Interesting to visit
Published/Last edited or updated: 20th April, 2017
This is the most easily accessible of the “traditional villages” around Kalabahi, and for those with time on their hands, it is worth a look.
The village is set roughly 13 kilometres east of Kalabahi and is signposted from the main road (look for the “Desa Adat” sign) so while you don’t need a guide to find the village, unless you can speak Indonesian you’ll greatly benefit from having a guide when you visit the village.
Set atop a short set of stairs, the village is spread across 12 houses, more or less arranged in a single row. There’s four levels to each house, the basement (below the open-air deck), the open-air deck, then inside the thatch roof are two more levels, one a sleeping quarters and above that a storage area for grain and other staples.
We were told that in dry season, families sleep in the open air on the deck, while in the wet they sleep inside, on the floor above the deck. Headman Abner generously showed us inside his upstairs quarters which, aside from being dark and loaded with things to bang your head on, was home to an entire family of kittens. He also had four or five moko drums, brass drums that are believed to be more than 2,000 years old and today often change hands as a part of a wedding dowry.
The Abui people are the largest traditional ethnic grouping on Alor and Takpala is considered once of the best villages to visit. The Abui farm rice and maize and also create a wide range of handicrafts which are sold to tourists—we read about cruise ships visiting and their passengers all visiting Takpala, but we’re not sure how often that actually takes place. When we visited, we were the only tourist.
The waterfront stretch from Kalabahi to Takpala is lovely. It’s a low-traffic road with beautiful crystal waters running out to sea. If you’ve got the energy, and don’t need a guide, it would be a very pleasant bicycle ride. If you want to get here by public transport, any east Alor-bound bus will pass by the trail to the village. From the main road it is about a 20- or 30-minute walk (a little steep at times) to reach the stairs that run up to the village.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.