The Sabang government is working hard to make it easier for tourists to reach the attractions of Weh island. One example we saw was the scraping of the road to the Jaboi Geothermail Spot. And when we visited the Pria Laot waterfall, people were busy surfacing the access road.
When we first passed by we wondered “What are they cooking there?” It turned out they were making asphalt by mixing tar and sand on a wood fire. Very hard and hot work indeed, as Helen found out when she tried a hand at it.
The road being surfaced was only the first stretch to the waterfall. After perhaps 200 m the road narrows down to a concrete footpath, also then under construction. And the last metres to the fall we had to clamber over rocks.
Directions: At Pria Laot turnoff from the main road.
Nowadays the Peune Edenn Resort on Rubiah Island gets its water from a well. The bathroom reservoir in your bungalow is filled by a pump.
But in colonial times, when Pulau Rubiah was used as a quarantine location for pilgrims returning from Mecca, the island had another water supply. We found the remains in the forest. Rain water running down a valley was collected in a reservoir. Pipes ran from the reservoir half a km to the Karantina Haji building.
Directions: From Peune Edenn Resort walk north past the Melinjo bungalow until you find an open spot full of ferns. Here take the path left crossing over to the other side of the island. Halfway along this path you pass the derelict water reservoir.
In colonial times, when Pulau Rubiah was used as a quarantine location for pilgrims returning from Mecca, the island must have been more developed than it is now. One remnant of those times are the overgrown paths that led in a long loop between the northern and southern ends of Pulau Rubiah. At least four east-west connections joined the sides of the loop.
A few stretches starting at the Peune Edenn Resort have been surfaced with concrete. But most of the paths can only be retraced because they were lined with concrete blocks on both sides. That is how Theo found his way, sometimes pushing through thorny bushes or making a detour around a fallen tree.
At the northern end of Pulau Rubiah one is very close to the smallest island of the Sabang group, Pulau Seulako. The distance is perhaps only one km.
When we were in Australia in 2005/6 we saw a dead kangaroo (traffic victim) before we had seen a live one. On Weh island monitor lizards perhaps are the most common wild animals - and we also saw a traffic victim before we saw a live one.
On Rubiah island we saw two monitor lizards in the wild. The previous occupants of our blue bungalow (see Peune Edenn resort) had thrown their rubbish from the balcony (yes, Indonesian tourists do that!) and the edible remains among the rubbish attracted a lizard. For us a chance to make some good shots of it.
In Lombok too we chanced to photograph monitors, but we only got them from behind, because as soon as one comes close they run away. We saw another one like that elsewhere in the forest of Rubiah island.
The Peune Edenn resort lies on the east coast of Rubiah Island. When you cross over to the jetty on the opposite coast, you pass by one of the wonders of the island, the Karantina Haji building. When pilgrims to Mecca still traveled by sea and might return home carrying a contagious disease, Rubiah Island was considered remote enough to quarantine them.
The building now stands empty in overgrown surroundings. Yet it is in good repair, the roof seemed to have been renewed recently. We found the doors open, allowing animals to occupy the rooms.
We wonder, when tourism to the island picks up, whether they will not make a small hotel out of the building with minimal cost.
Address: Pulau Rubiah, Iboih, Sabang.
Directions: From Peune Edenn resort take the concrete path south and then turn east uphill. In a bend of the path you see the building behind trees.