The Manggarai Spider Web Rice Terraces
After four and a half years in Asia, I really thought that we had seen just about every conceivable form of rice terrace known to man. From the Dragon’s Backbone in China to Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit to the terraces of Northern Luzon – I thought we had seen it all. Apparently not.
The Manggarai tribe of western Flores lays out their rice terraces in an incredible spiderweb design. Locals explain that the unique patterns evolved out of the need to subdivide fields to pass them on to children. (Couldn’t you just do that with squares?)
Clearly, the Manggarai have a certain flair for design. Their tall, conical clan houses are also quite impressive despite the fact that the European colonists pressured them to alter the designs because, as we all know, civilized people need walls.
Or do they? After centuries of architectural oppression, a single, extremely isolated village, Waerebo, has maintained the original design of their enormous multi-family huts (click here for picture). Good for you Waerebo, don’t let those colonists dampen your artistic vision.
Unfortunately, we only discovered the location of Waerebo once we had started our tour. So here’s the first disadvantage of a tour, you can’t suddenly change directions when you discover a hidden treasure. But that disadvantage was countered by another advantage. When we first went to the viewpoint over the terraces, a thunderstorm broke out blocking the view. Never fear, fantastic Frans actually drove us all the way back the next morning to see them in the sun. Now that’s service!