May 29, 2013

The Great Volcano of the sea, Krakatau

It's been a couple of years since I saw Krakatau, so when my friend Barky visit the volcano,I volunteered my self to help out. We're bringing a group of tourist from USA and we acted as their guide and trip organizer. 

The Great Krakatau
Krakatau Nature reserve is located in sunda strait, 30KM out of Java's side, Anyer Beach, or 10 KM from Lampung side, Canti Village. Its one of the most active Volcano on the planet and the last time it erupt is in October 2012,  the mountain itself rose  about 400 meters and its actually growing by 6 meter each year.
The 1883 eruption is one of the biggest explosion in modern times and killed about 100.000 people, it is known as the year without summer in Europe.

We're departing from Canti Harbor in south Lampung in approximately 7 in the morning, our plan is doing island hoping and snorkeling around the Krakatau area, swimming in Sebuku island, Umang Sebesi and having lunch in Sebesi island. 
The boat we use is made of fiber with 10 meter long and having a V6 engine which can go up to 40 knot, so  it only took about 30 minutes from Canti to our first destination, the Sebuku island. 
We are on our way 
When  we arrive, the current was mild and the other tourist boat hasn't arrive yet, so we're enjoying the water by our self.
Nobody lives in Sebuku, but there are huts scattered along the coastline made by the local coconut plantation owner and foreman.

The corals are not as i expected, mostly dominated by hard coral and sponge like corals. It seems global warming and coral bleaching takes effect in the area, we saw lots of died coral and dead deer stag coral.
After about an hour in the area, we're going to next destination the Umang Sebesi island.
A small satellite island in front of Sebesi main island, probably only 300-400 square meter but its got beautiful beach and amazing soft sand, although nobody lives there but its a good stop anyways.
We spend about an hour swimming, relaxing and taking pictures of the island.


Hammocking in Umang Sebesi
After Umang, and a quick stop to see the treehouse of Sebesi, we had lunch in Sebesi, just near the pier, under the tree.
Fresh caught fish, vegetables , Kerupuk(chips) and bananas really makes the our stomach full.
After lunch and shower we all aboard the ship to continue the journey to see the Great Volcano of Krakatau, some of us decided to take a nap in the cabin.




Lunch on sebesi

When we finally arrive in Krakatau, the sea is smooth and the sky is clear, unlike in the Morning when we leave Canti where the black cloud is hanging in the horizon and there's no blue sky everywhere we look.
"We'll go around the island and then dock at the ranger's post" shout the captain.
We all stand ready with the camera on our hands and take multiple photos as we passed.
The lava flow and the fumes coming out of the caldera are scary yet a very rare sight for everyone.
The Krakatau Island Complex have several island scattered along the sunda strait, the old mama krakatau, panjang, and the son of krakatau, which still grow about 5 meter a year since its emerge from the sea  in 1927.


An 1888 lithograph of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.
The most notable eruptions of Krakatoa culminated in a series of massive explosions over August 26–27, 1883, which were among the most violent volcanic events in recorded history.
Eruptions in the area since 1927 have built a new island at the same location, named Anak Krakatau (which is Indonesian for "Child of Krakatoa"). Periodic eruptions have continued since, with recent eruptions in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. As of late 2011, this island has a radius of roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi), and a high point of about 324 metres (1,063 ft) above sea level.
Its one of the places that I like to call  "Dangerously beautiful".
The fact that i didn't dive there yet is very disturbing, cause I heard some people say that the dive site is awesome, especially the drop walls at Legon Bajo. 
Next time I hope...
Krakatau sequence



We set the camp at the foot of the volcano, near the ranger station.
The wind is blowing mild and the sound of the wave is so hypnotizing so some of us decided to sleep outside after barbecue and night cap.





In the morning after breakfast, we break camp and go snorkel in Legon Bajo. 20 minutes from Krakatau, near Mama Krakatau island.
Its a 3 to 5 meter slope and a drop off up to 54 meters. some say the wall is full with large gorgonian and hard corals. lots of anthias, small bumpheads and lots of reef fish and saw a couple of schools of small trevallies. 
Yunita, Barky, Me and Frank


View from the ship's cockpit



Close up view from the south

View from the Krakatau Ridge
so
Sunset over Krakatau
hmm
The Krakatau camp











Nov 17, 2012

Keindahan di ujung barat, Pulau Weh

Iboih Inn

Ketika pertama menjejakan kaki di Pulau Weh, saya tidak menyangka akan melihat sesuatu yang seindah ini, jujur saja eksotisme dan keindahan pantai dan laut Indonesia Timur memang lebih terkenal dibanding Indonesia bagian barat.

