864km,37hrs,2down,1up & Lakes of Kelimutu....

Trip Start Jan 08, 2011
Trip End Dec 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
watanugu bungalows

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 249 ;

Well, we'll tell you all a little bit of information that we hadn't found out until this morning - the island of flores is one hour ahead of java.... That would be why we nearly missed our flight the other day from Bali!!! Bali must be half an hour or so ahead of where we had left in java......ah well! The way we found that out was with a knock on the door this morning with our coffee and omelettes, we thought we had set our alarms for 4:30 am and it was actually 5:30, woops.. we managed to get out on time so not to much fuss and we were on the road , looking at the 12-14 hour drive ahead of us

The day went well and we're lucky we didn't have to do it by public transport as throughout the day we saw all kinds of vehicles packed with people, animals, all there wordly belongings being carted around with them, along with goods being taken from place to place either bought or to be sold.

Most of what we saw today wasn't anything we haven't seen, but for some reason it was different and it surprised us again by how beautiful it all was. If you could cram everything we have seen in the past months into the 24 hours we've just had, it would probably be the best way to explain it. We've seen the lowlands, dry and hot, beautiful coastlines with beautiful blue waters, we've seen the green, we've seen the beautiful rice fields, the vast plateaus, the buffalo, the pigs kept near the houses in wooden cages getting fed up, the small communities of people building up villages,the markets, the bamboo split and drying by the roadside. We passed through and around and over mountain ranges and up into cooler damper climate, seeing desert type mountain vistas, rock valleys, rivers, small waterfalls, all the different types of flora and fauna you can imagine, silhouetted mountainscapes and clear sunlit views that were never ending, one minute we were by the sea, the next inland and melting, the next we were up with the clouds again.... We Passed through towns and villages and saw more of what the 'simple' life is really all about than we have before, up close. We saw the kids that looked so young, maybe four or five years old walking on their own to the nearest school, we saw women fetching and catching the bundles of wood on their heads, children doing trips to the nearest water source, people washing in the rivers and at the communal washpoint, men and women wearing Sari's, the brown and the blue along with the different head dresses or hats. We passed through Muslim and christian communities. Saw people setting up bamboo marquees for parties, we passed one party, and one Muslim wedding procession through the street, where the whole village had turned out. Saw the children after school time, digging, wheeling wheelbarrows, carrying bricks, the women with babies strapped to them.
We saw them working along the roadway widening the road putting in the drainage, forming retaining walls to stop the landslides, we saw the way they do the small scale quarrying of stone, right by the roadside, cutting into the rock face - groups of men, all done by hand, the cutting, the splitting, the loading into trucks - all by hand with hand tools, and more than that??
Well on top of that we saw three volcanoes, the highest point in flores, a beautiful lake, we stopped at blue stone beach, we ate lunch at a local roadside cafe then bought palm tree alcohol and bananas - the alcohol smells like it'll blow our heads off so that'll be interesting!!! We saw more bamboo than we'll ever see again or need to see, we saw coffee trees with the most amazing smelling flowers that filled the air inside the car as we passed, macademia nuts growing in the tree and one other that now can't remember.

So that was day one - 432km, twelve hours and probably hundreds of pictures!!! We arrived in moni just after sunset and by the time we had our bags in the room and thought about dinner it was dark already, cold and with pretty basic facilities but it didn't matter, bed and sleep by nine for our early start tomorrow....

Day 250 ;

4:30 am and we were in the car, making our way up to gunung Kelimutu, all quite tired but excited, after 45 minutes we reached as far as the cars can go and the next step was a half an hour trot in the dark, at least its a proper path most of the way!!!

We got stalled slightly about half way up by a group of older walkers - it was like a bloody wall of Germans, its the old towel story all over again but we eventually just had to near enough push past them as we were very nearly going to miss one of the most amazing parts if the sunrise, we had got half way up the final climb to the viewpoint when we stopped to take pictures and not really sure they do justice but I guess its the same as seeing a sunrise from an aeroplane, but it was absolutely stunning, a skyline of dark, to crimson to orange and wow!!

Up at the view point was time for a quick coffee provided by the locals who hike Up at the same time, gotta love em - coffee up a mountain at quarter to six in the morning!!!

Then came the sunrise, the sky slowly began to turn to dark to light and the way it looked we really didn't think it was going to be much, so there's maybe ten,twelve people sat waiting and watching and all of a sudden a small slip of that glowing red poked its head up and the Germans bless them, made a few Oooo'ass and ahhhhhh'ssss, but no, it really was something to see, it happened just as quickly as we saw glowing red discs disappear into the sea in India, and all of a sudden its in the sky, then mixed with a thin streak of cloud from left to right, we viewed an impressive sunrise and skies of beautiful colours, at the same time the first light is being cast onto two of the three crater lakes of Kelimutu and there's not much you can say about how beautiful it was, one lake - the larger of the two a colour turqouise so rich and deep that it doesn't look real, the smaller lake just above it, a deep blue and further round and behind you a third lake which when we saw it was a beautiful purple. Then came the heat, the mist started to rise from within the valleys and move about in the strangest ways and then unfortunately for us the clouds started to roll in but still, we were lucky to see what we saw, something we wing forget and it was far better than any picture you had in your mind

It was maybe eight o clock and we were on our way again, and flying along, seeing all the villagers along the way huddled round little fires and wrapped from head to toe in sari's, getting the market ready. A quick stop in ende for coffee and on again, stop for lunch again where we didn't buy more bananas or alcohol we just took a walk by the sea.
The return journey was always going to be difficult but at least we got to see all that we saw yesterday, again. Throughout the day we managed to watch and it was interesting, early morning the children in uniforms, tiny little tots all walking on their way to school, no parents, then upto twelve very busy with people moving around on transport, after twelve, schools finished, we saw the kids working, the women working - never so many men around though??? Then towards maybe three or four o clock we would see the kids playing and the families gathered together in one spot in the village, or making fires, or bringing the water up in containers or bringing home the last few bundles of wood it coming out of the rice fields. The kids might be playing football or volleyball or badminton at the village net or pitch or messing around, jumping skipping singing, whatever it be, it was something that kind of smacked you in the face though, you couldn't not see it, the structure of these kids lives and they were young kids as well not long walking and talking sort if thing - school came first, then work, then playtime, and also that in some of the villages it would be just the boys that would get the playtime, the small girls would still carry on working, washing pots or getting the food ready, difficult to comprehend but interesting to see. The kids seem wise beyond their years with the work and the chores and the responsibilities put on them, carrying around their baby sibling, walking themselves to school, carrying wood or water for miles - and yes it may sound like a load of tosh but that's how it is, that's what we saw...different to say the least.

After all that was time for sunset number two, much better than yesterday evenings and it was a few more hours until we were back and at the hotel. 37 hours round trip, 432km each way, two sunsets, one sunrise and the amazing crater lakes of Kelimutu......
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