Tagged: indonesia

Seminyak/Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

 I stayed in Seminyak for my last three nights in Indonesia to be closer to the airport. I was planning to completely avoid the Seminyak/Kuta area, which is incredibly touristy, but I ended up having a great time there (in a Western way.) I stayed at M Boutique Hostel and spent most of my time hanging out there by the pool. There’s a cheap take-out local food spot right next door, and a cheap Warung down the road.

There’s not much to do in Seminyak and Kuta. There are tons of expensive western hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, yoga studios, etc, but all of that is out of a backpackers price range. Seminyak and Kuta is where Australians come for vacation to treat themselves. Also, I never made it to the beach but I’ve only heard negative things in comparison to other beaches.

I traveled to Seminyak with the two NZ girls, the Canadian boy and a British guy who an NZ knew before from traveling. We all stayed in the 43 bed dorm that was actually nice because it was modern and compartment style. The hostel wasn’t full but there were a handful of people there that were a lot of fun.

The first night there we went to a local fancy restaurant for dinner. I had mixed vegetables with seafood and it came in a thick gravy. I was really excited to have large shrimp for the first time in a while but they were overcooked and rubbery. 

The next day I went to Potato Head day club with a group of people from the hostel. The bar has a large grassy lawn surrounded by tables to the backside and a pool towards the front that overlooks the beach.  

We relaxed in the pool and each had a Japanese Bloody Mary, a Bloody Mary served with ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. I only had one drink there because it was quite expensive ($12 for a drink) but there’s no entrance fee and you can stay without buying anything at all. 

  

We grabbed local food on the way home then lounged by our pool. That night I went next door and picked up rice, sautéed veggies and 3 pieces of chicken for less than a dollar. Eight of us then grabbed cabs and we rode the 20 minutes ito Kuta, where the nightlife is. We had planned to go to Sky Garden for free drinks but there ended up being a cover charge and no free drinks so we decided to go to Alleycats instead for cheap double doubles (red bull and vodka for $1.50 each.)

The next day we all lounged by the pool and around the hostel. One guy ordered in a massive amount of KFC and we all snacked on fried chicken.

Later that night seven of us headed back to Alleycats. This time I stuck to gin and tonics; the red bull vodkas were too much of me the night before. When the bar closed around 1am we all headed back and did some night swimming. The next afternoon I left Indonesia and flew to Malaysia Borneo. I had to pay 300,000 rp to immigration because I overstayed my visa for one day. But luckily they forgot to charge me the country exit fee so I saved 200,000 rp. 

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 I got off the shuttle bus in Ubud and decided to walk the 35 minutes to my hostel. The town is lovely but reminds me of the Hamptons (in a tropical setting) and not Asia. The narrow street Hanonan (one of the main streets) has hippie chic clothing and jewelry stores, spas, vegetarian restaurants and coffee shops, wooden decor and jewelry shops, and yoga and tourist shops. The street was full of white Westerners and the only locals work at the shops, or harass tourists on the street about taxi’s and hotels.

I turned the corner onto Jl. Raya Ubud, the Main Street in Ubud, and was shocked to see a Dairy Queen, Starbucks, Polo Store, etc, intertwined into the locals stores. Ubud is very much a western paradise and not Asian at all. Nevertheless it is nice and has incredible food, and yoga places/ spas galore. 
I stayed at In Da Lodge hostel which is just off the main road at the far end. The hostel is also hippie chic with brick walls, gray shutters and copper metal accents. There’s a bar/restaurant lounge area and a pool area with bean bag chairs to lounge. I stayed there with my two New Zealand friends that I met in Gili.
After checking in I headed back to town to Dewa Warung, a local restaurant written about in Lonely Planet but was also recommended to me. The local restaurant has sturdy long wooden communal tables and looks much nicer than local places I am used to. Everything in Ubud is nicer for westerners. I had my first watermelon juice in a long time, along with tofu in tomato sauce.  

 On my way back I stopped for a wax and a foot massage. The woman opened a tall foil sheet next to one of the beds to curtain me from the street window. She then heated the wax on the stove and applied the wax with a spatula. As for the massage I slept through the whole thing.

