The Bajau people of Wakatobi national park in Southern Indonesia are perhaps the most smiley people I have ever encountered, but then again… I haven’t met many people.
Three months ago I traveled to Indonesia, embarking on a South East Asian odyssey. This was my very first ‘big’ adventure. 18 years old, with a bag so heavy that it made me walk like a new born calf, I set off with a friend, to a corner of the world very different from my own.
48 hours later we had made it to Jakarta. The blast of heat wasn’t the most comforting element of my first few moments off a steamy, sweaty airplane. Forget that, I was in Jakarta! The roads alit with red and orange lights, car horns of course, the soundtrack to an Asian city.
We were quickly bustled onto a bus, and off we went, to a hotel for three hours sleep, until we would be carted off to our next plane journey.
The flight came and went, and after a bottom numbing four hour journey in a small, rattling van; finally we were in La Bundo-Bundo. For a tiny village slap bang in the Indonesian rainforest, there were a lot of people. It seemed like the whole nation was residing in this quirky little village. The ‘high street’ was a dirt track, with odd patches, that looked like efforts at a smoother surface.
My house, which I shared with another girl, was interesting. The living area was dominated by some odd electric pink, plastic chairs. Strangely, they had figures of half-naked dancing women painted onto them. My host family spoke not a word of English, so I never attempted to find out the origins of these mysterious furnishings.
The whole family, in fact, were very timid. But it never seemed to matter when they’d deliver a smile that could light up the earth, at every encounter.
After two weeks of intense trekking through the jungle, checking traps for monitor lizards and small creatures, I was more than ready to migrate to Hoga Island, where I’d be staying for the remaining two weeks.