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Adventure in the Sunda Seas

Date: 30 August 1938
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Copyright: © Australian National Maritime Museum
Object Name: Newspaper clipping
Object No: ANMS0542[028]
Related Place:Sunda, Selat,

User Terms

    Article in German includes: 'I arrived in the port of Probolinggo three days after leaving Surabaya. The western monsoon put in a final appearance: it was raining heavily day and night. There was no shelter whatsoever from the gusts of rain in the Madura Straits. Any sleep was out of the question due to attacks by swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. So I was more than happy when I was warmly welcomed in the port by a compatriot and was able to catch up on sleep at his house....'
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Adventure in the Sunda Seas

    Primary title: Abenteuer in den Sunda-See

    • Berlin News Tuesday, 30 August 1938 Adventure in the Sunda Seas Encounters on a journey in a collapsible boat by Oskar Speck Oskar Speck set out on his journey in a collapsible boat from Ulm in May 1932. It was to take him as far as Ceylon. Speck reached Karachi (India) in mid-December 1934, Mangalore on the Malabar Coast in April 1935, and Colombo in May. Since the trip had been going so well that far, he decided to continue it to Australia. In January 1936 Speck was in Calcutta, in December in Batavia on Java. In March 1937 he continued his journey.. In October he had an unwelcome encounter with some violent natives on the island of Lakor. They attacked him in his boat at night, bashed him up and robbed him. The “Berlin News” reported these events at the time. Speck was badly injured and was treated in various hospitals on Ambon and Surabaya for months. We wrote to him, inviting him to spend his time waiting to continue his journey by writing down his adventures for our readers. As soon as he felt better, Speck started working on this welcome assignment. He describes his journey from the moment when he left Surabaya in spring 1937 and set out for Australia. I arrived in the port of Probolinggo three days after leaving Surabaya. The western monsoon put in a final appearance: it was raining heavily day and night. There was no shelter whatsoever from the gusts of rain in the Madura Straits. Any sleep was out of the question due to attacks by swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. So I was more than happy when I was warmly welcomed in the port by a compatriot and was able to catch up on sleep at his house. The next morning I was back on track; the weather was beautiful now. The sun shone down from a cloudless sky, and when a favourable wind sprung up and I was able to set up my full rigging of three and a half square metres, the dismay from the previous days was quickly forgotten. Just before sunset I landed near a large fishing village. I was able to pull up my boat onto the beautiful sandy beach. Just a few minutes after my landing, the whole village had crowded around me. While I was busy preparing my meal, this didn’t worry me too much, but when it was getting dark and the natives started to collect firewood for a bonfire, I thought it was a wise thing to do to send for the Kepala-Kampong (the village chief). I explained to him that I was tired and wanted to sleep, asking him to order his people to leave me alone. He was happy to comply and [illegible] after a few minutes I was alone. [Photograph of some natives in a village with the caption:] Cheerful and idyllic scene at a market in an island town During the night I was woken up a few times by some curious Chinamen – they exist in every Javanese village. Since I was used to this kind of disruption, I had a very refreshing sleep. In the morning, there was a big weekly market in the village. I went there in order to buy a few pieces of fruit. The Kepala-Kampong accompanied me, making sure the natives did not take advantage of me. Any larger village often has market-day twice a week. The farmers from the interior go there to sell their chickens, rice, corn and fruit. From the money they make they might buy some fabric for a new sarong from the Chinamen, some tobacco, salt or some dried fish [a few lines illegible] …. In order to chat to their heart’s content. Apart from some proper stalls there also are many natives just squatting there, and all they are selling might be a meagre chicken, two or three eggs, some coconuts or a handful of dried fish: all of these products which hardly justify the many hours it often takes to get to the market. I wanted to buy a medium size bunch of bananas from a little Javanese woman. The following conversation ensued: “How much do you want for the bunch of bananas?” – “All of them?” – “Yes, the whole bunch.” – She then threw a helpless glance at the bunch of bananas and came back with this unexpected answer: “ I can’t sell them all to you.” - ”But you came here in order to sell your bananas at the market” – An even more helpless glance, and then she replied: ”If you buy them all, what am I supposed to stay here at the market for?” I ended up buying thirty golden bananas paying ten cents for them, which caused the young girl great joy. The Javanese farmer leads