Tetapi sungguh saya sangat dikejutkan oleh keindahan pulau yang terletak di ujung barat Indonesia ini. Walau sempat hancur karena efek tsunami  2004 silam dan Coral Bleaching sebagai efek dari Global warming, pesona dan keindahan Pulau Sabang sejajar dengan pantai dan laut di Indonesia Timur, Puji Tuhan sungguh indah negeriku.
Pulau Weh dikenal sebagai salah satu destinasi diving terbaik di Indonesia, Koral dan karangnya memang sedikit tetapi karena letaknya yang terbuka ke laut lepas menjadikannya surga bagi ikan kecil dan besar. tercatat beberapa jenis ikan besar dan langka pernah ditemukan disini antara lain Big mouth shark.
Jumlah kami sekitar  20 orang dan ke sabang dalam rangka workshop dan pelatihan fotografi yang diadakan oleh Kementrian Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif secara gratis, sekitar  17 orang fotografer berhasil dikumpulkan dari penjuru aceh dan saya hanya sebagai pengamat menemani EO dari Jakarta.
Kami menginap di Iboih Inn, sebuah penginapan tepi pantai yang terletak di Tepin Layeu, Pantai Iboih, 20 kilometer dari kota Sabang, ibukota Pulau Weh. Kami dijemput di pantai Iboih untuk selanjutnya menuju penginapan yang terletak kira kira 500 meter dari pantai, ada juga jalanan yang terbuat dari cone block, akan tetapi dikarenakan barang bawaan kami yang cukup banyak maka kami lebih memilih untuk dijemput saja menggunakan boat.
Ketika kami merapat di jetty milik Iboih Inn hari menjelang gelap, akan tetapi keindahan dan tingkat kejernihan airnya sungguh luar biasa, keadaan yang nyaris tanpa ombak dan sunyi sungguh sesuai dengan slogan orang orang sabang, SaBang = Santai Banget.
SaBang = Santai Banget
 Malamnya kami menerima pelatihan soal bisnis fotografi dan teknik fotografi oleh Ray Bachtiar Drajat, seorang fotografer senior dari Jakarta dan pendiri komunitas Kamera Lubang Jarum, beliau memberikan materi yang sangat bermanfaat terutama bagi saya yang memang sedang belajar fotografi, walaupun kamera saya cuma pas pasan yaitu Canon EOS 550D dengan lensa Canon EF-S 15-85 USM.
Esok harinya dijadwalkan kalau kami akan hunting bersama sunrise di sundeck Iboih inn lalu dilanjutkan dengan jalan ke Tugu KM 0 dan diakhiri dengan menyebrang ke pulau Rubiah yang terletak tepat didepan penginapan kami.
Pagi harinya saya terbangun dan melihat kalau ternyata hujan turun dan awan tebal menyelimuti suasana pagi , kebetulan saya mendapat jatah kamar Seaside View nomer  6 bersama 2 orang teman lain, sehingga matahari tepat berada di depan kami bila bersinar, mendengar hujan saya pun langsung tertidur kembali dan bangun agak kesiangan yaitu jam 9 pagi. hehehehehe... efek capek mungkin.
Saya pun langsung menuju jetty iboih inn untuk melihat keadaan pagi itu, bukan main indahnya laut indonesia, ikan ikan warna warni berbagai ukuran berenang dengan santainya di pinggiran pantai, mancing dan menangkap ikan memiliki aturan ketat di pulau weh, sehingga ekosistem sangat terjaga.
Ikan karang warna warni didepan jetty
Setelah mandi dan sarapan kami langsung menuju Tugu Kilometer Nol menggunakan 2 buah mobil charteran di pantai Iboih, menariknya mobil yang kami tumpangi termasuk hitungan mobil mewah di jakarta, sebuah minibus Mercedes. Pulau Weh merupakan pelabuhan bebas dimana mobil mobil disana masuk melalui Singapore dan tidak dikenakan pajak, sehingga banyak mobil mewah dan aneh berseliweran di jalannya.
Perjalanan melewati hutan dan rimba yang cukup rapat untuk menuju kesana, naik turun bukit dan melewati pantai  pantai yang indah, saya perhatikan aspal disini jauh lebih halus dibandingkan di Jakarta sehingga perjalanan kami menggunakan minibus Mercedes tersebut sangat smooth.

