I did an overland trip on Flores Island in 2009. It took me 10 days from Larantuka to Ruteng (more of that here). It wasn’t enough, since I didn’t make it to the west end. So, in 2013 I decided to return and start from the west working myself east. It took me 12 days to do just west Flores, not even reaching Ende and the remote areas. A smaller area was covered with more days. Can you help me do the math? ‘Cause I certainly am failing this logic.
People visit this national park to see the komodos, dragons that are said to be the closest descendants of the dinosaurs. I came for the diving. Why? Because as fascinating the komodos are, the underwater world of Komodo National Park is also a winner. Some even prefer it to Raja Ampat. So what’s it like? Read more here.
Ironically, I didn’t even get to meet any komodo on my trip here, but I did see it a month later on this trip. Granted, I did 4 days doing this and had the live-on-board experience.
Bajawa is the hub for Bena Village, however it has its own uniqueness to it. Aside to the cold crisp air that had me regret not bringing my wool socks for bed, it also has its famous coffee. Bajawa coffee is pretty renown amongst coffee drinkers and you can get some at the KSU Famasa at Beiwali Village. Usually the born-and-bred locals know where this village is. Make sure you get the right people from the accommodation receptionists. They’re your concierge fo sho!
As for Bena Village, it hasn’t changed much as a whole in the last three years. It does have electricity now, which is a huge step for them. During my visit, one of their traditional houses was being renovated. It was much fun just to see how these houses were made. Turns out, it was made of simple tools, hard work, and family ties. More on this link.
I redid my itinerary to Riung. So what was different with the visit in 2009? I had a travel mate, I gained travel mates, and it was an uber shiny day. God, how I love the sun! Everything looked better with a lot of sun. More of Riung in this link.
We visited a resort-like place here just because we saw its signboard on the main road. Don’t you just love spontaneous changes on the road? I certainly dug this one. I got a good night sleep and an open shower to recharge myself, all at the Mbalata Beach Cottages. Here’s the story.
We fitted Cancar in our itinerary. Why? Well, Cancar is a place where the rice paddies are devided and looks like a spider web. I’m not sure of there’s any other place in Indonesia quite like it, but I do know Cancar is famous for it. We were helped by a local in the public bus, Gonza and her cousin, which saw our confusion in getting to view point of these rice paddies. Bless their heart as they took the time to take us to the point, even if that meant a minor hiking trip. Had lots of fun and we’re still friends on facebook 🙂
As for Cancar, the locals say that a wealthy man once owned the land. He divided his land in such a circular manner to inherit a fair amount of land amongst his children. The partition has remained ever since, which I don’t know when it was exactly. I’ve seen rice paddies almost all my life and this is something different. It’s pretty cool. Donations are required when hiking up to the viewing point, which is… near a BTS tower, I think.
There are so many things to be said about Wae Rebo, yet so little bandwith. Hence a visit to Wae Rebo is necessary to those that are even slightly curious. Why? The whole trip right from Cancar all the way to the 7 traditional houses on the hills is memorable, which includes a stay at the Wae Rebo Lodge at Dintor Village. Don’t miss this! It’s awesome! For more about visiting Wae Rebo, just click on this link.
This is the hub city to both the Komodo National Park and the whole of Flores Island. It used to be a small, dark, dusty port city, but with time and exposure to the tourism world, it has now growing into a small town that can cater all sorts of travelers, from backpackers to high end visitors. More about Labuan Bajo on the link here.
If you’ve had enough of Flores but have a few more days before you flight or boat trip out, you might want to visit Kanawa Island. For me, it was the best spot to relax and end my west Flores trip. It had a great environment, it was laid-back, environmentally friendly, and surprisingly quite for a popular little island. Best trait would have to be the sunset massage. I’ll tell you more about it, just click on this link.
Flores has more surprises that I thought. It would take a lot of days just to see more of the island’s surface, let alone to dig deeper. The island is so rich in culture, but unlike to what I’m very used to on Java, and no doubt has beautiful nature. Also, it’s pleasant to travel here with sufficient accommodation and transportation. Because it’s so different and has many surprises, I like it a lot and I’m curious to see more of it. I need to come back. I heard there’s a mummy somewhere that needs a visit.
