So after leaving Bandaneira, we ended up Pulau Kei Kecil (Small Kei Island) – not exactly by plan, but as the result of a cancelled flight. By taking the Pelni passenger ship there, we were able to much more easily catch a flight back to Ambon, which was where we needed to head eventually. And so we got to spend a few days on another island, and enjoy a quiet, relatively secluded beach.
I didn’t really know what to expect, but as our taxi ride took us, first through the busy town of Tual, then along some long and well-sealed roads along a fairly barren landscape, I became more enthused as the small village roads turned into a sandy path. This was looking like the type of quiet escape that I could really enjoy!
We passed dozens of ‘pondok” – bamboo platforms that are used by locals when they come to visit the beach. I could just imagine how busy this place was on a Sunday – but lucky for us, it was the middle of the week, and aside from a handful of us tourists, the place was otherwise abandoned.
I can’t say that we did a lot on Kei Kecil during the two and a half days that we were there. Aside from one motorbike trip for a couple of hours, we mostly stayed close to the beach.
Just along from where we were staying was the local village who have recently turned to seaweed farming as a means of generating income. The seaweed is laid out to dry, and is later sold to processing plants to make agar. As you can imagine, it’s a bit smelly as it’s laid out to dry in the sun!
We had planned on a full-day motorbike trip to explore the wider island, but essentially lost half a day to general mucking around, and trying to organise a motorbike. In the end, I wasn’t too disappointed, as the roads were some of the most monontonous ones I’ve ridden on. And because the landscape was so barren, there wasn’t much in the way of shade which meant it was pretty hot riding along!
We did manage to ride the motorbikes to Bukit Masbait (Masbait Hill) -the highest hill on the island which offered stunning views, and had some rather interesting Christian religious statues.
At the top of the hill was a massive status of Jesus Christ. Climbing up the ladder to the top was one of the scariest things I’ve done. Why? Because it was fairly high up – and the ladder didn’t exactly look like it had been built to any acceptable Health and Safety Standards, and at the top, there was a small rail that came up to my shins – and that was all I had to hold me in. I ended up just sitting on my bum and scooting my way around. No way was I standing!
So – our time on Kei Kecil wasn’t quite part of our plans, but it ended up being a little side adventure that I enjoyed, just for the gorgeous beach and a bit of quiet time.
The sunsets weren’t too bad, either.
Accom: We stayed at Coaster Cottages (on Pasir Panjang) for 200,000rp per night plus 100,000rp each for meals. The food was good and plentiful for lunch and dinner although breakfasts were disappointing. The room had western toilet, mandi bath and fan
Getting there: The first class Pelni ticket was 425,000rp from Banda to Tual on the KM Tidar. Chartered bemo from the Tual port to Coaster Cottages was 150,000rp (shared between 4 people).