Last November, I visited Labuan Bajo, the main city of West Manggarai District in Flores. It needed more than 1 hour flight from Denpasar, Bali, to Labuan Bajo, Flores, since Flores is located far to the east of Bali.
The journey to the darkness happened when I went in a natural cave not too far from Labuan Bajo. The cave is known as Gua Batu Cermin or Batu Cermin Cave. Literally, the word ‘batu cermin’ can be translated into ‘mirror stone’, so Gua Batu Cermin can also means the cave of the mirror stone. It has its name since in a certain time, usually in the morning, the sun rays that penetrate the cave darkness through a small gap at the cave’s ceiling will be reflected to a certain wall inside the cave. The reflection is very bright so that the usually pitch-dark interior will be illuminated and people in the cave can see their surroundings without any torch or flashlight. It is like the rays are reflected by a sheet of mirror.
Gua Batu Cermin (Batu Cermin Cave) is a living cave. It means that its stalactites and stalagmites are still growing. Water is still dripping in some part of the cave which by the passing of time turns into beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formations.
For travellers who want to go into the cave, it is advised to wear a helmet and bring a flashlight as well. Inside the cave is always totally dark except at a certain times when the sun rays are reflected by the wall. In some part, ceilings are so low, travellers should squat or even crawl to enter a chamber behind a low ceilinged corridor. Roots of giant trees outside the cave penetrate through crevasses in the rock and hanging like ropes high above. Travellers can also find small animals that live in the cave, such as bats, spiders, and centipedes.
What is so interesting with the cave? Well, it is believed that the cave was a part of the sea bed in the past. Travellers can still find sea-corral fossils inside the cave, even there is a turtle fossil in one of its wall. The stones in the cave are also glittering with salt crystal when illuminated by the flashlight.
Gua Batu Cermin just founded in 1951 by Theodore Verhoeven, a priest who was also an archaeologist. In 1986, it was opened for public, and then in 1993, after the local government added a stone stair to help travellers who want to go in, the cave’s name started to attract tourists.