Sesampainya di Tugu KM 0 cuaca agak berawan, beberapa ekor kera buntut panjang dan babi hutan berkeliaran, tersedia pula beberapa warung sederhana yang menjual makanan dan minuman, sertifikat KM 0 dapat pula dipesan disini. Sekitar 1 jam kami berada di areal tugu ini dan tidak lupa juga kami foto bersama di tangga Tugu KM 0.
Foto keluarga di Tugu KM 0
Setelah puas jeprat jepret kami pun kembali ke Iboih untuk  makan siang dan berangkat menuju pulau Rubiah. (yang doyan foto pasti suka disini, dimana aja keren lho backgroundnya).
Tiba di Iboih kali ini kami memutuskan untuk jalan kaki menuju penginapan, melalui jalan setapak bukit bukit kecil tepin layeu.
Kebanyakan villa dan penginapan berbentuk rumah panggung, dan menjorok ke laut, menambah rasa dan sensasi, bagi yang tinggal dijakarta kebiasaan buka pintu ketemu macet, disini buka pintu, ketemu laut, tinggal nyebur.
Iboih Inn Seaview No 5 sebelah kiri & 6 Kanan
"Open the door and the sea is your swimming pool"
Khusus di area pantai dan resort diperbolehkan memakai pakaian renang atau bikini, akan tetapi ketika memasuki desa harus berpakaian yang sopan.
ketika saya berjalan menuju penginapan beberapa turis asing sedang asyik berjemur dan memakai bikini dengan santai.
beberapa bahkan jalan dan berenang dengan santainya.
Ketika kami tiba di penginapan, ternyata makan siang belum mulai, dan kami harus menunggu sekitar satu jam lagi, langsung saja saya kembali ke kamar dan siap siap untuk snorkeling, akhirnya basahin insang juga.
Laut di depan penginapan awalnya didominasi karang lalu pasir dengan beberapa koral cantik terlihat disana sini, ikan lumayan bervariasi dan terlihat juga beberapa Moray Eel menyembul dibalik karang. Terlihat juga beberapa rangka besi yang ditaruh oleh team dari Rubiah Tirta Divers sebagai kerangka transplantasi koral dan karang di kedalaman 4-5 meter, banyak ikan berseliweran disekitarnya.
Cukup banyak turis asing berbikini dipinggir pantai


Karena saya masih bersama rombongan fotografer sayapun mengurungkan niat untuk diving hari itu.
"setelah selesai workshop, baru diving" begitu kata benak saya.
setelah makan siang kami pun langsung menuju pulau rubiah, pulau rubiah dahulu digunakan sebagai tempat transit bagi para calon jemaah haji yang akan menuju Mekkah, beberapa bangunannya masih utuh sampai sekarang, memberikan kesan angker ketika kami lewat.
Pulau Rubiah hanya dihuni oleh sepasang suami istri yang menjaga dan mengelola penginapan satu satunya disini. Sama seperti di Pulau Weh, penginapan disini juga berbentuk rumah panggung kecuali rumah tinggal penjaganya. listrik hanya dinyalakan malam hari.
Snorkeling di pantai depan penginapan didominasi oleh bebatuan vulkanik, bagaimanapun juga Pulau Weh adalah pulau vulkanik yang masih aktif,  masih terdapat kawah terbuka di hutan hutan Weh dan didalam
Penginapan di Pulau Rubiah
lautnya.
Salah satu dive site  yaitu Under sea Volcano,  kedalaman 10 meter, merupakan sumber sulfur dan air panas, dan merupakan dive site yang cukup populer.
Ikan beraneka ragam cukup banyak, Anthias merah, Puffer fish, Parrotfish dan puluhan ikan karang lainnya menghiasi snorkeling kami sore itu.
Setelah puas snorkeling dan hunting foto, kami kembali ke dermaga untuk pulang ke penginapan untuk evaluasi dan istirahat.
Tidak lupa juga kami berfoto bersama di dermaga pulau rubiah.
Foto keluarga  di Pulau Rubiah.