There are no direct flights to Flores Island from Jakarta, but there are from Bali. If you’re flying from Jakarta, you can take a route through Bali or Kupang. The most popular route is through Bali and continuing to Labuan Bajo.
Other cities on Flores Island that you can also fly to are Larantuka, Maumere, Ende, Bajawa and Ruteng, with more flight options through Kupang, Timor Island.
I can’t really recommend the best flight for you because there are so many airlines that do this route with so many schedule. I can say that some of the airlines that make flights to the island are Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Wings Air, and Trans Nusa. I can also suggest that you fly into Kupang, stay about two nights (or a month, whatever you like) and explore this laid-back hot city and then continue to Flores. Then, head back through Bali so you can relax and have the option to have a little luxury, such as multiple sitting toilets everywhere, just before you head home.
A few information on getting around west Flores (which possibly applies to domestic visitor and prices were from 2013):
Labuan Bajo – Ruteng by shared (private) taxi: IDR 80,000/pax
Ruteng – Bajawa by shared (private) taxi: IDR 90,000/pax, by bus IDR 40,000/pax
Bajawa – Riung by bus: IDR 40,000/pax
Cancar – Dintor by ojek and tough hanggling: IDR: 100,000/pax
Dintor – Pela (main road to Labuan Bajo) by truck: IDR 25,000/pax.
Pela – Labuan Bajo by mini bus: IDR 50,000/pax.
Vindhya, my travel mate at the time, said Labuan Bajo used to be a small dark town, with minimum places to stay, countable internet cafes, generously dusty roads, and the ambiance of a pirate port city. This was how it was back when she did the trip with Vira to Komodo National Park in 2011. She told me this while we were strolling opposite-wise on the one-way street to an Italian restaurant that had bean bags as seats (I had you at bean bag, didn’t I?). That said, it’s not as it used to be. This small port village has now become a moderately modern and busy tourist town being the gateway to Komodo National Park. Exposure does change a place, but is it for good or bad?
The best way to get an orientation of the city is to pick a high point and see most of the city from above. On whatever time of the day, Labuan Bajo from the top is a sight for sore eyes.
The center of activities is easily spotted near the port. Aside to receiving and sending out ships that travel between islands for the people’s goods (such as to Sulawesi, Sumbawa and Timor), Labuan Bajo is the port that will take visitors that intend to see the Komodo National Park. Some of them will do day tours, departing early in the morning and coming back when the sun sets. Some will be doing the live-on-board experience, arriving the first day and coming back tanned a few days later. Amongst them will be boats with SCUBA tanks, for divers that are ready to dive in Komodo National Park.
Outside of this port is the main tourist street or Soekarno-Hatta Road, which reminds me much of Legian Street in Bali. I’m assuming Legian grew similarly to this, with small well-presented businesses along each side of the road. It’s probably common to find western influenced restaurants and cafes at such a small hub town like this, however I was pretty surprised to find really good ones. Naming a few would be Mediterraneo Restarurant with the bean bags, good pizza and wi-fi, La Cucina Cafe with its cakes, and Tree Top Restaurant with a great establishment for sunset viewing and moderately good food. Other bigger surprises were the wine shop, the bohemian boutiques, and the spa. All of which had nothing to do with the Flores culture. It really brought out the ‘Legian’ or even that ‘Seminyak’ flavor to Flores.
Top: Mideterraneo Restaurant, bottom: La Cucina cafe. Pictures was provided by www.ibupenyu.com
On another side of Labuan Bajo is the hilltop, where you can find a few good cafes and accommodations. I had the pleasure to stay at the Bayview Garden Hotel and it was be-a-utiful! I love the lush green surroundings, the spacious aircon-ed room, the spectacular view for all day and night, and the price that was surprisingly wasn’t pocket-breaking. This was a second option to the Golo Hill Top Hotel. They had a pool, you see, but Bayview Garden worked better on me much better than I expected. The only consequence I had to swallow was the hiking I had to do to get to the room. This room was IDR 400.000/night including breakfast.
