Flores continues to astound us in both scenery and warmth of the local people.Flores continues to astound us in both scenery and warmth of the local people.
We left Ende, a day later than planned due to a bout of Indonesian Tummy suffered by Otto. After a night filled with emergency dashes to the toilet, not all of which were in time, we transformed our previously lovely bathroom into something reminiscent of a nuclear disaster site. We ended up using the bathmat and towels to mop up the putrid slicks. I had my very own 'Spud' moment from 'Trainspotting' the following morning standing at reception with the soiled sheets and towels trying to find somewhere to leave them with the receptionist trying to take them from me!
Good job we were leaving the next day!
Ende itself was fairly ordinary, the beach was full of plastic rubbish and the town itself had a couple of hotels and cafes but nothing worth staying for, so we were not sorry to get on the road, albeit a bumpy potholed one, to the Northern coastal town of Riung.
A quick stop on the way at Blue Pebble Beach (mostly missing the pebbles from people collecting them to sell).
Riung is tiny: three or four streets crisscrossing around a generator and a harbour, but despite its diminutive stature it is a wonderful place to spend a few days. We stayed at Tam's place: Nirvana, a collection of bungalows scattered around a flower ladened garden. The bungalows are simple but lovingly adorned in bright colours and musical murals, they reflect well the vibe of the small town.
We were lucky enough to hit town on the weekend and so caught the local band playing both Friday and Saturday night at Cafe Del Mar. Their set was an eclectic mix, everything from Marley classics to Myley Cyrus, but they were great. The two women singing were incredible. Jess, Otto and I got the party in full swing by filling the dancefloor on the Friday night.
The days were also great thanks to the 17 island national park (which actually has 24 islands but that didn't fit the independence day date so they conveniently mis-counted when naming it. The snorkelling trips (we took two trips on consecutive days) were well worth it. Beautiful corals of all types and colours and a massive array of fish from moray eels to sharks (Mikes reckons he saw one anyway). There were lots of trigger fish, parrot fish, bat fish and my personal favourite the clown fish (nemo) were in abundance. The only downside was we somehow became hooked up with a driver who was not the best guide (a bit grumpy and a bit pushy in telling us what to do), but he didn't spoil the trip.
Rather reluctantly we left Riung for Bajawa which we were not expecting to love, but thanks to a recommendation from Tam at Nirvana, we ended up at Manulalu B&B (run by the lovely Jimmy).
Wow! What a place!
I have never eaten breakfast in a more elegant setting. An archetypal Volcano to the right, rainforest covered mountains stretching out in front and to the left, the ocean visible 1200 metres below, and a well manicured garden complete with rose bushes and deer statues. Truly remarkable.
And to top it all off, a huge living area with satellite TV. The first night we were the only guests and we ate a leisurely dinner around a huge wooden table and then relaxed in front of the log fire with a beer and the Premier League football on the large screen TV. I think Mikey thought he was dreaming!
Although the cool mountain temperatures and the English TV shows made it feel very like home, the next morning finding a scorpion in the bedroom reminded me we were in fact a long way from home. Apparently, the scorpion wasn't a dangerous one but I'm checking my trainers carefully before placing vulnerable toes anywhere inside.
From Manulalu's, we visited the Ngada village of Bena, where the women all have red-stained betelnut mouths and they live a very traditional simple life, weaving, farming and occasionally sacrificing a buffalo for animalistic ceremonies. We also swam in Manigali hot springs where the mix of cold mountain water makes the boiling sulphurous stream bareable like a steaming hot bath. Further up the stream before the mountain's water mixes, the volcanic stream is hot enough to seriously scold.
After three days of fires, football and friendly hello's from villagers unused to seeing blonde haired kids, it was time to move down back to the tropical temperatures of beach side Mbalata. Or at least , I hope we get there, as I'm writing this, we haven't been able to contact the one bungalows where tourists can spend the night. We may be heading to a closed shop in the middle of nowhere!
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!