Jan 30, 2007
Ryan, our guide, has arranged for a friend of his to drive us to Riung in a private car, at the outrageous price of Rp500,000. Ryan explains that this way we can visit the megalithic beach which is also supposed to have blue stones, and also we can stop wherever we want to take photos. The megalithic beach has a few stones but not many really blue ones. They've obviously been picked over because the place where we stop to get on to the beach appears to be a stone depot, where stones have been graded by size or color and stacked in heaps. They're for sale to builders, and we are told many Indians come to buy them
. They'd look nice in a bathroom or shower wall. We continue on our drive at a very slow pace. The road from Ende to Riung is the best on the island and it's a very smooth ride. About noon we stop for lunch in the village of Mbay [GPS 08 33.978S 121 16.003E] . A thin Indonesian lady comes up to our table and asks, in pretty good English, where we are from. She says that if we are from the United States maybe we can help here. Arvid buys here a Sprite and asks her to sit down. She has a sad story. She is married with three daughters but meet a Muslim man, Muhammad something, who she fell in love with. She says that she is Catholic. Now her husband is mad at her and she had to leave her home in another town. She's living with her sister here. She would like to find her lover but doesn't know where Muhammad is. Maybe he is here in Mbay, she doesn't know. Maybe we can help her find Muhammad. This is a heart wrenching story, but she begins to ramble on about Muslim-Christian relations and then international politic in which the Chinese are not good, but she's not sure. It's clear she is a bit off. Everyone but Arvid is avoiding direct eye contact with her. When we leave Arvid wishes her luck finding Muhammad and tells her that she is beautiful. She got a big smile. Back in the car Irina tells Arvid if there is one crazy person in town they'll find him.
We arrive in Riung in the early afternoon and check into the Nirvana Bungalows owned and run by Dominic, a young Swiss lady, and Tommy, her Indonesian husband
. Rp100,000/nite. [GPS 08 25.100S 121 01.765E] This evening we met a couple of middle aged guys, Danny and Daniel on holiday from Belgium. Danny works as a police inspector in Antwerp. The six of us sat around Dominic and Tommy's porch drinking Bingtang Beer and having a long discussion about relative police tactics and ethics in Belgium, the USA and Indonesia. Some old war stories were told too. Ryan, who's English is not so good, stayed in the house playing cards with some locals.
Jan. 31, 2007
Today we charter a boat out to the 17 Islands Park for snorkeling on the coral reefs, a visit to the bats in the mangrove trees, and a grilled fish lunch on an island. The boat costs Rp450,000 for the day and Rp40,000 park fee. Danny and Daniel also have chartered a boat and will join us for snorkeling and lunch. The reef is pretty good in some spots and has some coral we didn't see on the Great Barrier Reef. But in many spots the coral was dying and large areas were only broken skeletons of the coral. No one was sure whether pollution or temperature change has caused the damage. But there was still enough good spots to snorkel to make the trip worth while.