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Pemandangan bawah air Pulau Weh di kedalaman 3 meter(snorkeling), ratusan Anthias merah mendominasi 
Dinner in Iboih Inn

Pantai pulau Rubiah



Forbidden days in Sabang 

Keesokan paginya kami kembali bangun pagi untuk sunrise hunting, tetapi lagi lagi awan menaungi cakrawala di ufuk timur. Dan lagi lagi pula kami kembali ke kamar untuk kembali memejamkan mata. hehehehe....
Setelah evaluasi workshop dan makan siang kami pun bersiap untuk meninggalkan Iboih Inn, ada yang pulang ke Banda Aceh, ke Takengon, Kota Sabang dan Jakarta. Saya sendiri memutuskan untuk tinggal lebih lama beberapa hari untuk menikmati beberapa divesite di sekitar pulau Weh.
Untuk diving sendiri saya memilih untuk menggunakan dive center tertua di pulau Weh, Yaitu Rubiah Tirta Divers(RTD).
Untuk dive pertama saya dan beberapa diver dari australia dan malaysia akan menyelam ke East Seulako, mengarah ke Batee Gla, dengan max depth 20 meter. mild current diatas 5 meter, di bawah 5 hampir tidak ada arus. visibility sekitar 20 meteran. Dasar dipenuhi batuan vulkanik dan hanya sedikit koral, beberapa kima berukuran besar dan sea fan terlihat di antara jutaan anthias merah yang setia menemani. Yang menjadi kejutan adalah kehadiran beberapa Black tip shark seukuran 1 meteran mengelilingi kami sambil mencari makan di antara karang. sungguh menakjubkan sensasi berenang bersama hiu. Diver malaysia bahkan melihat seekor manta berenang cepat diatasnya, saking senangnya sehingga dia berteriak teriak di 20 meter sambil menunjuk ke atas. It;s a good dive overall.
Dive selanjutnya yaitu keesokan sorenya, kali ini West Seulako mengarah ke Arus Balee, laut diatas permukaan lumayan berombak, visibility 20 meter+, max depth 30 meter, batuan vulkanik masih menghiasi dasar akan tetapi lebih banyak koral walau tidak terlalu rapat, banyak sekali lobster di antara batu2 dan tentunya anthias merah masih mendominasi. Banyak GT berseliweran seukuran 20 KG, beberapa bahkan lewat hanya beberapa centi di depan saya, bikin saya ngidam ikan bakar. sempat melihat telur nudie warna merah menyala di bawah saya, cantik sekali membentuk motif seperti mawar. Sayang saya cuma punya gopro jadinya hasil foto kurang memuaskan. Its a good dive also.

Tips ke sabang :

Perhatikan jadwal forbidden day diatas.


  • Kapal Cepat ke Balohan di P Weh ke Ulee Lheue setiap hari pukul 08.00 & 16.00 kecuali hari jumat sekali sehari pukul 15.00, memakan waktu 45 menit dan Ulee Lheue ke Balohan pukul 09.00 & 15.00 setiap hari kecuali jumat. harga 55rb(ekonomi) sampai 85rb(exe+snack)
  • Kapal slow ferry normal 2 jam dari ulhee, akan tetapi karena jetty ferry di Balohan sedang dibangun, ferry langsung menuju sabang dan menambah waktu tempuh menjadi 3 jam. diperkirakan selesai 2013 akhir. Tarif 13rb/orang
  • Penginapan bervariasi mulai harga 30 ribu keatas, beberapa bahkan bisa ditawar. Iboih inn mulai 70rb(fan) sampai 350rb(ac, air panas).
  • Makanan cukup bervariasi mulai 10ribu keatas, Indonesian, Italian sampai Arabian food semua ada, tergantung budget masing masing. Coba pasta di Dee Dee's, Iboih.
  • Yang mau minum alkohol cuma ada di Iboih, Olala cafe. Menjadi tempat nongkrong bule bule di Iboih pada malam hari.
  • Kalau anda ada di sabang hari jumat, dapat memanfaatkan pagi hingga siang untuk berkeliling pulau.
  • Transportasi hanya ada Minibus, atau ojek, harga bervariasi tergantung tujuan. Dapat juga menyewa motor, Rp 50rb/setengah hari



Just another day in paradise

Kima di Rubiah







Oct 24, 2012

Baluran National Park, Africa in Java...

