GOING WILD IN TENGKU LESE WATERFALL

Written by Yulianus Irwan

Most of the activities that the travelers do in Flores Island categorized as adventure tourism. It is reasonable due to the place is very mountainous, vary culture, and it needs more physical activities to reach the tourism destinations.

According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure tourism is a tourist activity that includes a physical activity, a cultural exchange, or activities in nature.

Adventure tourism is about connecting with a new culture or a new landscape and being physically active at the same time. It is not about being risky or pushing your boundaries. In fact, it is especially important to know and respect your limits while you are in an unfamiliar area.

During 10 days stay on Flores, Roel and Maaike (Dutch) chose to explore Flores for 4 days. The idea was simply to experience the real life of Indonesia. The tour was started from Labuan Bajo where they have ended up snorkeling and trekking to Komodo Island.

One of the places we visited was Tengku Lese waterfall located in Nanu Village, Manggarai-Flores which can be reached from Ruteng with travel time of an hour or from Labuan Bajo for 4 hours drive.

The first 3 hours, we were driving along the Trans Flores which the road is so well. During our drive, we were accompanied by great view of green mountains and a gorgeous landscape of large rice field in Lembor combined with a worth stop to spider  web rice field in Cancar.

The last hour of the drive, we were driving on some skinny and bumpy roads. We also had to stop in some points as we were attracted by the view of rice terraces that have been planted 2 months before, green and perfectly nice for the picture.

Roel said that “this is exactly what they expect to see, rare, so quiet, and less tourists”. He also added this will be a great tourist attraction in the future but agreed it should last as it is.

As we also saw some cows and buffaloes on the paddy fields, Maaike and Roel were reminded to the story how unique the culture of Flores which they had heard from a ranger in Komodo. Besides for helping to plow on the rice field, buffalo is taken care for a dowry to woman who is ready to be a wife. Like in Manggarai, a man who marries a woman has to present amounts of money, chickens, goats, pigs, cows, and buffalo as dowry. They function to express how much man loves the woman and makes her one for a lifetime.

By listening to the story of this marriage system in Manggarai, Maaike found it as an advantage and was hoping that Roel would do the same if he marries her. They both just laughed and felt very funny about it. This made our tour full of humors and did not feel if we had made a long drive.

Roel and Maaike could not hide the fact that they have made great decision to go on 4WD car that can tackle this bumpy road easily and timely efficient. It would take much time if we took minivan and way very hard for it to drive on this type of road, no wonder not many tourist coming this area, Roel said to convince Maaike.

The feeling of reaching Nanu village was an exception. The rain that poured heavily in the village and surroundings did not make us feel annoying as the spectacular view of the waterfall welcomed us incredibly warmed.

By far sight, the waterfall with 2 levels are seen pouring strongly between huge rocks. Mountains and rice terraces surround it with some small shelters made it become extraordinarily wonderful. Even though it was still rainy, we still dropped off the car to make some pictures. Roel made sure he did not miss any details by making videos through his Go Pro.

The rice field surrounds Tengke Lese waterfall (photo taken by Roel)

The tiring, excitement, and starving paid off once we arrived in Nanu village. We were welcomed by Bapa and Mama Jeni who served us their traditional foods and cups of coffee added with cooked cassava. Rice, chicken soup mixed with squash, bean, and was our lunch dish.

While enjoying lunch, we shared a lot of story about European and Manggaraian culture. Bapa Jeni who hosted us said: “for us guest is a king or queen that needs to be welcomed”. It is a tradition to host a guest the best we have like firstly with coffee and cooked cassava or taro. Meanwhile Roel said if he is feeling so welcomed and proud to have such a wonderful village. Imagine when waking up in the morning and open the door and find such amazing view of waterfall on the backyard. Bapa Jeni was also surprised when Roel added one more cup of coffee as he loved it so much and said if he drinks coffee at home 9 to 10 cups per day. He also knew it before that Manggaraian coffee is one of the best in the world that is why he loved trying as much as he can.

As the lunch finished, we began walking on the new path built by locals accompanied by local kids aged 13 to 14 years old. With the new energy added with some entertainment of kids singing, the walk seemed to be easy until we reached the rocky spot. We had to climb the bamboo ladder in some points and the tiny walks with some drop-offs made it even more adventurous.

