I knew that we needed to make some serious adjustments to our travelling arrangement if I was going to make it back to Labuan Bajo a mentally sane person. The way there had be so painful for me, because the bag was just too heavy and it hurt having it hang off my back. Sylvester, our knowledgable homestay owner, offered to sell us a contraption that extends the back of the motorbike, meaning we could strap the bag on. He just asked us to pay what it cost him to buy, so we agreed. Norman strapped it on, and arranged the whole set up on the bike, so when it was time to leave I just toodled down from the house and hopped on to my allocated spot. It was bliss!
We only had 2 days to get to Labuan Bajo because our visas were due to expire, and we had to hand them in before the weekend. As we were already a day behind schedule, we had to drive from Moni to Ende straight after we had seen the lakes, because we had to begin the long journey from Ende to Ruteng early the next morning.
Our spirits were considerably high as we drove out of Ende the following day. The air was crisp and weather was perfect for a road trip! We enjoyed driving the road along the coast out of Ende, because on the way there we had driven it in the dark so we hadn’t seen it before. The first few hours really sped by, and we were making great time when we arrived in Bajawa just before 12PM.
I am so grateful for Normans driving skills! I would never have been able to do this road trip without him. He negotiated the roads so well, and his quick reflexes saved us from serious collisions about 5 times. I trust his driving totally so I didn’t have to be a vigilant, nervous passenger. Sometimes I would put my earphones in and close my eyes!
After lunch the rain came down heavily, and really slowed our progress. Much more organised this time around, we put on our rain coats and continued towards Ruteng. When we were a few kilometers away we ran out of petrol! It was to be expected really because we hadn’t filled up since Bejawa, which was 4 hours away. We both just laughed, knowing we had been tempting fate, and began pushing the bike. It took us so long to find a place selling petrol! Usually there are always bottles of it being sold on the side of the road, but we were so unlucky because we ran out on a stretch of road that didn’t have any. The funny side of the whole thing was the reactions of the locals. They would walk alongside us and chat, drive by and wave and laugh, and point us in the direction of Ruteng when they gathered that we had run out of petrol. After quite a walk, we found some petrol, and we filled up and drove to book into our homestay.
We were getting pretty good at early starts by that point, and left Ruteng bright and early for Labuan Bajo. We had to get there as early as possible because it was a Friday and we didn’t know what time Immigration would close. In Indonesia, these sorts of offices have really short working hours, so they usually close early anyway… and we could not wait until Monday to get our visas in.
The only stop we made along the way was to see the spiderweb rice fields in the village of Cancar. We had to walk up a small hill to see the view, and it was a lovely, quick sight to see. Other than that we make a beeline for Labuan Bajo, and thankfully we arrived at 12PM, and Immigration was still open.
The whole road trip has been one of the highlights of my travels. The island and it’s people have not been tainted or exploited by tourism yet, and it is so evident. I’m glad I went now because the roads into the mountains are being widened, which is going to make travelling a lot easier and will cause tourism to increase. I really felt like we witnessed authentic, traditional cultures, and that the people didn’t see us as dollar signs, but rather as friends. Flores itself is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been, and its landscapes have been etched into my memory forever.