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Latest posts by Contributor writer: Keben Menulis (see all)
- One Day Sail To Discover The Habitat Of Komodo Dragon - June 17, 2017
- A Day At Wae Rebo Village, Flores - May 29, 2017
Have you heard about the traditional Wae Rebo Village? It’s located in Manggarai on Flores Island in Indonesia to be more precise! In 2012, it had been worldwide and received recognition as one of UNESCO world heritage sites. To give you a short description, only 200 people lives in this village and they stay in 7 different traditional houses. The traditional name of the houses is “Mbaru Niang” with their unique architecture as a circular cone shape made from natural wood and palm fibre. Each “Mbaru Niang” or drum house in English, has five levels with its respective function and philosophy. Located at 1200 mdpl, this traditional village is built on a flat plain surrounded by many green and beautiful hills.
However, it takes a bit more struggle to be able to achieve and enjoy the exciting experience of tradition, culture and natural beauty of this village. Yes, I had to use a scooter from Labuan Bajo and continued walking/trekking until Wae Rebo. Here are all the details how I get there:
HOW TO GET TO WAE REBO VILLAGE?
7 am, after completing all the preparations for the trip to Wae Rebo, I started walking towards a scooter rental about 50 meters from my hotel in Labuan Bajo. Apparently, the shop was still closed but I took the initiative to knock on the door, and after awhile, a person answered and asked me to wait for few second! Yes… it meant I could start my journey to Denge Village, the last village that can be accessed by a motor. As I read that the trip from Labuan Bajo to Denge took approximately 6 hours driving then another 2-3 hour hiking uphill in the mountain, I definitely needed to start my day as early as I could!
I rent my scooter for 2 days and paid 75.000 rupiahs per day (excluding fuel). I would advise you to check the condition of the motor before you choose as they are not all always in a good condition. Especially, for a long way like this one, make sure the brakes, lights and of the electrical can functioning normally. Even don’t hesitate to try the scooter for a quick test drive. After choosing the scooter that I felt the best, I had to fill up a form and paid in the front.
The first step was to find a gas station and then I headed straight to Denge Village with a route toward the city of Ruteng. Once arrived at Ruteng city, you will see a large sign/banner on the right side of the road that show the direction of Wae Rebo. Up to this point, the road condition was pretty good but many turns as well as ups and downs, so just be careful! Especially, with the incredible scenery all around, you can be easily distracted! A real pleasure for your eyes!
I said “up to this point” because as soon as you arrive in the main road, the condition of the road was getting worse! The way small, barely two cars could fit in it and was 85% damaged. Which considerably slowed down my journey. Oh and make sure you learned the route on a map or your smartphone before travelling. I said that because there are a lot of intersections that will make the route a bit confusing. To be honest, I did wonder a lot as well as I was on the right way or not. What helped me a lot at that time, was to ask my way to the locals who are, in general, very friendly! If you don’t speak Indonesian, just say the name of the city Denge, and they will show you the right way!
There was one sweet thing along the way, which was all the little kids doing high five while shouting “Buleeee” (means foreigners in Bahasa Indonesia) to me. I think this is because most of the tourists that come to visit Wae Rebo are foreigners! So even if you are Indonesian they will still call you “bule”!!
After about 7 hours of drive, I finally arrived at Denge village around 02:15 pm. I decided to stop at a homestay of Mr Blasius to have lunch and also to rest before doing the trekking. Just remember, if you decided to stay in the homestay, they will require you to use the guide porter for 200.000 rupiahs per trip (return). Of course, for travellers who are on a tight budget, might prefer not to use these services.
The path was quite clear but a bit rocky with draining soil. Considering the trek took about 2-3 hours of uphill, being used to hike and having a fit condition might help!! I highly recommend using comfortable footwear such as mountain sandals/mountain boots. Also don’t forget to bring water to drink, raincoats (especially during the rainy season) and personal needs.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE ENTERING THE TRADITIONAL VILLAGE?
First, you need to ring a bamboo pole in a bamboo hut before entering Wae Rebo village to signify your arrival. Notice that at this time, you are not yet allowed to take pictures or videos.
Secondly, upon entering the village, you need to go directly to the biggest Mbaru Niang/traditional house (there’s big altar in front of it) where the chief of the village lives. Once inside, you will be greeted by the village chief/elders and they will pray for you in their local language (takes only 2-3 minutes). Here also is the time to give voluntary offering money (I gave 20.000 IDR), after all of that, now we are allowed to take pictures and videos. Of course, always remember to respect the local tradition and culture when you take pictures.
The last step, they will show you the house where you will spend the night and ask you to pay the fee of 325.000 IDR per person per night. Even it’s traditional house but there are a bathroom and toilet. Just be prepared to get one of the coldest showers of you’ll ever felt in Indonesia!! The price included the dinner, the breakfast and unlimited coffee or tea during your stay. In this unique circular room, mattresses, pillows and bedding blankets were arranged for about 30 people. For me, this was a unique and unforgettable experience to spend a night in.
One important thing to know is that there was electricity only from 6PM to 9PM and from 6AM to 9AM daily. So don’t forget to charge your phone especially if you don’t really remember the route to go back from Wae Rebo.
LIFE AT THE VILLAGE
At night, it was very quiet, and we ate all together while listening to the stories about the Village by the officers who help to serve the guest needs. What I particularly enjoyed, is the fact that everyone was together, locals and foreigners. We all eat and sleep in the same place, exchange interests and experiences instead of playing with our electronic gadgets as most of the people do in the city. Anyway, don’t expect to have any signal or connection in the village!
You might be awakened by the sound of the roosters in the early morning. Which is a nice thing as the best time to take pictures of the village is during the early morning when the sun start to show up. I personally really enjoyed this time, feeling the atmosphere of the village in the middle of the mountains while observing the daily activities of the villagers.
At the mid-time, if you wish to help the village or bring back some souvenir, you can buy beautiful and interesting souvenirs that the villagers made. Some are made from woven fabrics, also bracelets up to organic coffee that they grow in their garden.
Once you are done taking pictures, you will have breakfast with everyone while sharing your pictures and enjoy a hot tea or coffee. Then, slowly, everyone began to pack their bags and started the hike down the hill and continued their journey. While for me, as I still have 7 hours drive so I started rushing down to Denge Village at 9 AM. Continue the trip back to Labuan Bajo by motorcycle and continue my other trips…
Written by: KEBEN MENULIS (Our Contributor Writer)
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