Once you reached the spot, it is definitely worth the hike. “We are going wild”, Maaike and Roel shouted when they finally reached the huge rock where the water drops seen closely. Enyone of us including Ino our driver who for the first time came to see the waterfall, shouted to show the happiness. Ino who has been working years for tourist driver promised himself to take his clients to this place as he found out it is the best waterfall he has ever been. He cannot stop making pictures and videos.

I (left), Roel, Maaike, and Ino made some styles by the water drops.

Knowing that it was not possible to swim directly in the water drops because of too strong current after heavy rain, we decided to come back after 30 minutes we were there otherwise people can also swim 20 meters from the water drops to some pools down the river.

It was so complete when back to Bapa Jeni’s house, he has prepared young coconut for us to enjoy. It was just perfect day. So sweet to remember the family of Bapa Jeni and the way they treated us like his family members.

Roel (left) and Maaike (right) would not miss this beautiful moment of their adventure (photo taken by Roel)

For people who would love to visit Tengkulese waterfall, make sure to see our suggestions below:

  1. The road to Nanu is considered as good but very skinny and windy. Drive max 30 km per hour as so many local transports drive on this road.
  2. It is recommendable to go on 4WD as the 10 minutes before Nanu, the road is bad and hard for minivan. Except for the motorbikes, it is easy to pass.
  3. When walking to the waterfall, be sure to go with local as your guide.
  4. It is recommendable to take your trekking shoes as the path is not perfectly done. You will need it when climbing the rock.
  5. It is not recommended to swim directly in the water drops when it is too strong. You are allowed to swim down the river where some pools are available.
  6. There is no warung or restaurant near the waterfall, it is only in Ruteng. Make sure to take lunch with you or call Bapa Jeni (+6281239775714) the prior day. He and his wife are so friendly.

 

 

 

A Cup of Coffee From The Top Of Kelimutu

A Cup of Coffee From The Top Of Kelimutu

written by Yulianus Irwan

Kelimutu is a volcanic montain located in Moni village, Flores, Indonesia. It is well-known because of its crater lakes that have 3 different colors. They are: Light green, dark green, and black.

Since it was one of the National Nature Conservation Area In 26th of February 1992, Kelimutu became one of the reasons of why tourists both locals and foreigners travel to Flores.

Kelimutu can be reached from Moni village which is located in the Trans Flores. You can fly to Maumere which takes 3 and half hour drive or the nearest by flying to Ende, the capital of Moni. It only takes 1 and half hour drive. From Moni, you need to drive to the parking area where you start the trekking. It takes you about 45 minutes drive and then 30 minutes trek to the top.

Most of the people who visit Kelimutu like to go for sunrise. The travelers have to wake up at 4 am and drive to the base to trek to the top which is 1.600 m above sea level. During the trek, you will have to pass about 300 stairs that have properly constructed for the travelers. 10 minutes before reaching the top, the track is steeper and they have fences where you are not allowed to walk beyond as it is closer to the crater.

Once you are on the top, the locals have been waiting with their snacks and drinks to sell. These people are spread from Moni area who sell coffee, ginger tea, noodles, sarongs, and many more that will get back your energy. They are also willingly to tell the story of Kelimutu from their local story inherited by their older generations.

Maria, who I met there told me that Kelimutu before it was well-known, was quiet mystical place, no one could come here alone, it is very frightening. There should be a set of ceremony with scarification of chicken when the color changing because it is a sign of the activity of the volcano. She also said that every August 14th the locals have to make big ceremony to thank to the spirits of Kelimutu that protecting them from any problems.

Locals also believe that spirits come to Kelimutu when they die. Before entering the lakes, the spirits would first meet Konde Ratu, the guard of the gate. The spirits will be placed based on the age and the character when they are alive. Red lake or Tiwu (lake) Ata Polo is where the all the bad spirits are gathered, they are for the people who have bad behavior when they are alive. blue lake or Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai for the young spirits, and black lake or Tiwu Ata Mbupu for adult spirits.

There were a lot of things that Maria shared with me while waiting for the sunrise. The waiting was not boring at all moreover having a cup of coffee made the moment was just glorious.

