Places I Stay During 5-Months-Backpacking-Trip in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia (Part 2 – Rote Island)

In Part 1 of this article, I explained to you where I stayed during my backpacking around in West Timor, the first island I step in East Nusa Tenggara. I will tell you how the trip started… It was because one of East Nusa Tenggara Tourism Institution invited 10 Travel Bloggers, including me, to visit Kupang and surrounding area and promote about it. I saw that opportunity as a way for me to step in East Nusa Tenggara. Since long time ago, my passion to visit this east part of Indonesia already arose but I had no enough time and money previously. I thought 1 month is enough to visit the whole area, but I was wrong. I need 5 months, because I want to feel the experience of local culture more, also because there are so many to see in East of Nusa Tenggara. 5 months even not enough!

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The beautiful underwater life in Rote

So then, after I thought I had enough to see in West Timor island, I move forward to a small island located in the very south point of Indonesia called Rote island. Where again, I spent 1 month here.


Rote island :

Baa : Baa is the capital city in the island, which can be a good option if you wanna explore the island. There are some local hotels as well here. But the thing is, from Baa to Nemberala (which is the area with lots of nice beaches) is taking 1 hour ride by motorbike. The challenging part if you wanna go to see the sunset there and should go back to Baa. There is no street light, so it can be dangerous to drive in the evening, because some animals (goat, cows, dogs) love to pass the street or just sleep in the middle of the road.

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Me, Ella and Arsyad, active young people from Indonesia Mengajar program.

When I was in Baa, I get introduce with some young people that following a program from Indonesian government called Indonesia Mengajar. This cool program chose selective young people to teach in many part of Indonesia, normally the one who is remote area, small villages and need improvement in their education elementary school system.


The basecamp was humble, but inside is warm with the young people spirit and cheerful laugh. Their whole heart dedication for education of children of Rote made me believe there is good improvement on progress in Indonesia. That not all people careless with this country and there is good young people out there that want to give their best for helping others.


Nemberala : It’s a good choice for you who want to laid back and enjoying the area to the fullest either doing surfing, diving or just hop on from one beach to another in the area. This area also very famous for tourist – even I can say not so many tourist coming to Rote island. The villages surrounding Nemberala are still quiet, peaceful and authentic. You can see many people smile and waving their hands to you while you drive. The feeling of passing a road full with palm trees and the beautiful coast of beach made me feel like home. I really like Nemberala and the easy way to trap myself in beautiful sunset. I am kinda miss to be in Nemberala again, but I am glad I ever stayed for two weeks here.

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Anugerah Surf Dive Resort – my home for 2 weeks!

I stayed in Anugerah Surf Dive and Resort. Rate is vary here from IDR 300.000 to IDR 500.000/person/day/all inclusive. In Nemberala, it’s pretty common to pay a rate in “all-inclusive” type. Some of resort can be so expensive as IDR 500.000 above. Yep, that’s a lot!


Anugerah Surf Dive and Resort was not just a place to stay for me in Rote. It’s more like the playground to develop my creativity. That’s because I was supported by the owner and his brother to write about Rote and make video of the area. I was so grateful for their faith in me and so grateful that I can stay there during the first 2 weeks I am in Rote island.

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Me and Adit, the partner in crime for making video “Menjelajah Rote.”

Camping in Nemberala : Well, why not? If you bring tent, pitch a tent is possible in the island. Rote is famous as a safe area. A friend of mine pitched a tent in Nemberala and some locals come to their tent and love to spend a night to talk or just drink coffee (or sopi) together.


Oenitas village : It is probably no one write about Oenitas village in any tourism information about Rote, so you might ask why I was there. But I was so happy to spend 2 weeks with family of Esau Nalle and his wife.

I know this family from Karina, one of Indonesia Mengajar teacher that I met in Rote. And what made it was so interesting to stay with them because bapak Esau Nalle is a person who playing Sasando Gong, a traditional instrument of Rote’s people and still fight for make Sasando Gong won’t be forgotten by young generation of Rote. He also won an award by Indonesian local television for a documentary movie about Sasando. What an experience to live with them!

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The day when I said farewell to the family. Thanks for having me in your warm house pak Esau and family! ❤
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Asa, the boy who always dislike me, finally want to be closed with me *hah!
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The house of pak Nalle used for “cultural center” where people can learn Sasandu and do art activity such as dancing…
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Pak Nalle and his father Sasandu, he really makes lots of effort to keep Sasandu alive.

I was become a part of their family. I spent my birthday and Christmas here. First time in my life that I was away from my own family during my birthday and Christmas. But they were so sweet by making a simple party (which I know it’s a big thing for them – they cut their chicken for me!) and invite the church preacher and some neighbor to pray for me. It was so sweet. I will never forget it.


Ndana island : If Rote already the southest island of Indonesia, then Ndana island is the very southest island in Indonesia. No citizens living in the island, only Indonesian army to protect the border of Indonesia. I got a chance to visit there and stay over for 1 night in the island.

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We were planning to pitch a tent in the island but the friendly soldiers there told us to just sleep in their empty room. It was really funny experience for me, because when I lay myself on the bed, the bed is smell so manly and all I can see in their wall was the hanging green army jackets.

If you want to come to visit Ndana Island, you can. Just ask permission in their basecamp in Oeseli, the last village before you take a boat ride to Ndana. As long as there is no political intention involved, they will allow you to stay with them and explore the island. I honestly said it was my first experience to have closer look on how Indonesian army live. They set a smile on my face when I saw how they really taking care of their birds, because in such quiet island, you need a hobby to do. For them, listening to the singing they birds sing is one of make them happy before they can meet up with their family again.


Oeseli village : I only stayed for one night in Oeseli (the beach side). That’s because we were late when return from Ndana island. It was not a wise decision to drive in the evening to go back to Oenitas. The family in Oeseli that invited us to stay also very nice. One of the habit of East Nusa Tenggara people is how they are so kind to share what they have. You always being offered to eat, even they don’t have much and to sleep in their house. It was touched my heart a lot. Oeseli village also cool area to know more about Rote, because the area inhabited with Muslim people which coming from Sulawesi long time ago (called Bajo or Bugis tribe) and now already claimed as Rote people which live in harmony with another Christian people in Oeseli village (more up to the hill side). To be exact, this was the first time I see so many people wear hijab in the village, where I thought before I come to East of Nusa Tenggara that the area is Catholic area. So I was wrong again. But that’s the thing about traveling right, you discover the place yourself and found how wrong is the news are spreading around about the area.

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I never thought I can go to Rote, but destiny brought me there. I can say from the whole #Deascovery journey, Rote left a special place in my heart – not because of the nature but so many lovely people I met there. Wish I could see you again, Rote!


Keep traveling!,

Dea Sihotang


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