23 to 25 August 2018 To Terang in subdistrict Boleng, along the North Coast. Terang can be reached by boat. We went by car, because I needed to see the road conditions regarding transport of recyclables back to Labuan Bajo. I was going to give training about environmental education to teachers from 22 schools.
Boleng is a beautiful region. We drove through a mountainous area with thick jungle. There are 11 small villages in Boleng and Terang is the capital town. It is actually a small village with two neighbourhoods. The Muslim community is located near the coast. The houses are build in the typical Bugis style, with wooden houses on stilts to protect them from the rising tide and flooding. Their boats are anchored in front, where a river enters the Flores sea.
Driving from the sea towards the west, the village road leads to the Catholic part of the village where mostly subsistence farmer families live. Most have a vegetable garden with the usual crops of Cassava, Sawi, Spinach, Tomato, Papaya trees, either carrying fruit of flowers. Papaya flowers cooked mixed with Cassava leaves are a typical Flores dish. It is hard to grow the crops due to lack of water. Some families are lucky to have a well on their property, however many don’t. I circled the village on the back of a motorbike for about half an hour to find enough vegetables for dinner. Terang area has 2,300 hectares of rice fields. For their rice crops the farmers depend on rain water, there is no irrigation system yet. Market day is once per week, with fresh supply from Ruteng farmers. There is lots of fresh crab available, harvested from the Mangrove at the river estuary, just ask for ‘Kepiting’.
The economy is still very low, there is no alternative income from tourism yet. There is no end to Flores’ hospitality though. Most homes ran out of water the first evening, due to a pipe burst higher up the mountain and we were offered to shower in another family’s home with water from their well. We were also treated on fresh coconuts on our way back home. One young man climbed up a high coconut tree to get them for us, impressive to see how fast he reached the top ! I’m sure that visitors will receive a warm welcome if they like to visit the area and sleep over in a home stay. Please pay your host – they most likely offer you a room for free. A reasonable amount is 120.000 IDR per person.
You can reach Terang from Labuan Bajo by car, motorbike or autocal – an open truck typically used to travel to hard to reach areas with bad roads. The map indicates 2+ hrs drive, in fact it took us about 4 hours to get there, including a coffee break at some food stalls in the forest. At some point there is a choice between 2 roads to Terang, we tried both and along both we had some minor hurdles, coming we had to leave the car several times to reduce the weight going up a steep slope with lots of holes in the road and going back we had to drive through a river.
With Fia Tedestam and Florensius Samson