Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.

An Indonesian village

  Indonesia: Weda [Halmahera] + Bangka [Sulawesi] - March 2013

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: 

It is a tiny Indonesian village, between sea and mangrove, in the bay of Weda. My visit is the evening attraction for the hilarious kids.

The mangrove

March 2013. Weda ResortHalmahera, North Moluccas, Indonesia. There are a handful of bungalows, for diving or birdwatching tourists, far from everything, between the sea and the jungle.

The perfect place to disconnect.

Weda Resort. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013.
Weda Resort. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013.

I've given up on the dawn jungle excursions for bird watching - not really my thing, I prefer water and fish.

Mangrove. Weda Bay. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013.

But I improvise a small walk, at the end of the day, in the nearby village. Its name: Sawai Itepo.

The path leads to a black sand beach. At the end, the village.

It takes only a few minutes to cross this stretch of mangrove, used every day by the inhabitants of Sawai Itepo. Some of them work at the resort.

The cove is really beautiful.

Of course, there is the inevitable pile of garbage and plastic waste where pigs and dogs feed, at the edge of the beach, and also some shacks not very shiny, built on a marshy ground... But the soft golden light of the end of the day gives a peaceful atmosphere, really serene, to the place.

Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.
Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.
Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.
Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.

The village

There are traditional boats and fishing nets on the beach, small fields and wooden shacks behind the coconut trees.

Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.

A bunch of children saw me coming from far away. They run and shout, without daring to approach me at first.

The adults greet me politely and laugh a lot when they hear me ask permission to take pictures: "Boleh photo?"

At the entrance to the village of Sawai Itepo. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013.

The Weda Resort helps the local population with an education program through the Sawai Ecotourism Foundation. It gives me a good excuse to engage in a semblance of conversation and visit the village.

I ask to see both schools, in my lean bahasa indonesia. "Di mana sekola?" The children, more and more numerous, show me the way and escort me along the dirt streets.

The schools are solid buildings, like the church. Here, the population is Christian.

Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.
Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.

People are enjoying the mildness of the evening, sitting in front of their door. They chat with friends and watch me pass by with an amused eye. "Sore! Sore!" Good evening, good evening!

The laundry dries in front of the cottages, some of them hard, most of them wooden. Some of them, painted in bright colors, are more dapper than others and seem relatively comfortable. Through the open windows, one can sometimes see a sofa in the main room that serves as a living room...

But other shacks are frankly miserable, with their ramshackle walls, assemblies of old boards and bits of rusty metal.

Here, there is electricity - and TV, thanks to satellite dishes - but no running water yet.

Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.

I manage to ask their names for the boldest kids. "Siapa nama?" What is your name? One by one, they introduce themselves.

And as always, they are the ones who end up asking me for pictures, delighted to be reflected on the digital screen.

Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.

When I take the way back, three girls who did not dare to speak to me at the beginning, hail me.

They also want their photo! Let's go for some final smiles.

Sawai Itepo Village. Halmahera, Indonesia. March 2013, Indonesia.



If you like the "village" atmosphere and the smiles of children, I invite you to read again these articles, published during a trip to Borneo, in 2009:
Derawan (Indonesia): Kids' balls
Mabul (Malaysia): A village full of life

  Indonesia: Weda [Halmahera] + Bangka [Sulawesi] - March 2013

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  1. Hello and thank you Corinne for this guided tour of this small village, this is what we are looking for in our trips. Unfortunately we don't always have the opportunity to live so closely the contact with the local population ... to know how to settle down, to exchange, to share moments of life .... It is necessary to make this effort, and then people give themselves up, they are happy to talk about their life, their history, respect is the basis of these exchanges, thank you for sharing with us with beautiful pictures these meetings!

    1. @Yves Guenot: this little visit of the village was very nice, but for the real exchanges, one should not exaggerate anything: the discussions were more than limited, because of the language barrier ...

  2. Many liked text and photos, in resonance.
    The one of the church has clicked in my retina, I saw in superimposition the church that opens the film "African queen" 😉 , all anachronism kept!

    1. @Ysbilia: nothing to see, indeed... I realize that I travel quite often in Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country, in places where the population is Christian. Each small village has its church. Sometimes, there is both a church and a mosque.

  3. Your photo of the outrigger canoe with the golden light of the evening leaves me dreamy and contemplative.... it poses well in the foreground with its rough wood which takes the "golden" tint and contrasts with the black sand.
    Indonesians and photos, always a hesitation at first then they insist to see themselves on the digital screen and laugh ... your smiling portraits, pretty faces of children.
    Religion is a whole story but there is a lot of respect except when conflicts break out like in Sulawesi for example. When you say to an Indonesian that you have no religion, he doesn't understand... I am an E.T. there!
    I can't wait for the next part or for other magical moments of your beautiful escapes so dear to your heart...with the weather it warms the heart and the soul.

    1. @Lisemet : that, Indonesians and photos, it's a poem... That said, I also willingly lend myself in exchange to their requests. There is my face in lots of Indonesian mobiles and digital devices!!! 😆

      Like you, I know that I look like an alien if I ever reveal that I have no religion, either towards mulsumans or Christians, so I often pretend to have one, otherwise it is very complicated to explain... and incomprehensible.

      For the rest, everything goes well, always. Exchanges, however limited they may be at times because of the language barrier, still take place. The exchange of smiles and laughter make up for the real dialogue. I know that I am only a passing visitor, but these moments remain with me, and are part of the small pleasures of the trip.

  4. Your blog is a pure marvel, sincerely, I discovered it yesterday, and since then, unable to pick up. We enjoy the stories of your adventures, we escape and we marvel a little more in front of each of your photographs. I'm flying to Sulawesi this summer with my family, and while browsing through your many experiences, I must admit that I'm looking forward to dipping my flippers in the golf of Tomini.
    Congratulations to you, and thank you for sharing with us these images and moments of happiness, simple but so rewarding.

    1. @Inès: thank you for this message, which means a lot to me! 🙂 Sulawesi is really a fantastic island, where there is so much to discover !!! My two previous trips to Sulawesi :
      - In 2010 :
      - In 2007 :

      In a few days, I will continue the story of this journey of March 2013. After Halmahera, I went to North Sulawesi, for a few days, on the island of Bangka... 🙂 To be continued, then!!!

  5. @Corinne : oh ! That all this reminds me these children of the villages of Flores.... 🙂 Smiles, kindness, in short, we lived good moments with them....This is also what I like while traveling: to go to the meeting of the villagers, the kids...Well, obviously, we are also foreigners in their eyes, but there I was never solicited for money, contrary to Africa...That changes! And for me, the welcome in Asia has a lot to do with my attraction for this continent... 🙄

    1. @Didier: in many Indonesian villages, the spontaneity and kindness of the welcome is really touching, even if we are, of course, only tourists passing through...

      The only times kids asked me for money in Asia, it was in places with a lot of tourists (especially in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Bali too...). But in less frequented places, and in small villages like the one I'm talking about here, never.

      Yes, globally, in Southeast Asia, the welcome towards foreigners is really remarkable. As for me, I also appreciate very much this region of the world because I can travel alone almost everywhere, without ever being bothered. I may arouse astonishment, curiosity, laughter, but always in tolerance and respect.