Beatiful but Fragile: Flores “The Flower” Island

FloresMy first impression when our aircraft flew above this island was, “Woow…where is it? Is it real? Are we heading to the filming location of Lord of The Ring or something?” That morning Flores was covered with fog, but it was still quite clear for us to see how enchanting this island could be. Right after the beach, there were only hills and hills..

floresfloresflores“Flores” is Portuguese for “Flower”. I suppose when those Cristiano Ronaldo’s ancestors came to this island hundreds years ago before Robin van Persie’s ancestors, they were amazed of its beauty and called it “Flower Island”.

Not many people know this island is so beautiful because of the terrifying power that lies beneath it. Flores is located within the subduction zone where two different tectonic plates collide. It’s the reason why this island is tectonically active and become the important part of what we call “Ring of Fire”.

The Ring of Fire is an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Flores itself is home for several volcanoes, such as Kelimutu (Ende), Inerie and Inelika (Ngada), Ranaka and Anaka (Manggarai), Rokatenda (Sikka), and Ilemandiri (East Flores). When I went to Manggarai few days ago, people told me that Ranaka Mountain was once alleged as inactive, until 1988 when it suddenly erupted and a new volcano came up. The new volcano was then called Anaka Mountain (“anak” = “child”).

Ranaka and Anaka

Ranaka is the leftest mountain, and Anaka is right beside it.. (Picture taken from Manggarai airport)

The administrative city of Manggarai District, Ruteng, lies above 1000 meters (3281 ft) in elevation. The weather is cold, when it’s compared to other places in Indonesia. The temperature is around 17 degrees Celsius (alright, that might be summer in the some part on the north side of the earth!), makes it a very nice place to live. The people are very kind, the food was nice, the city was so calm, no traffic jam, not much criminality. But the water source are moving! Literally. Because of the tectonic movement, some spring water sites are moving from one place to another, and it makes clean water supply become a critical issue for Manggarai Government.

Manggarai

Ruteng, Manggarai – Flores Island

Rice fields in Manggarai. Made by the farmers, not alien, nor spiderman!

Rice fields in Ruteng, Manggarai. Made by the farmers, not alien, nor spiderman!

ManggaraiBut anyway, it was very nice for me to come to this beautiful “Flower Island”. I would really love to come back here again some day and climb one of those mountains! 🙂

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Mt. Arjuna, East Java

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Arjuna is one famous character in Javanese traditional puppet, Wayang. He’s the third in Pandawa Brothers, and known as the most charming one. He broke many women’s heart but he was also married to lots of women. In Indonesia, Arjuna become the symbol of gallantry and handsomeness.

It’s said that once upon a time, Arjuna had a meditation on a small hill in the forest to improve his power. He sat there day after day, deeply meditated. But since his power had already been very strong, that hill grew taller and taller until all the Gods were worried that it will reach the heaven. When his teacher finally woke Arjuna up from his meditation, that hill had become a mountain. It was then named after his name, Arjuna Mountain.

I know that’s not real, but for me, this mountain deserve to be called Arjuna, not because of this fairy tale, but something beyond that. Something which can’t be described by words. Something which you can only understand it if you do it. Something luxurious which you can only grab it within 2 days long walk and some sleep through freezing nights. Something that my friend has tried to show in this video, but trust me… Those green savannah, those colorful flowers, and those misty hills are far more astonishing in the real world…  I can say, this mountain might be as stunning as one’s ever imagine about how Arjuna could look.

I and 20 of my friends climbed this mountain on 29-31 March 2014, 2 nights and 3 full days of walk, from 9 AM to 7 PM. I’ve got my knee injured on the way down, most of my friends even worse. But it was such an amazing experience for us. And that trip was my first mountain climbing trip since my last trip to Dempo mountain in January 2011.

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Mt. Rinjani, Lombok

Some people climb it because it’s the third highest land in this country…

Some may adore it because of its greatness and beauty…

I came here because it has always been on my dream…

 

Mt. Rinjani, Lombok…This mountain could be one of the most romantic places on the earth…and I’m glad that I climbed it with him.

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Sabu Island, Sabu Raijua

Compare to people who live in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan, people who live in the East of Indonesia, such as East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, and Papua generally look tougher. They speak fast and loud. Javanese people might feel intimidated with that, but don’t step back! Wait for a while, and see… Behind those tough looks, they have a very kind and tender heart. They like to laugh and like to help. People in Sumba even claim their island as “The Smiling Island”, but I’m sure it applies to other islands in the East Indonesia too.

Sabu (or Sawu) is the third place that I have visited in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), after Waingapu in Sumba and Kupang in Timor. Sabu is one of Indonesia’s outermost islands. Just like in other place in NTT, people in Sabu are very friendly and they will be very happy to see new people come to their island.

Sabu is a part of Sabu Raijua district, a new district since it was separated from Kupang six years ago. It actually consists of Sabu Island and Raijua Island, but this time I can only visit Sabu. Although it is still less developed, there are many things that make me fascinated to this island. The first one is the people, like I’ve already talked about before. Second, still about the people. I really love to see how people teach their children to appreciate every new day, every morning that we have. If you go around in the morning, you can see children in white and red school uniform (elementary school uniform) greet everyone who pass by with “Pagi pak!” (“Morning Sir!”) or “Pagi kak!” (“Morning sis/bro!”) or just “Pagi!” (“Morning!”) with cute voice and big smile on their face! To everyone! Even stranger.

Well, I’ve already known for a long time that I like the kids.. But now I also know that Sabu’s kids are my favorite! 🙂 Two days ago, I had an opportunity to meet some of the kids and to visit their house in Ledekepaka Village in West Sabu… These are some photos that I took there…

The Kids (Andra, Nera, Nadia) and Me

Their house

Nera and Nadia’s House… A traditional house with lontar leaves roof.

