Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text:
On the island of Flores, in Indonesia, some rice fields take unusual shapes. In the region of Ruteng, in the west of the island, the rice is grown in spider web!
Like pie pieces
We are in the Manggarai Country, about twenty kilometers from the city of Ruteng. Here, tradition dictates that the cultivable valleys are divided more or less equally among the family clans in relation to the irrigation of the land.
The land is therefore "cut up" as one would cut up a pie, starting from a center that corresponds roughly to the most irrigated point. Each slice is then divided into several parcels.
The result is these incredible landscapes, where the rice fields seem to weave spider webs. We give them the name of lingko.
Panorama on the rice fields
I don't remember the name of the village where Missir, my driver, stopped. All the visitors who cross Flores as I did stop here. The place offers a spectacular panorama on the rice fields in spider's web.
One is invited to sign a book that serves as a register and it is well seen to make a small "donation", as is the practice in the traditional villages around Bajawa, which live mainly from tourism.
Afterwards, the village kids take you to the best viewpoints, for another small fee. Count 1 000 rupees (not even 10 cents) per head... As I am nice, I accepted to take five kids for me alone.
And you have to follow them, little guys! "Mister! Mister!" do they launch - whether you're a man or a woman - if you're lambing too much.
They climb at full speed in flip-flops on the small path surrounded by wild grass, indifferent to the heat. I am dragging myself with slow steps behind, in the middle of the heat, dripping. Fortunately, the viewpoint is very close.
We see the small silhouettes of the farmers working in the rice fields, below. Hard work.
My little guides are impatient. They are waiting for their rupees. I take my time.
I admire the view endlessly, I take lots and lots of pictures, watching the clouds that change the light and the reflections on the water of the rice fields.
"Hello, mister! »
My driver stayed cool, in the car. I get back inside, enthusiastically, after ceremoniously depositing a few crumpled bills in messy handcuffs.
We leave by saying hello to children and continue our way among the rice fields, towards Labuan Bajo. We will stop often, for other panoramas, other photos.
In the fields, the women often have their faces coated with a yellow or white powder, to protect themselves from the sun. People who see me standing on the side of the road, taking pictures of the rice fields, greet me with their hands and call me with the inevitable "Hello, Mister! ». Everywhere in Indonesia, it is customary to greet exotic Westerners of both sexes with this formula, inherited from the Dutch colonization.
In the villages that have not become tourist stops, the welcome remains simple, cheerful and spontaneous. We continue to swallow the kilometers at slow speed, along this serpentine road which crosses the mountains and rice fields of Flores.
We approach little by little Labuan Bajo, all in the west, and the Komodo Maritime Park. I can not wait to get back to the sea ...