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Islamic heart of East-Sumbawa

The city of Bima has a bad reputation with foreign travellers. It is said to be crowded with islamic fanatics which hate foreigners. As usual in eastern Indonesia, appearance is fake. Admitting that the local rules for what concerns privaty and politeness are somewhat different than those of the West. In the West it's nothing strange if a woman doesn't wear a bra; in Bima even a prostitute doesn't even dare to undress like that. There are some stories (from the early 1980's) that 'indecently' dressed Western women were stoned, but a lot has changed since the huge numbers of tourists, on their way to Komodo, make a stop in Bima. This doesn't mean that they can wear whatever they want. It's probably accepted, but why would you insult your hosts and hostesses?

Busy seaport

The first impressions of Bima, a small and busy city which is full of horses and card - nowadays named benhur - don't envite you to stay. You can visit one of the kampongs of Raba, especially Ntobu and Rada Dompu, where the women produce ikat-fabrics on traditional weaving machines. Think about it to agrue about your price.

You can also take a benhur to the seaport for a nice price. Maybe you can see an islamic girl playing volleyball in her traditional clothing: long skirts and the rimpu, a scarf over the head and shoulders. The strong Muhammadyah-system still demands the white rimpu, but nowadays they prefer a variety of colors. The girl with the yellow scarf is nobility; only daughters of sultans can ware a green one.

The seaport usually is one big business; there are nice wooden ships and big metal ones. In the dry season the seaport is home to numerous blue bags of sals, destination Kalimantan or Jawa, and every once in a while you will se waterbuffalo's and cows waiting for transport to Surabaya and Jakarta. Much food is also shipped to Jawa: garlick, soybeans and especially shallots, the main export product of the district of Bima. Other export products are dried seaweed, made into agar-agar, and carragene, young bandang which is put in ricefields, and huge amounts of dried squids.

Palace museum

The palace of the sultan of Bima, built in 1927 and restaurated in 1973, nowadays is a museum. It's less interesting in the architectural way than the wooden palace in Sumbawa Besar. Above all, it's kind of sad because lack of money. The best objects (which are really good) are kept by the family of the sultan, because the museum can't guarantee the safety of the very expensife objects. It's not easy, but maybe the manager of the museum, a family member of the sultan, can arrange a trip to see those objects. Especially watch the diamond-plaited golden crown and the nice collection of knives. Dances are also performed in the palace museum; maybe it's possible to attend a rehersal in the late afternoon, or a performance on a Sunday.

Sultans graves

The grave of the first sultan, Abdul Kahir, which ruled two times in the period 1620 until 1640, is located on top of a hill southeast of the city. The simplicity of the islamic architecture is a sharp contrast with the beauty of the holy religious objects. The grave is covered with a half round stone structure.
The hill, Dana Taraha, offers a nice view over Bima, especially in the early morning and the late afternoon. A road from the busstation brings you to the foot of the hill. You can also get there by taking the footpath which starts in front of the Parewa Hotel.

Picture: Islamic dress

However they are located at a less important place, the graves of sultan Nuruddin and his islamic teacher Umar al-Bantami are much more interesting. The abandoned graves are located on a dusty islamic graveyard northwest of the city, besides an unpaved sideroad of Jl. Sulawesi, behind a school. A rusty fence of barbed wire can't hold the cattle outside. Both big graves are built in the shape of a pyramid on a raised square base, and they are covered with a roof.

Kolo: fishery village

Kolo is a small fishery village along the eastern short of the Bay of Bima (Teluk Bima), just north of the city. The reef just off the coast is a reasonable place for snorkling. It is said that this place is also a good place for snorkling during the wet season. Furthermore there is nothing special about the village, but the trip offers a nice view over the bay.

Walk in Bima past the graves of Nuruddin and his teacher, Jl. Sulawesi, across a bridge and walk north. The road runs along ricefields and then follows the eastern short of the Teluk Bima. From the low hills you have a nice view over the bay, with Gunung Soromandi across the bay. Five kilometer from Bima is Songgala Beach Club, which is popular among the local elite.

You can also take the small passenger boat which leaves from Bima once or twice a day. The trip is cheap, but takes a long time. You can also charter a boat on the spot to explore Teluk Bima.

Findings in Wadu Paa

Wadu Paa ('stone inscriptions') is a hinduist archeological location at the western side of Teluk Bima, across Kolo. The inscriptions can be found near the village of Sowa.

In fact there are two locations near Wadi Paa: Kompleks 1 and Kompleks 2. A servant has the key of a door in a fence of thorny bushes. Kompleks 1, besides a ricefield, is a dissappointing, graffity covered rock with a smal althar and some decorative inscriptions. The graffity are in Indonesian, Buginese and Chinese.

Kompleks 2 is fifty meters ahead, just above the waterlevel. This location is more interesting and untouched. The excavation was done in 1984 by some Balinese archeologists. The rock has several vague but clear images in relief, among them Ganesha, the elephant God. The niche created in the rock probably contains the main althar. The still not decoded text contains Pallava- or Sanscrite characters from the 7th century.

Just off the coast, a fresh water source ends up in the sea. Probably that was the reason for the strick hinduist merchants to found their shrine here.

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