We went to go to the famous Kecak Ramayana and Fire Dance show that night. The performance is 100+ men choir singing without instrumental accompaniment. There’s a story line about a monkey army going into battle, and someone dies, but even with the scene description we had no idea what was going on. The choir chanted the same tone over and over and then there were the actors- a few men monkeys and a few traditionally dressed girls. At the end of the play there was the fire scene- a man/horse kicked around lite embers for a good ten minutes while the men chanted. The horse has something to do with trance.

 The next morning the NZ girls and I went to Dewa for lunch, then walked through the market to shop. I had wanted to buy a sarong but they were all cheap feeling and had print on only one side. I ended up being one thin cover-up dress but nothing else. All the merchants were incredible aggressive and grabby- I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Then we went to Monkey Forest, a sanctuary in the town. The forest is pretty small but pretty. There are loose monkeys everywhere. We saw a mom and dad money sleeping holding their child. We also saw a newborn which had patchy hair.  

 Walking home along Monkey forest street we stopped at L.O.L. for happy hour, 2 for 1 mojitos. I tried the watermelon and the mango and both were delicious.   For dinner we went to Rouge Sushi which was not what I expect from a sushi restaurant. The interior looked like a club lounge, then there was a live jazz band, and they serve Japanese food but no saki. But the sushi was quality and the music was good. I had a super deluxe sashimi.

After we went to CP Lounge. We did a rainbow shot round, played pool and smoked chocolate shisha.   

In the morning I hired a motorbike to take me to some temples. After negotiating with three drivers I finally got one for a decent price- more than I wanted to pay but not outrageous. The driver had a million excuses for needing more money: he gets tired driving, it’s so far, he gets hot, etc. I replied that if he gets tired driving three hours then he shouldn’t be a taxi driver.
First we drove almost two hours north to Pura Besakih, the mother temple. It’s considered the number one temple in Bali. The temple is about 600m up hill from the parking lot. I was harassed at the bottom to get a guide,which I refused (I already bought an entrance ticket.) On my walk up a local stopped and offered me and ride saying he was on his way up. At the top he said he would be my guide and when I told him no he started yelling at me to give him money for the ride. I lost my temper and yelled back. I always forget that locals in tourist areas are never being genuinely nice, they always want money.  

 The temple is on the side of Mount Agung and has a nice view of the surrounding mountains. The temples are wooden and stone and the roofs have multiple tiers. I was told that without a guide I wouldn’t be able to enter the temple; however, I could see inside from the outside so it was not a problem.  

      The next temple we went to was Tirta Empul, the Holy Water Temple. I ended up never paying for a ticket because I couldn’t find the booth. The temple was a lot smaller than I expected. The main attraction is the Holy Spring, which is holy water and used for purification. Locals bathe in the pool, as do some tourists. I wish I knew about the bathing before as I would have worn a bathing suit, or brought a change of clothes.        
 

After that temple we drove back to Ubud through the Ubud Rice Terraces. I did a very late lunch at Warung Biah Biah. I got traditional Indonesian small plates- one coconut chicken and one water spinach. Both were cold and not that great. The restaurant was crowded though so it surprised me that the food was bad. After I stopped into Tukies Coconut Cafe for a fresh coconut.

Later I went to Borneo 8 for dinner with some new people from my hostel. I had sautéed water spinach with broccoli. The portions were small and the shrimp was almost non-existent, and it wasn’t cheap compared to the other local place I’ve found and loved. Then later we went back to CP Lounge.
The next day I went back to Dewa for a third time for lunch. I had a nice chat with the couple sitting at my table, a young Argentina guy and his husband from New Zealand. After lunch I had the worst massage of my life. The lady obviously had no training and just rubbed different parts of my body for two minutes at a time. After the dreadful expletive I walked around for a few hours. 

      

  had been planning to gift shop when I set out for the day; however, the real stores are expensive and not unique, and the market is a nightmare. I ended up just buying the hand carved buffalo skull I had wanted for myself, which I’m having shipped home.  

 The next day was one of the NZ girls bday’s. We started the day buy having a local lunch at Ayu Warung where I had the tofu curry. We then went to Lily Spa for massages. I had a Balinese massage and shared a bungalow with a male Canadian friend of ours. They definitely thought we were a couple. After the massage I had a Balinese coffee shot at Atman Cafe. I was served a small plate with a shot of coffee, a glass of ice, a shot of simple syrup that tasted like dulce, and a teaspoon with a bit of sea salt. I mixed all the ingredients in the cup and finished by drinking the dulce straight. It was delicious.  

