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Aceh Besar

A weekend adventure in South Nias (3 of 3)

A traditional village: rich in history, poor in tourists

After Sunday breakfast and a fuel stop at a dodgy-looking bensin place, Penny steered north again into unknown territory. We were on the road to a series of traditional upland villages which had been tourist attractions before the tsunami and the earthquake.

We had climbed quite high into the hills when we reached a fork in the road and were unsure how to proceed. Turning right, we followed a narrowing stone street and all of a sudden found ourselves in a massive town square. We stopped abruptly, and a local fella quickly asked us to park our bike and walk.

We stood in a T junction. Three wide streets led away from us each paved with stone and lined with tall traditional Nias houses. These houses are timber, on stilts, slightly rounded, and have high, pointed, thatched roofs. Stone walls stood nearby – for the much-famed stone-jumping that a couple of local blokes offered to perform – and a series of stone tablets, apparently where dead bodies were laid in the past.

I can’t say much more about the village – locals swamped us urging us to buy souvenirs or visit their shop nearby. It was all a little desperate, and given we had neither cash nor camera, we offered our excuses politely and left as soon as we could without causing offence. I’d like to return one day soon, better prepared for the whole tourist experience.

The Gomo Track and bum suffering

On the way home I decided that we should take an alternate route via an inland town named Gomo. Sadly, I had imagined a road from Gomo to Gunung Sitoli – there was none. Gomo is a dead end town and we had to turn around and head back to Teluk Dalam. I won’t forget that in a hurry. None of this would have been a problem, though, had it not been for the two or three torturous and painful hours we spent on The Gomo Trail!

I’ve seen some pretty shitty roads in Nias, but the road to Gomo is something special: steep inclines, sunken asphalt, collapsed bridges, loose rocks, and the usual collection of livestock obstacles. We shared the driving, and each of us spent some time on foot while the other attempted to negotiate the evil road ahead of us.

There were some highlights, though, as the land we travelled through was pretty stunning. We crossed several wide rivers, flowing clear and clean down from the mountains north of us, often cascading over rocks. And in the upland area we entered a plateau where rice fields were planted either side of a river and hills rose in the distance. Truly beautiful.

Gomo was a non-descript little town, although I think we’d have been more aware of our surroundings had we not been bum suffering quite so much from the bumpy road. The news that we had to turn around and brave the trail again was met with resignation, but we opted to see it as an adventure and a funny story, so we pushed on in good spirits.

By the time we were cruising north along the coastal road once more, our arses were battered and sore. We were constantly shifting in our seats and had to stop a few times just to stretch our glutes! But we had taken on the Gomo Trail and beaten it. It had been a very Nias weekend.
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Aceh Besar

December 2006

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