A few cafes are also located on the hill looking down at the port area. The Pesona Bali is a general café with a great view. The food was acceptable, though not memorable. It was nice to spend a clear sunset here. A more popular option was the Paradise Bar, which I have yet to visit. But Vira says back in days this Bar has a view to the port and at night you’ll see the lights against the pitch dark sky. She said it was a great laid back venue. It’s on my list once I come back.
Fortunately, I also had the chance to travel to the other side of the coast and stay at the Luwansa Hotel. It was a really fancy minimalist hotel with a pool, a seaside restaurant, and direct access to the beach. On the south side of the city, fancy hotels are built and lined up for those with a little more to spend.
For an affordable budget accommodation, trust @ibupenyu to find one. The Bajo Beach Hotel or the Hotel Bajo is affordable and meets the essentials. Optional AC or fan rooms are available and start at IDR 250.000/room.
Hotel Bajo is located just a few hundred meters from the port on the main tourist road or Soekarno-Hatta road.
Did I mention the new airport? Yes. This year, 2014, Labuan Bajo finally has a new futuristic-looking airport, after a long delay. It looks sleek and hopefully the service is a few years a head of the current time on the island.
I have to say, Labuan Bajo is now a nice hub to cater all sorts of visitors from all over the world that want to see the Komodo National Park and Flores Island as a whole. Both low and high-end travelers can make their own way through the town. With this, more people can see how beautiful it is on this part of the world. Personally, it’s also a nice city to find after a Flores overland trip, especially if one is traveling from east to west. For those that seek a little pampering like a touch of an affordable room with AC, such as myself, Labuan Bajo can be heavenly.
This is still part of the old airport but I still like the komodo. Do we have a connection?
On the other hand, I really hope that Labuan Bajo doesn’t become the next Legian, being overcrowded, overpriced, and over-westernized. There’s potential for it. I know it sounds bad to wish for a slower development, but I’m just hoping for a wiser one.
A more comprehensive insight can be read here from Travelfish.
Anyone traveling for sometime would know that a little RnR (Rest and Relax) in between an RnR is quite necessary, especially if you like to spend your leisure RnR time on an independent trip and on a budget. That’s me, a big fan of RnR! Although the thrill of jumping in and out public busses, saving money on basic accommodation, and just trawling an area with all its dust and dirt is something that I seek on this raw Flores Island, a little splurge is good to precipitate all that I had past during the trip and recharge for what is to come. In the case of traveling West Flores, that’s just what I did by checking in Mbalata Beach Cottages, tucked in somewhere near Aimere, Flores.
Mbalata Beach Cottages was a surprisingly idyllic resort located just by a vast brown sand beach. It has my favorite type of huts being wooden with high thatched roof, an open ceiling bathroom, and a balcony looking out to the beach. The sound you hear is the rumbling waves and the resident dog playing with its master. My hut had a single bed, complete with a mosquito net. Traveling with Vindhya meant extra bed. The high ceiling lets in a lot of air for circulation and reduces the heat. There’s also a garden filled with colorful flowers despite the sandy ground beneath it. What else can you want?
The beach in front of the cottage was pretty deserted considering it was a working day. The brown sand beach had a very flat floor creating a wide stretch of sand during low tide. The water was really clean although it wasn’t turquoise blue. A masterpiece poem would have been made, if only I was a poet or a song would have been written, if I were a songwriter. But, I’m neither. Spending a splendid relaxed time on the beach can only make me think about the hut with hot coffee waiting for me on its balcony. Need more?
They had one of the best meals I’ve tasted during the trip. I remember gobbling on their fish dish and it was delicious to every single fragile bone it had. The tomatoes were spectacular, they must have put something in it to taste so fresh and delicious. I remember Vindhya and I not being able to finish the fish since it was so big. I gobbled the delicious eggplant dish greedy, it had me panting for air, as my stomach was too full. They guaranteed that the food were MSG free and really healthy. The cook, a young lady, had learned to cook in Europe taken by the generous owner, Om Frans, who is a local Flores man. However, the price of each meal is a whopping IDR 80,000. I wish it was cheaper, but it’s a take it or leave it kinda price. There weren’t any food stalls anywhere near. Considering the food was really good, it was easier to suck up to the circumstances.
