Day 5 – Wanukaka to Waingapu
Today is a rest day for me. Woke up at 8am, washed up and paid up. It was pretty decent, 300,000 Rp for the two of us for two days. Meaning I paid 75,000 Rp (SGD$10) per day for accommodation inclusive of all meals. To go there, take the bemo down to Wanukaka, ask to stop at Rumah Ibu Yark Weru, the one opposite the church, just after the split road to Waigalli. The bemo drivers should know. It’s a good location to base yourself for the Pasola activities in March in Wanukaka.
We flagged a truck down (5000Rp!) and traveled back in style to Waikabubak. Can’t get any more local than that. Said farewell to Nacho from Barcelona, and I loaded up the next bemo to Waingapu (30,000 Rp, 4 hrs). It took much longer, though, we transferred to another Waingapu bound bemo (from Waitabula), went round town a few hundred times, picked up more goats and chicken, found someone’s lost hat or something etc. The bemo driver, his half-time replacement and the ticket guy were friendly enough though. Bemo was packed, I had my backpack on my lap half the trip. There was this family to my left with 4 kids. The second kid had features that, when she grows up, would probably make guys swoon when she smiles or frowns her way into their hearts. They spit a lot though, the entire family.
Other stuff: There’s a goat on the roof of the bemo, a few chickens under the seats.The transition in vegetation from lush green trees to dry grassy plants was quite obvious, highlight was when Waingapu and the sea appeared in the valley below.
Waingapu has this weird layout where the the town area is split in two clumps. One is the port area, where Merpati and my dinner was. And another is the Hotel Sandlewood, Hotel Merlin, pasar, bus station area. Walking from one area to the other is around 1.5km, but bemos can be flagged. Compared to the laid back feel of Waikabubak, and the past two days staying in the middle of rice fields, Waingapu is very urban. I stayed in Hotel Sandlewood; it is cheap, nice and quiet (100,000 Rp), with large rooms.
It was quiet running around Waingapu by myself, unbothered by anyone. I think i’m sufficiently tanned to pass off as a local. There wasn’t much to do in town, and since I reached at 4pm, it’s probably too late to start exploring the surrounding region. Instead I took a walk down to the old harbour, and took some scenic harbour sunset shots. Talked to one of the hawkers there, he’s from Makassar. I tell him I want to go there as well as Maluku. Then he sets up his store, his workers and family arrive to help. I ordered ikan bakar from him (32,000 Rp total with drinks). The chilli sauce blend is a real perk-me-up, whatever they used to make it is really hot and lovely! This eating spot didn’t appear in LP; they set up shop after 6pm.
Nothing much to do in Waingapu, tried to go to the Merpati agent at 5pm but they were closed. Took a stroll back to the hotel after dinner, along the way passed by the stretch of pushcarts set up in one neat line, complete with tables and stools. The menu looks good (sate, soto, gado gado, all food I haven’t seen so far in Sumba), but I was way too full. Instead, I bought more of those fried fritters, some peanuts, and a terang bulan from the various pushcarts along the 1.5km trip back. Now, almost every country I go to has their own variation of pushcart pancakes (think malaysia, laos, thailand), and for Waingapu it’s the Mr Bean version called terang bulan (which literally translates to “bright moon”), with lots of sugar, chocolate and condensed milk. Healthy and delicious
Dropped by the pasar, it was already dark but the locals were still selling their produce, mostly vegetables. Each stall had a candle in front, the street had no street lamps, giving an entirely new meaning to the term “night market”. Haha.
Most of tonight was spent trying to plan Flores. It’s a bit of a mess now, with the overland buses leaving early mornings which do not make efficient use of my time here. That and coupled with one lost day due to the holiday on 26th (Hindu Silence Day). I foresee wasting an entire day in Ende, which is not one of the highlights of my itenerary. I really need the Internet now, tomorrow morning I will go down to the Telkom building and see if I can get stuff done. Also, I’m thinking of getting a flight down from Maumere or Ende straight to Labuanbajo to save one day. That will cut down on at least 15 hours of overland bus riding, though I will miss Bajawa as a result.