August 3, 2006

We all climbed aboard 2 buses arranged by SailAsia that took us along a narrow road into the mountains. The landscape was tropical with banana, pawpaw, cassava, kapok, fig, bamboo and dense forest as we passed through several villages. The thatched roof simple houses were varied and interesting.

When the bus could climb no more, we all walked the rest of the way up the hill for about a kilometer. Some villagers joined us as we sauntered past more unusual houses on our hot climb through the dry scrubland to a resting area.

The view from the top afforded a pleasant view over the Flores Sea. Our guide gave us the lowdown on the village we were about to visit.

Suddenly a group of men dressed in traditional garb appeared to escort us to the village.

Takpala Village Is one of the few catholic villages on Alor. It has about 15 traditional houses. The villagers were anxiously waiting for us, having decorated the surrounding grounds with hundreds of Ikat weavings. These were much different from the ones we saw in Timor, thinner fabric, brighter colors and more stripes. The village themselves do not weave ikat, but make baskets instead.


Traditional Lego Lego Dance

After some welcoming speeches in Baslama and English, a large group of men and women appeared dressed in costume and performed several dances for us. The first was the lego-lego, a dance than can continue all night, putting the dancers in a trance. Most of the traditional dancing is done with the dancers lined in a circular fashion, facing inward. They move their feet in a rather unique rhythm created by the bangles on their feet, all synchronized, while chanting to the beat of drums. The women carry baskets and the men have weapons, mostly bows and arrows.

Ancient Bronze Drums

The dancing was centered around two Mokos, Alor’s chief fame, ancient bronze drums tapered in the middle like an hourglass with four handles around the circumference.

There are thousands of them found mysteriously buried all over Alor and believed to be from 100 BC. There are differences of opinion about the origins of these drums but they have acquired enormous value among the Alorese and people in possession of them have great status in the community.

Of course the performers made sure that the yachties learned the traditional dance steps. Becky was quick to pick up the beat!

The men seemed proud of their heritage as warriors and the dances represented stories of their conquests

Interesting faces, full of personality and looking like characters from a mythical storybook.


After the death of an important tribesman, his house is left untouched. Eventually, when it disintegrates a new one is built in its place.

After the dance presentation, we were invited to look around the village, where the women had their wares laid out and I bought a lovely carved bamboo container for 2500 rupiah.

There was an amazing array of local crafts and ever hopeful traders eager to make a bargain. There was even an innovative pair of swim goggles made from coconut husks. Becky did some hard bargaining for some ikats and made a good deal.

Below are some snaps of wares being offered for sale.


Accessed by a bamboo ladder we were invited to climb to the second level of the grass meeting house, where a woman and her child had a fire going and were serving coffee. Coffee in Indonesia is served very, very sweet.

The level above us was where the food goods were stored. The entire structure was made from bamboo, flattened slats for the floors, all fastened with vines.


In the main area of the meeting House, lunch was served…fried chicken, rice & a noodle/vegetables

We finally said goodbye and thanked the villagers of Takpala for an enlightening afternoon and headed back to Kalibahi.