Moni – Maumere

Friday morning four weeks ago I took a bus to Maumere. We I entered they told me it’s 100k. I was just laughing about that price, and then they said 60k rupiah. I still was thinking that’s too much. During the drive I observed what the others were paying and gave them in the end 50k rupiah. They were a bit disappointed, but I pointed to the other passengers. And as they didn’t paid more, the coolie agreed to that price. I spoke also to a local girl and she told me that the price is 50k. So, that should be fine. We left the mountains of Moni and drove down the southern coast first, just to get up again and cross to the north. From here on the climate changed a bit and everything looked more dry than before. In Maumere there are again several bus stations and you have to take a bemo to get a connection. I decided to stay at a place about 30 kilometres east of Maumere. Joana was there already for a few days and at the neighbour bungalows there’re still some available. I got even a last minute invitation to join a wedding party in the evening, but somehow I didn’t feel that I wanted to do that on this precise date. Once arrived in Maumere a bunch of ojek drivers hopped into the always open door. Once, they were finished with yelling and nobody moved. I told them, that I can’t get out, as long as they’re standing in the door. After I got out several of them offered me their services and were also chasing for me, but with long arms I could get rid of them. Somehow they think foreigners (Mr. Buleh) can only sit in the back of a scooter instead in a Bemo. With the help of one ojek driver (yes, you should not always judge them, because they wear a helmet) I got into a bemo and drove to the traditional market. Here I was looking for some strawberries, but unfortunately there were none available. I asked several different people, but I always got the same answer. I saw some the day before, when I walked down from Kelimutu mountain, but I didn’t want to carry them for another day. Nevertheless, I was quite an attraction with my large backpack walking through the market. In the end several people suggested to go to Roxy supermarket in the city centre. So I took a another Bemo to get there, but also there were no strawberries available. They told me, there might be some in Ende. So in the end I gave again up the idea of strawberries for the second year in a row at this date, but as you know I already got fresh strawberries in January in Thailand this year. So after failing to get strawberries I had another bemo to bring me to the eastern bus terminal, from where I directly had a rural bemo to the bungalow resort. That’s a really nice place, and as I was alone I even got a reduced price including breakfast. The bungalow is directly on the shore and it reminded me to the one I had for one week in Thailand. After putting my staff in the bungalow I walked to Joana, as she was residing just a few hundred metres away. At her place we could enjoy together my birthday beer, this year not at lake Baikal, but still with a seaside view. There was another couple from South Tyrolean, so we could have a nice German speaking evening and dinner together.

Leaving the mountains and driving down to the sea, is a common thing of mountainous Flores island
All people are armed here…no, for sure not, this woman is going to the field with her daughter, and everyone owns a machete for that purpose
Reaching the southern shoreline again.
This girl sold some white powder. First I thought it’s something different, but after I tasted, I directly realised it’s sea salt. Everyone was very interested at the market, and the girls wanted to take photos again with me. And it’s always funny to them, as I’m at least 30 cm taller 🤣
Finally the Bemo to Lena cottages is as usual more than full in the beginning. All smaller children have to sit on some lap, doesn’t matter if you know the person or not.
Helmets are only necessary, if there is police around. Otherwise they are negligible, because most important is that the you look good and the scooter is loud, because that’s the feeling of MotoGP. 🤔Ähmm…yeah, exactly.
My bungalow is on the right. The smell of the flowers is hardly to describe 😍
Seaside view from my bungalow. The water is crystal clear and save for swimming and snorkeling
I enjoyed my Birthday Beer during sunset together with Joana

Hiking to Kelimutu Crater Lakes

Thursday four weeks ago after got some breakfast I started my hike to the Kelimutu Crater lakes. I opted for the small paths on my map, which started directly after a waterfall near the village of Moni. The most difficult part to find the path was right in the first 15 minutes, where a sharp turn left was needed. I saw the path, but somehow I needed to cross a field, as I couldn’t find the starting point. After that it was easy to follow that well used path. I came along several fields of cassava and even passed some cows and horses before I ended up again on a larger road, which let me to the mountain village of Pemo. Some people were asking me, where I’m heading to. When I told them Kelimutu, some said OK that’s the right way but also some told me, no way to go there (I guess because, they didn’t want that I enter the national park from this side). Quite a few people came opposite to me, even an elderly couple from Israel, which sound French and they also told me, they still have their French passport, because without that, they wouldn’t be allowed to get into Indonesia. That information was new to me. So all the people were for sunrise on the top of the mountain, but I skipped that early morning activity and just sticked to hiking during daylight. I was even invited by a local woman to come to your house, at least she heavily waived her hands. But in the end I wanted to get on top of the mountain before noon, as I expected to be clouds in the afternoon. So I declined that offer. After the village the main road became gradually smaller, until I was again just following a small path uphill. The way wasn’t really steep nor difficult and faster as expected I reached the car park of the national park. From here, wide maintained footpaths are available to the different lookouts.

