East Bound – Banda Neira, Indonesia

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Although it may not be as internationally known as it used to be, Banda Neira still hasn’t lost its charm as it is filled with historical sites as well. During its golden era the island was famous among Europeans for its spices. There are also a number of buildings that used to house Indonesian political figures such as Muhammad Hatta, Dr. Cipto and Sutan Sjahrir during their exile.

Early one morning, before sunrise, I cruised around a small town in Banda Neira on my skateboard to explore the empty streets and see the age-old buildings that dated back to the Dutch colonial era. I passed a fortress, a colonial-style church, a temple and a small palace that once witnessed Banda Neira during its golden times. I couldn’t help but imagining how busy that empty street must have been during those glory days.

colonial-fortress
An old fort that existed since the Dutch Colonial Era

Aside from those historical sites, Banda Neira also boasts natural beauty like no other in its highlands. A couple of days after our diving adventure, guided by some staff from The Nutmeg Tree Hotel & Dive, our group went hiking on Mount Api Banda, an active volcano that stands 640 meters above sea level. Experienced hikers might be able to accomplish this hike in little time, but my group spent two hours, as the path was pretty challenging and narrow. But all the sweat was forgotten once we reached the top of the mountain and treasured the view. No words can describe our feelings as we sat there admiring the beauty of Banda Neira from this high point. We waited for sunset in silence while listening to “In Love with You” by The Heptones.

Six days passed and we couldn’t believe how time had gone so fast. When our group first planned our visit to Banda Neira, our main focus was scuba diving. We didn’t really plan to explore the land, and that’s why I think six days on this small island is just not enough as there are a lot of sites to see, like the nutmeg plantations and the homes of Indonesian political figures. But I don’t have to worry because this small island now has a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to visit Banda Neira once again.deep-sea-and-mountain

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