 At 9pm a group of us went to dinner at Taco Casa, a Mexican restaurant everyone raves about. I had the shrimp fajitas and a carafe of sangria. The food was by no means authentic but fresh and delicious, although the shrimps weren’t jumbo and they were overcooked. After dinner we all headed to CP lounge for a night of stage dancing. It was my third time there and the first night it was packed.

The next morning we checked out. I went for a last lunch at Dewa and got the avocado salad and my tofu dish for the last time. I then went to pay for my carved horse skull (my decor treat for myself) and had it shipped home. We spent the rest of the early afternoon by the pool before taking a taxi to Seminyak. 

  

Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

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Two weeks ago I met a German man, his Balinese wife, and her Balinese brother on my overnight snorkel trip in Komodo. The couple mentioned that I could stay with them if I came to Lovina, so that is what brought me here. However, since I made a last minute decision to come a day early I checked into a hotel for one night.

I stayed at Ray Beach Inn, 2km out of the town center. Since I saved money by only doing 2 dives instead of 5, I decided to pay $15 and treat myself to a guesthouse with a pool. I checked in, grabbed some local food nearby, picked up 2 kilos of mangostines, and spent the rest of the time lounging. I was the only guest and loved having the entire pool area to myself.

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For lunch I went to Banyualit Hotel across the street and had fish coconut satay, and sautéed water spinach. The hotel was more of a fancy resort, but empty as well. I ate in the back of the restaurant in a large yard area that was fancy but still very green.

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Later on I ordered a pizza from my hotel and ate it in bed while I watched a movie. I expected the pizza to be bad but it was terrible. I got vegetarian and it was topped with peas and carrots. I gave the staff 100,000 rp and he said he would bring me my 50,000 rp change. He never came back so when I finished my movie I went to go find him. He pocketed my money and thought it was okay to just not give me my change.

The next morning I checked out and got a motorbike ride to the large dolphin statue in Central Lovina. The statue is grand and sits on the beach marking Dolphin Beach. Around the statue are restaurants, bars and shops, and the beach is lined with hotels. This is the main tourist area. The beach is not very nice. The “sand” is dark tiny pebbles and it’s covered in trash. Not the picturesque beach I picture when picture Bali.

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The Balinese brother, who I was friendly with on the snorkel trip, picked me up on his motorbike. We went and grabbed lunch at the local restaurant his aunt works at, then he drove me to his sisters house. The house is incredible. It’s typical Balinese architecture made mostly of wood. It has a square thatched roof, and a wrap-around porch with large wooden pillars. In the back is an infinity pool and there are large bean bag chairs to lounge on. I had my own room with a large window that opens out onto the pool.

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That afternoon the brother picked me up to take me to a cockfight- by my request. The arena was nearby and had standing room for maybe 200 people. I was the only woman there to watch. It was full of local dirty sweaty men screaming, pointing and betting. Everyone was there to gamble and I have no idea how people were able to keep track of their bets.

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The cockfighting was quick. First men hold up a bunch of cocks in a circle. Then somehow two and picked to fight. The two are placed in the circle in the middle (the court.) They fight until one falls, then the owners lift them up and try to make them both stand. If one chicken can’t stand on both feet then it’s the loser and gets killed off to the side (if it’s not already dead.) If both chickens can walk on both feet then they will fight again, again until one falls. If they are both still alive then they will get placed under a wicker basket and will fight in here until one dies. The shortest fight I saw was a few seconds and the longest was 30 seconds. I was fine with it all until we saw a white cock fight and then I was really able to see all the blood. The cocks are trained to fight, and all the dead cocks are eaten so at least the meat is not a waste.

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After we saw enough fighting we drove around central Lovina and walked along the beach. We ran into one of the brothers friends who was just sitting on the sand, and some other friends kids came up to us with a cup of hermit crabs and a fish. After chilling we went to sports bar near the statue for happy hour. We played pool and drank Bintang’s and snacked on peanuts with fried garlic.