The colours of the lake in combination with the yellow like stone creates a bit unreal feeling. It’s definitely an amazing view of the two major lakes. The third lake it’s a bit shaded and much darker than the other two. Each of the lake has a different depth but also a different water level. Additionally, the colours of the lake are changing continuously, and one can spot each year different colours of the lake. You can buy expensive drinks, food and souvenir on top of the mountain. I guess it’s not only for me expensive. A group of women from Sumba Island wanted to make photos with me, and I asked them about the price here, and they said they never bought anything, because it’s much too expensive.

I opted to walk back along the street, as I thought I will have something interesting there on my map, but unfortunately this was a misinterpretation. Hence, the walk down was a bit boring. Except for the last village Koanara, where people were harvesting rice paddies. It was interesting how much manual work this still is and with which very basic tools this work is performed. The people were wondering, why I’m walking along the road and not driving down in a car. In the afternoon I was back Moni. The hiking was pretty easy, but long as I wasn’t hitchhiking down, which I essentially could have done.

The destination is already insight during breakfast
These two siblings enjoyed the warming morning (the mother sat next to them, and allowed me to take the photo)
The waterfall near Moni village
On the way up, along some fields but also old unused roads. One farmer frightened me, while just saying “Hello”, because it was so calm and peaceful, that I didn’t expect anybody else in the vicinity
View to the originally mountain village of Pemo, which is not yet spoiled by tourist money, with the sea in the background. That was an amazing view.
The dark crater lake is a bit shaded…
…while these two a nicely exposed to the sun.
Me on top of Kelimutu mountain

I made a short panoramic video:

Men at work: Maintenance of road construction obviously. Any further questions, why the ticket price of foreigners is 20 times higher than for locals?
Villagers getting firewood out of the forest. And the boy gets trouble soon (no, not because he’s driving without licence…funny one 🤣), but because he packs definitely too much wood at once onto the scooter.
I saw these boards occasionally throughout NTT, and I guess it’s somehow a game for the men…to get the nail into the wood.
One of the nicely smelling flowers, I told before.
Threshing is done directly on the rice paddies and the straw is typically burnt on the fields, which causes lots of smoke, instead energetically utilised.
It seemed that the whole village of Koanara was harvesting the rice
I had no clue what this building is meant for, I already saw it in the morning during my ascent. I even went up the stairs, as the door on top was open. There was some kind of leafs, or straw hanging on the ceiling. Not sure if this was for drying or for insulation.
That reminded me to something…
I found that entrance ticket on my way down along the street. Obviously, I couldn’t buy a foreigner ticket for 150k rupiah on my own, as I only passed the ranger station on my way down. And there are no other ticket selling points on the way I took uphill.
GPX track

