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Exploring Hot Springs in Moni, Ende District

The Village of Moni lying on the volcanic grounds of Kelimutut, is blessed for its numerous natural hot springs spreading along its hilly landscape. There are two hot springs which are widely-known to travelers coming to Moni. One of them is Liasembe hot spring, which is less attractive due to its unfitting construction, not really blending in the natural environment. Another hot spring that looks like a small pool with clear warm water in the middle of a rice field of Kolorongo is visited more often. The atmosphere offered here is truly cozy and calming and swimming in the warm water feels soo soothing.

If the warmth offered by Kolorongo is not enough for you, then it’s time to explore another hot(ter) spring. Not far from Kolorongo, still in the area of Waturaka Village, there is a natural hot spring that is well-known among the locals, but as it is not yet heavily promoted by local tour operators and rarely visited by tourists it does not have a popular name yet. If you plan to go to Kelimutu, take a soft trekking trip to this hot spring before enjoying the sunset in Moni.

The trek is quite easy and it is only two kilometers from the first gate entering Kelimutu National Park. From the road, turn right; walk up along the path of the irrigation pavement towards a local villager’s farm until you reach behind the unfinished water tank. From here, walk about one kilometer along the off-beaten tracks till you see smoke arising on your right.

The smoke comes from a crack in the earth caused by the underground heat. This is where the hot spring starts flowing to some areas. Grassing cows and goats, even monkeys can be seen along the trek. The spring flows in two ways. The closest one is the one with warm water, while the one on the upper ground has hotter water flowing in it. You can even hear the water bubbling from the heat.

A good book in hand, lying on the grass under the shade of candlenut trees with the cool breeze and quietness with only the sound of the wind and chirping birds, while waiting for the eggs and cassava being boiled in the hot spring might be just a great idea for a picnic here.

Bena, Timeless Tale from Ngada

At the foot of Mount Inerie Bena, a traditional kampung famed for its timeless Florinese culture and tradition. Located in Tiworiwu Village, Jerebu’u Sub-District around 16 km from Ngada’s capital city, Bajawa, Bena pictures very well preserved traditional Florinese houses made of bamboo and woods with thatched roofs facing each other in two major rows.

The 37 impressive houses were built surrounding a wide squared yard called Kisanatha which is used as a common ground for social gatherings and mass ceremonies. The architecture style and the different carved motives of the houses mark the clan whom the community members living under its roof belong to Sao Saka Pu’u, Sao Saka Lobo and Sao Wua Ghao are the three major houses in Bena. The first is identified from a small house called Ana Iye installed over the thatched roof and it represents Bhaga, the female ancestral shrine. Sao Saka Lobo is the house displaying Ata on top of the roof, a small woven black palm fiber warrior holding a machete and a spear. Serving as house decoration, pig jaws and buffalo horns also display the number of relations the clan members are proud of.

The size and quantity shows how distinguished a clan is and it also tells the number of animals sacrificed in sacred rituals where in the old days sacrificing a hundred buffalos and hundreds of pigs was a common sight. Other iconic artifacts Bena is famous for is Ngadhu, an ancestral shrine representing male ancestors in a form of wooden trunk with conical thatched roof, and Bhaga, a female ancestral shrine in a form of small wooden house.

Highlighted in countless travel guidebooks and media worldwide, Bena has undoubtedly left its mark in history, with its megalithic artifacts estimated to be 1200 years old. Ture is the rock laid flat with some others arranged standing upright and tapering towards the top stones, while Peo refers to individual Menhir used for tying their buffalo before a sacrifice ceremony.

The Menhirs, iconic Adat houses and Ikat are not the only signatures Bena has on its must-see list. Traditional festivals rich in sacred rituals and demonstrations of ageless local wisdoms such as Reba are events that should not be missed. Another interesting festival is Ka Sa’o, a mass ceremony for a new house involving the whole community. Interestingly, the community in Bena has also unique funeral ceremonies addressed to different death causes. Mata Ade is the funeral ceremony for those who die normally, while those who die in a different way, Mata Golo will be held for the late; and Gore Gote is a funeral for those of highest social status and considered respected senior citizens.

The social organization in Bena has been traditionally arranged based on social level or nua—referring to the integrated and arranged houses along with Ngadhu, Bhaga, Peo, and Ture belonging to the clans of parallel lines; house members or Sa’o, and clans or Woe. The existing clans are arranged in nine groups of Loka where each clan is marked with different names of Ngadhu, Bhaga, and Ture which are representing their ancestral pride and honor. Whereas other kinship relation applies in other districts, women through the matrilineal system are the heirs of the houses in Bena.

While the men work in their cocoa, pepper and cashew fields, women also hand-weave Ikat as part of the daily village life in Bena. Traditional animal patterns of horses, roosters, elephants or the sacred symbol of Ngadhu and Bhaga beautifully adorn the woven threads, rich in earthy colors, which are traditionally processed with ingredients taken directly from the house’s backyard.

If you are thinking of taking the challenge of hiking the 2245 m above sea level to Mount Inerie, make sure Bena is on your list to drop by along the Trans Flores route. Even an overnight stay in one of its home stays can be arranged for a true Florinese village experience.

Source: Text and Photo : http://www.florestourism.com

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