Dazzling Stars in Kelimutu

Road trip is fun, but waiting for the next destination is the struggle. I spent 7-9 hours in average when I move from a city to another. That time, I travelled from Bajawa to Kelimutu. It took 5 hours that time, not that bad. I spent that whole 5 hours sleeping, playing cards, chatting about random stuffs, and of course enjoying every view outside. I peeked out the window sometimes, to just take a deep breathe and enjoy the most beautiful view. I gotta see the wide blue ocean and the bushy forest along the way.

At dinner time, I finally arrived in Kelimutu. Me and my friends had our dinner just beside a valley, I saw thousands and millions of stars. Crazy beautiful. Right after dinner, we went to a motel to stay overnight. The room was quite spacious to fit in 8 people inside. After taking turns to take a bath, we finally had our free time. For me, it’s time to do a photo hunt. I went scouting with 2 other photographer pals and we found a perfect spot to capture the milky way and the stars. It was a flat rooftop with trees surrounding it.

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The milky way

T’was my first time capturing a milky way. My friend, Albert taught me a lot of photography tips, including how to find the right spot where a milky way should be located. So much fun! In spite taking pictures, I enjoyed my bonding time too. Weird, horror, even embarrassing stories were our topics.

Waking up in the morning was kinda hard.

Well, it was due to my sleep cycle. I only slept for 3 hours, I guess? My bad. But that day, we planned to go to Kelimutu Lake. I’ve been reading and searching for it for weeks before this trip. I’ve always wanted to visit this lake.

I woke up at 4 .30 in the early morning. I can still see the ravishing stars with different colors and sizes. Soon after I changed to more decent clothes, I got to leave the motel to Kelimutu National Park. Fortunately, it was a short drive. Prior notice, we had to trek another 30 minutes to reach the lake. My hope for the track was as smooth as the reality. The track was really easy, stairs have been made and all the routes were covered in asphalt–like literally everyone are able to reach this place.

Dark blue sky with a light blue beam on it. It was all I can see back then. Color palettes still can’t be projected. Couple minutes later, a golden glimpse peeked out from the white-gray clouds, just beside the highlands. I saw two different colors of the lake, dark blue and light blue (there were 3 lakes!). My tour guide mentioned that in some point of the year, one of the lake would possibly turn into red color because there should be a different activity of the algae. So unique, right? The breezy wind made me feel very serene.

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Kelimutu Lake couple minutes before sunrise

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Kelimutu Lake after the sunrise

Time by time, all object were sprawled basking under the morning sun. I can now see the green plants and the magenta flowers. After the sunrise, I can read all the information board, and I learned that the magenta flower (Rhododendron renschianum Sleum) is an endemic species of Kelimutu National Park. Additionally, I was told that Kelimutu Lake should have 3 different colors which are blue, red, and white. There are beliefs that the blue-colored lake is a gathering place for youths who have died, the red-colored lake is for bad people who have died, and the white-colored lake is for oldster who have died. This 1.051.000 meter square lake is indeed very unique.

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The trumpet-like flower

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Me and the magenta flower (Rhododendron renschianum Sleum)

The observation area wasn’t too big, I can literally get over it in couple minutes. As projected above, there were 2 lakes standing side by side. The other lake was actually on the other side. The other amazing thing was we gotta cook our own breakfast on the observation area. So much fun! We cooked beans and also instant noodle (Indomie of course!).

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Ravelto (left) and Gian (behind) were preparing breakfast

Breakfast time was over, we took our last minute group picture with the Kelimutu Lake as a background. Thereafter, we went back to our bus to visit a cultural village which belong to Lio tribe.

And yes, this trip was coming to an over. I will never ever forget every detail of this journey. Along this trip, we formed a very strong friendship and we felt like a family.

Challenging Hike to Mt. Inerie

On the 3rd of July 2015 which was the day before the hike, me and my friends did a supply shopping to Pasar Baru Bobou. It ain’t like any other traditional market in Jakarta. I mean just see how different it is. We bought some rice, bananas, vegetables, eggs, an alive chicken, and others.

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The traditional market situation

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One of the merchant who sell tofu

To get some rest before the hike, we stayed at our tour guide’s house named Yohanes. It is located in Langa Village, Bajawa. He mentioned that there are 16 small villages and 64 clans inside Langa.

