Images of Flores Part Two: Kelimutu

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Flores‘ famous coloured volcanic crater lakes are much larger than I had expected from photos I had seen beforehand. Black, blue and turquoise when I visited, the Kelimutu lakes change colour from time to time.     Read more about … Continue reading

Bintang Bungalows, Moni, Flores: Simple but Friendly

5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 1 vote

I stayed in at Bintang Bungalows for two nights, with a visit to Kelimutu and a tour of the local area as my activities. The homestay is centrally located in Moni village and offers a great view across the road to the church, with hills on both sides and as far out as the sea.

Bintang BungalowsBintang is split into two halves; the left side with the restaurant is run by Tobias, and the right side, where I stayed, is run by his sister-in-law Shinta. She is a powerful woman who has set up this homestay business on her own after living on many different Indonesian islands, though she is originally from the Moni area. I spent several hours chatting to her about her life and her family; she had a four-month-old baby when I was there, though she has three older children as well.

I haggled the price of my room down from Rp. 120,000 to Rp. 100,000. I had a private bathroom but it was somewhat rundown and in need of work. There was no door between the bathroom and the bedroom. The bathroom had a cold water shower and a large bucket for flushing the sit-down toilet. Outside the bathroom there was a sink. The weather can be cold in Moni, due to its altitude, and I showered less often than usual as a result of not having hot water.

The double bed was comfortable and came with a mosquito net. There was just one thin blanket and I was relieved I had packed my lightweight sleeping bag.

Breakfast was a banana pancake with tea or coffee, tasty but not very filling. I ate at Tobias’s restaurant downstairs and although it was expensive, the portions were large.

View from Bintang

The view from Bintang; this road is the trans-Flores "highway".

When I stayed at Bintang, they were doing renovations to build more rooms on the left side. This meant that all day every day the sounds of building work, drilling and banging, disturbed anyone trying to rest. The restaurant downstairs often played pop music and Shinta and her staff and family were quite loud people, calling to each other from right outside my room. These factors affected my sleep, in my room on the top floor, right next to Shinta’s living room. Other rooms may be quieter.

Bintang is very popular; it was full one of the nights I was there, and this was not tourist season. Staff were helpful and honest about travel information and prices. Shinta offers car rental and can help organise your onward travel. You can book a room by emailing [email protected] or telephoning Shinta on +62 (0)852 3916 8310.

Moni, Flores: A Brief Guide to the Kelimutu Gateway

3.00 avg. rating (77% score) - 1 vote

Moni is one destination most visitors to Flores are bound to spend a night, as the departure point for visiting Kelimutu volcanic crater lakes, the most famous tourist attraction on the island. So here’s a brief guide based on my own two-night stay.

Views out to sea from MoniIn the Village

Moni is not right next to Kelimutu—it’s still a 13km journey away—but it has become the main hub for visitors, probably due to its location on the main trans-Flores road, and a large number of accommodation options and other tourist facilities have sprung up.

The village lines both sides of the main road, and has a church and a field area, which is used for the local market on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings. From the upper parts of the village you can look out to a fantastic view across the hills, all the way to the ocean.

You won’t get woken up by the call to prayer in Moni, because there is no mosque. Like the rest of Flores, Moni has a Catholic majority. Walking through the village is pleasant and the local people were friendly. I met three little girls, who took me to see the Mary statue and shrine beside the church. The local language is called Lio, which sounds very different to Indonesian, though the majority of people also speak Indonesian.

Moni churchFacilities for Visitors

Many homestays line the main road offering reasonably priced rooms for travellers. I stayed at Bintang Bungalows, which is apparently a popular option. It was full for one of the nights I was there, and this is outside the main tourist season. I paid Rp. 100,000 (after haggling from Rp. 120,000) for a room with bathroom and cold water only, and it was quite cold for showering. Moni is not a hot place though the high altitude means it gets strong sunlight in the middle of the day.

Eating cheaply is difficult in Moni, where most eateries are restaurants aimed at foreign tourists. Local people tend to cook at home rather than eating out. However, down the road I found a cheap bakso (meatball soup) place, run by an East Javanese man. I ate at Bintang Restaurant, run by Tobias, the brother-in-law of Sinta who owns Bintang Bungalows, and the portions were on the large side, which may justify the extra expense.

Transport and guides are available in Moni. Motorbikes can be hired for Rp. 100,000 or more per day, and I hired a guide, called Udin, and motorbike for a whole day for Rp. 130,000. Sinta of Bintang Bungalows has a car and a minibus (bemo) that she rents out. It is easy to organise onward transport from Moni to your next destination, because it is located on the main trans-Flores road, so buses, minibuses and public cars all pass through.

Forested Hills