My Experience at Pantai Paris Homestay, Maumere
I finally got around to writing about my travels, as promised in my previous post! A disclaimer though: this is not going to be a review of describing the room or the beds at Pantai Paris Homestay (they’re great, btw) but rather, I’m going to dive into what makes this place unforgettable to me: the people, and the good work that they do.
We took a connecting flight to Maumere from Bali. Labuan Bajo is the main gateway for tourists, but because we were going to meet a family friend who lives further east, Maumere was a better place to kick off our journey. That’s when we had the pleasure of staying at the homestay.
Owned by Ibu Susi, Pantai Paris Homestay is situated 10 minutes away from the airport. Not only she’s a lovely host – she’s an eco warrior who’s passionate about her causes. Ask any driver/supir there – most of them know Ibu Susi and will able to take you to the homestay. The compound is right on the beach, complete with a shared outdoor kitchen, a vegetable and fruit garden, as well as a lounge area.
Bank Sampah Flores/Flores Waste Bank
The homestay also the base for Bank Sampah Flores / Flores Waste Bank. Visitors will pass it on the way to their rooms. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a waste bank, it’s basically where trash deposited is turned into cash! More waste banks have popped up all over Indonesia, and it’s a brilliant solution to their waste problem. I’m sure Malaysia could learn a thing or two from our neighbour. We have recycling centres that compensate you for money but I don’t have the statistics to back me up as to how effective it is. We can always do better, yes? But I digress.
What I love about this place is that it also provides job opportunities for the marginalized people. That includes those with mental and physical disabilities. They are well-trained in their jobs, and speak decent English. This takes me back to my psychiatry rotation in medschool. We talk a lot about the biopsychosocial module and long-term management, but I’m lucky to stumble upon its implementation during my travels. This is a community taking care of each other.
Visitors are also welcomed to volunteer. In fact, Ibu Susi invited us (my sister, my friends and I) to go to a school visit with her, where we gave talks on health and the environment. How could we say no?! All of us were thrilled, but I guess the school kids and teachers were just as excited. We had a celebrity moment for a few hours haha. Thank God for a similar mother tongue – it made our exchanges a lot more meaningful. More the reason to love Indonesia!
The whole experience has led me to believe that you really don’t need to wait to be somebody to do a little bit of good in the world. All you need is some drive, and to truly care about your surroundings.
Regrettably, we only stayed one night. It was the best accommodation we had in our 2 weeks in Flores. There were parties and night markets that we missed, so if you ever find yourself going to Pantai Paris, stay longer! They have rooms suitable for backpackers as well as families. I booked via Airbnb but you can do the same with the Flores Homestay Network which ensures that your support goes to local, small-scale businesses!
Till next time!