Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.
Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

On the beach of Pantar

  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


During my stay in the Alor archipelago, in Indonesia, my place of stroll, between two dives, is the magnificent beach of Pantar Island.

The beach

Right, in front of the diving resort Alor DiversThere is this singular rock, all in volcanic rock jagged by erosion and very sharp, topped by a clump of vegetation.

It was once an island in its own right. The sand, pushed by the tides and the wind, is gradually gaining ground on the sea.

Behind, stretches the mangrove and the beach, towards the Muslim village.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

On the left, in the direction of the Christian village, we meet tree trunks dried up like bones, bleached by the sun and the salt, with tormented forms.

Then the beach gradually turns into a postcard: white sand and coconut palms on azure sea.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

People

The beach is not crowded, for sure. But throughout the day, there is a regular coming and going between the villages and the resort. Depending on the tides, you can also see families coming to fish for shellfish in the shallow water.

As everywhere in Asia, it is mostly women who are seen walking, carrying impressive loads.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Here as in the rest of Indonesia, it is not complicated to take pictures of people.

Most of the people you ask kindly accept to pose. Many even ask for a picture when they see your camera.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

But what is amusing here in Alor - and I had not observed it elsewhere until then - is that everyone looks serious, almost hard, at the moment of release. Yet, the moment before, everyone was laughing happily or smiling shyly!

Apparently, in the area, photography is a serious business, a bit like in our old pictures, at the beginning of the XXth century, when it was not necessary to laugh on the family portraits...

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.But by repeating myself several times, with a lot of grimaces and encouragements expressed with my little vocabulary in Bahasa IndonesiaI still managed to capture the smile of this young girl from the nearby village.

I met her several times on the beach, carrying her load of fruits or vegetables. During our second meeting, she recognized me and asked me to take a picture of her, with the other carrier.

We even do several, and their faces are smiling when they see the result on the digital screen. They are obviously very happy.

I compliment them, tell them in Indonesian that they are very pretty, I thank them, they thank me, then put back their loads on their heads and go away...

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

We are neither in Bali nor in Sulawesi, people are less expansive here. On the beach as well as on the small road at the back, the few people I meet all greet me kindly, but without ostentation. Except for one guy, obviously the "gigolo" of the village, who gives me a whole spiel in his poor English for a long photo session: him alone on his bike, him in close-up without the bike, him with me in front of the bike...

😂

As for the teens, they inevitably strike this pose that they must find too cool, hands raised and fingers pointed in various directions. They too look incredibly serious, while they were laughing the minute before...

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

In short, one does not get bored on this beach... One believes oneself alone in the world, facing the sea, but no. There is always someone who appears, without warning, as if out of nowhere. The combination "tourist + camera" must make its small effect...

What do you say we go back to diving?

Even on those days when it's gray, Pantar beach is beautiful. More melancholy, certainly.

Our little group of divers is going on and on. Two to three dives per day, in all weathers. Often, we leave Pantar beach on board of a small traditional outrigger canoe, to join the boat anchored further.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

I must admit, I did more underwater than on the beach, for the pictures. After the "macro" series of the previous post, so I'm preparing an "ambiance" sequence in the next one... It's time to go back under the surface!

👌

  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012

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    1. @Laurence: yes, their behavior is the same as everywhere else in Asia towards photos (most people are delighted to have their portrait taken), it's just the expression at the time of the pose that changes... The photo, it's not made to laugh!!! 😀

  1. Hello Corinne

    I agree with your analysis on the poses of teenagers who tend to be "globalized". As for the gravity of adults, the less people are in relation with the so-called modern world, the more this ancestral side, spirit etc. materializes on the pictures (which are superb).

    We wait for the continuation, with impatience.

    Eric

    1. @Eric: ah, that, the teenagers, in all the South-East Asian countries, made me the same kind of silly pose. But then again... As for the seriousness of the adults (and even of the kids), I think it's really related to the fact that in this small remote archipelago, we only take pictures for official stuff (ID cards, etc.), so people take what they think is their best pose, serious face... As soon as you put the camera down, everyone gets back to their natural state, starts laughing again and can't wait to see what it looks like on the digital screen...

  2. Hello Corinne,
    I felt the same thing in the Philippines with the children I met and their poses. On the other hand the smile was systematically put with them and always the joy to discover themselves on the screen. Also (even often) they were requesting for my greatest pleasure. Surely a particularity linked to Asia?
    In any case, very nice pictures and also a destination where I would like to go and dive my flippers...but not easy to access it seems to me. To be explored for a next trip.

    Philippe

    1. @Philippe: yes, Southeast Asia is a great place for photos. Everyone loves it, I have very rarely been refused. But it's the first time I see people looking so serious when posing. Usually a smile is the order of the day.

      For diving, Alor is not very close, but it is quite easy to reach from Bali (a flight to Kupang, then a short flight to Alor).

  3. Very beautiful photos, judiciously accompanied by necessary explanations because otherwise, one could misinterpret them and completely misunderstand the gravity of the faces. Thank you.

    1. @Melissa: it's "paradise" for us dive-tourists, but I think that daily life on this lost archipelago must be quite rough...
      Otherwise, all over Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, I've seen lots of teenagers doing this kind of pose in front of my lens. They imitate what they see on TV...

  4. All kids love to pose and this no matter the country!
    The pictures are great, it brings back beautiful memories. The colors on the beach are beautiful but they become magical once underwater! I only did snorkeling in Indonesia and I had taken plenty of it...So diving sessions, I dare not imagine! Next time 😉

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