Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
It felt like I was back in elementary school all over again. The air of Mount Inirie was too cold and I stayed warm under the soft white sheets. But there’s a significant difference between then and now. Now, I was eager to jump out of bed because I wasn’t going to face school work but I was to see such a breathtaking view of the valley from the Manulalu Jungle and to start the day at the traditional Bena Village, 5 minutes drive down hill from me.
Manulalu Jungle is the latest addition to the Manulalu Bed and Breakfast. Located about 5-minute drive from the bed and breakfast, Manulalu Jungle is an entirely different concept with its cute domed bungalows spread across a sloped terrain facing the open valley. Clearly it knows its best assets: the view and the cool natural air. It’s a place I dreamt of spending a lot of time doing nothing, like lake side cottages on the foot of a snowy mountain. You don’t need to be anywhere else, because you’ve got your stock of marshmallow, hot coco, and ramen noodles.
Facing the valley, the spacious terrace is easily the bungalow’s best asset. Equipped with huge wooden dining chairs and a daybed, the terrace would be the place I would snuggle, get my priorities mixed up, and waste time that I didn’t have. During my stay, the view was a revolving black canvas of the night with lights in the distance from the local’s houses, a gloomy grey view of morning mist, and a green day scenery of lush terrain. A cup of hot beverage, preferably local coffee as the area is famous for it, would have been the cherry on top to watch all canvases pass by.
The bungalow certainly follows trends despite located in the heart of Flores Island, considered ‘nowhere’ for some. It’s predominantly white from the walls, pillars, mosquito nets, to its sheet, reminding me of the new and hip accommodations in Bali. The white interior creates a familiar ambiance which is nice, especially after about 5 hours on the winding road of Flores with the last hours in the dark. The floor is plastered but I figured it was to keep its signature temperature: uber cold! The iving room was spacious, you could park a city car.
The bed, facing the terrace, is as soft as the beds in 5-star hotels. Pillows are of fluffy clouds and mosquito nets serve as a nice décor, considering there aren’t any mosquitos. But the gong of it all is its dome roof with a glass opening. With a little cleaning, I could’ve seen the sky. It feels like sleeping in a planetarium.
The bathroom is a dark ambiance of white, black and brown. It feels very semi industrial with plaster floors and walls. Part of the walls were wood of dark brown which gave it a nice touch and a reminder that we were close to nature. One of the walls of the bathroom, in front of the toilet to be exact, is a glass wall. It gives a view that supports daydreaming while pooping. Hot water is available, which is everything!
On service, they’re still working on it. They’re no waiter from a fine diner in France, catering to all of your wishes, but expect the people trying their best to provide great service. Both Manulalu Bed and Breakfast and Manulalu Jungle are in their best effort to hire as many locals as they can, as the owner believes it can help support the local economy.
On food, especially the main course, it is delicious. They brought in a chef from Bali who has 20 years of experience under his belt, to help prepare and teach the locals. The food I had, which menu was still tentative according to their stock, was delicious. The breakfast is big and fulfilling, but nothing close to its main courses for lunch and dinner. I would definitely recommend the restaurant as a place to eat in Bajawa based on the food quality alone, even though you’re not staying at the accommodation. Of course, of the convenient location near a traditional village. And do drop by during dinner because at night they light up the fireplace that actually works! Something you really don’t see often in Indonesia.
So if there’s any need to find a hotel in Bajawa or you’re looking for a recommended accommodation in Flores as a start, you might want to consider Manulalu Jungle, part of Manulalu Bed and Breakfast.
Manulalu is actually about an hour of driving from Bajawa town. However, both areas share common interest. If you’re the active type, the Manulalu Jungle and Manulalu Bed & Breakfast can arrange activities during your stay. While most would probably opt to visit the famous Bena Village, you can choose other less exposed traditional villages around it. Luba, after 4 years since my last visit, still remains unpopular and raw. There are some other villages just opening their gates to visitors, but be assured they will greet with warm arms. Climbing the Inirie Mountain is also an option. It is said that it takes about 3-4 hours walk and a guide can be arranged to take you up.
Prices for Manulalu Jungle are IDR 1,200,000 / night for the single bungalow and IDR 1,550,000 / night for the family bungalow. For reservation do contact Rizal +62 813-3949-2394.