After the bar we went back to his aunt’s restaurant for some mei gorang (fried noodles.) I then went back to his sisters house to find out she bought me dinner, so I ate again. It would have been rude not to. She brought me traditional Warung food- white rice topped with chicken, an egg, vegetables, liver and a broth soup on the side. I gave her the liver but at the rest. After dinner we all relaxed on the porch listening to music and drinking beers.

The next morning I woke up to fresh French bread and a French coffee press; truly a good start to the day. After eating breakfast on the deck the brother picked me up and we drove 15 minutes into Singaraja, the local city. We stopped at the local notary/lawyer office, which looked like the DMV. Afterwards he took me to an incredible waterfall area. It’s 5 waterfalls, one after another, but we just went to two. The waterfalls were through lush greenery. We were the only people there- it’s not a major tourist spot. We swam near the rocks to be near the big fall which was so powerful I got churned like in the ocean.

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After playing in the falls for a while we drove to his grandmothers’ house. In a village nearby, through a gate, sits four house structures where a bunch of family lives together. I met two grandmothers (married to the grandfather at the same time,) an uncle, an aunt and a bunch of neices and nephews. We went into the kitchen (traditional style of a separate room outdoors,) and ate the leftover lunch that was sitting out under plastic baskets. [Food is never refrigerated here.] First we filled our bowls with rice. Then added cooked sprouts, green vegetable and chillies, and mixed that. Then topped that with fried pork, fish sausage (handmade in a banana leaf,) fried tempeh, and fried tofu. As usual the food was delicious. We are on a mat outside.

Later than evening my gracious Balinese host made an incredible dinner for me. Fresh fish topped with sautéed carrots and peppers, fried potatoes and a tomato cucumber salad. It was much more than I expected and a treat. For dessert we enjoyed melon, oranges and papaya. [The whole time I was there she kept the house stocked with papaya, dragon fruit and mangostines for me.]

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After dinner the German and I sat around listening to music and drank gin and tonics and peach wine.

The next morning I woke-up and to my French breakfast. Just as I finished the wife brought back lunch, so again I ate again. It would be rude not to. This time I had a bowl of rice, added chicken soup, fried chicken, and spicy eggplant.

I then walked into town but most things were already closed because it was Balinese New Years Eve.. (Next post)

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Senggigi, Lombok, Indonesia

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I took the Dmitri public bus from the airport to Senggigi for 35,000 rp. I had the driver drop me off before the town center, and I then had to walk off the main road down a long dark skinny alleyway that twists and turns to find the guesthouse (I only got lost once because the arrows point opposite directions.) I stayed at Indah Homestay, a lovely little guesthouse run by Suzanne from Holland and her Indonesian husband. All the rooms face inwards towards a garden and each has a little terrace as well; it felt nice, like I was in Florida or the Bahamas. The room was basic with a squat toilet and a fan.

[I arrived in Lombok too late to catch a ferry to Gili, so I stayed in Senggigi as a layover.]

I woke-up in the morning and had my included breakfast on my terrace- a fried egg, toast, fruit, spreads and tea. I then went back to bed to relax more before exploring.

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I walked across the street to get to the beach. The sand wasn’t pristine white and it smelled like garbage. I walked along the shore, around a bend of waves where local fisherman chilled as did the surfers. All along the beach there are fancy bungalow hotels although I do not know who would pay to swim at this beach. I then entered back through the port.

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I walked down the road which had a few cute restaurants to Orchid Day Spa, which I read about on TripAdvisor. I got a manicure (first one since NYE,) a pedicure (first one in almost two months,) and a massage. All the nail colors were bizarre, like pukey-looking reds, purples and pinks. While my nails were drying I saw someone getting a hair wash and decided I really wanted one too. Total cost for my 3 hours of relaxation was 145 rp ($11.)

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I walked back towards the guesthouse and stopped at Sunshine Restaurant (Chinese) on the beach for dinner and to watch the sunset. Both ended up being disappointing although it was still very nice to sit outdoors and eat. I ordered morning glory with squid and I couldn’t make out the difference between the minuscule pieces of squid and the garlic. As for the sunset, it was too cloudy but still colorful.

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After dinner I picked up some local gummies and went back to my room to catch up on the West Wing. Almost done with season 2 after five months.