Bajawa – Moni

Five weeks ago in the early morning the bus to Maumere picked me up at my hotel. My breakfast was not yet finished, but I could get it on the go. The bus was in the end driving the 3 kilometres to the junction of the main road…just to wait there for another 40 minutes. I’ve no idea, if there was another passenger joining us. Surprisingly this was the most modern bus I had in Indonesia, maybe less than one year old and the seats had enough space for my legs, which I never had before. In the morning we drove through the mountains while the villages were still covered by a bit of fog. The road was winding its way down to the sea shortly before we arrived at Ende, and from where we could spot also the small island of Ende. After lunch in Ende we followed a steep valley up into the mountains again. On the highlands the rice paddies seemed to be already ready for harvesting. In the afternoon I arrived in Moni. To my surprise…well not really, I get some information before, that’s a bloody tourist village. I tried to get a room, but everything was pretty expensive. My first try was a negotiation from 200k to 150k per night. It looked pretty nice and clean, but still I found it too much. The next one was definitely fucked up, but they wanted for this hole 200k in the beginning, without breakfast, which was not even worth 60k. Even the room near the ferry in Sape was in better condition, than that one. I negotiated 100k, but my stomach said, no I don’t want to stay there. The third option was again 200k, and there was no negotiation possible. I just thought, you won’t make any money today, but they didn’t seem to care. So I left. When I was looking for another bungalow, the man told me, he has some at his own, but wanted also to have 200k. As I told him that’s much more than the usual price and you only take that from white people, he got really angry and threatened to call the police. This was ridiculous, the police would not come at all for this, and because of what?!? Anyway, I left the scene and returned to the first place where I still could negotiate included breakfast for the 150k. Later I found Santiago Backpackers which offer dorm rooms for 65k rupiah. I’ve no idea how they look like, but at least it’s good to know there’s still a good option. I mean in the end, who could blame them for behaving like that? For example Zermatt evolved in the last 200 years also from a (probably) poor mountain village to an expensive mountain resort, where the main income is tourism. The old lady, the owner of the property, is always grumpy and looking for money. In the end the hotel made her rich, as you can see in her open living space. But I couldn’t feel a warmly welcome in the hotel, as I had so often in different places around Indonesia. When I asked for WiFi, they said they don’t have. Well, but I can see your SSID, do you think I’m stupid 🤨. Then it was claimed it’s broken. Well this I can’t verify. In the evening I opted for some Bakso for 13k in the only local restaurant, instead of the ridiculous 50k Gado-Gado in one of the tourist places.

Our modern bus waiting at the bus terminal of Bajawa
Driving in the morning through mountainous area…
…will let you some decent views.
Surprisingly enough space for my legs, without the need of a three-dimensional optimisation
Passing some villages where coconuts are processed
View to Ende (town) on the left as well as Ende Island…it is like it is
After Ende we’re driving up the mountains again
The rice paddies seem to be already fully grown
Small settlements shortly before Moni

Excursion to Luba and Tololela Village

Tuesday morning five weeks ago, after a cold night – but luckily I had two blankets, I rent a scooter for an excursion around Bajawa. They first offered me to drive for 200k rupiah the full day, but I neglected. For the full day the wanted to have 100k, but that seemed too much for me, so I negotiated 6 hours for 80k rupiah. That’s still a lot of money for them, if you recall that the weekly salary of a teacher is just about 700k. In the end the guy who I was haggling with just stopped an Ojek driver and in the end I got his scooter. I’ve no idea how much commission he took for hisself. The drive to traditional Luba village was pretty nice and only the last few metres were gravel road. The Inierie volcano, which is the highest volcano of Flores, is always insight and the traditional villages are situated on its Eastern slope. The traditional village of Luba consists mainly of about 20 huts which are arranged somehow in a rectangular shape. The people in the village doing their daily job. The men were maintaining a bamboo roof when I visited them. The first boy I met wanted to already have money from me. In the end I paid the entrance fee of 10k rupiah at a woman and signed into the guest book. There are also some small souvenir shops. I bought a woven belt, as I really liked the colour. Typically I’m not into buying souvenirs in such locations, but this one I definitely liked it from the first moment. Unfortunately, without a guide you don’t get much information, as the villagers hardly speak English. And with a guide you might get a lot of information, but also don’t speak with the villagers directly. After a while I sat next to Martin, an old man, and at least I understood his name from some words of English. Officially the people her are Catholics but they still practise their animism beliefs. After 20 minutes or so Pasha showed up. We were happy to see us again. Once we left an old lady came by and greeted us. I had no idea what she wanted. She was the neighbour from the hut of Martin and I saw her before. Somehow she pointed on top of her hut with the doll – first I don’t know how they get the stuff onto the top of the roof, and secondly I just hoped that it was good magic.

I suggested to go to Tololela village and not to the mainly commercial tourist village of Bena, as I got this hint from Joana. Shortly after Bena we saw a sign which pointed to Tololela. I couldn’t see any road on the map, but I thought OK let’s give it a try. Unfortunately, the road turned out to be pretty bad and I crashed also once and felt on my left side. Luckily nothing really damaged and I was not injured. But then the road just became a small hiking track, which was really hard to follow. So after a few hundred metres I stopped, as I wasn’t sure I far I could go with the scooter. If there’s a step in 2 kilometres I’m fucked up and need to drive back all the way. And the worst thing is I broke my camera at this small crash. I had it on my belt and unluckily I felt onto my left side, where the camera was. From now on, the lenses are no longer opening completely (I already had the feeling, that in the last days it was hard for the camera to open at all, and related that to some dust in the mechanics). In the afternoon I did an extensive Google search and it seemed that this is a standard problem of this camera type. Also the workaround didn’t work. Well in the middle of nowhere there’s no possibility to fix such things. That means from now on I can only make blurry photos with my smartphone, which is a shame for this beautiful landscape. Even the resolution is the same, but the CCD chip is less than a quarter in size, which affects quality dramatically, and the lenses and aperture are far from being the quality I had before.

