Desperate Surfer's Wife

  >  DSW Stories   >  A trip to Mentawai Indonesia

Do you remember Agatha Christie’s Evil under the Sun?

If you never got around to reading the book, you’ll certainly have stumbled on the film, perhaps on a Monday evening in August, somewhere, on the broadcasting system.

Well, in any case to make a long story short, let me point out the salient moments and you can add your own healthy imagination to complete the scenario.

An island, isolated, the sun beating down, almost uninhabited with a smattering of tourists all accommodated in the only available hotel, nautical miles away from the rest of the world!

Holidaymakers who do not know each other at first, arriving from worlds miles apart, speaking languages even further so who end up for sharing for some weeks meals, chats, toilets, intimacy and secrets!

Obviously, in such a scenario you always have

– Good looking guys, real sportsmen with the tan that goes with the role

– A couple of femmes fatales who go out of their way to maintain about them an aura of mystery

– Old age pensioners who listen in to any and all conversations and never seem to mind their own business

– The hotelier, of course who weave their way through an impossible request and a possibly undeserved compliant.

Right, please bear these opening words in mind as you read on and we come to us.

Do you know where the Mentawais are?

OK, let me keep it simple.

Do you know where Italy is?

Right, the Mentawais are three days travel from Italy and more precisely in Indonesia.

But if you think that Indonesia is far away, then believe me: the Mentawais are beyond remote.

You already know that we don’t love comfortable trips, that for us a trip that involves only one flight is like catching a local bus

(if you live in Rome, sometimes catching a plane is less involved than using public transportation. But I am not her to moan about Italian transportation, am I?)

So, let’s get back to comfortable travelling and briefly sum up our trip from Rome, to the island of Nyang-Nyang.

FIRST LEG – Roma/Dubai

Well, guess what? For once, we travelled in comfort. The Emirate’s flight left on time and I also got to enjoy a couple of good films. So, for us all fine but a wee bit boring since we aren’t used to meals being served on time, we weren’t tired, yet in fact there was a general air of contentment.

Manu had an aisle seat and could get up whenever he chose to, without bothering anyone in the process….in short, we were as happy as a clam!

SECOND LEG – Dubai/Jakarta

In Dubai we hooked up with our fellow traveler Filippo, who will end up earning the nickname PAPPALILLO!

Things were beginning to go as we were accustomed to: it was early morning and we were getting hungry and perhaps a wee bit tired, too.

Did I say perhaps? No, each of us was beginning to show his colors and the characters of the plot were beginning to be defined even if their final form would only be so done on the ISLAND!

In any case, we had survived the first moments of excitement well, after meeting up with Filippo and we were already enjoying the typical surfer’s camaraderie and falling into the use of the lingo.

  • Did you check the forecast mate?!
  • It seems the sweel isn’t pumping up yet
  • Yea but just a cuople of days and the period is gonna grow up around 20 secs, the pattern is clear!
  • Ultraconsinstent!!!
  • Can you believe we’re going to surf in Mentawai?!
  • Unbelievable dude!
  • Ultraconsinstent!!!
  • Check out my brand new gps watch, It tracks you all the rides and gives stats form the session
  • Come on let’s have a look at the latest updated forecast
  • When did you surf last time?!
  • Yesterday, and you?
  • The day before
  • I really can’t wait to surf some of the best waves in the world, unbelievable mate!!!
  • How many board did you bring with you so?!
  • Three, but I already realize I just have two Zinco sticks, would they be enough?!
  • No worries dude I’ve got five!
  • Wow now I’m seriously tired!
  • Can you believe we’re going to surf in Mentawai?!
  • Unbelievable,m, but soon we’ll be there!

Mind boggled by these Nobel prize conversations we continued our journey.

In all honesty, even the second leg went rather well. If you discount the fact that Emanuele – my husband – abandoned me after take off, to look for a more comfortable seat, and that I was left with Filippo to enjoy a series of B rated movies!

So, may I make a small suggestion for when you are on a long and crowded flight?

Make sure to have along a surgical-mask!

Would be infectors are all over the place, coughing, sneezing, touching glasses, the seat next to yours. A surgical mask might not make you popular, but better unpopular than diseased, no?

Well, I must say again that the second leg went well all things considered, despite the fact that we were losing our shine. After all, we had been travelling for over 22 hours!

THIRD LEG – Jakarta/Jakarta

So, if you’ve followed me so far you won’t to miss out on a night in the Djakarta Airport hotel managed by TOPOTELS J

To economize, we had decided to share a room that had a double and 2 single beds, with a view on the runway!

Well, all I can say is that the night went by rather quickly, and thanks to the fact that we were literally INSIDE the airport, we checked in with Garuda in record time, for the final Djakarta-Padang leg.

FOURTH LEG – Jakarta/Padang

A piece of cake: only a 90 minute crossing! You’ll probably all be thinking: terrific, you’re finally there!

What??? Are you kidding me???

Pretzel’s Mania!

E come se non bastasse trovare nel bel mezzo dell’Indonesia una chicca calorica del genere…avete mai provato il CHAI LATTE di Starbucks?!? Beh…se amate la cannella e le bevande calde e cremose, non fatelo. Potrebbe crearvi dipendenza. Se poi trovate un pusher di Chai Latte laddove mai avreste creduto, la goduria è triplicata! Ma evitate di fare un errore basilare, della serie: si dai, mi prendo sta bomba calorica ma alla domanda Sugar? rispondo assolutamente NO, ostentando un sorriso velatamente oltraggiato. Stai peccando di gola?! Amico, fallo fino in fondo.