PLN (Perusahaan Listrik Negara/State Electricity Company) has not reached their house yet...

PLN (Perusahaan Listrik Negara/State Electricity Company) has not reached their house yet…

Nera and His Chick

Nera loves the chicks!

Nera's Puppy

Nera’s Puppy

Nera's Pigs

Nera’s Pigs

Nera’s Lontar Trees. Papa Nera (Nera’s father) takes the nira water from these trees to make Gula Sabu (Sabu’s sugar). They eat gula sabu every morning, and eat rice just for the afternoon meal.

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Waingapu, East Sumba

Hell yeah! We have a place like this! Yes, it’s still Indonesia and Jokowi still came to this place couple months ago for the presidential campaign.. Although this is not the place where I came from, I would probably recommend people to visit this place when they come to Indonesia, rather than Java.

This is East Sumba. It lies on the island of Sumba, part of the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur. Nusa Tenggara is an archipelago in the southeast of Indonesia. Nusa means island and Tenggara means Southeast. I don’t know since when, but Nusa Tenggara is separated into two province, Nusa Tenggara Barat (West Nusa Tenggara) and Nusa Tenggara Timur (East Nusa Tenggara). So, if translated, Nusa Tenggara Timur will be “The Island on The East Southeast”. Confusing.

Anyway, up until now, this place has the bluest sky I have ever seen. The landscape consists of hills and savannah. In some place you might still find horses freely grazing on those knee-high yellow grass fields. But since I only stay here for 3 night, and many many work tasks that I have to fulfill, I only went to the top of one hill, in the border line of Waingapu, and took these pictures. Even though tonight (this is my last night here) I’m going to cry out loud of wanting to go to Tarimbang beach and Weekuri lake. So, if you’re luckier than me to come and have a longer time here, make sure you go to those places! I gave you the link from my favorite Indonesian travel blogger if you want to take a peek at them 🙂

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“It’s Gili Trawangan! Take off your watch! We don’t need to know the time!”

Yeah, that was what Nick said when we were on this island. On this stunning white sandy beach, with crystal clear water, lovely blue sky and refreshing sea breeze, why would we know about the time? Other than sunrise and sunset, there will only be sunny time! So let’s just relax and see why this place never made me want to say good bye…

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Belajar dari Heraclitus…

Wah lama juga ya sejak terakhir kali menulis di blog ini… Perjalanan ke Bali di Juni tahun lalu memang perjalanan liburan panjang terakhir sebelum akhirnya saya melanjutkan kuliah, dan nyaris tidak melakukan perjalanan yang panjang lagi. Tapi sebetulnya ada banyak sekali hal menarik yang terjadi di sepanjang satu tahun ke belakang.

“You couldn’t step twice into the same river”, kata Heraclitus, filsuf Yunani yang hidup tahun 535 BC – 475 BC. Entah kakinya atau air yang mengalir di sungainya, yang jelas nggak ada satu pun di dunia ini yang nggak berubah. Termasuk diri kita.

Perubahan bisa datang dari diri kita sendiri, dari hasil kontemplasi atau pengaruh lingkungan dan orang-orang yang datang dan pergi. Berita buruknya, satu orang yang keberadaannya sangat berarti dalam siklus perubahan hidup saya baru saja pergi tahun ini. Minggu, 20 April 2014 seorang sahabat, saudara satu angkatan di Lawalata IPB, salah satu orang pertama yang saya kenal, yang paling dekat selama masa di IPB, Aji Muchamad Huda alias Aza, berpulang. Kemana? Entahlah… Yang jelas dia sekarang berada di satu dimensi lain yang nggak lagi membutuhkan raga bagi kehidupannya. Dan karenanya, hidup di sana pasti lebih damai daripada di sini.

Aza meninggal di kecelakaan Arung Jeram di Sungai Cisadane, Bogor. Kronologisnya bisa dilihat di http://lawalataipb.org/suasana-duka-menyelimuti/

Seperti kata Heraclitus, air mengalir dalam sungai sehingga setiap kali kita menapak akan selalu ada air baru yang menyetuh kaki kita. Ada air yang pergi, ada air yang datang. Ada satu sahabat yang pergi, ada satu sahabat datang. Yang ini agak berbeda.

Saking bergairahnya menceburkan diri di sungai baru ini, akhirnya kita bisa tahu bahwa bukan hanya airnya yang berubah, tapi kakinya juga berubah. Saya berubah…

Air di sungai ini mengalir dari tempat yang jauh di utara, dimana penduduknya dicap arogan, kultur yang dicap individual, karakter yang sama dingin dengan cuacanya. Tapi sesuatu memang akan terlihat sama sekali buruk dan sama sekali baik jika hanya dari kejauhan. Dari dekat kita bisa lihat bahwa warna itu bukan cuma hitam atau putih. Ada juga hijau, jingga, ungu.

Namanya Nick, beberapa panggil dia Dadang. Warnanya bukan hitam seperti kata orang-orang (saya tidak sedang membicarakan ras). Bagi saya dia Jingga. Manis agak keasam-asaman, yang pasti segar. Dia spesial, seperti momen matahari terbenam.

Di dekatnya saya seperti ingin melompat dan menari. Seperti kumang yang tidak takut lagi keluar dari cangkang. Kumang yang baru sadar bahwa di lautan ada banyak sekali kejutan. Kamu boleh jadi kumang yang membosankan dan meringkuk di dalam cangkang, atau keluar, mengambil resiko, jadi apapun yang kamu mau, ikut dalam arus kegilaan dan berenang. Pada akhirnya semua itu pilihan kan?! 🙂

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