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A friendly island where we found huge bats, hunting sea eagles, and beautiful fishing boats

As we sailed into Sabang Bay on the island of Poulo Weh, a ten foot long Marlin cruised across our bows - the area is rich in sealife.

The local officials were very friendly although they told us that we were not allowed into harbour for 36 hours, as the President of Indonesia was arriving in town the next day and security would be tight to prevent any violence. The north of Sumatera is rather volatile at the moment ...  We anchored behind a nearby island during the President's visit, and returned to Sabang for three days once he had left.

Ma Huan's description of Poulo Weh is ...

"In the sea to the north west of Sumatera, there is a large flat-topped, steep mountain, which can be reached in half a day; its name is Mao mountain. On the west of this mountain is a great sea ... ships coming across this ocean from the est take in sail here, and use this mountain as a guiding mark.

In the shallow water, about twenty feet deep, at the side of the mountain there grows a marine tree. The people recover it and sell it as a valuable commodity. The largest trees are two feet high. At the top of the roots, there is a single large root as big as one's thumb; it is deep black like ink, and has a soft sheen like jade-stone. A little higher up it forks out into attractive fluttering branches. The large piece at the top of the roots can be cut into hat buttons and other such articles.

At the foot of this Mao mountain there is a resident population of twenty or thirty families. Each man styles himself a king; if you ask his name, he replies 'A-ku la-ch'a', 'i am in truth a king'. If you ask the next man, he says the same thing - it is most laughable."


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E-mail  Rex Warner rex @ dragonvoyage.com Magnus Ström (exBerglund) magnus @ dragonvoyage.com.
Last Updated 31/12/10 Ship communications