Normally when organizing something in Asia its wise to ask a few different people to get a proper price but Vincent seemed like a nice guy and my gut said we could trust him. His price quoted was reasonable as well, we negotiated a small discount but didn’t push too hard to reduce the price. I think this is a mistake that some people make when travelling – by pushing for the lowest price possible they damage the potential relationship with the seller. I remember as a young backpacker I would be haggling hard for the lowest price possible often past what was reasonable, this was partly due to the fact that I was usually backpacking on a budget of $20 a day! But also it was a kind of us vs them mentality, I was scared of being ripped off and taken advantage of. Now I am a lot more casual, when quoted a price I always ask for a discount (to haggle a bit is always to be expected) and if that is reasonable I go for it without further negotiating and everyone goes away happy. And by forming good relationship it allows some pretty cool things!
We set off the next morning and along the way we stopped to buy a big fresh fish, fresh vegetables and fruit and some local coffee, getting there was half the fun. The crater lakes were incredible and unique as I said before, I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. On the way back to Maurole after visiting Vincent asked if we wanted to have dinner at his house with his family. We jumped at the chance and agreed to pay for a pig to be roasted for the meal.
That evening we had an amazing meal of local black pig that had been slow roasted over a fire for 3 hours, fresh tofu prepared by Vincent’s wife and arak, a local spirit that surprisingly didn’t taste too bad. We sat around a big table in Vincent’s backyard with his family (including a son called Barrack Obama), relatives and neighbours enjoying the delicious food, making jokes and taking it in turns to sing songs. It was a magical experience and in some regards more memorable than seeing the crater lakes themselves.
PS: if you are ever near Maurole and need a great guide, Vincent’s number is: 085333153763