His family greeted us warmly, especially the girls (it’s only me and my friend Nadya) cause they let us sleep in one of the rooms he had while the boys slept inside the living room (on the floor).

It goes to cooking now, we gotta cook for ourselves this time. I cut some vegetables and fry some eggs. Cooking was a lot of fun with friends! That time, the cooking utensils we used were still traditional. Coals for making the fire, stones for withstanding the pan, and the kitchen was still soil-floored. I remembered the smell of the smoke from the roasted chicken. It made my eye tender and itchy. After dinner, we immediately slept for about 3 hours before the hike.

I woke up at 12 am, the struggle was real. I bought some supplies like biscuits, water, a headlamp, and of course my camera. I put on my hiking shoes and my headlamp. The (crazy) hike had just started.

On the first phase of the hike, we walk through forests where we passed a lot of trees. That was until the second phase of the hike, we finally reached a point where there was no vertical vegetation anymore. We were in an open space now. The hiking field significantly got harder and harder. We had to climb up the 45 degree mountain without any safety rope or that sort of thing. I know, that was totally insane.

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The steepness of Mt. Inerie

Unfortunately, the recent weather was dry that most of the plants can easily be pulled off. The third phase was the scariest part, plants were rare that we had to hold (for me though) and pull each other’s hand. In the middle of the hike, I tried to pull up my body by holding on a branch. Complete fail. The branch was pulled off and I was dragged on to the gravel rocks.

I thought I was gonna die there.

Since then, I asked my friends which were boys to help me go up. At 6.30 we finally reached the second highest point of Mt. Inerie. The view was super! Look at this pictures.

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View from the second highest point of Mt. Inerie

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Me and my friends held on the Indonesian flag and a KOPAL flag. Happy faces!

We spent about half an hour up there, cherishing every moment of our life and we also had our breakfast in the most extravagant view. Every food seemed tasty back then.

Our guide said that it was time to hike down. It took 5 hours for us to reach our starting point, longer than hiking uphill. I can’t even tell how high I hiked that morning. From the two dimensional trees until we were on the same level of the trees. On the way down, we found various type of trees such as eucalyptus and an endemic species of bamboo. Its diameter varies around 8-10 cm wide. How huge?

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The view when hiking down the mountain

That not-so-long hike was exhausting but it was an amazing experience to have in live. I learned that friendship is something I have to value and be grateful of. Then, we went back to our tour guide’s house. We ate our last meal in that village ’cause we had to continue our journey to Mataloko.

Morning Hike to Wae Rebo

The night before the hike, me and my friends spent the night in one of our tour guide’s house. It’s located in Lembor Village, West Manggarai. The house is big enough to settle about 20 people inside. Right after we arrive in the house, my tour guide’s wife served a glass of black coffee for each of us. Just the perfect thing to drink hot beverage in that windy evening. The sky began to look really dark until we had our dinner in that wooden four-cornered house. To be honest, that was one of the best sleep in the last couple weeks of my life.

In the early morning–about 7.30, we left for Wae Rebo with our mini bus. We then spent the next 4.5 hours sitting inside the bus with (a lot of) reggae songs until we reached Todo Village which is our starting point to hike Wae Rebo. We spent the best time together in that bus, talking about dreams, love, and play truth or dare (of course!). Arriving to that village was a refreshment for me. The weather was great, the wind was so fresh plus the sunshine wasn’t too strong.

Todo Village is a place where you can buy supplies for your hike. They sell snacks like biscuits, peanuts, chips, and beverages.

After we bought some supplies in that village, the 9-kilometer hike had just started. Honestly, the hike wasn’t too bad ’cause most of the tracks were flat ground instead of rocks. But, keep in mind that the first 1 kilometer is rocks with sharp surface–just beware! We got so sweaty when we reached our final stop before Wae Rebo, but guess what? It took us (only) 3 hours to walk 9 kilometer. And, well deserved view!

The locals welcomed us really well, we got to interact with the kids and also the adults. Unfortunately, the cloud started to cover the sky–we can’t really take breathtaking photos of Wae Rebo. Next, we were invited to go inside the traditional house to go through a welcoming ritual. We were instructed to sit down on a big circle so that the chief can shake our hand easily. Not long, we may have our free time around the village before dinner. For me, I chose to hunt photos. Here it is!

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Wae Rebo from the last stop of the hike

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Wae Rebo on cloudy evening.