I was on the bus to Surabaya from Bali when I decided to stop in the middle of the road  in the woods of East Java. There's a gate and a sign that said "Selamat Datang di Taman Nasional Baluran". 


I was in Baluran, a National Park that is situated at the north-eastern extremity of Java, close to the islands of Bali and Madura. Some call it Africa van Java because of the big animals and big savanna. The park is bordered by the Madura Strait to the north, the Bali Strait to the east, the river Bajulmati (Wonorejo village) to the west and the river Klokoran (Sumberanyar village) to the south. The park is a rough circle, with the extinct Volcano, Baluran, at its centre. Its total area is 25,000 hectares.
I quickly went to the Rangers office to ask about the park facilities and transportation.
The ranger told me that to reach the park highlights in Bekol savanna and Bama beach we have to walk 12 kilometers(9 to Bekol savanna + 3 km to Bama beach ) crossing through dense forests or take a motorbike taxi for a sum of 50k Rupiah.
After quick lunch and buying supply in local warung I'm heading to the park entrance with my backpack getting heavier and the sun shining brighter, ready to walk that 9 kilometer tarmac. but just after few steps the ranger is rushing towards me to inform that the chief ranger is taking out his patrol car and ready to inspect the Bekol Savanna and is taking me along.... yippiiieeeee....
Along our journey the woods become thicker and denser, thousands of  butterfly and birds chipping become our friends on the way. After 30 minutes our sight changes into a green and vast savanna, we arrive in Bekol Savanna in clear skies and mount Baluran standing tall in front of us.
Bekol Savanna & Baluran Mountain on a sunny day.

Baluran already known as a place to do safari since the early dutch era in Indonesia. Back then the Dutch royal and rich come to this place to hunt the big animals such as Timor Deer and Wild Bull. Lots of animal are being killed before the establishment of Baluran as Natural Conservation Area in 1937 by the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, and finally as a National Park in 1980 by the Ministre of Agriculture of The Republic of Indonesia.
The Bekol savanna have a couple of rooms and houses available for rent, starting from 30k rupiah per person up to 250k in air conditioned rooms, in my case I choose the 30k.
The View of Bekol Savanna from the watch tower
After checking in, i started to walk and see the surrounding area of bekol. there's a watch tower just behind the ranger station and also a pair of peacock walking around.
The ranger told me that the big animals usually don't come out until there is absolutely no water in the forests, so the best time to visit this National Park would be around September and October, when you can see the big animals such as Wild dogs, Deer, Bull and peacock roaming the Bekol plain.
I also met two girls from Austria that is travelling Indonesia and spending that day to see Baluran. 
At 15.00 I decided to walk 3km to Bama Beach and taking pictures of the scenery as i walk. I saw different kind of palm trees and lots of banyan tree along the way, and lots of, I mean really a lot of those Timor deer grazing along the meadow, but as I try to get closer, they can feel my presence and ran away.
My camera lenses are not fast enough to take their pictures.

When i finally arrive in Bama beach, apparently there is an event held by a high school from Banyuwangi, so the idea of nice and relaxing atmosphere at the beach is vanish.
The crowd of 200 school age boy and girl really can make a very large noise not including the PA calling names and telling what to do all the times.*sigh
There is also a couple of guesthouse in the area, with a small cafeteria and warung ran by the locals.
The local told me that it is best to see Bama in morning as the sun rises, so i promise myself to get up early and walk to Bama in morning.
Takes about 20 - 40 minutes to walk from Bekol to Bama depending of your speed, so do set your alarm depending on your walking speed, the sunlight usually appears at 5 in the morning.
I slept early to gain back my energy so i can catch the sunrise, and i gotta tell you that the sunrise is remarkably beautiful. With Agung mountain of Bali as a background and the sea as the foreground, even words cant describe the beauty.
Sunrise in Bama beach
Unfortunately just when the atmosphere getting better, PA of the high school students i mentioned before turn on, its telling everybody to wake up and gathered ....
Once again its a real bummer to that good atmosphere, and in no time area is once again filled with shit load of teenager.
I ordered breakfast in the cafeteria and rush back to bekol savanna to close back my eyes.




