Maumere, Flores, Indonesia: Sunsets and Solitude
You know you’re isolated when you miss your bus because you can’t get to the road. It was high tide, the water was lapping at the shore and there was no beach in sight. I was staying at Lena House, an extremely peaceful collection of beach huts 28 km away from Maumere, a small city in Eastern Flores. The guesthouse was split in two and I was staying in the less privileged half, separated from the mother ship by a 10 minute walk along the beach.
It was like the movie Elysium – the rich and the poor separated by an at times impenetrable ocean of space. When the tide is high the staff ferry people (and food/drinks) between the two by small boats, but they had all disappeared when I needed them most and I had to wait for over an hour for one to take me back to civilization.
Here are some more ways in which the 2 halves of Lena House differ:
1: Lena 2 (where I stayed) has electricity for about 4 hours a day, while Lena 1 has 24 hour power.
2: Lena 2 has no kitchen – the food has to be bought over from Lena 1, or you have to go and get it yourself.
3: Lena 2 has no fridge – beer, Sprite (which I’ve slowly become addicted to) and water are all served warm.
In the end the isolation and the side effects it bought became an acceptable price to pay to be somewhere truly relaxing, and I’d recommend anyone travelling in Flores to check it out.
I’ve been to some great beaches lately, including the perfect white sand beaches of the Maldives, El Nido (Philippines) and Rote Island in Indonesia. The beach in Maumere didn’t come close to any of them; in fact it was quite ugly at times. There were rocks everywhere and while the water was clean, it wasn’t particularly inviting. You won’t see people lounging on chairs drinking cocktails at this beach, but you might see some local fisherman at work and kids playing in water.
In four years of living and travelling in Asia I’ve seen few sunsets better than the ones I saw in Maumere. I was the only tourist for what seemed like miles as well which made it even better. While trying to find a good spot I saw some spikes poking out of the ground. They were trees, or roots, or maybe some kind of elaborate trap – all I know is you wouldn’t want to go swimming at high tide in that area!
Apparently there is a waterfall nearby, so I set out to find it, instead I wandered through a couple of small villages whose inhabitants seemed very surprised to see a foreigner. All the kids from one village came rushing out, some rolling tyres along the road with sticks. They loved posing for photos and repeating the words of English they’d picked up.
Further down the road I ran into some older kids who were just about to play some football. They were very eager for me to join them, and despite being pretty awful at football it was really fun. I nearly scored a goal and created a couple of others, my defense was lacking though – especially whenever the kid with the “Messi” shirt got the ball.
How to Get to Maumere
Maumere is located in Eastern Flores, a 3-4 hour drive from either Larantuka or Moni. Transport in Flores is pretty weird – in most small towns you just stand out on the street and wait for a bus, bemo (small van with bench seats) or shared taxi to pass by. It could take an hour or so to find one, but when you do it’ll be cheap, extremely crowded and full of locals. This area of Flores (anywhere east of Moni, which is home to the colourful lakes of Kelimutu) is well off the beaten track – you’ll be stared at a lot and people will shout “Hello mister” (even if you’re a woman) and “Bule” (foreigner) at you all the time. It’s not for everyone, but it makes a nice change from dealing with the jaded inhabitants of other more popular places.
Have you been to Flores? Would you enjoy travelling in a remote area like Maumere? Let me know!
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