Staying with Maslan and his wife in their home will give you true insight into the lives of the people on this remote island. It's the kind of place where you have to take baths in the local stream, and while you're doing so, turtles swim past you and you can spot monkeys jumping from tree to tree on the river banks. Maslan seemed to make his living from farming and selling durians, a large spiky fruit that is highly prized by Indonesians and is considered by the Chinese to be an aphrodisiac but is also banned in places like hotels and subways because of its horrible smell. Maslan offered us some of his crop, and I have to say it tastes about as good as it smells. He pointed out every durian tree we passed, offered them to us time after time no matter how often we rejected them and generally seemed to think they were the best thing since sliced bread. Or, since they don't really have bread in this country, since fried rice.
Do be aware that Maslan speaks very little English, so unless you speak Bahasa Indonesia your conversations will be limited. Our only complaint about Maslan was that we couldn't get rid of him. We planned for a day at the beach, and were really looking forward having a deserted strip of sand all to ourselves, until Maslan insisted on coming with us, and then made us pay him extra for being our guide! Our time in Lingga was kind of dictated by Maslan, who would inform us when to eat and when to sleep; he even ordered us to take an afternoon nap! He's a very interesting character; our stay in Lingga certainly wouldn't have been the same without him.
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