Tips

Some tips if you want to visit Baluran is make sure that its dry season. The big animals usually stays hidden in wet season and comes to bekol when the dry season at its peak. the only place to get fresh water in the area. The tarmac is quite beaten from the park gate to bekol savanna and there is only dirt track to bama beach from bekol savanna, so it can get real muddy in the wet season.
Cant use tent in Bekol or Bama beach, monkeys roam the area and lots of animals likes raccoon and squirrel. 
No cafeteria in Bekol only in Bama, so come prepared.
The guests house is quite clean and you can choose type of the villa, the cheapest is shared room with a twin single beds, but if you travelling alone you'll probably ended up sleeping alone in the room. 

Transportation

From Bali : Take a bus from Ubung Terminal in Denpasar heading Surabaya or head to Gilimanuk, take the ferry crossing to Banyuwangi and then take a small bus heading Probolinggo, only 30 minutes from Banyuwangi Terminal. Tell the conductor to drop you at Baluran Gate.


From Jakarta : Fly to Surabaya
From Bromo : Take a minibus to Probolinggo and from there you can continue using big bus heading Banyuwangi.


From Surabaya : Take a bus from Bungur Asih heading Banyuwangi, tell the Conductor to stop at Baluran gate, its 8 or 9 hours ride so be sure to go early.



\


Aug 2, 2012

The Todo Tribe of Eastern Manggarai, Flores

Back in March 2012 I have the privileges to visit Flores as a part of a documentary movie crew made by a local Indonesian TV channel, the story is about a local tribes in this remote place in Flores called Kampung Todo and what they have to do to preserve their culture.

There are no direct flight to Flores from Jakarta so we have to make a small stop in Bali before changing planes and head to Labuan Bajo in the next day.
My first view of Flores comes in the plane above it, the landscape from above is just beautiful, stunning in the most awed way, specially when we fly  above Komodo National Park
Birdview sight of Komodo island
But this time its not Komodo that being my destination.
I'm here as an advance team for the whole film crew and prepare pick ups, local guide and transportation around etc
In the first day I stay in the city of Ruteng, about 4 hour drive from the airport in Labuan Bajo, located in a middle of mountainous area of west end Manggarai. It is a capital of Western Manggarai so I think its quite big by the local standards.
I stay in this guy  I know in the plane to Labuan Bajo, a teacher in a local academy of Ruteng, the guy name is Nimrod, he lives in a small house with a couple of college students from Kupang, apparently Nimrod also comes from Kupang so its like a frat house for the dudes of Kupang...
 "I moved here from Kupang after my divorced a couple of years back" said the 34 years old man, "I just had my leave and travel to see Jakarta and Bali when I met you in the plane" he added.
When I arrive in Ruteng its dark already so I dont have anything to look at. But in the morning I was quite stunned to see the surrounding, were surrounded by mountains, no wonder its quite cold in the night.Ruteng is a very religious city from the looks of it. There's even a 15 foot Jesus statue in the middle of an intersection.
When the dawn break, I hire a car plus the driver and heading to Todo village, 40 KM from the city of Ruteng, we're  heading west and descend through a very rugged and mountainous area.After a three hour ride we finally arrive in Todo, the Center of Western Manggarai old kingdom. 
The Village is located between two big hills and you can actually see Indian ocean from behind the traditional main house .
Mbaru Niang
The main house called Mbaru Niang, made only by wood, it had no nails in it and is actually quite big on the inside, and unlike in Wae Rebo village that have three Mbaru Niang house, in Todo there's only one, but it is the Center of Manggarai. The one in Todo is renovated in late the 80's.
The King of old Manggarai lives in Todo and Wae Rebo is ruled by the Todo king.
Todo is also the place to host Penti, a celebration and great festival of Western Manggarai.
When me and my team  arrive, we were greeted with a small festival of local alcohol drinks call Mo'ke and a ceremony, as a symbol of welcome and a sign that the Todos are welcoming us as one of them, we are now officially a Todo.
The welcoming ceremony inside Mbaru Niang
There is no electricity in the Village, although there's power line I saw in the way to the village, but the line stops just 500 meters from the village. Apparently the line have no electric current, but there is a big generator owned by the locals and we can use it to charge batteries etc. Cellphones signal is Telkomsel only. 
There's a lot of philosophy inside the Mbaru Niang house that we live in but the main idea was it was the sanctuary for the whole tribe. 
So if anybody comes to Todo they welcome to stay at Mbaru Niang. We share it with a family that is the only one that live and headed by an old man that we called Pak'Tua(Old Man), a 70 year old man descendant from the old chief, that had 5 children and all of his children already built their own houses around the big house.
"You and the whole crew will stay in Mbaru Niang, you are all a part of us now, Todo Tribe" said Pak'Tua in his Manggarai accent. 

