Our sail to Riung was idyllic through one of the biggest, most rugged and beautiful islands, dominated by a string of volcanoes.
GWTW, Stardust and Ascension sailed abreast under the sunny blue skies. Later, we all flew our spinnakers as the conditions were perfect.
The landscape changed considerably as the rugged mountainous terrain emerged from the sea and more greenery was evident.
We arrived in Teluk Riung just as 90% of the boats were pulling anchor and leaving. Closing ceremonies were that evening but we were too tired to get to shore.
That there were lots of people and lots of trash everywhere (especially in the water) were things that we had expected, but the wide variety of sailing craft we did not. Strange boats with huge outrigger arms set off each evening for a night of fishing and returned each morn. Note the fellow up on the mast pictured left.
It seems like everyone in Indonesia sails. The fishermen all go about in dugout canoes with outriggers and lateen sails made from blue tarps or holy rice bags, the cloth of choice for large cruising boats. Even the local cargo boats have at least one large gaff-rigged sail in addition to a big noisy single-cylinder diesel.
August 21 Rickety Wooden Shacks
We all ventured to shore to meet for lunch. There was a long dock to tie the dinghies so that was a welcome sight after previously having to fight the surge and surf to beach our dinghies. The one street leading from the dock was bordered by rickety shacks on sticks
They leaned precariously and looked as if they could blow over in a heartbeat. Around and underneath the houses lay mounds of garbage embedded in the sticky tideline, plastic, paper, bottles and millions of cigarette buts. It is hard to believe that these people just don’t get the garbage issue.
Behind the shacks we saw monkeys on the beach, intermingling with the goats and chickens.
We walked down the road and within 20 minutes were at the market, which is set up only once a week. The display of vegetables was pretty dismal, gnarly carrots, pea size tomatoes, very green papaya, wilted brown spotted beans and not much variety (at least of food items I could recognize!).
Rice or Noodles
We made our way to an open air restaurant that offered the requisite choice of rice or noodles. I opted for noodles and it was very tasty at 1500 rupiah.
We walked back to the boat as the villagers waved to us from their shacks. After we stopped at a little store to buy some eggs, we made arrangements for a tour to a traditional village the following morn.
We awoke to find our small flotilla, Stardust, Belvenie, Tactical, GWTW and ourselves the only boats left in the anchorage. We met ashore for a 7 am departure to visit the traditional village of Bena some 100 kms away.
After some delay we boarded a bus and squished 2 per seat onto a space that could only hold 1 ½ (the people here are so tiny!). I sat behind the driver who coughed and horked out the window the entire trip. The bus was hot and very filthy.
We headed into the hills, immediately transiting into a very steep climb. The road was narrow, twisty and full of switchbacks, sealed in some places but mostly crumbled away and everywhere in the process of repair. The potholes were so deep that we had to get our and walk at one point. The 100 kms to the village took 5 ½ hours each way!!
Luxurious Hot Springs
About half way along we stopped at Mangeruda Hot Springs where hot water bubbles up into a large clear pool. After our soak in the big hot tub we moved down to the river where a lovely waterfall mixes the hot and cold water and you have a choice of pools with whatever temperature you find comfortable.
It was heaven to relax in the warm mineral water.
After our soak we were served lunch, fish, rice and noodles with beans, and coconut milk prepared by our driver and boys above.
Back on the bus, everyone was asleep in no time but the bliss wasn’t long lasting on the bumpy road.
The mountainous journey offered beautiful scenery, lush and tropical with lots of huge bamboo standings alongside the road. We passed a house (right) made completely of bamboo, walls and roof. Everywhere people worked in their gardens or in the rice fields, the women walking along the road laden with produce on their heads.
The view of the active volcano was spectacular with its smoke billowing from the summit and black lava staining the face.
Eventually under the volcano, we could see Bena in the distance. The tiny village appeared to be barely clinging to the side of the wooded hill through the mist.
Views from Around the Village
The first thing we noticed was all the stone monuments. High thatched houses line the ridge in two rows, the space between them filled with megalithic stones and monuments. These are the graves of the village heroes, warriors that died in battle.
The little miniature house-like structures appear in two shapes, the triangular ones representing men, the squarish ones representing the females.
Some of the houses had little model houses on top of the roof and small warrior statues representing the male and female clan houses.
Buffalo horns adorned nearly all the buildings which we neat and tidy.
Here cocoa beans dry in the sun.
The usual offering of ikats sparked Becky's interest once again
We climbed up to the shrine which overlooked the town and the surrounding valley and volcano backdrop.
As we stood in the shrine above the village we could not help but ponder that the village looked much like a movie set and the huge array of ikats for sale hanging in front of each house did convey a very touristy sense.
We left the village of Bena and climbed back on the bus and the grueling ride back to Ruing. We stopped briefly in the city of Bajava to stretch our legs and visit the ATM.
The full day’s travel on the bus left us setengah mati (half dead) a common phrase used by Indonesian bus travelers. We arrived back after 8 pm, tired and dusty.
August 23 Telok Linggeh, Flores
After a glorious spinnaker run from Teluk Riung to Telok Linggeh we found a calm and sheltered anchorage inside a reef in front of a village. The reef was marked by a wrecked fishing boat so we took extreme caution entering the bay. Before we could set the anchor, dozens of canoes were swarming around our boat, filled with children and adults all seemingly there to welcome us but making it obvious that they wanted school supplies, cigarettes, our T-shirts, our shorts and our sunglasses! Finally the hello mister and hello missus got to be too much and we retreated inside the cabin.
Annie and I managed to get a snorkel in but it was late in the day and the visibility was not all that good. However the coral and fish life were amazing and I saw many things that I had never seen before so would classify it as one of my top 10 most favorite snorkel sites.
That evening we celebrated Annie & Liam’s 21 Anniversary with a potluck and cake on Tactical Directions. We all decided that we could not take another day of having a dozen people peer in the portholes and wanting to come onboard so we made plans to set sail the following day.
August 24 Bari,Flores
Arrived at anchorage near village of Bari. It was a stunningly beautiful anchorage but we were immediately barraged with dozens of canoes filled with children. As Bari is a Muslim village, only boys visited us, all trying to climb onboard, looking through the portholes and asking a million questions in their limited English. After depleting my supply of pencils, pens and candy we retreated to the cabin but they continued to call to us (hello mister) and wrap on the hull.
They were asking for all kinds of items not at all understanding any sense of privacy and would not be dissuaded. It got to be way too much as all the boat drew their curtains and closed their companionway hatches in an attempt at regaining a little peace and quiet.
Finally the setting sun signaled a retreat back to the village. Pictured right is Stardust.
August 24-26 Labuhanbajo, Flores
After we wove our way through fishing nets and sailed for an hour, the wind died and we had to motor once again.
We arrived at Labuhanbajo on the western end of the island of Flores and anchored amongst the fishing boats in front of the town. Access to town was easy via concrete dock with steps. The one street town, without footpaths, was nondescript, another typical Indonesian town with cramped shops, dirty streets and lots of bemo and bike traffic.
Our first order of business was to find a bank, no ATMs in town. Annie and I waited in line with our little numbers for over 2 hours (past bank closing time) to obtain money from our MasterCard.
We found internet but there was only one really slow computer and it kept losing the connection. There was a pretty fair market just out of town and we stocked up on veggies.
A number of restaurants offered good food and we ate lunch and dinner in several different locations. One of the favorite spots overlooked the harbour with endless platforms of drying fish.
The beer of choice in Indonesia is Bintang but Anker is cheaper and runs a close second! The labels look suspiciously similar.