There are other things you can do in the area and can be arranged by the staff such as fishing, visiting other less known traditional villages, and trek the island. For me, it was to sleep in for a day. There’s not much more to say about the cottages but it was the right preparation for the journey to come, which was Wae Rebo. This cottage is less than one km from the main road. A sign is up to let you know the turn you need to take to get to the cottage. You’ll probably need a private vehicle to get there conveniently, unless you would prefer to walk. It’s a pot of gold on the end anyways, should you choose to walk.
All in all, a recommended accommodation, guys!
Price: IDR 350,000 / cottages.
Waelengga, 10 km from Aimere, Flores.
Contact: Fransisco (+62) 081 338 576 320.
You might enjoy reading about the nearest city to Mbalata Beach: Ruteng.
I am bewitched by Riung, a mundane little town up on the north coast of west Flores. I can remember the rocky roads, mediocre hospitality of the locals, lines of coconut trees, board-wall houses with thatched roof, scent of afternoon sea breeze, and scorching sun at noon, as it was my last trip. I had expected to be used to the villagey-town the second time around, but apparently it’s magic hadn’t faded off even after about two years. I would describe Riung to be the epitome of those looking for an authentic and quiet traditional town, far from touristy.
The flying foxes are located on a certain island at the Tujuh Belas Islands. The boatmen are usually those that know where they are located exactly. These huge flying mammals have a tendency to change neighborhood once in a while, I suspect, because of the disturbance by the boatmen. I’m ashamed to admit, my last visit to see these flying foxes in daylight involved the boatmen waking these nocturnal creatures abruptly. This is such a big ‘No No’. I should know, being a fan of sleeping myself. It’s also irresponsible traveling to bother natural cycles. I admit guilty not stopping the action, although not supporting them also. Please, don’t repeat what I did, and prevent the boatmen walking them up for your pleasure.
Nonetheless, you’d be surprise to see how big they are. They’re worth the detour, even though it might cut out an hour of your island-hopping trip. Just approach their nest quietly and admire from far. Considering how big they are, you can easily see their whole form.
This is roughly the main attraction of the village. The mini archipelago is rich with white sand beaches and colorful corals. Visitors are usually taken to the three typical islands, including the famous Pulau Tiga (Tiga Island) as recommended by the Lonely Planet guidebook. Each island has its own white sand beach and house reef just in case you get bored tanning. Pulau Tiga has the best corals fo sho! There are so many colorful hard corals, snorkeling feels like floating above a garden.
That day in August or during the high season, we saw 3-4 boats doing this snorkeling trip. Our boat was the only one with about 8 people in it. The rest had about 2-3 visitors. This is as touristy as it gets. Even with that many boats circling around, we still had Pulau Tiga to ourselves for about two hours. Isn’t it lovely when you have a place all to yourself or a very few? Muhaha!
My fondest moment has to be sitting on the soft sandy beach, half-submerged in water and marvel the Flores Island from a distance. I’m accustomed to seeing the open ocean or other islands when bathing at the beach, but this was on a whole different level. The majestic Flores across the strait with its thin layer of vegetation due to the climate is nothing that I’ve enjoyed before. It was like a gigantic beautiful painting and I could look at for hours, if only my skin wouldn’t melt sitting under the sun forever.
An island-hopping trip includes a wooden boat for the whole day, usually to these nearest islands. The captain will give you time to swim at the first snorkeling spot to then take you to Pulau Tiga or the neighboring island for lunch. His team will cook you grilled fish on the beach, prepare rice and other dishes, while you go swimming. Mineral water and fruit are also included. Ain’t life grand?
Boat trips are variable depending on how many people are with you. Our boat trip this time cost IDR 80,000 / pax but there was the eight of us. On other occasion, a boat ride will cost IDR 300,000 for a small amount of passengers, which includes lunch.
Riung and the surrounding villages are small, coastal settlements. Life consists of farming or fishing. The roads aren’t the smoothest in the world, but they spread all through the town. There’s only one recent ATM, two places where you can get a good meal, and a bout 4 accommodations with different price and facility range to choose from. There’s a market that lives once a week, but small shops are available all week. Walking is possibly the best way to get around, as everything isn’t too far away from each other. Aside to the typical government offices, that’s about it.
