19-23 Sept 2018
Flores has always been in my bucket list. Actually, it’s because of the tri-colored craters atop the volcano Kelimutu. With the said volcano in mind, but not researching much, I booked my 5days 4nights Labuan Bajo flights.
Planning time came and I was so disappointed to know that Flores is a huge island. Maps are really deceiving and that Kelimutu is lots of hours away from LBJ and that LBJ and nearby places alone are not enough to see in 5days. I decided I will have to forgo of Kelimutu first and focus of LBJ. I will return to Flores for it and the villages around it.
19 Sept 2018
I had to fly from Singapore to Jakarta to LBJ. It was my first time to fly with Garuda. Luckily, my flights were uneventful. The only event I could think of was the view as we land in Flores. It was spectacular. Also, the jealousy I felt when I got to explore Jakarta’s Airport. Why can’t my Philippines create something like that?
I booked my accommodation with Bajo Sunset Hostel which has free airport transfer so I didn’t have to worry about it. On my first day, my only assignment was to find a company to join within either one or 2 days boat tour. I researched online how much they cost. So I had an idea but going shopping, asking and haggling in the town center was a bit tiring hence, after inquiring with a few agencies, I agreed eventually though I knew it was a bit overpriced of maybe around 15-20SGD. I then went back to the hostel and rested while talking to my T. Tomorrow would be early.
20 Sept 2018
My birthday and my gift to myself was a 2days-1night on a boat cruising around the islands of Labuan Bajo. I woke up early and went to the meeting point. I was told during booking that the boat would only carry 8-11 guest. I was surprised to see that there were 24 people on the boat, mostly Europeans, one Malaysian, C, who later on, became my friend and myself. Felt like I was in a backstage of a fashion show. If T was here, we both would have enjoyed such view.
Anyway, our first stop was a 2hour ride to Rinca Island. We had to pay the fees of 290K for entrances for the 3 islands (Rinca, Komodo and Pink beach) and rangers for Rinca. We didn’t really walk much to see most of the Komodo dragons. They were lazily resting by the rangers kitchen. They like cooler places and shades. They weren’t very intimidating until they make the sound and look at you eye-eye. We ascended a bit more to the beautiful viewpoint in Rinca. Flores has an endless number of awesome viewpoints…really.
View atop Rinca Island
Next stop was snorkeling by the Pink beach. From afar, it didn’t look very pink but when you get closer, yeah, it was pink. It was my first time to go on a snorkeling trip by myself. I can swim in pools but open water has always been intimidating for me. I know that there’s so much under it and those things are always unpredictable. But because it was my birthday, I decided I should give it a try despite I was alone. I was even tempted by my new found friend- C to take off the life jacket. I almost did but I said ah no… I do not want to die on the day I was borne. It was a decision I would never regret. It was so beautiful. The variety of sea creatures underneath was innumerable. I enjoyed it.
Next stop was the Komodo Island. We arrived there quite late hence, we only managed to go for the easy trail which annoyed me a little bit. We also only managed to see 3 Komodo dragons there.
Anyway, life goes on. We went back to the boat and proceeded to the island’s bay near Komodo town. To my surprise, the mattresses were already set up on the boat. And hey, I was on the last and noisiest part of the boat, near the boat’s motor.
Now, that the mattresses were laid down, I could see the effect of the boat having 24 passengers inside. There were no spaces for walking, so as soon as I realized I was on the last bed, I apologized to everyone already because there’s a high chance of me, waking all of them up at night when I go to the toilet. They were all ok about it. Since I couldn’t sleep yet because of the noise, I kept on imagining how the refugees are when they’re in boats like this. It must be 100x less comfortable. I shouldn’t complain much.
Soon as the motor was switched off….zzzzzz.. I went to dreamland.
21 Sept 2018
A brand new day has arrived and so as my dreaded need to pee. Wakey wakey people, I talked to myself smiling. Luckily, they were all soundly asleep. No one got awakened. As I walked back to the sleeping area, I looked up the sky and to my surprise, it was much clearer than last night. I was in awe. There were lots of stars hence, I decided to stay outside and watch the stars. I did a few yogic breathing while I pray to God, thanking him for the ++years of existence and the blessings. Wishing that my parents, sister, and T be healthy so they could still enjoy such activities with me next time. I waited for the sunrise and of course, as always, I am never disappointed.
Breakfast was served and we headed off to the island I was looking forward to seeing, Padar Island. It was a small hike to the top. The view was ethereal. I didn’t want to descend anymore but I had to. I spent maybe 1hour on the island. I was among the first few people to go up and the last one to head back to the boat.