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A small house located in the middle of the forest

At seven, our dinner was ready. I didn’t expect much but they cook really tasty foods which were; rice, veggies, corned beef, and chocolate pudding. I wonder how much this will cost for each person. I got so full that I have to walk or do some activities. That evening, I asked my friends to go outside and just enjoy the moment. It was seriously cold!

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The traditional house at night time (1)

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The traditional house at night time (2)

We then slept inside one of the traditional house, forming a circle. The bedding and the pillow were so-so, but they didn’t forget to give us blanket (nice one!).

The next morning, I woke up earlier so that I can capture that beautiful color of the sky bur unfortunately the sun was covered with clouds. Even though, the air was very clean, I can feel it in my nose trail. Breakfast was standard, we had fried rice with egg and beef floss. Soon after breakfast, I got to see the making of the coffee powder and how the locals fed their livestocks. Oh! They also have a water spring down the valley. Some of my friends took their morning bath there but I didn’t.

Because I’m the treasurer of this trip, I finally knew that the accommodation for each person is about $30/night (quite expensive though). Afterwards, we finally made it back to Todo Village in just 2 hours of walking.

A Land of Komodo Dragon

I can still picture myself sitting on a propeller airplane to Labuan Bajo, Flores last summer. It was one of the best moment in my whole life, I mean what can I ask for more? Spending a 10-day holiday with 18 of my (awesome) friends to the most beautiful place in the world. This trip was some kind of an expedition where we travel Flores island from the west to the east coast by 2 minibuses.

The journey started on 26th of June 2015. It was a 2.45 hours of flight including a transit in Bali. Sun is shining really bright, the wind is breezing, the weather was perfect! Not long after a short briefing inside the airport, we directly went to the hotel where we saw an exquisite view of the ocean along the way. On the day we arrive, we didn’t do much though, we only checked in to Centro Bajo Hotel and ate our dinner in Paradise Bar Restaurant where we can enjoy the most fascinating view of the sunset.

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My view on the way to the hotel.

On the next day, we made it to the harbor to start our “island adventure”. While waiting our tour guide, I played with some Flores kids who were trying to fish with a simple fishing rod. They tamped a rice ball and finally got some fish to eat! That joy really did arose on their happy face.

Our first destination was Pulau Kelor, it’s a small island where we have our snorkeling schedule. The water was completely clear, the visibility was great! Before snorkeling, we had this amazing short-hike experience to the top of this island. The hike was easy but it was really hot. Well, here’s a photo of it! It was beyond beautiful. Right after the hike, we snorkeled through the clean waters. The flora and fauna’s variety are endemic to its area which is East Nusa Tenggara.

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The 20-minute hiking track from above.

Amazing snorkeling experience, but we have to continue this journey to Rinca Island. That was where we got to see the komodo dragon. Surprisingly, there was a komodo lying beside the kitchen. They told us that we were really fortunate because they rarely came out from the forest. Maybe that’s because it smelled meat scent from the kitchen.

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A portrait of the komodo dragon. Photo by Albert Lowe.

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The komodo dragon in Rinca Island

Next, we went trekking for about 2 hours where we pass through meadows of yellow grasses and the ocean view. We did passed some hills and valleys, but the magnificent view vanquish it all. In the middle of the walk, my guide showed us a hole where the komodo dragons lay their eggs, it wasn’t too big.

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The meadow and ocean view.

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A preview of Rinca Island.

Following the next destination, we sailed the next 2 hours to Padar Island where we stayed for the night. The sky seemed to be really clear, I took some pictures of the milky way with stars surrounding it.

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Vertical milky way with stars around it.

The next morning, we trekked the peak of Padar Island to experience the sunrise, plus having breakfast in one of the most beautiful spot of the world. That day, we went to Loh Liang Island where we got to see another komodo, but this time we saw a baby komodo in the middle of the forest! I guess its only about 60cm in length. Afterwards, the only activity we did today was snorkeling in two different spots, the coral reef was sustained really well, it seemed untouched! Unfortunately on the second spot, which is Manta Point, we didn’t have the chance to see the manta rays because the day was too dark. We should’ve arrive earlier!

The next morning, we spent our last 4 hours snorkeling around Kanawa and Bidadari Island where we can see more variation of the sea animals like spiny sea slug, colorful starfishes, and white sea urchins. After 4 days on the ocean, we finally made it back to Labuan Bajo port and ready to continue our next journey.