01.05.2012 - 06.05.2012 32 °C
Bajawa and the Ngada and Nagekeo people.
Lynne and myself, Akke and Xander, Miquel the guide and Sipri the driver all met at the car in the morning and headed off to see some the local villages we had heard so much about. We were excited. As we drove we passed through new villages with the local house style made out of corrugated iron. We were then dropped off in a bamboo forest and walked down the road to catch our first glimpse of the tourist popular Bena. We joked as we first glimpsed it that we could see a car and was that the local car park. Quick as a flash our guide was on his mobile. “Car ruining photos!” And in a few seconds it was out of sight. Slightly surreal.
On our way to the traditional village. View to one of the many surrounding volcanos.
Our first view of Bena. With car moved Stunning!
Despite this it was clear that the Ngada villages were very different from the Manggarai peoples. We waked on past Bena to return to it later as the last village of the day and to buy some local Ikat weaving and headed into the forest to walk to our first village. As we went our guide pointed out local crops and Akke asked questions.
Approaching out of the forest the village of Toliela spread out before us as a rectangle of houses surrounding smaller stranger objects. Behind sat the backdrop of iridescent green volcanoes and blue sky. Children ran around playing football and flying kites made out of plastic bags. Chickens scuttled around. And that was it. No cars. No motorbikes. Nothing. We were in a traditional village, seemingly untouched by many of the spoils of modern world. Of course there was a satellite dish and TV, but still there was a beautiful feeling about the village.
Kids having a lot of fun.
Parasols representing the male spirit.
Horse details on little houses of the female spirit. Representing protection and home life
Details on house. A figure of a warrior says a man from another village has joined that houses clan. If it was a house, it means women. A marriage thing.
Every aspect of the village was steeped in symbolism and had meaning. Three parasols represented the man, the three small huts women, while the huge rocks represented the next generations. The Nagada are matriarchal and the men come to live in the women’s clans house. The warrior or house on some roofs symbolizing the movement in and out of the traditional number of clans in the village. Toliela had two parts on two levels and impossibly the second level was more beautiful.
Amazing views at Toliela second level.
Pressing on down the hill, pursued by local children singing and laughing we arrived at Gurusina and spent another few hours wondering around taking in the amazing surroundings and appreciating more and more the detail and meaning in every construction.
Bena's large stone monoliths representing the next generation.
Ende, Moni and Kelimutu.
Our drive the next day took us past the port town of Ende with its famous black sanded and blue stoned beaches. We spent a short time hunting for the perfect blue stones comparing and contrasting our finds. It seemed the locals were doing it at a more industrial level, filling bags to sell. This was clearly the local business along with Arak production (moonshine). We pressed on and after seven hours in the car, and feeling pretty well swerved out we arrived in Moni, gateway to the volcano Kelimutu.
A disappointing meal in Moni’s Bintang Café was our reward, 90 minute wait for my most bizzare meal to date. A very strange long macaroni in a tomato sauce of quartered tomatoes. Anyway with a 4:30am start we didn’t have much time to sulk and hit the sack early.
I think secretly Lynne had been planning this for a long time. Some sort of geography wet dream. Why it had to involve getting up at silly o’clock and dragging my self repeatedly up large volcanoes is my question? Marriage I guess. But there we were again. Thankfully it was a short walk this time to the top. There were even stairs. Kelimutu is famous for its three crater lakes that change colour at random. We were treated to an amazing sunrise and two and half craters seen. Then the clouds rolled in. Feeling a bit worse for wear I trudged back to the car and had a snooze only to see the clouds parting a few hours later. I shot back up the mountain and found Lynne and our Dutch friends enjoying perfect views of the three craters and surrounding countryside.
Kelimutu sunrise above the clouds.
Twin craters behind. The black lake sat in the third crater in the direction we faced.
Close up of lakes.
Maumere, the Sikka district.
After the early morning Lynne and I did our best nodding dog impressions as we made our final drive to Maumere. We stopped for lunch at an amazing Wurung (shop). With the perfect setting on the beach I was still a little unsure with its basic interior. However we ordered a fish for the four of us and were showed a moderate sized tuna. It appeared 15mins later grilled to perfection with lemon and turmeric and other spices rubbed in. Amazing food. Very yummy.
Warung's beach view.
The third from of traditional house seen on our brief trip down Flores. Sikkah.
We checked in to Gardia hotel 7km outside of Maumere and said goodbye to Sipri. A highly recommended driver, we found him at random in the street but he’s in the LP bible if anyone is passing this way again. We sat down and enjoyed a parting beer with our Dutch friends. It had been a great pleasure sharing the last 10 days with them. Always quick to laugh and appreciate our surrounding they made great travel partners. The food was rubbish, but the beer was cold and the view pretty stunning. Good luck to them in Sulawesi.
The first flight out of Flores was not until the day after, and a little stranded out of town, we settled down to a day of pretty much nothing. We watched two of our $1 DVD’s, appreciating Thor’s genius for a second time. We read. And we walked on the beach. As we wandered along we realized the hotel was next door to a Karaoke Club, and that this was likely a brothel. The working karaoke girls chased us down the beach and were very excited to have their photos taken with us on their mobile phones. Lynne’s Bhasa was getting pretty good but she was left a bit tongue-tied by this experience, so we stood like plums and had our photos taken with the smiling and giggling girls. Another strange experience chalked up.
Maumere beach and boat. As always with Flores. Amazing volcanoes.
5:30am the next morning we were bouncing along in the back of a bemo to Maumere airport and a Wings flight bound for Bali. The restaurants of Ubud were calling me!
Eggs in Indonesia:
Time for a rant. So after the delights of Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian food it was a tough act to follow but now 40 days in, I’m just a little fed up with Indonesian food. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some great dishes, some delicious curries, Lynne has fallen for Gado Gado (vegetables with a peanut sauce) and we have had some great Nasi Campur (rice with lots of random bits), but please, please can someone teach Indonesians to firstly cook eggs, and secondly when is an appropriate time to put one in or on a dish.
Omelettes are overcooked rubbery affairs with whatever was not cleaned out of the wok mixed in. Scrambled eggs are omelettes that have received a savage attack from a meat cleaver. But there is something about fried eggs that now makes me a little sick just thinking about them. Firstly an old wok must be found. If it has been used to fry fish or a dead cat then all the better. Next fill with an oil, perhaps engine oil? Then fry. Return a few hours later and place on the top of food, all food, like every dish. And when it’s not a fried egg it is something else. “Perhaps you would like scrambled eggs in your spaghetti Bolognese Mister?” No thanks, but I still get it.
Yes I am spoilt, and yes I am stupid for ordering Italian in the first place but I do feel a bit better now. Rant over.
Fried Egg horror.