Waikabubak - main town of western Sumba

WELCOME to Waikabubak


Located on the cool Loli plateau in the centre of West Sumba,
Waikabubak is
.... a spidery town spread out along the roads between rice-fields and green fields
.... accommodation centre for the western half of the island
.... transport hub with asphalt roads heading north, south, east and west
.... centre of hilltop megalithic world of Tana Lolina
.... where people live in two worlds, ancient and modern side by side

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The traditional hilltop villages and the modern town of Waikabubak live side by side, as two separate worlds locked in intimate embrace.
Once this was a place where limestone hills jutting up from the flat land of the valley floor were chosen as ideal places to build fortified villages. So Waikabubak became a densely populated traditional centre long before the modern world intruded.

Now the busy shops and offices and houses of the modern town are bult on the flat land and line up along roads that wind their way between the limestone hills. Perched up above the town in their ancient hilltop locations, the thatched-roof, bamboo-platform houses with hand-hewn timbers are still there in the middle of town, looking down on the modern world below.

Most remarkable is the way that the village people still continue a subsistence lifestyle that might well have disappeared many years ago. Once these villages were themselves the centre of wealth and power - now shifted to the roadside buildings down below.

Yet there they are, still comfortably at home on their ancient hilltop sites.
It is clearly a very robust way of life to have survived to the present day.
But how do the old ways still live on? As a living museum? As a neglected, under-developed corner of the town? As a clever adaptation to changing times?

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SILAHKAN DUDUK - Please take a seat on our veranda !

But first let us lay out a mat for you to sit on
and please accept a plate of betel nuts and sirih peppers
... of course you should sit cross-legged if you can
... and yes, you can learn how to enjoy a chew of betel and sirih.

But if this is your first time, just make yourself comfortable,
... you may lean against the pillar, or dangle your feet off the edge of the veranda
... and once you are comfortable we will roast some coffee beans and
     brew you some really fresh strong aromatic local coffee.

Then you can browse a few of our other pages ...

[ click any photo to enlarge]

[ click any photo to enlarge]

[ click any photo to enlarge]

David Mitchell,
30 Oct 2008, 06:31