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Komodo, Flores Island, Indonesia

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I was picked-up at the Labuan Bajo airport by a local (a friend’s friend) who I had been talking to for the last week. He drove me into the port town to his office and I booked a trip to Komodo island, and a scuba trip. I then checked into Hotel Matahari, a single room for 80,000 rp. I spent the entire day in bed resting then went out for a quick local dinner at Blue Corner. I was exhausted from all the early mornings and traveling.

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The next morning I boarded a small wooden boat for a 2 day- 1 night trip. The group was me, two Argentina girls, an American couple, a German man with his Balinese wife, and her brother. There were also two local captains. We headed first to Rican— island, part of Komodo National Park. The mountains of land jet out all over the ocean. The grass covers the land like a golf course- smooth with random Palm trees. I’ve never seen anything like it.

At Rijan Island we paid the park entrance fee of 228,000 rp ($17 per day,) and we did the medium hike which was a little over an hour through both jungle and open land. We saw a bunch of lazy resting Komodo dragons, which look like large lizards with crocodile skin. There were three random water buffalos and a lot of buffalo poop. A few monkeys and jungle turkeys. We didn’t see any snakes or deer.

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After the hike we had lunch on the boat then drove for two hours towards Komodo island. The weather turned but it only drizzled for a bit before the sun came out again.

We got to Komodo Island to find deer lounging on the beach. At the gate we were told we had to pay again for tour guides and a hiking fee, another hidden cost that they opt to not tell you about. All seven of us decided we didn’t want to pay again especially because there was nothing different on this island. So we boarded the boat again and headed to Phuket island to go swimming. Here and our next stop locals arrived on long wooden boats to sell pearl necklaces and Komodo dragon wood figurines.

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We then drove a little farther and docked for the night. I sipped whiskey with the German and his local brother in law while the sun set. We then had a feast, this time with fried calamari. The locals played western music and a nearby boat lit fireworks randomly throughout the night. I slept on top of the boat on foam mats covered with a wooden awning.

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In the morning we were up with the sun and started off for Pink Beach at 7am. The beach did not appear pink from the ocean but once on it I could see the tint of pink along the shoreline caused by broken up pink coral. The snorkeling before the shore was amazing with pink and purple corals.

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After we drove to Manta Ray Point to snorkel. The manta ray’s look like giant sting rays, one we saw was 3 meters long. They swam to the surface so we could see them from the boat, but it was much more exciting to swim with them. As cool as it was though it only made me want to dive to actually swim deep with them. To our surprise there was a lot of trash in the water.

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After a few manta ray spots we went to a small beach. We had lunch then snorkeled around. Snorkeling I saw brown coral with blue tops, and there was one 5″ pink fluorescent fish that kept running into my googles with wide eyes, backing away, then doing it again. That made my day.

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I lounged on top of the boat taking in too much sun as we drove back to Labuan Bajo. I went back to the same hotel but got a dorm this time, then relaxed for the night. Unfortunately it rained throughout the night and I had to walk outside to get to the shared bathroom.

The next morning I was at Manta Rhei Dive shop at 7am for a full-day three tank dive. The Manta Rhei wooden boat was much nicer than the previous boat I was on; it was clean and new looking with big colorful bean bag chairs on the top. They served grain bread and donuts for breakfast, cookies and oranges in between dives, a nice lunch including a salad with avocado (my first salad in months,) and pound cake and watermelon after our last dive.

[I bought a red filter for my GoPro which is needed for diving, which I learned in Thailand when all my photos came out dark green. However, this time all my photos came out yellow and red. I'm not sure why but I'll figure it out before my next dive. For now here are some abstract photos of the bluest water I've ever seen.]

The American couple from my snorkel trip were also on the boat. My dive group was a dive master from the shop, a dive master in training from the shop, an instructor from Mexico fun diving, a dive master from Bali fun diving, and an open water diver who dives at home frequently. This was the first dive boat I’ve been on where you enter the water by falling backwards. I smacked the back of my knees all three times on the ledge even though I thought I straightened my legs- three days later it still hurts.

