After all the running around I had already experienced in Indonesia, a nice relaxing week on Sabang beach sounded just about right. Clear blue skies, clearer turquoise water, and pale white sand. Maybe even a fruity tropical drink to sip on while I focused on doing next to nothing. Yep, this all sounded pretty good.

But, of course, it didn’t quite turn out that way…

After a quick overnight in Medan, I hopped aboard a speedy 1-hour Garuda flight and landed at the still under-construction airport on Pulau Weh island (referred to by the locals as Sabang). I had already booked a bungalow at Freddies Santai Sumurtiga, overlooking Sabang beach, so I quickly found a taxi driver who would take me there.

The drive was a short one, which is always the case here given that the island is only around 60 square miles. We soon pulled up along a sign for Freddies and, after handing the driver a few thousand rupiah, I was pointed down a long nondescript path.

Sabang Freddies Entrance SignSabang Freddies Entrance PathIt certainly wasn’t the friendliest of entrances I’ve come across during my travels. With rusty barbed wire, half-built concrete pillars, and scrawny chickens with their chicks darting around, I was beginning to expect the worst.

Sabang Entrance Shop ChickensI trepidatiously continued down the path, hoping with everything that I had that I hadn’t made some big mistake. If the conditions hadn’t been quite so warm and sunny, this would have seemed like the perfect setup for some cheeseball direct-to-dvd horror movie. Would I end up wandering through some abandoned slaughterhouse, only to find a menacing meat-hook wielding maniac who’s house had long ago been burned down by a far too curious travel blogger?

Not quite.

Instead, the path ended, and I was presented with a sight that was truly stellar.

Sabang Beach Freddies ExteriorThere sat Freddies, directly overlooking Sabang beach as promised. In fact, to say that the scene was as-advertised would be an understatement. It was more like I had stepped directly into the advertisement and was now living in the type of hyper-real paradise you see in Corona beer advertisements.

After a round of quick introductions with the manager, I was shown my bungalow. It was a cute little thatched hut, complete with ceiling fan, a full bathroom, and flushing toilet. Not too shabby really, especially considering the cost is only 300,000 rupiah (about $22 USD) per night.

But it wasn’t until I stepped out onto the balcony and saw the view that I realized how much of an absolute steal this place really is.

Sabang Beach Porch ViewAll off this for only a bit more than 20 bucks a night. Insane really.

By the time I had unpacked everything and settled in, it was time for dinner. I walked over to the beautiful open air lodge where, for around 65,000 IDR (about $5 USD), the cooks prepared a multi-course feast from local and western recipes.

Sabang Beach Freddies Looking UpAfter polishing off way too much delicious beef rendang, I slowly waddled back to my bungalow and immediately flopped into bed. As the sound of waves crashing along Sabang beach washed over me, I couldn’t help but think I was in for an amazing week of pure relaxation.

Sabang Freddies Bungalow InteriorThat dream ended as soon as I woke up the next day and realized that I couldn’t breath out of my nose. I was completely stuffed up with some kind of gunk that resembled instant oatmeal mixed with glue. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t chisel through to get even the smallest of openings for air.

To make matters worse, I had completely broken out into a full-on flop sweat. Whatever was inside of my body was pushing every once of fluid through my pores and it just wouldn’t stop.

How did this happen?! Was it the cold dusty air from Mount Rinjani, finally having its revenge? Or maybe I picked something up from the Bukit Lawang wildlife?

Whatever it was, there was little else I found myself able to do other than just lay in bed, blow my nose, and futilely attempt to keep liquids coming in as fast as they were seeping out.

I was a pretty disgusting really.

Before I knew it, my weeklong stay on the island was up, and I had done next to nothing. On my final day, I peeled myself off my mattress, put on some shorts, and shuffled out of my bungalow. There was just no way that I wasn’t going to at least walk down Sabang beach at least once.

Sabang Freddies Beachfront ChairsThe beach itself is beautiful and completely free from the usual tourist hustle and bustle you’d normally expect from a small tropical spot like this. In fact, outside of me and a few of the local fishermen in their colorful boats, there were only a handful of other people swimming, sunning, or snorkeling.

Sabang Beach Rock WavesSabang Beach Fisherman BoatsThere are even a few old crumbling bunkers scattered about from when the Japanese had occupied the island during WWII.

Sabang Beach Old BunkerI returned back to my bungalow, thankful that I had taken the quick stroll but also beginning to feel worse for wear. It was about time to check-in for my flight the next day, so I opened up my email, only to be hit over the head with the following subject line:

URGENT: Flight Cancelled – Sabang to Medan

Perfect. Now, instead of having a nice relaxing morning at Freddies before my a mid-day flight, I had to take the early morning ferry to nearby Banda Aceh and then catch a different plane to Medan.

I’d eventually get to where I needed to be, but my nice breezy 2 hour trip had now increased by 8 hours. What a bummer.

Sabang beach really was everything I had hoped it would be – a perfect little inexpensive paradise. In this case it was me that didn’t live up to expectations, which is how it goes sometimes I guess. Oh well…

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