About 30 minutes wait, heading to the south the light appeared through the clouds and mountains exudes its beauty. The upper it goes, the see the lake. Everyone stands with its cameras. They make sure nothing is missed. We were all amazed and entertained by this extraordinary show.

John and his wife, who traveled with me could not hide their happiness. What a lucky day. This is the perfect end of the tour, they added. Everyone turned out to be happier at the time and wanting more photos and selfies.

The view of Kelimutu lakes in the morning (source: Clarice Zhang).

Grace, a traveler from Jakarta who I met on the top of Kelimutu shared her experience; Kelimutu is a fantastic place I have ever seen. “I have been to some craters before like Bromo and Rinjani, Lombok but then I had to trek for many hours to reach the top, but Kelimutu is the easiest trek for anybody even older. This is recommendable tourist destination, she added.

The show did not fully end, on our way down the lakes have brightly appeared with their stunning views. We also spent time to enjoy seeing the lakes and walk to the other view point where we could see the lakes much closer of course not beyond the fence.

Besides listening to the explanations from locals, travelers also could gain information provided on the stones placed during the track added with some interesting decorations messaging travelers to preserve the park.

The photo was taken in December 29th 2018 after the color changed 2 days before. Long time ago locals crossed through the wall  with horse. Now the wall is getting smaller (source: Judit Veres).

 

As we walked down to the base, we found herds of long tail monkey as one of the inhabitants of the park. We were also amazed by lots of bird singing that made us feeling that it is not just the destination but the journey was memorable.

Flores, Durian and Impressions

Komodo dragon and three colored lakes of Kelimutu have made the East Nusa Tenggara province famous, and Flores island especially known by world. Moreover komodo dragon has become one of new seven wonders of the world, the people are stunned by it.

Not only Bali, now foreigners also have alternative way to spend holidays in the small heaven in the east part of Indonesia, in Flores.

According to the data tourism department of East Nusa Tenggara province (NTT) in 2018, since the 2013 to 2016, the number of visitors has increased significantly even has gone beyond the target. Noted 425.440 tourists visiting NTT.

This is spectacular thing. No wonder, we can see tourists everywhere here. They walk in city, they travel by car and motorcycle, and some of them visit the traditional village and feel the fresh air in the untouched touristic area. They also visit to villages to enjoy other natural gift that we have given.

Because of loving to Flores, some of them repeatedly come to Flores.

For a new tourist, Flores makes them curious. Like durian- a special tropics fruit in Southeast Asia, they want ‘to taste’ beautiful experience on this island with area around 14.300 km².

Penney, a traveler from Netherland, came to Ruteng at beginning of October 2017. This is the first time she came to Flores. He had a chance to eat a durian that she has never eaten before.

She said that it is good with chewy sense. “It is not to bad”, her comment after eating it.

She traveled around the Flores Island from Labuan Bajo and finished in Maumere. She found the beautiful nature like heaven.

She was amazed by the underwater with the various kind of fishes and coral in Labuan Bajo. She hiked and took a great picture on top of Padar island. She was amazed with spider-web rice field in cancar. She followed the wedding party in Manggarai.

She found a heaven in seventeen island of Riung and enjoying with so many bats there. In Moni, she fell love with a magic of three colored lakes of volcano kelimutu. And she finished by enjoying the paradise in coconut beach garden in Maumere.

Mikko, a solo traveler from Finland, made a trip to Flores last year. He was grateful as he had a chance to visit Flores. As a biologist, Mikko found various and endemic animals and plants, underwater, birds and the giant Lizard, Komodo. He was very glad to follow the harvest thanksgiving in Manggarai.

That’s why he said that the people in Flores is closed to nature and he hoped that people have to take care the nature.

A great girl from Hungary, Judit traveled to Flores twice. When she came for the first time, she was surprised with nature and culture of Flores. She trekked to Wae Rebo, a traditional village in Manggarai and had found happiness there.

Not only culture and nature, travelers also meet the people. Why coming to Flores for twice? Because of the people of Flores. She made a second family here that she never forgets them. They last longer in her heart.

Mikko also loved the simplicity that showed by people in the village. They make him felt as a part of their culture. By ceremony of welcoming, he is becoming a part of family. He wouldn’t forget it.

Although Penney underwent a shocking experience of Flores culture at the first time she came but the people made her like at home and can adapt with the situation.