Locals are friendly to visitors, though not overly as they don’t get many anyways. Tourism isn’t something they can live on and they’re just pretty happy that people come here in the first place. You can walk the streets and easily feel like you’re one of them even with your different skin color and language. Believe me that also applied to me coming from Java. Having said that, life in Riung makes you feel like you’ve been there forever. The normality doesn’t make you feel like you’ve traveled far, but it’s also not your usual home. If I may, Riung is my home away from home.
Traveling to Riung and back from Bajawa has its own story. I would recommend people to take the public bus and strongly urge the ‘shotgun’ seat. The seat beside the bus driver is a priceless spot to understand the life of this rural isolated town. Bus drivers aren’t merely bus drivers. They are chauffeurs, mailmen, and news bearer. They will pick each and every passenger and their goods up with their bus. They will deliver mail to and from the villages along the route. They will bring good or bad news given through him. Though common in life in general, but cellphones are still a luxury in Riung. Not only are they an expensive item, telephone signals are an uncertainty. Cellular services are a definite zero in villages between Bajawa and Riung. Thus, comes in the drivers. These bus drivers, like many bus drivers in Flores, are the most popular, resourceful, community-middlemen known between towns. It’s amazing how much the town people depend on these drivers to run their route and help them transport news and goods.
Last but not least, they are friends. They are the entertainers of your 4-hour ride, that would cheer you up with their insights of life. This is Bang Halim, our driver friend. We remain to be friends, as he still often text me and ask me for my pictures. Err…
There are two daily buses that make this route from Bajawa and vice versa. One bus departs each town early in the morning, arriving in the destination at about 10 a.m. and the next one departs at noon arriving at about 4 p.m. The most effective way to catch these buses is by asking your accommodation host to contact the driver for you. The bus will tell you when he will pick you up.
Bus fare is a whopping (cheap) IDR 20,000 / pax for a 4-hour ride in a tight seated bus. Yes, this would mean it would be a painful ride for Caucasians in general. I suggest you take the front seat, or that close to the doors as there are more legroom for you. This is the best way to meet the locals and their livestock.
During this visit, I was kindly dropped at the Tamri Homestay by, who else than, the bus driver. Tamri Homestay is very basic. It has beds with thin mattresses and mosquito nets in a room with no AC, just a fan. It had shared bathrooms but clean. Rooms cost IDR 85,000 / person, which included breakfast.
Tamri Homestay can be contacted at Mrs. Ety +62 812 3912 9350
Information on my first trip to Riung, where my camera broke click here.
A dot of green or blue is usually what I see afar when swimming in the ocean. The dot, or a strip if I’m lucky, is the nearest island across the shore I entered the ocean from. But now, I’m lucky to have Flores Island so close in sight when swimming in the ocean, off the white sandy beach of Tiga Island, located near Riung, East Nusa Tenggara Province. Life is indeed beautiful.
It finally ended. The story about Flores Island, an exotic island far east for some, was completed by our Komodo National Park entry uploaded by Vira not long ago. For a small island, Flores sure offers a lot. And all though we did the main attractions of the island and beyond, we made the most of it.
So here are the most of the least we could have done:
1. MOST WAXED – LARANTUKA
I have never been so waxed as I was in Larantuka. Now don’t be a Viktor (Vikiran Kotor, translation of dirty mind) and think of funny ideas although I slightly did intended it. Khihihihi… During the peak ceremony of Semana Santa, everyone held a candle or two. Now times that to the thousands of devotee participating, and what do you get? Wax on the ground, on your feet, on your clothes, on other peoples clothes, and even in your hair. It totally changed my definition of the term ‘waxed’.
A different meaning to the term waxing your feet
2. MOST RELAXED – WAITERANG
It’s too easy to relax in Waiterang, especially in Ankermi resort. Everything you want is there. Well, everything I want at least. I don’t crave for bars and clubs so I was good with what they had. Especially, their Arak (local alcohol beverage) with honey and lime. I loved it! But I’m not the only one that’s rambling about this place. At the time, a couple from US have been at Waiterang for a week without any diving activity. They just finished their journey from Bali and had decided to relax a bit in Waiterang. They spontaneously decided it was a great spot to wind down for the week. See?
