Indonesia is a big country which has diverse faces in all its different islands and places. The people and the life-style is exactly different in each island. Bali, Flores, Java, Yogyakarta and Jakarta have big distinction in all sense. I have never been in Sumatra but it must be a different place as well.
The scene of my second article about Indonesia is Flores Island, where I spent nearly two weeks. Welcome to “My Flores” story…
- You will love your Flores experience at the end.
- Don’t expect modern-good standard of service in Labuan Bajo and in all Flores.
- Try to pay much more than you think (Scuba and other activities is world standard even though they don’t have proper infrastructure),
- Inland travel is possible but you need to drive long distances with scooter or long travel times with local buses,
- Hiring car is around 500.000-1.000.000 daily. The car is generally coming with driver. My weird experience was my adventure. Be sure that your driver speaks English and preferably knows the island. Make sure of these before renting.
- Distances may seem close in Flores but the winding roads take time. Scooter can be tiring for long distances. From Labuan Bajo, Bajawa town was the farthest point for a strong Brazilian traveler. If you want to go Kelimutu National park you need longer distance drives.
- Kelimutu National Park is easy to reach and the colours are beautiful. You may reach there from Ende or Moni. Avoid ripping off for guide offers in Moni.frşListen your gut feeling and instinct after you spend some time in Flores.
- Be ready to deal people (most likely) with “No English”. This may be lovely for friendship in the beginning or mimic communication may seem sympathetic but tiring for booking places, ordering in restaurants, requesting any kind of information, etc.
- Listen your gut feeling and instinct (as you must do every moment in your life) in Flores.
- Nearly all “Traditional Villages” are donation centers and money traps for over-excited or time-limited visitors (but they are places worth to see).
- Lastly in Flores, tourism related people are trying to make money from tourism but they are not ready to digest service culture and Labuan Bajo and Flores have not enough infrastructure as of 2017 September.
Flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo…
After one hour flight from Bali I was in Flores, Komodo Airport that is in Labuan Bajo. Labuan Bajo is a small town but is the hub of basic activities like scuba diving and Komodo National Park visit. Komodo National Park is the point to see world famous Komodo Dragon.
An Island of Smiling People (except Labuan Bajo)…
It is not nice to write criticism in the beginning of an article but unfortunately Labuan Bajo has a lot of negatives in spite of having beautiful diving sites.
Everybody asks to me “Where is your favourite place in your travels?” I have easy answers for that question; “where the best friends are” and “where I feel in peace”. Friendship-wise (especially Alex, Maryam and some others) it was ok but Labuan Bajo was not the place for me. Especially greedy agencies, lack of commercially ethical approaches, lack of communication and open hostility of some locals are annoying factors. I had some good friends but as short, I don’t like Labuan Bajo. If you are a traveler crazy for scuba diving you may not see this side of Labuan Bajo since you will be very busy your underwater adventures or drift dive experiences. But I was happy to leave LB after two weeks.
Welcoming 50.000 Rupiah Taxi Fare…
You have to pay 50.000 Rupiah for the taxi from the airport to town for a really short distance that annoys me. They decided about this fixed price and you have to be ripped off. The ripping of adventure starts in airport in LB. Later days for the local minibuses it was enough to pay for the further distances around 10.000 rupiah. Ciao Hostel does it for free with its shuttle service.
Labuan Bajo is like a fisherman village and actually it is with its port, fish market, fishing boats etc. I had a small walking in the main street and I had a preliminary idea. It was hot for me and I felt very dizzy and ill. Thanks to German friend Nico in hostel that he advised me to drink doubling the amount water I consumed normally. That worked well.
By the help of local people I rent a very cheap car (500.000 Rupiah/day). The experience started after this cheap trade.
Flores Tour with Legendary Trio “C”…
The car came with a driver. But the driver did not understand any word English. They gave me another companion saying that he speaks English. He seemed promising in the first instance, but in the following days I understand that I had to learn Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian Language) to survive in my 8 days Flores travel with minimum loss. I enjoyed this weird, sometimes hard experience but I don’t think that not many people can tolerate this kind of situation.
Why Trio C? The driver was Carpenter in his real life. The translator/guide was a Cook in a local boat and I was a Captain. Legendary Trio C. What a team! 🙂
In terms of planning we just work on a draft schedule before the trip together with company owner. Draft itinerary was like this;
- Wae Rebo (sleep) + visit village > come back
- …. Spider Web Rice Field – Çara (Manggarai people) (15 Sep) 08:00
- Ruteng and Villages
- Rana Mese Lake
- Aimere (Arak process)
- Belaragi Village (Bajawa People) (16 Sep)
- Bajawa (Traditional Village – Gurusina) (17 Sep)
- Start from Gurusina (stop places on the way) Bruston Beach (32 km from Bajawa) > Moni (18 Sep)
- Sunrise in Kalimutu (leave Moni at 04:00 latest) + hiking
- Moni (19 Sep)
- (directly to) Riung (stop Ende 2 hours) and go on Riung
- Riung (20 Sep)
- 17 Islands (snorkellin) + from Riung to Bajawa (in city) (21 sep)
- Some stops on the way > Labuan Bajo (22 Sep)
But the plan went all wrong in terms of applying it. Since we can not properly communicate with double C. With the lack of experience we did our worst. We arrived everywhere after sunset or even we couldn’t arrive some destinations. We missed most of the basic attractions in the places such as “17 Islands” tour in Riung. We were late for sunrise in Kelimutu and many similar stories. It was funny but very tiring. That was a different travel and cultural examination. I got what I have to…
It was nice to see the villages. Especially the Wae Rebo Village. You have to climb uphill nearly 2-3 hours. It was nice but a bit tiring hiking. Wae Rebo village seemed so nice. I couldn’t spend the night there since we arrived after sunset and stayed in the village down nearby the sea. In Wae Rebo, the young welcoming speaker Martin was really a nice guy with his good English. 325 Rupiah was the price to the village including lunch and coffee. I also donated some to the chief of the village.
The other villages (Belaragi, Bena) were nearly worthless to me. My gut feeling did not like the approach of the people in those villages. It is a sort of unpolished presentation of bad tourism. Requesting donations, not able to explain the history etc. Only in Ruteng Puu another young smart Crespin made very good explanations. Anyway to see the traditional villages was good at the end.
Kelimutu Colours was great. It was really amazing. But the Mona town (where you have to stay the night before going sunrise in Kelimutu was also full of greedy hosts.
“Arak” is a local drink made from Palm tree. It is not tasty but helps to forget the negatives. It is sold everywhere nearby the roads as well in plastic water bottles.
In all villages the locals were so friendly. My name was “Hello Mister!” by the local children and unfortunately with smiling faces the only English was “Hello Mister” and “Money, money!”.
We passed by many rice fields. The scenery was nice there. We saw many churches and mosques. On the way I witnessed “after hunting” ceremony. We stop by markets and talk to vendors. We bought fruit. We ate in local restaurants. The food was not for me that much. Mostly fried rice and fried everything. I bought tomato and the other fresh veggies to satisfy my feeling for salad. The budget accommodations was terrible enough. ANd soo many details and stories.
There are lots of stories, things and details to tell and share. Liang Bua Cave, Scuba Diving, Komodo Dragon. For going forward and to meet my pace in traveling I will write them later.
This is my travel to learn, to observe, to understand and to enjoy. If you want to test yourself or format your prejudices, try to come out of your comfort zone please travel. The future will be travelers’.
Hope to meet my next story in Java (Yogyakarta, Semarang and Jakarta).
Keep traveling and exploring…