I turned back to the main street and drove down to Gurusina, on my way back I saw a snake escaping from the small path…😲 Luckily I’m on my scooter and not with the feet in the high grass. Pasha followed the gravel road for a while, but it turned out the wrong way. I missed the junction in Gurusina near the police station and followed the main road for a while, until I realised that the road on the map is just a mountain path and I can’t take it. So, in the end we found again and drove up to Tololela. There were some construction works on the road and we had to walk the last few hundred metres, but in the end that was fine. Tololela is not yet touristy at all. It consists of two parts, a lower and an upper village. All the villagers are friendly only the dogs may barking. Beside coffee and cacao they also dried some nuts. I tasted them, they’re very rich in oil and tasted similar walnut, but a bit more bitter. With a special tool they open the nut while clashing on a stone. On our way back we passed by a hot spring, which was in the end just two creeks in coflow. One very hot and a cold one, which made warm water, pleasant enough to splash inside.

In the morning there are typically no clouds around Inerie volcano
As long there is water, the soil is very fertile at the slopes of the mountain
The huts in the middle seem to be for animism beliefs, while the graves next to them are Catholic based
In Luba the men of the village repairing a bamboo roof
Each hut has specific things on the roof. I guess that each hut belongs to a different family.
I was sitting next to Martin in the shade while waiting for Pasha
Don’t follow that sign with a scooter or even car…
…otherwise you’ll end up like this
Finally arrived in Tololela village
The huts are similar and the people drying different fruits on the square in the sun
The family doing still their daily business. During the day mainly the woman, children and elderly are at home. Her one girl opens the nuts. Weaving their own clothes is still common, and takes a lot of time.
This pink Church remind me to the own at home.
Back in Bajawa, near the place where we got late lunch.

Labuan Bajo – Bajawa

Monday morning five weeks ago Bosco catched an Ojek for me and told the driver which bus I want to take. Now I felt again much more familiar with the environment, as I know which price I might expect for this drive. Most tourists take a private car, which might be faster, but in the end it doesn’t matter for me at which time I’ll arrive. Flores is completely different to Sumbawa. There’re much more and especially steeper mountains. Hence, it’s much greener and not as dry as Sumbawa. Furthermore it has a lot of different kind of flowers which smell nice. I recognised that a couple of times on Flores, especially in the western and middle. After leaving Labuan Bajo the road was directly winding up the first mountain and gave a view back. Hence, it’s not surprisingly that there are 7 different languages along the whole island. Additionally, Flores island itself is also a very large island anyway. The bus broke at least 3 times with an additional waiting time, and at the third stop I just went out to get a coffee, because I thought it’s ok, I need to wait anyway, but then suddenly it started driving away. Well, people along the road where shouting something and after 200 metres or so the bus stopped and again and I could get into it again. After a late lunch in Borong we arrived at the Bajawa bus terminal, which is about 2 kilometres away from town, after 11 hours driving. I asked for a Bemo but it seemed again that at this time there are no longer Bemos operating. So I was tired from the bus and didn’t want to walk, I opted for an Ojek. Surprisingly the first hotel I headed to was full. The second had space, but was a bit pricey in the beginning. I negotiated a bit down and included the breakfast, which was both fine in the end. I just wanted to relax on my bed, when I discovered a large mouse in my room. I told them, and they somehow got it out, but didn’t catched or killed it. Well 5 minutes later the same mouse came back. I told them again, but they didn’t react. In the end I was to move to another room, and they put the mouse to a field. At least they claimed…The next morning I saw again a mouse outside…

As second passenger, I opted for the seat with maximum space for my legs
Viewing down on our way up the mountain
There’s a lot of agriculture on the highlands…
…or on some terraces at the slope
Our bus broke down a couple of times during the drive
Real public transport during our late lunch break in Borong
At some highlands, the rice was already harvested
Along the last ascent before we reached Bajawa at about 1,100 metres altitude