Enjoying a sunset at Ankermi with fellow travelers
3. MOST BRIEF – KELIMUTU
We didn’t give Kelimutu National Park enough credit as it should have received. We stopped for a brief moment to enjoy the craters and the surroundings of Moni. It was too damn brief honestly. I’m sure it offered more that what we could have seen. I totally forgot that I wanted to do some bird watching! Alright, alright you can settle down now, I admit it’s a bit dorky but hey! Nerds are the new black. Go look at Mark Zuckerberg! Wait.. what was my point again?
4. MOST BLENDED – BAJAWA
When I hear the word blend, I immediately think coffee. In Bajawa, I finally had another blend of Java (beside to Waiterang). I sat amongst the residents of Luba village and had a cup their hand roast and grind coffee. Apparently our ojeg driver needed to catch up. For the local people coffee is a luxury because they have to process it themselves. It wasn’t a commodity, just something to offer the guest like your own baked cake. Having so little, I was honored to receive a cup that was too sweet of my likings. The amount of sugar is a sign of generosity. Sitting with the locals without being invited as a tourist is an authentic experience I crave. I loved that brief 20 minutes blending in the locals living without electricity and in houses made from hundreds of years ago.
Blending in with the locals.. except for my sunnies
5. MOST SOAKED – RIUNG
Although I did some diving and you can’t get any soaker than that, but Waiterang was a predictable wet. Riung on the other hand, was the opposite. I soaked my camera bad, it wasn’t fixable. I really loved my Canon D10a lot! I have to tell you, that camera has been in and out of water like a tea bag in a cup of a tea addict. I probably did abuse it a bit. But it has served its purpose and I was ready to let it go. However, I wasn’t bummed out as I thought I would. Soaking up the tujuh belas coral scene almost at the end of my Flores journey, evened it up!
Apparently you can get wetter than diving!
6. MOST TEMPTED – RUTENG
For the past year, I have resisted my yearning to buy traditional cloth, especially if it cost more than IDR 100,000, all for the reason that I have stated here. But I failed once I entered the Manggarai land and couldn’t resist buying 2 ikat.No, not one, but TWO! I have already promised myself that I would stop once I bought one in Bena-Bajawa, but the ikat in the West Manggarai was so interesting. SOB! Tempted too much, I bought the cloth and killed my savings program.
Vira about her trip on Komodo island:
As Vira has written and said over and over again, her first encounter with the mantas was one of the highlights of her Komodo trip, and it sorta left her speechless, though now she can talk on and on about it. The angelic sway of its ‘wings’ that spreads out up to 4 meters long in only a few meters distance from where Vira and friends were swimming was what captivated her the most.
Although mantas are known to be kind and friendly creature, it was overwhelming to Vira to be so near to them.
By the time I finished my snorkeling trip at Riung, I knew it was time to go home. I wasn’t sure if it was a calling to head home or the fact that I already had my ticket to Kupang. Whatever it was I was ready to end another adventure, right there in Ruteng, and I had prepared my mentality for it. I missed my homes.
So I did a long journey from coast (Riung) – mountain (Bajawa) – coast (Aimere) – to mountain (Ruteng) in a day. I had no idea Ruteng was so elevated. By the time we arrived in Ruteng, my body couldn’t conclude if Flores was a hot or cold island that day. So was it cold? Or hot? Or mountain? Or beach? Or people? Or goat? And maybe a few cows. I dunnow!
Ruteng is cold, that’s for sure. The town had a thick mist the day I arrived since it just rained. Brrr… I wasn’t ready for the air and the wet roads of the town. It’s also a small quiet city lying on a mountain side that is charming once the sun is out. I will spare you my blabbering about how lovely Flores landscape is, including Ruteng. I’m bored enough in saying it. Go see it, people!
Two of my favorite things during my stay which lasted less than 24 hours were:
1. Was I congregated?
I stayed at the Kongregasi Santa Maria Berdukacita, a congregation dedicated to the moment St. Marie was grieving over the death of Jesus. As recommended by the Lonely Planet, it was a great place to stay and one of the best rooms of my journey. Rooms were spotless for the price of IDR 150,000/night and had hot water, which was damn necessary! The nuns run the business. They were calm, peaceful, and talked with a gentle voice. I didn’t dare to joke around. It was far off any tourism service but the hospitality was none short. It was a unique place to stay, I second on the recommendation.
