13 November, 2023

By Barry Clarke

See Indonesia through Indonesian Eyes” is what it says on the packet, and that is what you get. Having lived in the Malay Archipelago for 32 years and having travelled widely throughout Indonesia for business and pleasure. The decision to join not one, but two SeaTrek Sailing Adventures was easy. I join the Seatrek Super Trip. What better way to explore islands off the beaten track, especially those in the Maluku and West Papua region. 

The sea-faring people of Maluku once used their kora kora boats for raiding and defence. But they are now just used for sport and special occasions. I and a couple of other SeaTrekers jumped at the chance to paddle in a boat as part of the farewell ceremony for the Ombak Putih’s departure from the Banda Islands. 

Paddling Between The Volcanic island of Banda

One of the crew gave up his position in the kora kora and passed me his paddle. The experience of paddling was very different to that of the last time I was in a boat so low on the water. Rowing bow in an 8+ over 40 years ago. The paddlers in front of me seemed as keen to soak me as to propel the boat at some speed through the channel between the volcanic islands of Banda.

I wore my “Feel the Rhythm” T-shirt, but I think something got lost in translation. There were moments of instability. Especially when the drummer suddenly picked up the pace and the crew responded with even more splashing around. I started to focus on the paddler in front of me and anticipate his movements. We settled into an even rhythm, easily outpacing the Ombak Putih, then circling her as she prepared to leave the Banda Islands for our next adventure. 

The Kora Kora Paddle From The Trip

The paddle that I used was given to me, and it is my favourite souvenir from the trip. I will be mounting it on a wall at home – displaying all the signatures of the Ombak Putih crew and fellow travellers. The shared experience of paddling at pace in the kora kora that day was one of the highlights among so many during our time in Indonesia.