She found smiling and laughing children, welcoming, hospitality, and friendly people. She felt how people give from what they have.

“They invite you into their life. And within a moment you can feel like you know them forever,” she said.

Bena Traditional Village, Bajawa.

 

Third World Country

In the tourist activity, tourists also experienced the real life in Flores. And one undeniable fact and they realized that Flores is including in third world country with all its lack.

“It’s a big difference I come to a third world country…”Penney told. It is about the infrastructure, for example; the roads. “Most of the trip you make you will always get many challenges as the road is really bumpy.  There are no electricity in some villages as well,” but it is an experience she added.

Some of the tourists found the problems of health here. They saw that there are still a lot of people are lack of education about the health.

Talking about the third world country is identical with background of education, infrastructure, tourism, economy, politic, sanitation and anything else still developing.

So, like a Durian, Flores has thorn-covered rind but has good taste inside. Durian also has a strong smell. Some people like it. But other people don’t like it. Flores also has a unique strong smell and our task is to make it to be good smell for all people in the world.

Yulianus Irwan

How is expecting baby in Flores? More Unique Culture of Flores You Need to Know.

Having baby is the main goal of husband and wife to marry in Flores. The young people who have decided to marry are mostly asked by their parents to present them many grandchildren.

Long time ago before the family planning was massively applied, the parents could have 7 children in average. The parents believed that having many children will bring many lucks for the family as the babies are given from the God and some villagers also believed that the baby is the reincarnation of the people who have died, that is why parents naming baby by duplicating the death man’s name.

Having many babies will also help parents to take care of the rice fields, coffee plantations, looking for fire woods, and so on. Because of the religions on Flores that mainly animism and catholic, Marriage people are asked to give many babies in family without calculating positive and negative impacts.

Some people who have no baby after marriage are suffering themselves to look for the solutions in order to have baby. They will go to church to pray so that God can give them baby. The family also goes to some magician to ask their help to overcome the problems by using herbal medications. E.g the family who have married for 15 years just got the baby after consulting with the magician. They could not believe it happened to them.

Mama Ira with his son (3 year-old) and his friend.

Mama Ria said that she and her husband got married in 1996 in West Flores. She had a dream to have baby so that the baby will remain her generation. Unfortunately, it did not work well as she was not pregnant. After, 5 years marriage, they went to check to the hospital to know what happened. The doctor said if she had problem in which she cannot give birth. It was very shocking indeed but they immediately went back to get to the church to pray so that God can give His Grace. They had never have a feeling of despair. They did this day after day, month after month, year after year until they almost despaired.

When it was almost 15 years after marriage, due to a recommendations of a neighbor who had the same issue, they tried something else by approaching the magician known as doctor of village to ask for her help. It was not incorrect decision, they were asked to drink water that has been prayed and to eat ginger and some root of the trees and at the same time Mama Ria was massaged right in her stomach and magic worked really well for them. Right after a month, Mama Ria was pregnant. It was unbelievable! God has shown His way through this magician, Mama Ria said while crying. Now their baby is 3 years old.

What do the parents on Flores do when pregnant?

For family who has planned to have baby, pregnancy is what they are waiting for. The people could be very excited and express it quiet happily. The husband might take wife to a big dinner outside, wife and husband even announce to the entire world on social media. On the other hand, what Flores people do when pregnant is bit unique and different. Pregnant is seen not something to be celebrated too much or announced to everybody, it is at the same time is something to be taken care for both husband and wife because pregnant is the period of keeping God’s creature in safe.

The followings are the unique things to be done by parents on Flores when pregnant:

  1. Husband and wife are not allowed to kill animals. E.g chicken, snake, pig, buffalo, etc. it is believed that the baby is linked with the nature and environment. If the wife is willing to eat chicken, she will need another people to butcher it. It is believed that if husband and wife kill the animal deliberately or accidentally it can cause to the hard sickness of the baby.
  2. Pregnant woman is not allowed to go outside the house in the night. As what the writer has stated in previous post that Spirits are believed to live in the night. By this case, the pregnant woman has to look after the baby from the bad spirits that can cause a bad effect to both baby and mother. When the day turns to dark, the parents usually protect the surrounding house with some salts and holy water given by Priest or magician to protect from the bad Spirits.
  3. Wife and husband should behave nicely with human beings, nature, and God. Parents are seen as the model of how the baby should behave when growing. In Flores, the pregnant family is asked to behave politely towards another people, husband has to fulfill what wife is craving, and respect with nature and God.
  4. Husband has to make sure wife is always in good mood even there is big problem as she has very sensitive period when pregnant. Therefore, both husband and wife should control emotions and only show happiness each other whatever happens. When 2 months before giving marriage, Flores people believe that the baby is coming to check the situations in the family through dream. If he or she finds good things, he or she will come out safely but reversed if the baby finds inharmonious, he or she will come out badly even death.
  5. Husband and wife are not allowed to touch a death body if there is member of the family passes away. Flores people believe that if the pregnant family is touching the body it can cause a badly to the baby as well.

Those are all what makes Flores is unique due to what they live from what they believe. I have ever been said by a traveler from Jakarta Grace Hesty who has been about 5 years in Flores; “you should release your rationality to irrationality to know and experience the culture of Flores”.

Yulianus Irwan

Journey to Wae Rebo village

Written by Yulianus Irwan

Bajawa, the Pyramid Inerie, and the Jurasic park of Flores

My first page of 2019 is begun with a tremendous trip to the village hidden in the jungle, Wae Rebo. It was not because of the destination which made it memorable but the journey and the lots of luck behind it.

This time, we started the trip from Bajawa, a middle part of Flores which is about 8 hour-drive to Dintor, the base of Wae Rebo.

When knowing this many hours drive, it is only predicable tire appeared in mind added with the story of some bumpy roads created of how crazy the trip will be.

But, hold on! That was not the end of the story. The incredible thing before the trip was the atmosphere around Manulalu vila Bajawa where our guests Ben and Tim were picked up. They were amazed and energized by the beautiful sunrise and sunset around Manulalu with view of pyramid mountain, Inerie. This made us feeling that there would be miracle among the storm.

Almost the whole part of the island was having bad weather since the beginning of January. Just on our way, there was a big falling tree crossing the road which fell about 3 days before. Drivers had to be more attention when driving in this mountainous road.

As the trip was started, it took us about 30 minutes off the trans Flores which the road is skinny and windy but so well-constructed by the local government of Bajawa. The first part of the drive gave us such a chance to more seeing the Pyramid mountain, Inerie almost the whole part, its back and front part. We indeed did not miss this rare chance when the weather was so good.

After an hour drive, we stop for taking some pictures of Inerie with its small mountains on surface. Tim was just so impressed with the stunning view of the mountains and said if it looks like Jurassic park which he has seen in the movie and its park in US. This great attraction accompanied our first 1 and half hours drive.

Mount Inerie (2240 m) located in Bajawa, Flores.

The Superb Stops For Fresh Coconut And Mangoes Along the Road

“The road is considered as the windiest road I have ever drive” Ben said as an intro to his sleepy. He also said if he always falls asleep easily when sitting in the car but then immediately it has gone away as he found his favorite fruit that is fresh coconut.  We decided to stop and spent about 15 minutes to drink fresh coconut water while enjoying the beautiful landscape of green Inerie.

 

It is perfect stop! Ben and Tim said all together. As we continued driving, almost arriving to the south coast of Bajawa, we were welcomed by thosands of mangoes sold along the street. As I know a very good lady, we decided to stop in her place and trying some of her tasty mangoes.

Enak! One of the words of Indonesian to say good taste that Tim could have said to the lady, owner of the mango. She even gave four mangoes for free to test. With no hesitation, I bought some of the mangoes to eat during our trip. We were just lucky that it was still mango season.

Tim enjoying mangoes sold along the roadside of Aimere

 

Arak was our next stop, the famous alcoholic drink in Flores. This is one of the main drinks for people in Flores to serve guest when there is special occasion and ceremony. Like in Bajawa, when there is a ceremony of building traditional house, they firstly start with greeting people who participating the ceremony by having speech while holding a bottle of arak as a sign of warm welcome.

In Manggarai, arak is also used to unite people who are in conflict. The mediator who is chosen to solve problems mostly using a bottle of arak as the medium of unity. The traditional rule is whatever happens if you have arak to unite, there is no way you decline. You must accept the solution.