a quiet life and not even the prospect of profit will make him change his lifestyle. He can’t see why he should work more that what he needs to for his modest living. And yet he is brilliant at appearing to be hard-working in some cases. To spend a day or two at the market without wanting to buy or sell anything at all would constitute laziness. If he doesn’t have any money to buy anything, and nothing to sell either, he just simply cuts down a coconut or two in the evening before market-day and sets out on his way, often before midnight, in order to arrive early the next morning. He doesn’t really count on selling his coconuts at all. He sits there with his coconuts all day, staring at the colourful comings and goings, or listening to the latest village gossip. When the market is over, he cuts up his coconuts, eats up one of them himself, distributes the rest to his mates, and returns to his hut and his rice paddies, totally satisfied with how the day went. After finishing my purchases, I said good-bye to the Kepala-Kampong and continued my journey.. One day later I saw the island of Bali. The straits of Bali, separating this paradise of an island from Java, are not even 10km wide at their narrowest point. During the times of the full and the new moon, there is a strong current of up to fifteen kilometres per hour. I crossed at a spot where the distance was about thirty kilometres and the current therefore less. I still drifted a fair way and landed in a small bay, quite exhausted. After spending some time resting, I started looking around a bit. [illegible] there was a coconut plantation and at its end there were a couple of huts, their evenness betraying the fact that it must be a European plantation. I picked up my water container and started making my way there. The narrow path suddenly turned into a wide, well-maintained road, at the end of which there was a large house made of wood. The house was certainly not built in European style, but not in the style of the natives, either. My surprise was boundless, when I saw an Indian woman (the Dutch name for a half-cast) step out of the house in shorts. As a reply to my request for drinking water in very halting Dutch I was welcomed in a very friendly manner in fluent German. Then her husband appeared and it turned out that he was from Düsseldorf and that he had started a plantation here in Northern Bali, a long way from any other humans. [Map of the islands of Indonesia with the caption:] The author of this article visited all the islands marked in black. This map is supposed to give an overview of the geography. More details about locations will be contained in the second part of the article in tomorrow’s edition. I stayed at my compatriot’s place during the Easter holidays and was able to experience the energy and dedication to work that is absolutely essential to lead such a pioneering lifestyle. The plantation could not be reached at all by land. The only route available for staying in touch with the outside world was to go to the village of Banjoewangi on Java via the straits of Bali. A canoe was sent over there once a week, in order to pick up the mail and any essential materials and food items. In bad weather it was quite common for the canoe to be held up in Banjoewangi for up to three or four days before it was able to make its way back. Over the previous years the planter had already killed seven tigers on his plantation. Their fur and photographs were decorating the walls of the house. They even found some crocodiles in the bay occasionally. One of them was caught alive in a trap. There was an awful lot of venison, and it was on the menu almost daily. On the reverse side: Currency exchange rates. Foreign Currency Rates In Reichsmark Telegraphic payments 30 August29 August CashNotesCashNotes Egypt1Egypt. Pound512.4312.4612.44512.475 Argentina1 Pap. Peso50.6380.6420.6380.642 Belgium100 Belga342.1042.1842.1442.22 Brazil1 Milreis60.1450.160.1450.147 Bulgaria100 Lewa63.0473.053.0473.053 Denmark100 Crowns454.1754.2754.2354.33 Danzig100 Guilder447.0047.1047.0047..10 England1 Pound Stirling212.1312.1612.14512.175 Estonia100 Est. Crowns4.568.9368.2768.1368.27 Finland100 Fin. Mark45.355.365.3555.365 France100 Francs2.56.8036.8176.8136.827 Greece100 Drachma62.3532.3512.3532.357 Holland100 Guilder2135.66135.84136.18136.46 Iran100 Rials615.0615.1015.0815.12 Iceland100 Icel.Crowns5.554.2754.3754.3354.43 Italy100 Lira4.513.0813.1113.0913.11 Japan1 Yen2.920.7070.7080.7080.710 Yugoslavia100 Dinar55.6945.705.6945.70 Canada1 Canad. Dollar2.52.4912.4952.4892.493 Latvia100 Lat5.548.7548.848.7548.85 Lithuania100 Litas541.9442.041.9442.02 Norway100 Crowns3.560.9661.0861.0461.16 Poland100 Zloty4.547.0047.1047.0047.10 Portugal100 Escudos411.00511.02511.0211.04 Romania100 Lei3.5-------- Sweden100 Crowns2.562.5462.6662.6262.74 Switzerland100 Francs1.556.8857.0057.0757.19 Spain100 Pesetas5-------- Czechoslovakia100 Crowns38.6118.6298.6118.629 Turkey1 Turk. Pound5.51.9781.981.9781.982 Hungary100 Pengo4-------- Uruguay1 Gold Peso61.0491.0511.0491.051 USA1 Dollar12.4932.4972.4942.498 Reichsbank Discount Rate 4% - Lombard Rate 5%
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    Publisher: Berlin News

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