Travels with V

Indonesia & Singapore

Music and noise, the sounds of the sea

Paga - Maumere

We had, of course, carefully studied our Lonely Planet-guide before we left home, and one “must-visit” site on Flores recommended there is Laryss restaurant in Paga. It’s described as the best eating on Flores, and they also have rooms for the night, right on the beach!

Paga is a fishing village so small it’s not on many maps. We had this vision of a romantic dinner on a veranda by the sea, and a morning swim next day. But the reality was something quite different.

The friendly owner, Mr Augustus Naban has a few cranky tables with odd plastic chairs in the sand under a large tree. A veranda was under construction (it’s ready now). On the meny was grilled fish, perfectly ok but no great sensation.

The room on the beach was a concrete bunker with paint peeling off the walls and one naked bulb hanging from the roof. The bathroom was a toilet and a sink with no water, there was however a tap high up on a wall, so to wash and flush you had to fill a bucket from the tap. The place smelled heavily of urine.

We slept very little that night, the room on the beach turned out to be an echo chamber for the thunder of heavy waves crashing onto the beach. The floor shook.

And this is not a beach for swimming, it’s too dangerous. To go for a swim we had to hitch a ride with two motorcyclists to Coca Beach, some 5 kilometers away from Paga. Coca Beach is a perfect beach, wide and sandy with crystal waters. There’s even a dusty little tavern where we could get a Bintang beer.

But one night in Paga is more than enough, so the next morning we continued north to Maumere, Flores’ biggest city with 50 000 inhabitants. We had booked rooms at the impressively named Sea World Beach Club for the final days of our Indonesian journey. T’s a really nice place with good bungalows in a park and a nice beach perfect for watching the sun set.

The beach was not reserved for guests, everyday a group of young men were engaged there in an unusual fishing method. A man in a boat placed a long net in a semicircle in the sea. Both ends were connected with heavy ropes to a group an the shore. These hauled the net to the shore where fish was landed. Mostly very small fish, but sometimes a trumpet fish or a flying fish.

Every night the club restaurant served an excellent Indonesian buffet and a band with some very young members would play their traditional songs for us. Some played small guitars, one guy had a fascinating home made drum kit and the bass player had his one-stringed instrument lying down on the ground, banging on the string with a stick.

A group of girls sang, backed by some of the boys, all wavering in rhythm. We thought their performance was very touching in all its simplicity, sounding like songs from the sea, from a people that one upon a time made fearless journeys into unknown waters, populating a vast ocean.

Summary: A map of all our travels around Indonesia:

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