2. The ikat family
Predictably, I was approached by ikat sellers at Merlins restaurant. I couldn’t resist myself of haggling and getting my hands on a local ikat. The West Manggarai District had a similar pattern as those in Bajawa, but with more colors. There were a few sellers there and they didn’t compete hard amongst each other. I though they were just playing fair. Whadya know? They were all related, an uncle and 3 siblings. The uncle had sold ikats for about 20 years, while the youngest brother had just started his 3rd year. I offered them to help me with the big portion of food I had ordered while they told me a few things or two about their family and the ikats they sold. It was a laid back conversation, educational, and just right to end everything about Flores.
I had bought a generic but still handmade ikat, one of their wives had made. The women weave ikats on a daily basis. The men sell them. All have tried alternative careers before but has never felt as comfortable as selling these handmade cloth. For that, I heart them. For at least, in some ways they are still preserving the local culture and ‘introducing’ to others.
Ugh! I hate and love the feeling that I have to come back to a place visited some other time. But that was what I felt when the wheels of the plane lifted off the airstrip. It’s a sense of something unfinished but on a positive note that my life will not run out of goals.
From the sky I could see the ‘spider web’ rice fields Ruteng has been popular for. This part of Flores somehow worships spiders a lot. But to find out why, I must definitely comeback.
PS: We’re still considering on doing an entry on Ruteng, but we’re not sure since I only transited at the town. If you’re interested, do let us know or write us to ask away. We do have some information to share.
No pleasure without hassle. Our friend Boyo took a 1,5 hour long hike through a steep hill in the Mbeliling forest, on Flores Island, to be rewarded with this fresh beauty of Cunca Rami waterfall. The hike was steep, surely would burn many calories, but would probably be a faster hike if you’re used to hiking or trekking. Located about 20 km southeast from Labuan Bajo, you could start the hike from the Roe or Werang villages.
It was for me to part ways with Cindy. After about a week of traveling together it was time to bid adieu (for the time being). Cindy the hippie, needed to catch a plane home at Labuan Bajo. Her vacation was over, but mine hasn’t. Thus I traveled to Riung, a small town on the north coast of Flores. I wasn’t sure if I should have gone there, but considering I’ve put in the effort to do the main attractions of the island, I did.
Riung is underestimated. Riung is the epiphany of travelers seeking that modest small town (or village actually) that has everything. The area had fantastic snorkeling, landscape was awesome, people were friendly but not too familiar with tourists, had thousands of bats, and is said to have a different species of Komodo not too far away. Maybe, and just maybe, this is the mini Komodo Island.
An afternoon spent visiting the neighboring village to visit Watulajar beach which didn’t go well as expected. Hiked a few hills to see spectacular landscape views. Did some bat watching.
The main event was to snorkel a few of the Tujuh Belas (17) islands. Although not too extensive, the marine life was a scream of joy! And we had lunch in between snorkeling.
BintangWisata had just opened a hotel in town. A standard clean bedroom and relatively clean bathroom cost IDR 150,000 / night including breakfast. Unfortunately sometimes they have a mini centipede attacks, as I experienced during the visit. Harmless but creepy crawly.
However, the recommended accommodation would be the SVD, located side by side with the BintangWisata with cheaper yet better service rooms.
Rumah Makan Murah Meriah is the place to be seen in town. Meals are cheap considering the area is so isolated. What’s always on the menu? Fish! Yummy! A portion costs about IDR 25,000.
Public transport wasn’t seen running around. I rented the ojeg from Bintang Wisata for a whopping IDR 70,000 / day. I’m sure you can get service less pricey if you search for an ojeg outside of the Hotel.
How to get there
The only regular bus to and from Bajawa is Gemini, which can be called to your hotel. You pay a mere IDR 20,000 / pax for a rough 4 hour ride. Buses depart both from Bajawa and Riung at 7 AM and 1 PM.