Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 15 September 2010 • Itinerary
We’re not done yet! As you already know, Kupang has a lot more installed than just dry grass, palm trees and annoying loud motorcycles racing on the streets (that last one is a bit personal actually). Just when I thought we’ve peaked with Tablolong, it turned out to be the beginning. With time on my side, I ventured to places still within arms reach of Kupang.
It’s easy to spot Lasiana as the beach to visit while you are around Kupang. Personally it’s not my favorite, but it’s a nice beach, I have to admit. It’s the Crystal Cave that got my attention. Browsing things to do in Kupang, brought me to the little information about Crystal Cave. I’ve heard too little about it and it’s time to actually see why this small amount of people are fussing about. And because of delayed work, I though I’d cekidot (read: Check it out, Indonesian style). Lady Fortune was on my side, and so were Cecep and Gelar. No thought, no consideration, we hit the road.
Kupang is usually the center or the gateway to many great places. Unfortunately, there’s not enough information to where to go and how to get there. As I have passed this city for 2 years, even I couldn’t find good information to what to see in such an exotic wonder. Well, I should have bought an LP book instead, but sometimes the best information is best gathered from mingling with the locals.
Lavalon is run by Edwin, who has been in Kupang for… a long time 🙂 You might as well call him a local. Lavalon has become the base for travelers and tourists to hang out. It’s a place where you can ask Edwin or the local guides for info on the area and about. It’s also a great place to trade information from whoever that has been to or going to where ever. And because it’s located by the beach, open to sea breeze and has a delish view, it’s also an excellent spot to chill.
It’s located close to all the budget hotels including the Lavalon B&B. It’s also the place to hang for a low tone night, and you can grab something to eat at the night market just a few meters away. And for this trip, it is where I found Onymeda’s number (without the LP book of course).
Lavalon Tourist Information Center
Jl. Sumatera No. 44
Tode – Kisar – Kupang – Timor
Crystal Cave, Sparkle to See It.
When it comes to caves, stalagmites and stalactites are usually the first things that come to mind. In this case, I’m less of an enthusiast to see similar settings in caves. Hey, you gotta choose your battles, right? I don’t fight for caves as much. But, this is not what Crystal Cave offers. It offers a swim. Yes, the cave is a pool of crystal waters, hence the name. And yes, this is what allured me to go that extra mile. How could you neglect the thought of swimming in a cave especially since it’s different than your usual splash?
I’m a believer of local knowledge. I don’t really go out and find guides because they usually show you the popular tourism spots. Not to mention it’s a lot of fun finding a location on your own. But apparently, even the people that have lived here all their lives have never heard about this place, let alone know how to get there! Because we are dealing with a cave, and that could be quite dangerous, and a place that no one knows for sure where the hell it is, I thought I’d give up this time and ask for direction to the Lavalon tourism information center. Eventually, I took up the offer of having the legendary Onymeda, as mentioned in the Lonely Planet, take us to the cave.
I did try to ask for direction from him, still trying to stay to my principle of not using a guide but Onymeda insisted that he came along. And good thing he did!!! People, it is important to take a local guide with you to this cave if you’re going for the first time because you definitely won’t find it. For us, Ony just suddenly stopped in the middle of nowhere and made a right turn. He took us through this grass field, around a few bushes, and then behind some trees before you get there. No signs, no marks, enough said! Get a guide!
This cave turns out to be underground. No wonder we couldn’t see any mountains or hills to start with! D’oh! From above, you could see the water body sitting still, waiting for you to jump in. It’s so still you could see the rocks lying on the bottom from when you enter the cave, and I’m not exaggerating. You walk just about 50 meters downwards, reaching what apparently is not crystal but an invisible medium. It was pretty scary to start with but that soon ended when… SPLASH!!!
The water is so clear, it’s like there’s nothing holding you up. You feel like flying once you see the bottom texture of the cave. The pool is about 10 m by 5 m. I can’t predict the depth. In a few spots, it was perfect for a human canon ball hehehehe… There is a rock where you could jump off. It scared my wits, just to try it. The clear water made the pool seem so shallow, ready to smack you in the bum. But Gelar proved me wrong. I canon balled in with the tiny guts I got.
There are also areas that seem bottomless. From the little information I got from doing my homework, this hole is used for cave diving, which takes you to the next cave where some marine organisms have fossilized. As I’ve heard, Alor Dive can take you there. A destination I have jotted down in my to do list for the future.
An important note is that you should come here in summer, which is about in May-November, and should arrive at the cave at about 12-1 pm. This helps the lighting of the cave. We spent about 2 hours in the cave just swimming, jumpin’ in, and taking pictures. The water is slightly brackish, but clear. It was just such a great feeling swimming in a different ambience this time: in a cave, in clear water, and with great company. I would recommend this cave to anyone in the area as a proof that Kupang is more than just a transit city. To add to that, the water was far from cold. It was perfect!
You can get to Kupang by plane. Airlines that service this destination are Garuda Air, Batavia, Lion Air, Sriwijaya, Merpati, and a few small airlines such as Riau Airlines and Trigana. Airline tickets can cost about IDR 700,000 to 1,200,000 from Jakarta on a regular season.
Kupang can also be reached by sea, where a lot of boats pass Kupang to favorite tourism destinations such as Flores, Sumba, and Timor Leste.
Crystal cave – Bolok
There is no certain public transport that I know of, heading to the Crystal Cave. I did take a motorcycle there, which my friends and I rented for IDR 50,000 for the whole day. But here is an alternative. Get a public transport to Bolok port. I think you can pay no more than IDR 5,000 for the trip. From here you can take an ojek to the Crystal Cave, which probably would cost you IDR 10,000. Take a right at the sign “DIT POLAIR POLDA NTT”. From here it becomes tricky. Stop about 200 m from the turn. You will find a dry shrubs field. Turn right at a bald area on the… umm… err… really guys. Get a guide!