The first dive we went to was Mini Wall. The water temperature was cold, at 25 Celsius. I was chilly in a wetsuit, which I did not expect considering I was diving in Thailand without a wetsuit and was fine. I ran out of air faster than everyone else, and faster than I ever have before (because I was freezing,) so for the next two dives the dive master in training became my buddy so we could go back to the surface early without dragging everyone else back with me. [All the other divers were wearing multiple wetsuit layer which they brought from home- my dive buddy was wearing 2 wetsuit tops underneath his normal wetsuit.]

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The second dive we went to was Makassan Reef (Manta Point.) This was my first Drift dive and would have been very exciting if I knew how to handle it. The current was insanely strong and we moved so quickly, like a high-speed conveyer belt above the coral. The other divers in my group were relaxed but I had never done a drift before and didn’t know how to control my body from slamming into the ground or floating too high up, so in the end I probably looked like a maniac flapping away. The black and grey reef manta ray’s were incredible, ranging from 3-4 meters. We saw about 10 of them during the dive. At one point my dive buddy grabbed me and we stayed low while a manta swam directly above us.

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The third dive was at Batu Bolong. This is known as being the best dive site in Komodo for having the largest animals- sharks, large fish, octopus, etc. However, I did not get to experience the site as it should be. It was the coldest dive at 24 Celsius, and there was also intense currents. We were constantly battling the drift one way then it would shift and we were fighting to get back the other direction. It was a non-stop workout and I ran out of air the fastest here at just 33 minutes. I did manage to see a few white rip reef sharks, a lion fish, and a turtle, but nothing I hadn’t seen before.

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When we got back onto the boat we saw how intense the water looked from above. The area we emerged from looked like a toilet flushing. It was difficult to move around and get the other divers, and the ride home was a mess. It started to rain, then pour, and the waves were rough. The captain was unable to turn the boat towards the mainland without almost tipping, so we went out of the way for a while. The boat didn’t have sides so the rain was soaking the boat. I attempted to hide in the captain’s quarters but when the local crew jumped out to wipe the windshield and guide the boat I also got the splash of the rain. It took almost four hours instead of two to get back.

I decided I needed a massage when I got back to shore, and a hot shower. My knees were incredibly sore from working them so hard in the freezing water, and my back (which is always sore from poor beds and non-stop travel) was in even more pain from sitting awkwardly on a wooden shelf for the past few hours. I’m sunburnt from the live aboard so as good as the cream felt on my skin it also burned when she grabbed me. Throughout the night after the massage I was in more pain. I think I pulled a muscle in my neck, and my chest felt funny.

My dive buddy runs the Manta Rhei homestay and he let me stay the night for free, even though technically you need to do two days of diving with them to stay there. We went out to a local restaurant for dinner and once again I shocked locals with the amount of chili I can eat (I put two servings worth in my soup.) We split two Bintang’s and picked up another for home. We chatted for a while before going to bed.

The next morning he drove me to town at 8am. I had breakfast at a chic hippie Greek restaurant on the main road. I then picked up my laundry and grabbed a motorbike off the main road to take me to the airport. I flew to Bali, then to Lombok with Wings Air.

Mount Kelimutu, Flores Island, Indonesia

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I landed in Maumere at 3pm. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to talk down the price of a car (a lot) or if I would have to stay overnight and get a bus in the morning to Moni. One of the taxi drivers overheard me reject the price of 500,000 rp ($38)- I knew it was going to be a price like that. He told me he has a friend who drives a car of people for 100,000 rp so I told him to take me there. After waiting in his friends car for 20 minutes they both approached me and said it would actually be 275,000 rp. I said no and told them to take me to the bus station, but after negotiating we made a deal at 150,000 rp ($11.50.) I agreed for two reasons- one being that I was in the middle of no where in Maumere and I didn’t think they were going to drive me anywhere else, and two because if I stayed overnight and took a bus it probably would have cost me more than 150,000 rp.

I ended up being the only passenger for the majority of the trip; we picked up a local along the way. The ride took a little over 2 hours even though every website said it would take 3-4 hours. I finally found the tropical jungle I assumed all of SE Asia would be. The land in Flores is green lush mountains overflowing with palm trees, palm stalks, bamboo, sugar cane, etc. The road was skinny and winding, and my local driver blared Balinese and western dance music the whole time. As usual locals stared at me as we passed through villages.

