Today was the whole reason for this road-trip. Today was the day I would go up to the top of Mount Kilumutu to see the three crater volcano and the beautiful colours that would be on display. After the volcano, I would make my way to Riung using the northern road. The bar owner had told me the northern road would be faster – he also said it was in immaculate condition. It would save me 3 hours so was a no brainer. But more on that later, we have a volcano summit to get up.
Most wake up at 0430, climb to the summit for dawn and try and catch a glimpse of the sun rising from the volcano. I had been pre-warned. I awoke at 0700 and took my time. A quick peek out of the window confirmed my plan. It was cloudy, grey and miserable. But I had hope that it would clear through the morning.
I leisurely ate my breakfast at the hotel; banana pancake as I recall. I got chatting to the owner, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. He explained that tourists used to come here and simply put up tents and camp out to see the three lakes. Eventually, Central government in Jakarta told the local people and authorities they needed to put up guesthouses and hotels so tourists can stay more comfortably. He complained that the price tourists have to pay to see the summit was too much; none of it, he opined, was reinvested into the local community or infrastructure. Baffled, he said he didn’t know where any of it went.
He spoke of his kids; two of whom are living in Jakarta, one studying, one working (in a bank with a good job he said smiling). Education is important for his kids, he tries hard to invest in their education, in their future, but the cost of educating them in Jakarta is too much. He isn’t sure yet how he’ll get his third child into university in Jakarta, but with defiant determination he said he’ll figure out a way.
After an interesting chat, I made my way over to the summit. It took a few hours for the clouds to clear, but it was worth it.
It turns out the volcano also offered everyone some life advice.
Once the clouds started setting in it was time for me to head towards Riung.
Along the way, I found a small mangrove forest on the side of the road. After walking through it for a few minutes, I found a pretty nice view:
The rest of my journey between Kilumutu and Riung was awesome and a very bumpy road…
In Riung, I found a hotel that had just opened the week before and moderately cheap so I took it. I had dinner at a fantastic restaurant whose name I don’t remember, but it’s the only restaurant on the peer.
I found four French people who had just arrived that wanted to rent a boat and go island hopping the next day. So I joined their trip, relieved I wouldn’t have to pay for a boat all by myself.