Uno dei motivi per visitare spesso gli Stati Uniti? CHAI LATTE! E non cadete nella tentazione di chiamarlo Chai Milk. Gli anglofoni non hanno la benché minima idea di cosa significhi Latte (separato dal Chai…), né credo si siano mai posti la domanda…quindi, se cercate di esibirvi in un virtuosismo linguistico del genere: “One Chai Milk, please…” otterrete soltanto sguardi atterriti e un alternativo: Chai Tea?!  Non mollate al primo tentativo, tenete duro e non cedete alla tazza di Tè! Prima o poi il barista capirà, mai perdere la speranza.

Faccia da CHAI LATTE…

P.s. non ho preso sponsorizzazioni né dalla zietta Anna, né dal caro Starby. Ma viaggiate voi per tre giorni, mangiando solo grazie al catering di bordo e poi ne riparleremo…essere contagiato dal facile entusiasmo diventa cosa semplice.

Dove eravamo?!? Si, io felice quanto un procione affamato lasciato libero nella cucina di un ristorante stellato, insieme ai miei due compagni di viaggio, in procinto di prendere il terzo aereo (senza doccia da quasi 40 ore, che aprire i bagagli per lavarsi, cambiarsi e dormire al Topotel, ci era sembrato sfacciatamente blasfemo).

Stavolta dai, una passeggiata di volo. Solo un’ora e mezza di traversata. Atterrati a Padang voi vi chiederete: caspita a questo giro sarete arrivati!!?? MA DE CHE AHOOOO!! Ma ti pare??

FIFTH LEG – Padang/Padang

Strani figuri si aggirano al ritiro bagagli.

A guy called Martha, the local rep, was at Padang apt to meet & greet us.

He could keep up a conversation in English, was quite polite and helpful. He was there to take us to our hotel.

It was raining cats and dogs in Pedang, but you can’t have it all.

And when you think you’ve seen it all, on stage appears the unexpected Mentaiwai-esque character: The Frenchman.

Well mannered, polite, silent, yet friendly and, like us, on his way to the Island – more about him later.

An hours trip by taxi and we were in our hotel. We immediately took advantage of the situation to dive into the luxury of a Mercure, the best hotel in Padang!

Not that it was actually luxurious, it really had more to do with us wanting to boast that we had slept in the best hotel in Padang, without having to share a room!!!!!

Now, let me talk a bit about the accommodation, otherwise what kind of a travel-blogger am I??

The rates were really great: a double room with dinner and massage, I think came to about $87.00.

Let me keep it at this since if I get too accurate with my travel descriptions, you could get used to it and later be disappointed, you never know.


90 minutes of massage, a so called couples massage, although this actually means that Manu and I shared the same room, not the same masseur.

Another tip? Am I giving you too many???

If you are asked by an Indonesian masseur: soft or strong? If you want to show that you are a man of the world, then answer: strong. But bear in mind that this could lead you to having to beg the woman massaging you to let go of your calf, securely held in a strangle-hold!

Remember though, when you beg, it’s already too late to do anything about it, other than suffer and look like a fool!


Soups, spring rolls, various assorted hors d’oeuvre. Fantastic. Than you discover that they have würstels in the MieGoreng and that is just NOT on!

NIGHT AT MERCURE. Zzzzzzzz  ??

SIXTH LEG – Padang/Siberut

Let me keep it simple, for once. Transfer by car – with Martha – from the hotel to the port, where, enter stage left, the fourth character of this tale, Guillaume the Frenchman, enters the story.

We could not have had a ferry included in our relaxing itinerary, no?

Fast Ferry, made in Indonesia

I am still attempting to remove the memory of the long hours of the trip, but doing so brings out the crow’s feet as I think, and we were on the fast ferry!!!

But who am I, to complain about a direct Indonesian ferry transfer inclusive of -15 degree A/C, B class local movies in original language with no sub-titles on plasma screens!?

I wish to add at this point that I have a surfer as a companion in life and that I move in a parallel world when compared to regular couples. Add to this that Manu is also unique in his world and therefore if and when we travel with a friend of his, I end up spending more time with the third party than with him!

In short, Filippo and I spent most of the ferry trip watching movies on our computer.

Emanuele moaned and tried to get some sleep, a thing that eludes him regularly.

Guillaume, pods in his ears and with his gaze searching, out of the porthole, towards infinity (and in any case lost to the world surrounding him), completed the party and this is how we spent the entire ferry trip.

On the other hand, in a good novel, the Frenchman is always the one who is a bit distant from the rest, so I suppose it’s only fair to say that Guillaume was true to his character. Bravo Guillaume!

SEVENTH LEG – Siberut/Nyang Nyang

I have chosen to forget, hence not speak about the 2 hours spent waiting in I don’t even remember which port. But then again without this wait, everything would have gone too well and far too quickly to ride the ferry to our final destination, Siberut. Our dream Island!

Round 6oth hour of travel


Welcome to BENG BENG!

Once tossed the bags in our room, we headed off to enjoy our passions.

  • Pasta with pesto and seafood for me
  • First ride on the waves for the lads.