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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.