At first I thought Pak'Tua is the Chief of Todo but apparently the chief is in Ruteng to visit his son and Pak'Tua is one of the eldest of the village and considered as a shaman for the Todo's.  
The next day we finally met the Tribal chief of Todo, and He explain to us about the history and stories of old Todo, how they escape from dutch and the guerrilla war against the europeans invader.
The Tribal chief of Todo
He also tells us a story how the Todo tribe conquer all of the small kingdom of surrounding west Manggarai,  and how come there is still no electricity given by the Central government.

First couple of days of the movie making we spend it mainly on the local market and farm, just like every other market in remote places it only take place a couple times a week, In this case its twice a week,Wednesday and Saturday. 
the stuff they sell mainly is home and daily needs such soaps, toothpaste and groceries, so no extraordinary and strange things we saw.

In the weekend I  finally have the chance to see something that is quite special in my opinion. The Todo is going to held a "Caci", a local sport in west Manggarai, it involves two warriors dress for battlefield holding sticks and shield made from cow leather and wood, one warrior will attack first using a stick and the other one will be defending and try to repulse using a shield made from leather and vice versa.
Obin with defensive attribute of Caci
My favorite warrior is Obin, Pak'tua 4th son and the champion of Caci in west Manggarai, there is a yearly Caci Championship held in Ruteng competing for the regent trophy and Obin is last year winner. Obin told me "I've never been hit even once in a Caci match" there's pride in his voice. 
There's a lot of to do before organizing a Caci, which involves praying and sacrificing a chicken blood to the ancestors the night before. Although mostly is Catholic, the Todo still practices the culture that handed down by their ancestors.
 There is also a meeting that attended by the whole village men, so its quite complicated. 
After a long session of talking and drinking mo'ke it is finally agreed that the Caci will be held in the morning and involving 4 men, two will be the host and the other two will be the contender, Obin and his brother Florin will be the host.
The caci warrior, Obin is in the right, his brother Flori is in the left, their opponent
is on the center
Sun is shining brightly in the morning as we prepare for Caci. The Chief explains to me how Caci can only be played without a vengeance, there will be no bloodshed and quarrel after that. The warrior must have clean heart so there will be no fight after and they all must join the ceremonial drinking Mo'ke after Caci.
The host assembled in Mbaru Niang and the Challenger gathered in a house nearby. After a quick pray and sing we all head to the front of the big house and the Chief declared that Caci is officially held.
The men are gathered in the small grass complex front of Mbaru Niang and the ladies of the village play traditional music instrument.
The first warrior couple is Obins brother Flori, " This is my first Caci" he said in a small voice, just 17 years old Flori is still in practice and he wants to follow his brother footstep as a Caci warrior.
Flori tries to hit his opponents in his first caci match,,
watch by the whole village
Flori will hit first and soon  the result can be seen, he failed to hit his opponent.  "I need a lot of practice before I can establish myself as a Caci warrior" Flori told me with a smile. 
After that it was his turn to defend against his opponent and this time it succeed in hitting him in the stomach. 
The bruise is small but I know that is quite painful, "that is nothing" Obin said, "Usually when I hit someone the skin will peel and show the meat inside".

"In Florin's case its only outside wound, so there is nothing to worry about, the worse one involves the bones sticking out", Pak'Tua said to me, oh my... 
Obin preparing to attack
Now its time for Obin attack, last year Regent champion, the atmosphere is changing, I don't know what is his opponent thinking but he must have felt it too. 
It turns out that the Obin is successfully hit his opponent and leaving a peel skin and quite a bruise in his opponents back. And when his turn to defend against his opponent, the shield he carry done the job protecting him. "Well fought" I said in my mind.


