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Ruteng

April 25, 2012

Tuesday 24th April

Here is a map of the entire island of Flores.

Flores map

Here is a map of Western Flores, to give you an idea of where Labuanbajo, Ruteng and Bajawa are.

Map Flores Ouest

I stood in front of Komodo Cruises around 6.40am waiting for the local minivan (called bemo here) for Ruteng to pass. Jan, the Belgian man owning Komodo Cruises and who had organised our trip came to stand with me and chat, it was nice. Before owning the dive shop, he had been a VIP taxi driver for 9 years in Belgium, driving the top VIPs. He was in Indonesia since 3 years now, and on Flores since 3 months only.

The bemo arrived at 7.10am. It went 3 times around the city again, in search of people, before to really leave for Ruteng. There were 2 Christian sisters in my bus, and a few other people. 85% of Flores is Christian.

The landscape to go to Ruteng was gorgeous. Flores is really green and hilly.

landscape going to Ruteng

We arrived in Flores around 1.30pm. The weather was much cooler here than in Labuanbajo. I took a motorbike (called ojek here) and arrived at Hotel Rima recommended in the LP. The staff was really friendly. I gave my 2 pants to repair again the holes in them had opened again, ahah. Jenny from the reception lended me one of her pants as I had nothing to wear! She was from Sumatra but had followed her husband here as he was from Ruteng. Before, she had worked in various places in Bali and Lombok too. She spoke very good English.

Here is Jenny with her son Jonathan of 14 months.
Jenny and her son

I had planned to go see the rice fields in shape of spider webs that afternoon, but it started raining heavily so I finally just spent the afternoon chilling out and a bit on the internet and arranged for an ojek to pick me up the next morning at 6am instead.

I met a girl and 2 guys in their late twenties, the 3 of them French. We went for dinner in the evening. They had been working in Australia in farms for the last 5 months in the region south of Perth and were taking a break before to start again. They told me a bit about their experience there, sorting out fruits, and how they had realised by seeing the conditions of fruit picking and sorting how important it is to always wash any fruit you buy!

Wednesday 25th April

I went with the ojek Aris to see the rice fields in shape of spider webs. It was 45 minutes away from Ruteng, near a small village called Cancar. The road to there was turning a lot, bumpy and slippery.

slippery road

There were 2 rice fields in shape of spider webs, this one being the most important one. I was a bit disappointed that there were not more to see nearby.

spider-web rice field

One man passed, carrying bananas he was maybe going to sell in the market of Cancar.

bananas holder

Children were walking to school, dressed here in brown uniforms.

children

We stopped at the house of Aris and had coffee with his mother.

Aris and his mother

Nearby the rice fields were almost ready to be harvested.

rice field

From the house, we could see the church of Cancar. Behind it was the market.

church

On the way back, we saw half-dozen of women cultivating the fields together, like this woman. She seems to have a kind of thanakha cream on her face. I wonder if they use the same wood to make this natural protection against the sun.

woman harvesting

Here were some of the houses set near the road.

houses

I had asked for a ticket for the bemo living at 9am for Bajawa, but as there was not enough people to go, the bemo driver had decided to cancel it. The hotel booked me a ticket for the minivan of 2pm instead. While waiting, I spent an hour and half learning Bahasa Indonesian with Jenny, asking her the translation of the English words of the self-made dictionary that Amando had given me in early January in the 9-hour bus between Luang Prabang and Luang Nam Tha in Lao.

It remains a reference for me of the true essential words you need when visiting a country. I do plan to put it online at some point when I find some time! Jenny was a great teacher. She was really patient with me and 90 minutes later, this dictionary was ready, yeah.

I also discovered there and bought an amazing guide book, made by Swisscontact in partnership with the government. Here is a picture which is in the book of the spider-web rice fields of Cancar covered with water. It looks striking under water.

Cancar

The minivan was there at 2pm. There was only one Chilian guy in it, we had the entire bus for ourselves, that was cool. He was travelling for 6 months and then coming back to Santiago where he was working as an engineer.
On the way, we saw a volcano on the right, hopefully inactive, lost in the clouds.

mountain in the clouds

We arrived in Bajawa around 7pm. I stopped there while the Chilian guy continued, going directly to Ende.

Here I was, in Bajawa, ready to explore the traditional villages around the next day !

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