Last 2 weeks of June 2016, were spent on two islands in Indonesia. Namely, Flores and Bali. Here are a few bits from my travel Journal. Some photos included.
Flores, Indonesia. June 15 2016. With stunning views like these, David and I hike up to a village called Belaraghi. I was drawn from guide books to the peculiar architecture of the huts and ceremonial towers. The hike itself was worth the trip.
Two rows of traditional huts faced each other, terraced along a grassy hill. The villagers told us that their ancestors had travelled from India. Fourff ethnic groups make up the village. Each group is represented by an icon at the top of the hut. They even had ceremonial towers for each ethnic group called Ngadus as seen below.
As I sketched we were offered Kopi and had a lovely chat about the daily lives of the villagers. They reject most modern materials for building their huts. But each hut is powered by a solar panel. The older men told us how it was important to align the bamboo in a certain direction while building the hut or else it would bring bad luck to its inhabitants. The hut got more complex in the carving and thatch detail if the family building it had more money.
We spent the night at Mbalata beach, and the base of Mt Inerie. It had black volcanic soil and stark contrast to it were these beautiful mangrove trees of white bark and bore strange pineapple looking cones. It is called Pandan. We stayed with a wonderful man called Benyameen who cooked us a feast of grilled Tuna in Sambal right at the beach. The villagers all smile and yell "Mister" at David as we drove by. After a morning run , David was invited in by one of the villagers for some Kopi and fried banana.
The next day we drove to Kelimutu National park to the very top of a mountain. After a 30 minute hike we came across the 3 crater lakes. They used to be red, turquoise and blue. Now the red looks like an ominous black and the turquoise looks like a dense soup of pastel blue. It looks unrealistic with veins of red mineral flowing in the white soup and steam rising from the lake.
Our last stop was on the North east coast of Flores in a town called Maumere. We spent 2 days at a diving resort and the first day of snorkeling was easily one of the best experiences of my life. Most of the Coral was detroyed by a quake and Tsunami in 1992, but it seems to have grown back. Our guide Riyo took us to 3 great spots.
While at Maumere, we visited another village called Dokar, where Ikat is still hand weaved by the women in the village. they welcomed us with some dancing, beetlenut chewing and smoking some tobacco rolled in corn husk.
Next stop was Bali. We drove straight to Ubud looking for the rice paddies and Hindu temples. It does have a main street with all the usual tourist traffic. But its quiet by-lanes with peaceful houses complete with personal hindu shrines is what made it so magical. My first wow moment was I peeked in from the busy street into the Pura Taman Saraswati . It sat in a lake of Lotuses. The gate was originally designed by I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, but had gone through some restoration work. It still took my breath away.
After a mad mad Punjabi wedding in Nusa Dua, we decided to plant our feet and relax a bit. Bambu Indah felt like a lifetime to get to , but the pilgrimage was complete. A beautiful Spot outside Ubud tucked behind some houses was this gorgeous resort made entirely out of Bambu. Its one of the projects by John Hardy and family besides the awe inspiring Green school. Cant talk any more about it, its is something to experience.