Wednesday, April 6, 2016

And then there is Alor

After a little over a week on the beautiful friendly island of Lembata, I took another ferry further east. This one was a car ferry, and left from a port south of Lewoleba, necessitating the taking of an ojek through the night to get there. Once on the ferry I found myself a space on the vehicle deck to throw down a mattress (provided by the ferry company for an extra 20,000Rp) and make myself at home. I'd brought some sate and rice for dinner, so I ate that, and then went to sleep. It wasn't that hard, though I could have made it a little more comfortable by unpacking my bag a little to fashion up a pillow, and when, at 3 in the morning it became just a little chilly and everyone else used their sarongs as blankets, I too could have if I'd bothered to unpack it. Instead I tucked my shirt in and managed without.

The ferry was slow. We left Waijarang on Lembata at 8pm, and arrived in Baranusa on Pantar at 6am. We then waited there about an hour before heading further east, arriving at Kalabahi on Alor around 1pm. But the scenery was superb, particularly the sunrise as we headed in to Baranusa.

Once in Kalabahi I took an ojek to Cantik Homestay, a small place in a leafy suburb just up from the hospital, very central but still quiet and away from the traffic on the main road. The rooms are set around a courtyard, are air conditioned and cheap, and the cooking is superb. Perfect for sleeping away the rest of the day, and washing all my filthy clothes before heading out for a massive meal of baked fish down at the night warungs by the harbour.

My plan in Alor was to do some sight seeing before heading off to Pulau Kepa for a couple of days of diving. But I hadn't booked a room on Kepa, and they were full, as the diving season has already commenced. The next ferry wasn't for another week, so I had all the time in the world to relax and get to know the island and its people. And if I thought Lembata was friendly, Alor is even more so.

So what did I do with my days?

I slept in, drank coffee and chatted with other guests at the homestay. There's James, from Singapore, running a game fishing charter boat business, there's Kennedy, from Manado, and his wife Isobel, looking to start up a dive business. There's Pak Khris the owner, his wife Karolina who is a fantastic cook, and Deddy and Yanti who work at the Homestay. Everyone is friendly and relaxed, and evenings over dinner and some Sopi (the local palm wine brewed on the nearby island of Pura) with great conversation in a mixture of English and Indonesian, are something to look forward to.

During the days I wander around town or further afield.

I find a funky little cafe just down the road, opposite the hospital, which sells souvenirs as well as some delicious cocktails made from Sopi. It's run by a fantastic lady called Mika, who becomes my friend. More about her and the work she is doing on Alor in another post.

I visit the Museum Seribu Moko, which has a collection of mokos, ancient brass drums used for making music but also for dowry, ikats from around the island, and various old ceramics and historical paraphernalia. I make another friend, Razta, who offers to take me to the traditional village of Takpala.

samurai swords from the Japanese occupation during WW2


the models have conspicuously white skin and features

irate detail

I hire a motorbike for a day and do a circumnavigation of the birds head peninsula of Alor, which involves some rather dodgy roads through the mountains and getting caught in a massive downpour. And meeting a very friendly family of three generations.

I drink more cocktails at Mika's cafe, and on Sunday we go for dinner at the local posh restaurant of Resto Mama, built over the water with drop dead gorgeous views of the sunset. The food isn't as good as Ibu Karolina's but it's a great location, only spoilt by the Karaoke that the restaurant also offers.

I buy more ikats and souvenirs, too many to keep with me when travelling, so I head to the Post Office to send them home. It's cheaper to send them from Kupang, so Mika offers to do it for me when she goes there in a week or two.

I go down to the port to confirm where and when my ferry to Atapupu, on the eastern end of West Timor leaves. My research told me Tuesday night, but Pak Khris and the port security guys tell me Wednesday.

I spend a night at Mika's house and the next day we head into the interior to distribute shoes to needy school children.

And then I miss my freaking ferry!!

All these stories next...well soon anyway....

No comments:

Post a Comment