On the fourth day of my homestay in Waturaka Village on Mount Kelimutu, I took a day trip to Nggela by bus. I wanted to see ikat cloth in person and it turned into one of my favorite days during my month in Indonesia.
Getting to Nggela, Flores
Day 4 – Wednesday
Getting to Nggela was tricky since I could not find reliable information; not even how long it would take to drive. The motorbike rental places in Moni either did not have a motorbike available or refused to rent to me. Later I learned they did not want a tourist driving their bike to Nggela because the road quality is poor to quite bad. Instead, I waited for the 1 o’clock bus and ate lunch at Mopi’s. Wow! After weeks of so much fried food, simple homemade bread, and scrambled eggs was a treat! I had a mango shake, too. This was by far my most expensive lunch in Indonesia, totaling 55,000 IDR or nearly $4 USD.
Be aware that drive times in Google Maps versus Maps.Me vary very widely!
Cost of Bus to Nggela from Moni
When we arrived in Nggela, I was one of the few passengers still on the bus. It’s the last stop of many along the route and I was also the only tourist.
I needed to pay my bus fare to the driver. My limited Indonesian language skills meant I could not understand the bus fare, so I held out a bunch of cash. He sorted through the bills and took those he needed, 15,000 IDR or $1 USD.
Ikat in Nggela
I wandered around the small town and discovered that it overlooks the sea. The views are beautiful! Also, kids happily befriended me and guided me to their homes where their mother would show me her handwoven ikat cloth. Soon, other women would arrive with their cloth. It was all for sale, of course, and at times the pressure to purchase something was quite high. Everyone is friendly and will offer a cup of tea.
After wandering around a bit along the paved pathway, past the gigantic tree, and into the main plaza marked by the many graves, I was called over to 3 people enjoying the afternoon on their front porch. It turned out it was Alfons who called me over. He was visiting friends and they invited me to join them for coffee. It was fun chatting with them a little bit.
Getting to Moni from Nggela
Alfons insisted that he would take me back to my homestay in Waturaka on his motorbike. He was really nice and we stopped at his children’s house for a visit and snack of fresh bananas. I shared photos of my hometown with them. He didn’t ask me for any money, but I insisted on paying for our benzene (fuel) fill-up.
When we stopped in Wolowaru at a bakso (soup) restaurant he liked, we ordered hot soup of noodles, meatballs and boiled egg. We sat at the single long table that took up 90% of the entire restaurant. By coincidence, across from us was a couple who owned the Kelimutu Lodge Paradiso, located higher up Mount Kelimutu than Waturaka. They offered me a ride the rest of the way home in their car, which was good. I felt bad that Alfons was driving me so far at night in the cold air. After paying for mine and Alfons’ nice, hot soup we all departed.
I’m not sure how I would have returned to Waturaka if it had not been for Alfons’ kindly driving me on his motorbike. When we left I saw the bus parked, and I doubt it was going to drive out that night.
Routes from Moni to Nggela
From Moni, there are two routes to Nggela. By bus, you’ll be on a very bumpy road, but there is a smoother alternative if you have private transportation.
The bus route turns into the countryside at Gecko’s Guesthouse and continues along the road past many small towns, including Jopu and a village with a weaving cooperative– you can’t miss the weaving and signs along the roadside. The 1 pm bus takes 1.5 hours to arrive at Nggela. This was on a dry day with no roadblocks. Expect longer times if the road is wet and muddy, as some sections are steep.
I recommend going on an earlier bus if one is available in order to avoid driving on the road at night during your return. The entire bus ride was super bumpy and everyone either had to hold onto the seat in front of them or brace themselves with their legs to keep from sliding around.
Alternatively, for a smoother ride, drive through Wolowaru. Petrol is widely available at streetside stands, so bring small bills. There are few or no signs, so be prepared to stop frequently to ask directions at forks in the road.
- Be prepared to be persistently offered ikat cloth by women. Some are very persistent even after you decline. This is the worst part about visiting and a bit wearing. You can’t just wander and chat freely.
- No apparent hotels or restaurants in Nggela, although I’m sure you could find an overnight stay on a porch and someone’s extra homemade food in a bind. People are very nice. Obviously, be prepared to pay money.
- You may be able to get here on a day trip with a driver if you’re staying in Ende. I suggest you speak with Dasi Guest House in Ende. I loved the hotel, as you can read about here.
Click here for details on my entire month in Indonesia.