View atop Padar Island
We then went to Manta Point, where the Manta Rays are usually visible. I was thrilled but I was uncertain if I should just follow the boat or swim together with everyone with my life jacket. I thought I would be too slow with my jacket on. But the first Manta Ray showed up while I was still on the boat. Everyone jumped out. I couldn’t resist it. I jumped too. I managed to see 2 other Manta Rays and one was really huge. Swam with it. Others saw more and I saw their videos. It was like the rays were performing for them. I missed those performing creatures because I was too slow.haha.. I enjoyed what I saw nonetheless. They were saying there were days that the creatures won’t even show up. We were considered lucky.
Lunch was served and we headed to our next island. Kanawa Island. It was a beautiful Island to snorkel around especially for people like me. Haha just bring your head underneath the water while sitting by the beach and the starfishes, corals, and fishes were already within my reach. I loved it. I just hope, this natural beauty won’t be abused.
This was our last stop before heading back to the mainland. I had a great internetless birthday with the fishes, Komodo dragons and manta rays. Something I would never ever forget.
C, gave me a seafood dinner treat for my birthday and it was sooooo yummy. We decided to do a bit more touring together the next day. Another day of waking up early.
Got to my hostel, and voilahhhhhh, I got an unexpected knock on my door. A little blonde girl. “Hi, please come up with us.” I was like, uhmm why? She shyly said, “we have a surprise for you, for your birthday.” Made me almost tear up. I just had a nice free meal and now I have a birthday cake too….from the management of Bajo Sunset Hostel. I thought I‘d be alone on my birthday. Noooo, circumstances just won’t allow it. This is one of the reasons why I love staying in smaller accommodations. People I’ve met from these places made me feel more home than when I am staying in bigger accommodations and of course, they’re heaps cheaper.
Birthday cake from Bajo Sunsets Hoste
Again, Bajo Sunset Hostel for your next visit to LBJ. Now, it’s a bit dusty and noisy because there were a lot of constructions happening around and within the hostel premises. They are constructing a swimming pool and in front of the hostel, the government was constructing a huge marketplace as of the moment. Surely, this place will soon be even more AMAZING!
Also, just a reminder, I didn’t know until I was on my second day there, that fresh water is scarce in the area. They had to buy and wait for the water to be delivered and it isn’t cheap. If you happen to visit there, please do help to conserve water. It’s really precious.
22 Sept 2018
I knew LBJ has plenty of caves and waterfalls aside from the many beautiful islands and beaches. But after my birthday, I didn’t plan for anything anymore. Good thing, I met C, I didn’t have to plan and bargain anymore. She speaks Bahasa so she could bargain better. She planned to go to the caves and she asked me if I want to tag along. Of course, I’d say yes.
We took the motorbike and boat option to the first cave, Gua Rangko. We owned the cave for a while and the water inside it. Noone dared to swim except for the 2 other guides. I’ve never swum in a cave before. C was trying to challenge me to swim further. She was unsuccessful. Haha
After more than 1hour inside there, we went to the next cave, Gua Cermin. It was a huge cave. I was expecting for it to be crystal-like but it wasn’t when we went there. It was still beautiful though.
After this, C had to go back to her hostel and prepare for her flight. My guide/motorbike driver took me atop Bukit Cinta. Another amazing viewpoint of LBJ. He asked me if I still wanted to go to other places but despite I wanted more, the heat was really killing me. I decided to say no and just head back to my accommodation for a shower. I asked him to take me to Bukit Sylvia for sunset though.
Since I was feeling drained and tired, after a shower, I looked for a place to get a cheap massage. As soon as I learned massages were cheaper here than in Singapore, I knew I would have more than one. I had an hour of traditional massage and headed back to my accommodation because A would be picking me up for the sunset at B. Sylvia.
And yeah, another amazing view for me. I then asked him to recommend a gift that I could bring back for my friends in Singapore, he said coffee and that he would take me to the only place that sells Kompiang. It was 15mins away from the hill. I tasted it and it was like the Philippines’ Pandesal but it looked a bit different. I still bought 10pcs for personal consumption. I liked it.
After also buying coffee, I went to have my own seafood dinner. The same amount as we had last night only, I had to consume all by myself. A fish, and maybe half kilo of squids with veggies and rice and my avocado shake. I successfully emptied the table!
23 Sept 2018
My last day and I just wanted to sleep in. But things didn’t always go as planned. At 545am, the construction outside started. Someone was hammering the mixer truck. I couldn’t go back to sleep anymore. Stayed in bed still though and wasted about 3hours until I decided I should get myself going. Plan for today was just to head to church and have another massage.
Packed, showered, had breakfast and went out. Unfortunately, I was late for the mass and as I walked by the church, there was an event hence, I hesitated to go in. I just did my little prayer outside. Walked around and went to the same spa as yesterday’s to get an hour of foot massage and 30minutes of pedicure just for 25SGD.
Yup. That was my last activity for this trip. I flew out at 310pm. Back to reality soon….:(