Obin opponents back, small but quite a bruise and peel skin
After Caci the Chief assembled all the village people and surrounded them by the Caci warrior, gave a sermon to the mass.
" We all have been a witnessed of a great show today, I hope there will be no quarrel and fight and discontent about everything, lets all now give thanks to God and enjoying the day with love to each other" He said in a local Todo Language.
"What a big heart this Caci warrior have" I thought to myself. They passing each other the Mo'Ke in a leather container as a  peace symbol, Alcohol is common as a friendship tool in this part of the world.
The Chief assembled the Warrior in front of all the villager
gave them a sermon about the meaning of Caci and giving
them Mo'Ke

After the Mo'ke we all entered Mbaru Niang to enjoy lunch prepared by the Todo ladies. 
Its been a long day of caci in this remote Todo Village and accompanied by Florin I treat myself with a couple of Photograph around the village. 
The sky is dramatic that afternoon, mostly cloudy but the sun is still visible behind the clouds.
Flores sky is always beautiful from the first day but it is stunningly gorgeous particularly today. 
As if the sky added a couple of secret formula 
for us to see.

Flores sky above Mbaru Niang after Caci day
That night I slept with a new point of view
 of Flores and Its people.
It seems even though most of the Todo
tribe is Catholic, Old beliefs don't vanished.
 They still practice it in their daily life,
 Todo believe their ancestors comes from 
West Sumatra, in the modern day
 Minangkabau hundred years before
 Islam entered the archipelago.
But still, no Warung Padang in Todo
 Village.

Last day in Todo Village we spend it to 
record traditional woven cloth made by Todo woman, its fascinating that the still uses the
 old way of weaving the thread from cotton  trees, and then 
actually dye it with materials from the surrounding forest.
Weaving cloth in a traditional way, 
a skill that everyTodo woman 
mastered before marriage
They Called it "Ikat" for the small scarf size and 
"Sarong" for the big size. 
Ikat can be made less than a week and Sarong 
made up to a month.
Truly a dedication in the making, imagine just 
sitting there, weaving for a month long.
"It seems a long time a month, but in fact its 
only a brief when you think of it" one of the
 mama told me. 
They sold the cloth to visitor or anyone who
 wants it, Sarong is worth varies from 500k
 Rupiah to 2 Million,Ikat sold between 50k
 to 200k depending on the complexity.

We will be leaving midnight to catch the morning 
flight to Bali, so I must maximize the time I have 
in this beautiful island of Flores. 
Its been an honored for me to see these beautiful 
tribe and their challenge against the modern world.

My travel always takes me to see beautiful places 
and my mindset is clear when going into new places,
"All people are basically nice and friendly" and Todo is exactly as I expected.
As I ask to Obin before we left , " Do you mind if I come back here and stay a while?", 
with a smile he answered " You are now a Todo Tribe, this village is your village now,
 we'll considered you as a ambassador of Todo to the outside world, you will be 
welcome  here again as a part of Todo".   


May 24, 2012

Those bloody stairs of Karma Beach

Karma Beach in Southern Bali

I forget how many times I travelled to Bali, but I know its a lot...

I even lives there for a couple of months back in 2003 and it always gives me new experiences and new sights...
The culture, the people, the beautiful landscape...
there is always something lurking in the streets corner to surprise us....



Karma landscape... Sand and rock





I was in bali that mid March, a couple of local Balinese guys that i know had a day off and decided that we all should go to Karma Beach in Southern Bali(actually the most southern tip), so after a long session of waiting and arguing we finally arrived at this so called Karma beach....
Local Balinese beach boys
It is  located just below the Karma Kandara Resort in Uphill Jimbaran Area... Its  actually a private beach owned by Karma Resort but you still can go down by taking the stairs down about 200 meter (Its hard walking up :D)
Of course if you're staying in Karma you can take the Elevator down, not me though :P
At the beach we were informed that we also can take those damn elevator by paying a sum of 200k rupiah.. about 20US$..
Stretch about a mile, it had white sand and stunningly rocky spots that is used as an umbrella by the locals, if you hate to bring water down you can always buy'em from the Karma Restaurant(about 10$ a bottle)






Mar 9, 2012

Argopuro, Home of the Mysterious Rengganis Princess


In the foothill of Argopuro, Bremi village

The Argopuro mountain ranges is by far the longest trek i've been, it covered 12 small mountain from the enter point in Bremi to the besuki exit.
In one of the peak, Rengganis peak there's an ancientbuilding(Candi) constructed by Dewi Rengganis and her follower, the legend stated that she lived there to avoid Her capture from Raden Wijaya.
Took us about to 6 days to go up and down.