Aimere is one of biggest towns to process arak traditionally from palm tree that we visited during our trip. They rely much on arak as their main income. They can produce 35-50 litters of arak per day with the percentage of 15 to 50 depending on buyers’ request. Bapa Aloysius, arak producer said that people in Flores mostly buy the strongest arak of 40 % to 50 %. Most of them buy for ceremony and New Year’s event in which each family of Flores doing small ceremony to end the old year and accept a new year.

After tasting little bit of arak, we continue driving and enjoying nice panorama along the road. Something that never missed on our journey was music. Ben and Tim were just so much enjoying the musi. Tim even sang karaoke, he sang couple of songs. There was a moment when Ben joked if he had to wake up because of strange voice. What a fun! We can’t stop laughing.

For them, traveling in Indonesia is not the first time. Ben, has been to many islands of Indonesia especially in the west part. What he really impressed was just trying lots of Indonesian culinary. He likes so Indonesian foods especially Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng. That is why, during the trip in Flores they ate mie goreng that every restaurant has different taste like they did in Borong, Flore for lunch which they found so interesting and loved to eat.

One of the highlights of this first day tour was the visit to spider web rice field located in the west part of Ruteng which takes 30 minutes drive. Again, we were just so lucky we could see all the paddy fields were almost done planting. So green and all of the parts could be fully planted due to having so much water after the rain. This serving us an incredible experience that made us could not stop taking lots of pictures.

a “Lodok” Spider web rice field situated in Cancar, Ruteng, Flores.

Spider web rice field is primarily made based on the structure of the traditional house belongs to Manggaraian tribe which is cone shape and middle structure inside. Each triangle form indicates the distribution of the rice field for each family in the village and centralized in the middle known as “Lodok” at the paddy field and “Siri Bongkok’’ in the main house of the village (mbaru gendang). As this paddy field located about 1.100 m above sea level, the farmers could only harvest twice a year, December and July that is just enough for their daily consumption not for sale.

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DO’S AND DONT’S

* Visitors must go to the main house of the village (Mbaru Gendang) for Wae Lu’u ceremony when arriving in the village. Before the ceremony, visitors are not allowed to take pictures. Visitors must ask the home owner for permission to enter the traditional houses. Before entering they must take off their shoes.
* Visitors register in the village guest book upon arrival and may donate for Wae Lu’u welcoming ceremony
* Visitors may not stand on Altar (Compang) located in the middle of the village as it is sacred place for the villagers.
* Visitors should cover up appropriately during their stay in Wae Rebo wearing long sleeved clothes. romantic activities in form of kiss in public area and homestay must be avoided.
* If tourists want to participate in traditional ceremonies, they must wear traditional outfits if available or sarong.
* Visitors should not give children money or mints.
* Visitors must throw their rubbish in waste bins.
* Visitors should behave quietly while walking through the village after 10 pm.
* Visitors should always be friendly and open towards the locals and respect the local traditions.
* visitors should not walk by the grave yard or people’s farm. Ask locals or guide of where you have to walk.
* visitors should not play very rough with kids because they can be easily sick and their moms are worried about this.

Yulianus Irwan

A Glimpse Of Flores

A GLIMPSE OF FLORES
What you should consider when visiting Flores

1. Length of Tour
The distance from one to another spots are quiet far. It takes in average 4 hours from one to another regencies. Minimum to explore Flores is 4 days but it is only along the trans Flores highway. However, it would take at least 2 more days for Wae Rebo as well as for Riung.

2. The roads
In general the roads on Flores are quiet well. The trans Flores itself is very well maintained. The things to make it challenging is the windy, narrow, steep, and mountainous. Some of the roads to the countryside is very bumpy like Wae Rebo. It takes about 3 hours on some bumpy road. This requires to have an experienced driver and comfortable car like minivan or even 4WD.

3. Medications
There are some kinds of medications that you need to bring when travelling in Flores, they are: medications for vomit, mosquito, food bacteria, and mineral water.

4. Money change
Almost every cities have provided ATM Like Larantuka, Maumere, Ende, Nagekeo, Bajawa, Borong, Ruteng, and Labuan Bajo. However it does not mean that it is enough just to have ATM for any transactions due to having so many places in Flores that using cash. Therefore , if you are willing to see Flores on its countryside, please bring enough cash in Indonesian Rupiah. You may change Dollar or Euro in BNI bank with the lowest 50 Dollar or Euro or in money changers in Bali and Labuan Bajo.