In Moni I stayed at Palm Bungalows. I was the only guest and the bungalow was terrible mostly because of the bathroom which was the worst I’ve seen yet. It was private but un-usable. There was no running water in the sink or shower. The sink had a pool of floating ants in it, and the shower was an actual tub with floating spiders. The toilet was western but with no flush, and the garbage can of water must have been sitting there from the previous guest, whenever that was. It smelled terrible and there was a water bug living in the toilet tank that regularly made appearances whenever I wanted to pee. I did not get to wash my hands or body the whole time I was there. However, luckily I only stayed one night and it only cost 100,000 rp with breakfast- $7.70.

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The room was terrible but the owner Robert was an amazing host. I had dinner at the guesthouse with him and his two brother-in-laws (not his actual brother-in-laws but his male family members.) We had two red and white rice, sautéed greens, sautéed vegetables, fried mini fishes (you eat the whole thing,) fried edamame and crackers. The meal was cooked by the women of the bungalow who did not actually eat with us. After dinner we sat around talking and smoking cloves.

Moni is the small village below Mount Kelimutu, the Volocano attraction. On top of the volcano rests three different colored lakes (they all change over time and have been blue, green, white, brown and red.) Most recently they were green, blue and brown although the brown was apparently turning red. Every website said to get there for sunrise but as usual I didn’t do that. Also, it is currently rain season and Robert said now is not a good time to go for sunrise.

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I woke-up at 7am, had breakfast (an oil and sugar soaked pancake,) then Robert took me to the volcano for 200,000 rp- $15. We drove up in his brand new Toyota SUV with an added surround sound system and blue lights. He was very proud of his car but I thought it was terrible. A gas guzzler that’s too big for the tiny roads which meant we inched along, while listening to blasting western music. (Hotel California started playing which he thought was the Backstreet Boys.)

We got to the entrance and I had the pay the entrance fee of a whopping 150,000 rp; Indonesia tourists pay 50 cents. We parked and Robert joined me for the walk-up because I was the only tourist there. The cement stair trail took about twenty minutes to reach the peak. On one side there are two lakes, and on the third is on the other side, making it impossible to get a picture of all three together.

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The view was incredible, as were the size of the lakes on top of the mountains, however the lakes themselves were a complete disappointment. All three lakes were the exact same color, and deep turquoise. The color was sharp against the gray rock but it was the same color as the ocean in the Caribbean.

I took photos and posed for about one hundred photos with a group of local tourists. One of them insisted on taking a picture with me every place I moved to take my own picture; they were following me around the site. As much as I wanted it to stop there was no point in being rude since the area was deserted in so I played along.

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We headed back to the guest house and switched cars to a SUV pick-up truck. Before I got in Robert had four young boys vigorously clean the interior and exterior of the car, for me.
When then got in and drove to Ende,
picking-up a backpacker hitch hiker along the way.

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Robert took me to the airport and the earliest flight I was able to book was for the next morning. He offered his home to me and I gladly accepted. That day Robert, the Finnish backpacker and I relaxed on Robert’s porch. We drank fresh coconut milk made by one of his daughters, had a local lunch, and relaxed again. In the early evening the other backpacker left for the ferry and I made myself at home.

I bathed myself in their traditional shower, a concrete room with a huge garbage can filled with water and a pail. I was given a bedroom- a mattress on the floor and a fan, which was more than I would have asked for. We ate a big family dinner in the main room on a smiley face and a princess mat. Robert, his mother, his two daughters (10 and 14,) and his two nieces live in the house, and three of his male family members joined us. We shared red rice, fried river fish, sautéed cabbage, and an omelet.

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After dinner Robert and I went to Star One Pub and Karoke, a new club in town that he hadn’t been to yet. The club consisted of a main room, about twenty karoke rooms, and a girl viewing room. The viewing room had a one way mirror so from the bar we could see in at the girls but they couldn’t see out. The bar was filled with local girls who snuck in their own alcohol because the drinks were very expensive (normal club prices.) The bar is too expensive for regular locals but popular for business men especially from Java and Bali.

A local guy played piano and the locals girls sang karaoke. A few of them had amazing voices. We danced, drank Bintang by the pitches and sipped local liquor, a clear alcohol that tastes like a mix of whiskey, tequila and wine.

The next morning I took an early flight from Ende to Labuan Bajo.