Tuesday, October 21, 2014

INDONESIA - FLORES - MONI - 8 to 10 September, 2014 - 'UP IN THE MOUNTAINS'


Bintang Hotel - 350 000R
I had my own bike but transport locally in Moni to Kelimutu was expensive

The journey
After the early morning swim at Paga Beach, I rode off on my motorbike in the direction of Moni. The day was clear and the road easy. The road shortly began to rise steeply giving a great view back along the coastline.

Continuing onwards, I came to the turnoff for Koka Beach. The road quickly deteriorated to a narrow walking track with piles of gravel stacked every few metres providing an obstacle course as well. I eventually reached a sandy parking area and settled my gear in the middle of the beach. The scenery and water colour was amazing. The water was various clear shades of blue and the two beaches joined together to form a short sand spit to a rock island. I went for a swim and then was approached by an old, finger-thin local fisherman for the 2 000R parking fee. It was a bit annoying as he kept hanging around after I paid. Gradually, more appeared and joined in the look at me and I look at them scenario. I left Koka beach, returning along the ‘road’ until I reached the Trans Flores Highway again.

The road soon started to rise and it kept rising into the mountains. Along the way, there were great aerial views across the mountains and down to the sea, a number of small villages, some road works and the odd avalanche. The people were friendly along the way with ’hello mister’ the catch cry.
It seemed a very long time that I was riding along the steep and curvy roads until I reached Moni. At first impression, I was disappointed as there was a traffic jam of bemos and bikes with abundant exhaust fumes. Navigating through these obstacles, and up the hill, I reached the Bintang Hotel. I met Billy the owner and was soon settled into my room.

I now had a chance to soak in the awesome mountainous views. Billy provided me with info and after food and rest I hiked up the hill to the waterfall.
At the Rainbow Café, there was a track leading down and into the jungle. I soon reached the waterfall and a rickety bamboo bridge. I crossed the bridge thinking I was going to fall off and climbed down the rocks and waded into the waterfall pool. The water was cool and the waterfall about 30 metres high cascaded in a single drop into the pool. I swam and then rested in the mountain sunshine.

I eventually, continued along the track to a small village and stopped at the Agnes Restaurant for a bite to eat. Later, I continued along the path which soon became a concrete road and passed through another village then turnoff onto another road and back on the main highway. From there it was a short and uphill walk back to Moni.
The next day, I was up early. I organised myself then started the ride uphill towards the turn off for Kelimutu. The ride was great but very cold! I stopped for a while watching the sunrise over the mountains, passed though the outskirts of a few villages and wounded my way up the mountain. I reached the ticket office and paid the fees and continued along the 180 degree curved road which was lined by steep jungle.

The end of the road was a large car park that was virtually empty. I parked the bike and walked up the steps and along the path to the craters of Kelimutu.

The crater lakes were amazing. The sides of the cones were 90 degrees steep and very deep. The water in the lakes were of three different colours – black, turquoise and dark blue. The path meandered along alpine vegetation leading to a number of vantage points over three craters.  The end of the path was the highest point with an obloquie on the top. I climbed that and had a great view of the three craters and the surrounding mountains that were shrouded in clouds with the peaks exposed – magical! I sat there for a long time!

I followed the path back and rode the bike back down the volcano to Moni.

I rested through the middle of the day then set off again on the bike to find the convent in the direction of Ende. I didn’t find it but I had a great time just riding along pass rice fields and stopping in small villages for short chats. I did reach the turn off for the longer way return to Maumere. I t looked good but isolated. On the return, I took a turn off to a traditional village and was given a tour for 20 000R. It was very good and I learned that the centred of the village was a graveyard which I wasn’t allowed to enter and the coned thatched roof wooden houses encircled the graveyard.

I met some nice people at Moni. Everyone seemed to be in pairs – French Canadian couple who needed to find an ATM, Dutch couple from Utrecht, two very young German girls to name a few and of course, Billy who was very friendly and helpful.
The following morning I was up early, paid the bill and was on the road again back to Maumere (if possible) in one hit. I followed the same road back as accommodation the other way seemed limited or non-existent.

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