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Lumba Lumba Land

Every now and again you get so busy and tired that posts and stories slip through the cracks. After the rainy season began to let up back in March 2012, I started traveling out of Jakarta nearly every chance I got. My Indonesian tutor, Niar, was excited about a group trip she had signed up for in May to go dolphin watching off of Sumatra (see map here). A few days before the trip, the scheduling gods smiled down on me and the last spot on the trip went to me.

I first learned the Indonesian word for dolphin, lumba lumba, when I was on a rickety, old wooden boat heading out to the Thousand Islands off of Jakarta. I’d edited and read stories about these types of boat sinking and people drowning, so I grabbed a life vest as soon as I got on board. After about 20 minutes of travel, the boat stopped unexpectedly. Then an old, wizened looking sailor with a cigarette dangling from his mouth grabbed a diving mask and jumped out of the boat. A few minutes later he popped up and gave a thumbs up and the motor was restarted. This happened another few times on our trip and didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Then all of a sudden, my friend Dylan shouted “lumba, lumba” and the entire boat shifted to the right hand side to get a look out of the window. I caught my first glance of dolphins in the wild while leaning as far to the left as I could hoping that my weight would keep the boat afloat. So, months later I jumped at the chance to travel with a group of strangers, many of whom became new friends, to Kiluan Bay off of Sumatra to go proper dolphin watching. I didn’t write this blog for sometime because I was busy writing a piece about the trip for a magazine. Read my piece in Southeast Asia Globe magazine here, it’s called My Pod.

Forward, Row

We left Jakarta in the evening and didn’t reach Kiluan Bay until the next evening. From Jakarta, we drove to the edge of Java where we boarded a ferry to cross to Sumatra. From our landing in Sumatra we drove to Kiluan passing shrimp farms and cacao and coffee fields along the way. Then we boarded one final boat to get out onto Pulau Kelapa in Kiluan Bay. But the views were well worth it:

Lumba Lumba



The drive was interesting because we stopped in the middle of nowhere to stretch our legs. Some of the boys went to kick a soccer ball around with locals and quickly realized none of them spoke Indonesian, they hadn’t learned it yet in school.


Long Journey


Pink Sand

Early in the morning we got into traditional wooden boats, that don’t look very sea-worthy but really are, and headed out on open waters to spot the pods of dolphins.

Out to Sea

On the Sea

It was incredible how close we got to the dolphins.

So Close

The rest of our trip was spent snorkeling and exploring the island:




The Beach

The trip was especially fun because I got to meet other foreigners living in Jakarta as well as Indonesians. It was a fun group of people and we even had an Icelandic model and ballerina in the group:

Strike a Pose

Pink Sky

Orange Sky

It was interesting for me to visit a new island in Indonesia. The architecture was unlike homes I had seen in other parts of Indonesia:



Before heading out to Kiluan Bay, we passed a small village, Kampung Bali. Our guide, Innay, told us that the residents had moved to this area from Bali. It was interesting to see Balinese architecture on Sumatra, it just shows how diverse Indonesia is.

Kampung Bali

Before heading back onto the ferry, we stopped in Lampung and had a Padang lunch:

Padang Food

We also visited the lookout point in Lampung. I have no idea why these statues were there:


It was smooth sailing back to Jakarta, but after two solid hours of dangdut music being blasted on the ferry, I was ready to close my eyes and imagine myself back on the white sand beaches of Kiluan.

To Java

Getting There: Talk to Innay of Zabrila Travel, Site: Email: Phone: 0878.0999.9842.

Shopping: Oleh Oleh store: Yen Yen (Jalan Ikan Kakap No. 86 Bandar Lampung), a good place to buy Sumatran coffee at low prices.

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