Ruteng and Bajawa

We left LB early the next morning, in a private car that would take us to Ruteng. Eddy offered to organize it for us, which unfortunately meant there was little room to bargain a better price… not that it was his fault, but a learning experience for us. The ride was rather uneventful, and after four hours we reached our hotel. Eddy had originally advised us to skip Ruteng all together, and go straight to Bajawa. But we did not want to spend 8 hours in a car, so we told him we would give this ‘city’ a go. He then recommended a hotel, Agung Satur, as he knew we were on a budget. Via the front desk, Tim asked for the cheapest room, and they most certainly gave it to us! It is hard to describe how awful this place was. The sheets that covered the mattresses seemed to have been cut from an already worn out queen sized, and were not even big enough to cover the whole thing. The entire place was dingy, disgustingly dirty and tired looking. A door opened up to the back of the hotel, with an amazing view of… a pile of old, grubby rubbish. It was by far the most horrendous place I have ever spent a night at, but you get what you pay for! IMG_2280IMG_2283 We decided to walk around Ruteng, trying to find the bus stop so we could escape to Bajawa early the next morning. We roamed around the town, got some juicy fresh mandarins at a street stall, and did not find anything fun… Dinner was at a place we called the local KFC, which our curiosity attracted us to… IMG_2371 The terminal ended up being too far to walk, so we decided to just get up the next morning and walk around with our packs; this approach had already proven effective before: transport in this country tends to find you, not the other way around. And that was exactly what happened – about two blocks down the road a bus on its way to Bajawa found us, loaded our packs onto the roof, and on we went. IMG_2285 We reached Bajawa around noon, and discovered it was indeed a much nicer town. Tired of eating deep fried food, we were delighted to find a market selling fresh fruits and vegetables. I was thrilled to find some ripe looking tomatoes and avocados, which I devoured later on with some crackers and salt. Our hotel had internet, so we spent the rest of the day listening to music and updating our blogs and friends. IMG_2300IMG_2293 The next day we aimed to visit a little village called Oggi, famous for its outstanding waterfall. In the hotel lobby, a man asked where we were heading, and offered to help us find transport. We flagged some Ojeks (bikes) and he started talking to the drivers in Indonesian. He got a commission out of it, which I found utterly unfair as I had actually flagged them down, but it was too late to change our minds.. So again, moral of the story is, find your own transport and do your own bargaining! (even if neither of your speaks the other language, fingers get you far :P) Nonetheless, they both had helmets and were good drivers. IMG_2356IMG_2354IMG_2369 The way to Oggi was wonderful, lots of green, huge bamboo ‘grass” (the wiki says its not technically a tree), and lush vegetation. They went off the main road at the town and drove us down this small path alongside some rice fields all the way to the waterfall. It was indeed a very beautiful one, and we spent a while watching the water pour down with incredible force into a man made pool. It seems like the hydraulic force is being used to generate electricity for Bajawa and the surrounding area. After a creative drawing and even more elaborate gesturing, we managed to get the drivers to understand we wanted them to wait at the town entrance for us to come back, instead of driving back via the road in the picture above. We then proceeded to climb up some narrow steps all the way to the top of the waterfall. I kept repeating to myself to not look down, while thinking of Tim’s dad and his fear of heights: he would have never climbed up these stairs in his lifetime. The man responsible for the ‘power plant’ followed us up, and showed us how he changed the water stream on the waterfall to make the gears move. It was a pretty cool experience to see all this… Once we were satisfied, we climbed down and slowly made our way back through the rice fields. A few kids followed us, and taught us a few words in Bahasa Indonesian as we passed them by: cow, horse, dog. IMG_2340IMG_2312IMG_2359 We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out, going for walks around the town, and generally enjoying the mountains cool weather. When the sun came down, we had a splendid dinner at a Warung called Camelia, one of the best in town, according to wiki travel.  At that point, we were craving freshly made food, as most places in town precook the meals, lay them down to get soggy and full of flies, and then put them on a plate and serve them as they are when clients order them… Instead this place made everything from scratch, and it was marvelous. The next day we started walking to the end of town to catch a bus to Ende, and ended up being picked up by a Bemo (pimped up van with only two benches that face each other that carries as many people as possible, one of the cheapest ways to move around) that took us to the edge of town, where the transports stop. At that point we found out we were too late for the bus, but of course there were plenty of other options. We ended up getting into a private car, whose driver was obviously a Barcelona fan. We had to wait for almost an hour, as they normally won’t move until the car is full, to maximize the profit on the trip. He was such an awful driver, I am glad we made it alive. He kept making rush movements with the wheel, throwing everyone around inside the car. An older lady at the back started throwing up about 5 minutes into the trip… and he kept picking up passengers until we could hardly breathe inside the car. He chose the worse possible places to overtake the car in front of him, all blind corners where there was no way of telling what was coming. All the time, he was holding one of his two phones in his hands and texting. It was… insane. Luckily we survived and were thrilled to find our friend Frando (who we had met during our Pelni journey) waiting for us in Ende with his homely huge grin.

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