No whale hunting for me (thank god).

Trip Start Jul 22, 2012
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182
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Trip End May 08, 2014


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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Caught the midday public bus from Loweleba to Lamalera for 30,000IDR. The journey took under three hours and the road was paved about half of the way. Got dropped off at the Abel Beding homestay in the centre of 'town' although the place only consists of a handful of houses and fishing boats/shacks. The 75,000INR a night fee amazingly also includes all meals – a right bargain and my kind of place! Lamalera is famous for being one of the few places left in the world where they still hunt sperm and pilot whales by hand using just wooden boats and bamboo harpoons. Because of the small number taken each year (about twenty) the village is exempt from the international ban on whaling. Thankfully the whaling season only runs from May through to October which means i wasn’t put in the quandary of whether i should accompany a hunting trip out to sea or not. For a fee you can ride along in a whaling boat to see the action at first hand. If presented with the opportunity i would have been reluctant to go due to the gory nature of the spectacle and suffering inflicted on the whale, but conversely the chance to partake in the experience would have been a once in a lifetime event. Wandered around town and the beach in the afternoon and discovered that i was to paraphrase Little Britain "the only tourist in the village". This amazed me as it’s such a unique place i had thought it would have drawn a few other tourists to it at least. Next morning i thought i’d take a stroll down the coast to Wulandoni, supposedly an hour and a half’s walk away. A 1 hour jog more like! After 1hr 20mins in the blazing sun and with Wulandoni still off in the distance i turned around and headed back. Rather than stick to the road this time however i ventured down a track onto the beach with the aim of tracking it back to Lamalera, and about hour shy of the town i came across a massive cavern full of bats. Without my torch however i couldn’t enter too far and explore its depths. In the afternoon i did some snorkelling off the beach and there were a fair few fish about and some healthy corals near the western headland but the visibility wasn’t great due to all the black sand sediment being kicked up by the waves. Decided i was going to leave the following day as two nights in Lamalera is definitely more than enough due to the fact that it’s so quiet and there’s nothing going on, in fact the place is positively catatonic, there’s not even a warung or cafe where you can buy food or get a drink! Told Abel i was going to catch the 3 o’clock afternoon bus back to Lewoleba but either due to translation problems or just plain ignorance he then woke me up at 3am telling me the bus was coming! I told him i was getting the 3pm afternoon bus and went back to sleep only to be woken up at 5am by his wife telling me another bus was coming!! Unbelievable. Later that morning i went for a walk along the coastline to the west towards Tapabali but apart from a couple of villages there wasn’t much to see. Returning to the homestay at 11am i found it was all locked up and no one around. Wandering along the beach i came across Stephanos who runs the White House homestay who informed me that Abel and his wife had gone to Lewoleba for the day (maybe that’s why they were so desperate for me to get the early morning bus?) and meant i wasn’t going to get any lunch {luckily i had a packet of biscuits in reserve}. It would have been nice if Abel or his wife had informed me that they were going out all day before i went for my walk but they were generally unfriendly, unhelpful and miserable the whole time i was there. I wouldn’t advise any future travellers to stay here but instead to go to the White House where Stephanos is really helpful, friendly and speaks good English.
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