Today was pretty packed. Since I had my own 4WD and driver, we managed to cover a lot more ground in one day. I got up early morning at 6am. Rented snorkels and went down into the water. It’s just sea grass all around until I went deeper, or at the dead trees. Saw schools of wrasse, a starfish, a sea snake. It was a nice enough place to snorkel around. Plus it was a good chance to re-familiarise myself with underwater breathing. I get panic attacks on the first dive after not diving for too long, especially if the waters are rough.
Next, set off at around 8am and headed towards the nearby Muslim Bugis village. Village on stilts, overlooking the sea on both sides. Hiro said the Bugis people are gypsies who move from place to place. Lame, because the village looks like it hadn’t move for the last 50 years. Haha. Took nice shots, spent like 20 minutes at one home, chatting with the homeowners, about malaysians who stayed over in their village and went out fishing into the sea with them. Also of 6 Koreans who fell into the water after the bamboo stilts to the houses broke. Epic shot is of the home’s little kid wearing a tudung just for the photo. Sweet. Walked around the entire village, they actually have a couple of “ladyboys” in sarongs here. Wow. Also, I realised I have many almost perfect shots, spoilt because my finger happened to be part of the photo. =/
Next we went down to the big market, 3000 Rp for a pile of small fish, 10000 for a manta (or a giant stingray, who knows) or 25000 for a whole tuna. The tunas get shipped to Bali where they go on sale. Drying cocoa beans, tomatos, ginger and lots of other stuff, though most of it can be found in singapore. Think this side trip is for Hiro to buy bananas =P.
Dropped off Hiro and headed off with the driver, Leodera I think. I can’t get his name till now still. We went down to Ledalero, where St. Paulus is a Roman Catholic seminary to train young priests. There is a fantastic museum here with ancient pots, fossils, maps, photos from Nusa Tenggara and more. The museum guide was pretty helpful too. I’m going to list down the interesting exhibits here, otherwise I will have forgotten what the pics I took were about. First you have Stegadon bones found in Olabula, then there is a layout of a Portugese fort in Solor. The next pic is of the language. In west Flores, the languages speak as such: Kepala Kuda, which means horse’s head. In east Flores however, its the other way round, their language says head horse instead. Next is a map of Flores with a snake coiled around it. Previously, Flores was called Nusa Nipa, which is snake island. The other words are various languages used in Flores to say snake island. This next one is the last king of Maumere (1954), presumably the Sikka region. Next one is nice, it basically shows all the regions of Flores, Timor and Sumba and the different patterns and styles of ikat that they use. The next one is of one incident in the 1600s involving some pretty portugese woman who everyone wanted. I can’t recall what happened, but the locals ended up wiping out all the portugese in Fort Joao Dos Santos in the end. Then there is also the drawings of human sacrifices that used to take place to ask for a good harvest. Now, they switched it with sacrifice of animals. Next shot is of Papua penis sticks. Walked around the seminary a bit before heading for Paga Beach for lunch.
It’s a quiet stop at the beach, simple lunch of rice and fish. I walked down the beach, no one else there except some an old guy with maybe his grandchildren who stays by the beach. Talked to them a bit, then tried to pick up some pebbles. The waves were really big, fella said they could go up to 2m further down the coast. The current could easily drag me into the water. I tried to be smart and stand on a big rock when the water came it, except the wave was so big that the entire rock flipped and landed on my foot. It started bleeding and now, late at night, its swollen. I hope it gets better, I can’t wear my sandals properly with the swelling. I got two stupid pebbles for that.
Next headed straight into Moni, stayed at the centre of the village, Watugana Bungalows. (75000Rp). It’s nice with a big room, except they have yellow lights which make the room darker than it should be. I dumped my stuff and went to look around Moni. Moni is a lovely village, sent inside a valley. The Maumere road leading to it cuts through the padi fields with mountain ranges on either side. It is probably off season, I seem to be the only tourist there. Asked around for the waterfall, went there, maybe it was the afternoon mist, but it looked like a scene out of some fairy tale, didn’t feel like getting wet again though. I couldn’t find the mata air panas, the hot springs where the villages mandi, and there was a trail head so I just followed that hoping to find it. I looped around the valley, went south, east then north before coming out on the Maumere-Moni road. I had a pleasant time through this entire hike along the trails, stopping to talk with the locals, including an auntie from the kampung down the road, an Aminah Moe whose surname came about cos her dad’s chinese, and a lady who worked as a maid in KL and later went to Ipoh to visit her friend. Learnt the 1992 earthquake knocked down all the bamboo houses here from her too. This last one took too long and it was dark when I reached the same waterfall and tried to look for the darn hot springs. Took out the torch, tried bashing upriver, thought that it wasn’t such a good idea, turned back. Tomorrow morning i’ll just get driver guy to stop me there on the way. Apparently theres a nicer hot springs 3km away from Moni village that the villagers kept offering to take me to. Had dinner next at some random stall with Bakso sign. It seemed to be the only eatery where there were people. It serves the locals, only Bakso and Gado-gado were available. I opted for the Gado Gado, which was way too much vege for a carnivore like me. Bean sprouts and some dark green leaf thingy (5000 Rp) left me neither very full nor satisfied. And the locals speak to themselves in the Ende/Lio dialect so I couldn’t understand squat. Reached back to room and found my triumph card, a pack of kueh I bought from the market earlier today had gone bad, cos of the coconut. So now here I am, typing this last bit, feeling hungry. I got lousy local chips but those make my throat dry. I’ll just sleep it off, tomorrow’s wake up call is at 4am, for the morning sunrise at Moni. Looking forward to it.
Useful piece of gear – Alcohol swabs and antiseptic cream, cos I was dumb enough to let a giant rock roll over my foot. Underwater camera casing =)