Travels with V

Indonesia & Singapore

Music and noise, the sounds of the sea

Paga - Maumere

We have, of course, carefully studied our Lonely Planet-guide before we leave 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 is under construction (it’s ready now). On the meny is grilled fish, perfectly ok but no great sensation.

The room on the beach is a concrete bunker with paint peeling off the walls and one naked bulb hanging by the cord 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 sleep very little that night, the room on the beach turns out to be an echo chamber for the thunder of heavy waves crashing onto the beach. The floor is shaking.

And this is not a beach for swimming, it’s too dangerous. To go for a swim we have to do the local routine, and stand by the side of the road and wait. Soon enough we can hitch a ride with two motorcyclists to Coca Beach, some 5 kilometers from Paga. Coca Beach is a perfect beach, wide and sandy with crystal waters. There’s even a dusty little tavern where we can get a Bintang beer.

But one night in Paga is more than enough, so the next morning we continue north to Maumere, Flores’ biggest city with 50 000 inhabitants. We have booked rooms at the impressively named Sea World Beach Club for the final days of our Indonesian journey. It’s a really nice place with good bungalows in a park and a lovely beach perfect for watching the sunset.

The beach is not reserved for hotel guests, every day a group of young men are there, engaged in an unusual fishing method. A man in a canoe places a long net in a semicircle in the sea. Both ends are connected with heavy ropes to a group of men on the shore. They haule the net to the shore and land the fish. 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 played their traditional songs for us. Some with 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, songs from a people that once upon a time made fearless journeys into unknown waters, eventually populating a vast ocean.

Summary: A map of all our travels around Indonesia:

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