Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 20 July 2011 • Destination
By the time I finished my snorkeling trip at Riung, I knew it was time to go home. I wasn’t sure if it was a calling to head home or the fact that I already had my ticket to Kupang. Whatever it was I was ready to end another adventure, right there in Ruteng, and I had prepared my mentality for it. I missed my homes.
So I did a long journey from coast (Riung) – mountain (Bajawa) – coast (Aimere) – to mountain (Ruteng) in a day. I had no idea Ruteng was so elevated. By the time we arrived in Ruteng, my body couldn’t conclude if Flores was a hot or cold island that day. So was it cold? Or hot? Or mountain? Or beach? Or people? Or goat? And maybe a few cows. I dunnow!
Ruteng is cold, that’s for sure. The town had a thick mist the day I arrived since it just rained. Brrr… I wasn’t ready for the air and the wet roads of the town. It’s also a small quiet city lying on a mountain side that is charming once the sun is out. I will spare you my blabbering about how lovely Flores landscape is, including Ruteng. I’m bored enough in saying it. Go see it, people!
Two of my favorite things during my stay which lasted less than 24 hours were:
1. Was I congregated?
I stayed at the Kongregasi Santa Maria Berdukacita, a congregation dedicated to the moment St. Marie was grieving over the death of Jesus. As recommended by the Lonely Planet, it was a great place to stay and one of the best rooms of my journey. Rooms were spotless for the price of IDR 150,000/night and had hot water, which was damn necessary! The nuns run the business. They were calm, peaceful, and talked with a gentle voice. I didn’t dare to joke around. It was far off any tourism service but the hospitality was none short. It was a unique place to stay, I second on the recommendation.
2. The ikat family
Predictably, I was approached by ikat sellers at Merlins restaurant. I couldn’t resist myself of haggling and getting my hands on a local ikat. The West Manggarai District had a similar pattern as those in Bajawa, but with more colors. There were a few sellers there and they didn’t compete hard amongst each other. I though they were just playing fair. Whadya know? They were all related, an uncle and 3 siblings. The uncle had sold ikats for about 20 years, while the youngest brother had just started his 3rd year. I offered them to help me with the big portion of food I had ordered while they told me a few things or two about their family and the ikats they sold. It was a laid back conversation, educational, and just right to end everything about Flores.
I had bought a generic but still handmade ikat, one of their wives had made. The women weave ikats on a daily basis. The men sell them. All have tried alternative careers before but has never felt as comfortable as selling these handmade cloth. For that, I heart them. For at least, in some ways they are still preserving the local culture and ‘introducing’ to others.
Ugh! I hate and love the feeling that I have to come back to a place visited some other time. But that was what I felt when the wheels of the plane lifted off the airstrip. It’s a sense of something unfinished but on a positive note that my life will not run out of goals.
From the sky I could see the ‘spider web’ rice fields Ruteng has been popular for. This part of Flores somehow worships spiders a lot. But to find out why, I must definitely comeback.
PS: We’re still considering on doing an entry on Ruteng, but we’re not sure since I only transited at the town. If you’re interested, do let us know or write us to ask away. We do have some information to share.