Friday 27th April Bajawa to Moni
I took the bemo going to Moni at 6.30am. When I entered it, the music was already really loud and 5 cigarettes were lit in it. Luckily, I managed to get a window seat. I hate the cigarette. It’s not that I don’t like the cigarette. I really, really HATE the cigarette, especially the smell. Unfortunately, Indonesia for me is a hard country to travel in, as this is the Asian country which has the biggest number of smokers! Every single place you go, people are smoking! Yuk!
Here was my bemo
The landscape to Ende was gorgeous. We saw a few volcanoes on the way, like this one.
At some point we were on a road near the sea.
We arrived in Ende, and the bemo stopped there for 2h30 to change some wheels.
A man living nearby asked me if I could post a letter for him to his sister who left Indonesia four years before and was now living in Germany with her husband. Sure, no problem, I could pay a stamp for him, so he went to write the letter and then gave it to me. The bus started again and after some lunch break we finally arrived in Moni around 3pm.
Here is a view of the village from my room.
I checked in an hotel and went walking around the little village. People were over-friendly here and the place was really pretty, a few scattered houses, surrounded by some hills. Beautiful! I fell in love with Moni. It started to rain, so I stopped in a restaurant and ordered a tea. A local guide stopped to chat and told me he was taking a group of 14 Tchek people around the island. We discussed a bit. He left and I took some picture of the grand-mother, mother and 3 kids playing domino, and finally joined them to play a bit too.
Then I walked further and explored the little streets where I met some teacher women who told me 300 of them were here in Moni for a 3-days seminar about teaching. We chatted a bit. Then I headed back and stopped in a place for some dinner where I met another Anne, a Dutch woman who had been to Indonesia for the last 25 years, 3 times a year, and was married to an Indonesian man and spoke fluent Indonesian. Really interesting woman. She explained me a lot about Indonesia and the different possibilities around and where I could go, Moluccu, Sulawesi, West Timor, Irian Jaya, etc.
I spent a great evening with them talking about Indonesia!
Saturday 28th April
I met a bit again with Anne and her husband in the morning. Then they left for Ende. I started walking to Kelimutu around 9am, determined to do all the way to Kelimutu by walk. I stayed on the main road. Here was the view of the Kelimutu mountain from the road.
I arrived at the ticket office around 11am, and it took me one more hour to the parking lot. There I bought some noodles from a woman called Martina and her mother Sophia. I also met Martina’s husband, Marcus, who was a guide there and a real character. I rested a bit there and walked to the lakes which were about 20-25 minutes further walking. There are three lakes which are known to change colours every couple of years, due to mineral stones inside.
Here is the first lake called Atapolo, which was red apparently a couple of years ago! It is said that the souls of the bad ones go there after death.
I walked on the trail to the view point you can see in the background on this picture.
It was getting quite cloudy at this time. Here is the second lake on the left, whose colour varies every day from dark green, dark blue to black and called Atabupu lake. It is said that the soul of the people who died young go there.
Here the third lake called Nuamuri Ko Ofai lake which is of a turquoise swimming pool blue at the moment. It is said that the soul of the people who died old go there.
I stayed a long hour contemplating the lakes and then walked back to the parking, where I stopped at Martina’s stalls to have a rest and some tea. I met there her kids Uly and Ian.
Then I went down in the direction of the ticket office. I took a small path on the right leading me to the village of Pemo. It took me about 4 hours to walk back to Moni, passing through little villages and a beautiful scenery, greetings the villagers on my way, and having a basic conversation with each of them. (How are you? Where are you from? Where do you go? What is your name?) It was 4 magic hours where I felt really connected to the place and felt that I took some of my best pictures so far on that trip.
First, I ran into this woman who was tidying up her field.
Then this woman who had an amazing laugh.
Later, there was this kid helping his parents out.
Then I ran into kids who were really cute, and later into 3 women who couldn’t stop laughing while I photographed them. Here is one of them.
As it was started to rain harder, this woman offered me to come in her house to have some tea. I really like this picture because I feel when looking at it that I see her kindness and fragility at the same time. She was a really kind woman but I was firm on refusing as I didn’t want to walk later in the darkness back to the village and it was already late.
I met really incredible characters on my way. Some had beautiful and unique faces showing the lines of time passing by like this woman.
Some like this man were dressed in such an authentic way carrying their everyday life task like cutting some wood and herbs.
An hour later, I arrived at the village of Sigo, and I ran again into Martina and Marcus. As I explained that I was planning to walk again to Kelimutu the next day, they asked me the favour of taking with me down to Moni Uly and Ian to Martina’s sister, as there was a party there that evening. I accepted and Uly and Ian started walking with me. Uly was 12 and Ian 10 and they were great walker for their age. They were actually the ones taking me through little paths and shortcuts I would never have seen on my own! That was awesome. Here is a picture of them with one uncle.
While going to Moni, we encountered more and more people, and Uly was introducing them to me as uncles, cousins, etc. Everyone seemed to be of their family, that was incredible! Here was another village we saw on our right while walking. This area was stunning, and I really loved that walk.
Darkness started falling. Here is one of my last picture of that magic day, where you can see in the background the village of Moni, surrounded by its beautiful mountains.
A truly fantastic place which is fit as a starting point for any “Once upon a time” story you could imagine that would involve farmers, princess, frog, witch, wizard, trolls, and all the incredible characters we know. And that village exists for real!
We walked about an hour in the dark. I dropped them at their aunt’s house and went for some dinner at the same place as the day before. There I met with Hannes, a Dutch guy and his Indonesian girlfriend. He lended me an adaptator which I was really thankful for as I needed to recharge camera batteries and had none with me. We chatted for a while, and then I went to bed, my head and my heart full of images of this fantastic day, and happy to have decided to stay here for 2 more days!