5. Weather
Dry and rain are the weather in Flores in a year. October to March is considered rain and April to September is considered dry. Since 2016, it has been quite so much change on the climate. It is big intensity of rain the whole year in in dry season. Moni, Bajawa and Ruteng are considered to be rain cities as they are 1.100-1.200 meters above sea level. It is cloudy in the noontime quiet often within a year. Please bring jacket or warm clothes if you consider visiting these places. The rest of the cities are closer to the coast which is hot.

6. How to behave toward locals
People in Flores are mostly friendly and welcome and rely much on their religious belief of both anemism and catholic or Muslim. You should be irrational from rational to understand these people because that is how they survive and link to the God and spirits. If you consider to visit locals or even live in, you will have these people be very enthusiastic about you like queen and king. They have English language barrier but it won’t be a problem if you could show your respects.

7. What kind of clothes to wear
Flores people are very authentic and conservative. The people especially women concern much about their clothes. When visiting people’s village, make sure wear politely with your long sleeved clothes on and pants minimum knee sized. If you have sarong, it would be better.

Yulianus Irwan

What makes Wae Rebo unique? 6 interesting reasons you need to know why Wae Rebo is unique

Written by Yulianus Irwan

1. Cone Shaped Traditional Houses

Wae Rebo is one of the three old villages in Manggarai that maintains its traditional houses called Mbaru Niang” (Cone Shaped Traditional house). According to the chief of Wae Rebo village, Bapa. Alex, Cone shaped traditional is the first and oldest Manggaraian structure of traditional house. Mbaru Niang is a symbol of protection and the unity the people. He also said that the symbol circular shaped floor is a symbol of harmony and justice among communities and families inside Mbaru Niang.

Bapa Alex (79), a chief of Wae Rebo traditional village

According to the story, Manggarai or Wae Rebo originally came from Minangkabau, West Sumatra, Indonesia that travelled to other islands in East part of Indonesia in thousand years ago.  The elders of Wae Rebo said that the age of the village Wae Rebo is about 1200 years old as it is counted from its generation that 20th generation times 60 years old as the average age of people dying. “Empo Maro” is known as the man who firstly found the village and had inherited seven Mbaru Niang which is one of them is used for ceremonial house called “Mbaru Gendang”. All these houses are for communal houses where the families are gathering and living.

In 2008, Mbaru Niang have all reconstructed by the revitalization program supported by Tirto Utomo Foundation and Rumah Asuh Foundation. This reconstruction implicitly is to transfer knowledge to young generation of Manggarai in general and Wae Rebo especially to maintain the sustainability of Wae Rebo ancestral culture. By the concept of building the house by maintaining its culture, Wae Rebo was rewarded by UNESCO in 2012 with an Award of Excellence from UNESCO Asia Pasific Award which is the highest award cultural heritage conservation.

 2. Wae Rebo is Located in the Hidden Mountain

Wae Rebo is one of the oldest traditional villages in Flores. It is the only traditional village in Flores that is reached by foot. The nearest village to Wae Rebo is Denge which is 9 km. In the beginning of the year 2017, the government has built a road for car and motorbike to pass to the jungle for 4 km as it aimed to help travelers to reach the village not too tough and it also aimed to help local people who mainly work as farmers to get an easy access to their farms and also help to carry their stuffs easily on truck. From the starting point to Wae Rebo, it takes 2 and half hours on foot by trekking through the rain forest in which you will find on one side a cliff and another side mountains that sometimes can fall and cover your track when it rains heavily. You will step on the root of big trees and rocks with 1 meter width track that challenging your entire journey. This is also a track for locals to go to Denge or Dintor for shopping, farming, hospitalizing, and going to church as. The steep of the track is about 30 % but don’t worry it is only for 2 and half km uphill, the rests of track are relatively flat and downhill.

