Part II of the motorbike trip across Flores in Indonesia. Including: beaches, hot springs, traditional villages, Independence Day, volcanoes and pure magic.
Haven’t read the first part of Flores: the Magic of Indonesia on One Island? You can find it here!
After waking up next to the Mangaruda-Soa hotspring we knew we had a long day ahead of us. First, we had to drive back to Ruteng, since we headed up north, away from our planned route. We already crossed Ruteng yesterday and knew we didn’t want to stay there. Aimere would be the destination of today, and that was quite some kilometres.
We arrived in pitch-dark, tired and worn out, brought to a guesthouse by a local couple on a motorbike. We grabbed a quick €1,- meal in a Warung and a couple of beers before turning in early. Aimere in the morning was quite a bit nicer:
We drove on to Bajawa for breakfast, asking the locals there if we should stop somewhere else on the way to Ende and our final goal of the Kelimutu volcano. The people of Bajawa reacted enthusiastic. Nearby was the famous traditional village called Bena. Hadn’t we heard of it? “No? What are you doing here? Go there! No, first join us for coffee and a cigarette.”
So we ended up changing our route again, this time swerving to the south. We drove around a little bit through the jungle and the small dirt roads, not being able to find Bena. But all of a sudden there was a clearing in the jungle and it was more than clear that we had found it.
A woman came to great us and welcomed us into the village. She told us about the houses, their lives. She’d learned to speak English from the tourists who started to come more and more the past years. Her English was perfect. After taking us through the village she invited us in her home for some tea. Apparently she liked our company, after the tea we were invited for some locally brew arak. I talked to the village elders while Bruno was going for a game of football with the kids.
After this village-visit it was way too late to drive all the way on to Ende, which was the original plan. It was half an hour drive back to Aimere and to the same guesthouse as the previous night. Which we did. An early night to try and make it to Ende the next day.
Which we did. As broken down as we were when we arrived we slept in the most horrible place either of us had ever slept in, and we were both quite used to some less-hygienic places. This was truly horrific and we paid the ridiculous price of 120.000 rupiah. While driving in town we noticed a festival was going on and even though we were tired we decided to explore, both for the need to explore and the need to escape that room.
It was Independence Day. The town square had turned into a festival.
“The independence of the evil Dutch,” Bruno said laughing, looking for my reaction.
We joined the crowds. In the dozens of market stands surrounding the square people sold and gave away food and drinks. A stage was the centre of attention with several dancing and singing acts going on. We got kicked out of the army stand because Bruno took a picture pretending to be a hostage of an Indonesian fellow, all dressed up in army style. As the only white people on the festival I don’t know how many pictures were taken. This one is definitely is my second favourite. I’m a bit scared to put up Bruno’s hostage photo.
We slept terribly in the overly expensive disgusting guesthouse. Bruno got sick during the night. Next morning we decided on a day of rest. We got a thousand times better guesthouse for less the price within twenty minutes. If we’d only driven on a little bit longer yesterday…
Ah well. We chilled for the day. Used a western toilet and a hot shower for once. And made it to our final destination that next morning: Kelimutu volcano. We left Ende early on because we expected something huge of the second-biggest tourist attraction of Flores island. Against all expectations we could almost drive our scooters into the volcano. After parking it was a 15-minute walk up some stairs.
For us, Kelimutu was underwhelming. Driving there was the ride of my life, to see so much natural and cultural beauty and to meet the most amazing local people. It felt disappointing that this was our final destination. Which is strange, because as you can see on the picture, it’s quite the sight. There’s a third lake behind it as well. We stood on top of the volcano about ten minutes and headed back to Ende.
That afternoon Bruno changed the date of his flight and we decided to take the long road back, driving up north of Flores to see what is up there.