland box to the Italians in the absence of any infringement. Like Scots everywhere, I sat in bewilderment as an Italian header killed the game with only seconds remaining, and it smacked of the stupifying circumstances in which they had pushed Australia out of the 2006 World Cup. At 1-1 Scotland had still been in with a shout, requiring the Ukraine to beat France, but now the coffin was sealed. The last of the domestic hopefuls, Scotland it seemed had yet to overcome its hard luck yoke after all.

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Sumbawa Besar to Bima

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On the street for 8 in order to squeeze in a brekkie before checking out the local museum, I spotted it as being already open and so took the chance to avail myself of it immediately. The Dalam Loka Museum was actually a specialised collection relating the history of the local Sumbawanese Sultanate, which had ruled the western half of Sumbawa for centuries until 1958. Presumably under renovation, the original palace on site had been reduced to a giant wooden skeleton and so I found the artifacts crammed into a makeshift rattan walled warehouse with the collection arrayed in a jumble with only just enough room to squeeze around amongst it. Underwhelming in the main, it was still interesting for its mystical value in relating a distant and exotic unknown kingdom. Its artifacts were on the whole predictable, with costumary, weapons, agricultural and household implements, also a small litter used as a sedan chair. There were more historical banknotes,most notably a very large 2 and a half Roepiah note issued under the Dutch by the Javansche Bank. The real insights however were photos of the last Sultan Kaharuddin III and his entourage, also a lone photo of the local practice of bull running whereby braces of oxen were raced through flooded paddy fields. Happy to have squared the museum away even other few scant sights after a Nasi Campur. First a really grungy produce market camped in the dirt was compounded by the noise and pollution thrown out by Bemos and Ojeks, and the adjacent food stalls which backed onto dark foreboding holes were the last place in the world I would have wanted to have breakfast. It was here that I also first witnessed the processing of coconuts, whereby the outer shells were chipped away to reveal piles of dappled white orbs ready to be dessicated by machine and then left in the sun to dry. The "Hello Misters" reached an unparalleled crescendo here so that from the very first face of the day and down every road since, the constant cries now built to something resembling a chorus, a litany so intense that I saved most of my attention for the odd shy passer by who remarkably remained silent, they were a rare breed! After a brief circuit to check out the very large city mosque with freestanding twin minarets, the new Sultanate palace proved to be a fine whitewashed wooden chalet of giant proportions, sheltered in a garden of palm groves and populated with deer to keep the grass down. Sumbawa had a population of Becak bicycle rickshaws to dodge, with the riders here seemingly always wearing paddy field hats, and the Ojek, Cidomo and Bemo boys maintained their inentions all the way to a nearby bus terminal which allegedly would suit my needs. The few rickety buses camped there in the dirt were idle and empty however and so I opted for a Bemo transfer back out to the main terminal, searching for and failing to spot the local tourist office along the way. In true Indonesian fashion they were habitually miles away from anywhere a tourist might want to go, guising as any other faceless government office under a variety of indiscernible names and never Upon arrival at the surprisingly large, quiet and orderly terminal there was first of all a monument to appreciate, 2 men in chainmail or similar fighting with the oval shields and bamboo sticks I had seen at the museum. Underneath were a couple of inscriptions, one of which perversely extolled the merits of health and safety! With very little activity I thought I was in for a long wait for the minibus to fill up, in the end I waited maybe half an hour until we set off still largely empty. That was compounded however by the pursuit of a country back road which kept us down to a crawl, upon which a lengthy stop after just 6Ks seemed to have no greater motive than a fag break. Upon realising a junction and the main cross-island road the surface proved here to be surprisingly little better, and it became clear why the 20K trip should be deemed to take 7 hours. With frequent stops to pick up and drop off such wares as sacks of rice, vegetables and plastic jerry cans it was Dark O'clock by the time I reached Bima, a trip which had thankfully not been the crush I had anticipated. Yes, the rough road surface and stifling heat when stopped meant you couldnt win either way, and I soon became caked in dust positioned as I was for "air-con" at the rear door. The drive across the heartland of Sumbawa had been an exhilirating experience however, with the island exposing a dual personality of flat straight roads and an almost desertified brown hue in the west, abruptly giving over to a more circuitous route as we ploughed up and around the neck of the large peninsula from which Gunung Tambora thrusted, where impenetrable forest tumbled down to the water. Mangrove trees and tall swaying palms had littered the littoral and any settlements were small humble affairs of slapdash bare brick construction or gaily painted rickety timbers. Most were shoe box sized and raised on stilts, and a couple of small villages which lined secluded bays where the road periodically touched the north coast held a fantastic allure. Water buffalo roamed the beach as lone fishermen manned their haul offshore, tiny nameless places where I wished I could have loitered. More common still was an undefined practice which I first took to be salt harvesting, but the absence of white sediment and the depth of the water pans made me reconsider them to perhaps be fish farms. Certainly great swathes of the north coast had been harnessed into football pitch sized ponds where water paddles on occasion turned to kick up a spray, I could only presume to oxygenate it. Brilliant blue Stork Billed Kingfishers darting about wereperhaps the clincher. A little disorientated in the dark I saw that it had taken me closer to 8 and a half hours to rattle the route from Sumbawa Besar to Bima, redeemed at least by a simple street plan and the paltry 11p demand from an assault of transport touts betraying my very central position. "Hello Mister" mode was quickly re-established by the locals en route to my prescribed hotel, and it was down to an inaccuracy of the guidebook that I inadvertantly ended plumping for the best hotel in town right at the edge of my budget bracket. After the dive in Sumbawa Besar at less than 2 quid a night I reckoned that the demand for 6 would be well worth it for the hike in standards. Certainly there was an immediate redemption in seeing that the reception was just about the only spot in town to secure a somewhat overpriced beer, and the unintended bonus of a TV would later prove to be a benefit out of all proportion to the portable's size. In searching out the one decent restaurant in town, central Bima proved to be excellently compact and so became discernible as a typically unremarkable spot, receiving short shrift from the guidebook as a spot to vacate fast. Though the barely completed hotchpotch of buildings were never 2 alike, and as dark corners hid squalid pavement eateries, all that was nothing new to me and I chose to appreciate small qualifying redemptions instead in a good supermarket, ATMs and passable street lighting. The pavements were still such an assault course that I often opted for the street, but they were cleaner than most and did not smell as they might have. My one major frustration was that in similar fashion to Sumbawa Besar, Bima's alleged internet cafe had not endured to live up to the guidebook's promise, betraying the fact that assuredly that meant that the whole island of Sumbawa was still incredibly without public internet access. That was a pertinent problem in as much as today was a date I had long awaited, the day of the final match in Scotland's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign where they had the challenge of defeating the Italians to attain the improbable dream of clinching a spot. Long accepting that short of flying back to Bali especially, there would be no chance of catching it on TV just like all the previous games, I would not now be able to gain online updates and might wait a week or more for confirmation of the result. Though I had managed to catch a couple of films on Gili Air with first The Bourne Ultimatum and then a very contrasting Australian Aboriginal classic called Ten Canoes, it was a rare indulgence to now access a couple of dedicated movie channels with an endlessprocession of flics to switch off to. No mention of any football though.

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