Riung, Indonesia: Squelch of Poo Between Toes

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
Trip End Feb 06, 2014

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The gloss of finding paradise lost is starting to lose it's lustre due to the headache of travelling from place to place.

The morning started off ok. We hired a motorbike and went for a drive to a traditional local village which was highlighted as a must see in the area. Nestled in a clearing in the jungle underneath the shadow of a volcano was the small village of Bena. Home to nine clans where two lines of thatched roof huts surround a central burial and sacrificial area. Adoring the top of each hut is a figurine, I assume to ward off evil spirits but I'm not sure. Red mouthed women sat chewing Betel nuts whilst weaving fabrics or bashing macadamia nuts to packet and sell. I had the added bonus of buying a pack full of ants. Not to be defeated I brushed a few off a nut and bit in only to see a scurry of ants from the centre. Sam rounded the corner to find me spitting the remnants into a bush and leaving the bag by the side of the road, no doubt to be pick up, repackaged and sold to another unsuspecting tourist.

The top of the volcano was shrouded in cloud whilst we were there but the sun came out for brief appearances enabling us to capture the village and surrounds basked in sunlight. Very pretty indeed. From there we headed up to a viewpoint which was locked up and chained so we slowly made our way back to Bajawa weaving through villages and jungle.

Back in Bajawa our hotel had arranged for us to get on a bus to the coastal town of Riung. Our amazement at it's punctuality of 12:00 soon turned to frustration when we drove around the town only to stop in the bus station around the corner from the hotel. We stayed there for an hour before doing another round of the town and returning to the bus station. 2 HOURS 15 MINUTES later we left the centre of town only to end up outside a market. "You want food?". "No I don't want food. I want to go. What is wrong with you people?!? Why can't you buy everything BEFORE getting on the bus". Grrrrrrr so that was me for the rest of the journey - sitting in a red ball of fury under the cover of a lone black cloud with an aura emanating a flashing warning sign of 'Don't talk to me, your head WILL be bitten off'.

I know I shouldn't get myself so worked up over things that are out of my control but it is just so frustrating. Every trip we've been on we've had to add a minimum of 2 hours. Wait here, wait there. So your bum numbs, your bladder fills, sweat starts to drip and all you can think is - we should have been there by now.

Another thing that irritates the hell out of me is their total disregard for their surrounds. A country full of islands and islands of beautiful jungle and endless beaches and it's all covered in rubbish. Sitting on the bus you watch as they finish a drink and toss the can/bottle/carton out the window. Open a packet of biscuits - sure throw that foil wrapper straight out the window. Oh you don't want that plastic bag? Well no problem - just add it to the piles of stinking filth that line the street. Disgusting. In ten years time I wouldn't be surprised if Indo turned into the world's biggest rubbish tip. Sad.

We finally pulled into the small town of Riung after 6pm. The first hotel we went to I slipped on some mud and nearly came a cropper which, in the mood I was in, would have resulted in instant tears and a deluge of unladylike words. Fortunately I recovered and stomped the rest of the way. Sam tried haggling with the owner but he refused to budge, saying he would prefer the room was empty than to lower the price. It wasn't like the place was full (or nice). Actually I think we would have been the only ones staying so you'd think something would be better than nothing. Apparently not. So Sam went in search of alternative accommodation whilst I sat under my little thunder cloud, telling the owner I was German so he wouldn't talk to me.

As always, Sam returned triumphant and we were soon settling into a much nicer hotel run by quite possibly the nicest man in all of Indonesia, Leo. Being a very small town we walked the streets in search of life but came up empty handed. After a few wrong turns we found a restaurant, listed in the Lonely Planet, down a dirt road. Didn't look like much but it was run by nice people and had cold Bintang so after downing a few of those I edged away from being on the brink of tears and suffering from tourette like tendencies. Time slipped by, music blarred, beers evaporated and the shitty day ended on a merry note.

The weather wasn't that great for the rest of the time we were there. We tried to hire a motorbike but were met with sniggers and "yeah sure, for 200,000". As if, you could probably buy a bike for 200,000. Tossers. Being told the nearest swimmable beach was an hour away and the waterfall we wanted to go to was inaccessible due to rain it didn't really matter.

We walked down to the harbour and were invited in for coffee by Arif, who was friends with Leo. A welcomed relief with thunder resonating from the hills and rain beginning to pelt down. When the weather broke we bid adieu and walked along a street lined with palm trees and crooked houses hovering on stilts above marsh. Soaking up the view I was brought back to reality when I felt an oozing between my toes. Looking down I saw a huge freshly steaming cow pat in which I had just sunk my white flipflopped foot right in the middle of. Being chief photographer Sam was quick to capture the moment. Walking through any subsequent puddles I could find we found a bamboo hut with two pool tables so we entertained the kids by (a) having a girl play and (b) Sam kicking my butt. There was a small market of rickety stalls selling fruit so we bought a few mangos. Swung by Cafe del mar for noodles, beers and movies.

Looking for somewhere other than Cafe del Mar Sam asked Leo if there were any nice restaurant nearby and also if he had any puppies. Leo looked rather confused until Sam explained that I loved puppies and thought I had heard some. Turns out there were five 3 week old little fella's hiding away in one of the rooms. So cute so of course I had to have a hold. Which I kind of regretted as it spelt like poo.

On our last day we booked on an island trip with Arif which turned into a total washout. With 21 islands just off the coast it's the town's biggest (and probably only) draw card. Waking to sunshine we thought we were in for a winner but on getting out to the first island you could see a big mass of dark clouds billowing over the hills. The snorkling was pretty good - bright blue and purple coral, loads of fish - angels, clown, butterfly, parrot, damsel, electric blues, giant purple and blue lipped clams.

The second island was nice but with the weather coming in, and really wanting to get to the last island, we only stayed for a quick walk up the beach. The first drops started to fall as soon as we stepped foot onto the stretch of sand on the third island. Within about 15 minutes the wall of grey had blanketed everything and it was pouring down. We splashed about in the shallows for a bit before calling it quits and getting back on the boat. With no shelter I sat in rain soaked sarongs shivering my butt off whilst Arif's Dad laughed at me and magically negotiated the waves and reefs. No easy feat when you could only see a few metres in front and had no land in sight. Of course we returned to the clouds parting and a sliver of blue over the mainland. Typical. On getting off the boat we were welcomed into Arif's home for coffee, fresh mango and a chance to dry off. Second nicest person we've met in Indo.

So, that's Riung. A pleasant little town lined with palm trees and not a lot else. Apparently it's heaving in the high season - too many people, we were told by the guys at Cafe del Mar - we need to put tables outside. I can't quite believe that but I imagine it would have a lot more life than now.

There was a wedding party on our final night which we were invited to but with the rain bucketing down, us needing to pack and having to be up at 0530 we declined. Shame as when we got back to the hotel Leo informed us there were no buses and we'd need to take a bemo at 0900 (so much better than 0530!). If the music was anything to go by the festivities went on well into the morning. As did the dog fights which kept waking us up.


Hotel: Bintang Wisata IDR 150,000 (A$15). Run by a fabulous man named Leo. Breakfast included - omelette, pancake, fresh fruit, coffee
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