3. Wae Rebo has only one clan

Clan “Manggarai” is the main clan in west Flores with some neighbor clans of Ngada, Ende, Lio Sikka, and East Flores. There are some sub-clans or small clans existing in Manggarai as well, each of them functions to show their identity, language, dialects, traditional house, and land for living and farming. It is also common in Manggarai that one village always has more than 3 to 4 sub-clans even in writer’s village there are 9 sub-clans existing. As the impact, if there is a cultural event, each clan has their own ceremony to worship to the spirits in their families. E.g in Penti harvest ceremony of East Manggarai Regency, they celebrate their thanksgiving in each clan after an opening ceremony made by the chief of the village. The difference between one to another clan in this case is the dialect used, chronological event, and some of the clan cannot eat new harvested rice if it is not officially finished worshiped by the chief of the village but some can eat after the chief of the clan already permitted in the ceremony. Moreover, each clan has different sacred animal that cannot be eaten. This must be checked carefully by the people in the village, once you eat the sacred animal, you will have a problem.

What makes Wae Rebo interesting is they only have one clan named Wae Rebo. There are 600 people including in this clan. According to Bapa Alex; the ancestor Empo Maro had 8 children and all of them have their representatives to be living in the Drum House and their generations are spread to other 6 cone shaped traditional houses. Having only a clan makes the chief easier to control his people with all the farms his people have, Bapa Alex added.

 4. New Year Every October 16th   

We all know that New Year is on January 1st. Since Wae Reboan people did not recognize days, months, and year they only relied much on the period of planting and harvesting as the beginning and the end of a year.  In other places in Manggarai they have uncertain date about celebrating Penti ceremony but they keep celebrating it.

Penti a Manggaraian traditional ceremony aimed to express grateful. This ceremony is held as a New Year celebration to thank for a successful harvest in a year and to start the new life by the new year. In Wae Rebo, Penti is held in Beko month or in November 16th as they believe that it is a New Year day. As it is known, Wae Rebo communities are living from farming, the people always start with the ceremony before planting and after harvesting. The ceremony after planting aims to ask the Spirits and God to protect the plantations and give huge harvest, meanwhile the ceremony after harvesting aims to thanks to Spirits and God for the harvest. All the ceremonies are done with medium of chicken and pig as to sacrifice.

Penti is usually held a full day with several ceremonial phases. They are “Barong Wae” and “Barong Lodok”, gathering in Drum house and Caci whip fight dance.

Wae Reboan people wearing traditional outfits to worship the Spirits during Penti ceremony.

5. CIVET AS SACRED ANIMAL IN WAE REBO

In Manggarai, each clan has their sacred animal that cannot be eaten from generation to generation. The common animal in Manggarai that is sacred is porcupine. People believe that this animal helped the ancestors to show the way to survive in the jungle where the ancestors finally found the place to build village. In Wae Rebo, people do not eat civet as they have their own history behind.

Before reaching to Wae Rebo, Empo Maro lived with his relatives in Popo village. This story began when woman had difficulties in giving birth whereas it already passed the time of normal give birth. Empo Maro decided to help a mother by sectioning the stomach so that he could save the baby. Finally the baby was born safely and unfortunately he could not help the mother that died. Several years later, the woman’s families heard about what Empo Maro had done to the woman which had made the woman died. They planned to attack Empo Maro and his family. A civet came to warm Empo Maro about the attack, so they immediately left the village and hid in the jungle. He decided to build a new village to survive and the village named Wae Rebo. This story is inherited until so that the new generations know why civet is a sacred animal in Wae Rebo.

What happen when suddenly the people in Wae Rebo or Manggarai eat the sacred animal? It can cause a huge diseases that can only be cured in a ceremony by scarifying a chicken so that the Spirits will cure, the ceremony is called as “Sungke” which is done for healing people’s diseases that is in danger.

 6. Unique Circle Village

By looking at its picture, it shows us precisely that the village is a half circle form with 7 “Mbaru Niang”, cone shaped traditional houses. According to Bapa Alex These 7 houses cannot be added anymore because the houses are the symbols of 7 protectors that surrounding the village. Furthermore, He explained that the village is not really a half circle form but it is actually a hundred percent circle, one side is for alive people and another side for death people who believed to be the Spirits.

In Wae Rebo, the cemetery is located exactly in front of the village. They believed that the Spirits are activating in the night, that is the reason people stop working in the afternoon for the Spirits and then every big event of the ceremony, it is always done in the night as it is believed that the Spirits are also gathering in the ceremony.