Posts Tagged ‘Flores’


The island hopping has started – Adonara Island – tick. Lambata Island – tick. That’s where it’s going to stop though. There are no boats further for a while. Staying with Gervas who I met in Kelimutu, I’m going to cycle, snorkel and relax on Lembata Island before catching the ferry to Timor in a few days. A bit of R&R is going to be nice!

Volcano on Adonara

Volcano on Adonara

Adonara island was peaceful and quiet, and rather steep in parts. I was told to take the northern road as the southern one was completely destroyed. The northern one was too in parts, and very steep as it climbed up and down steep valleys in the middle of the small island.

Church

Church

In the middle of the island

In the middle of the island

The boat trip to Lambata was a bit exciting. The bike was hoisted up onto the deck with all the luggage. It all worked well, and I now find myself relaxing in Lewoleba.

Boat to Lembata

Boat to Lembata


There is malaria here, they told me last night. Sitting bathed in chemicals this morning, the mosquitos were a-buzzing. SLAP. The grandmother killed another one on her arm. I asked why they don’t use repellent.
‘No money,’ replied the son.
When I left I gave money enough to buy plenty of repellent for the whole family.

Kringa family

Kringa family

I stayed with a family of subsitance farmers. Everything they gave me to eat they had grown or caught. They had grown the rice, grown the vegetables and caught the fish. They make their cash by selling the odd coconut. It hit me like a hammer – what it really means to be a subsistence farmer. They have NO money, and live from day to day. These are the people that will be hit first and hit hardest by climate change – and they are the ones that have done least to cause it.
The son would like to see the west one day. I would like to take him to a massive, air-conditioned supermarket in a shopping complex in Australia. Look how far we have removed ourselves from the source of our food in the west. The son wouldn’t know which planet he has come to.

Today I crawled up and over the last of the hills of the mountainous island of Flores. Rather than catch the boat to the next island, I flopped onto a bed in a hotel next to the harbour. Flores has worn me out!

On the way to Larantuka

On the way to Larantuka


‘Do you want to see the new-born baby?’
We all walked in the (almost) full-moonlight down the street to the hospital to see the new baby boy. All the family seemed to be there to admire the boy, laughing and joking in a very jovial event. He is one of the next generation to live on this planet that I have cycled across. I wish him all the best!

The road to Larantuka

The road to Larantuka

The appearance of the people has been changing. They are now clearly different – very dark, many with dark hair with tight curls. Passing slowly from Europe it is fascinating seeing the people change from European through to Asian and now towards Aboriginal Australian.

Hello mister kids

Hello mister kids

The road was almost flat for 30km today and it was lovely to speed through with music blaring. It can get demorilising crawling up a hill only to descend again ready for the next one. I passed little lean-tos in the palms next to the sea.

House amongst the palms

House amongst the palms

Sea

Sea

I’m climbing the last major pass before the end of Flores, and am staying in a little village in the mountains. A lovely family welcomed me into their home. The world is full of wonderful, caring people!


A full moon at 3am with a clear sky. The air is cool and still as the lone cyclist slowly crawls up the mountain. I can see the whole valley in the colourless light, the trees casting shadows in the moonlight. Everyone is sleeping. Just the crickets keep me company and the odd dog that howls as I pass. I feel excitement cycling at night, and peace in this beautiful night landscape. I am climbing to see the sunrise at Kelimutu.

Sunrise at Kelimutu

Sunrise at Kelimutu

The sunrise is stunning from my vantage point above the volcanic crater-lake. The black slowly gives way to the deepest blue on the horizon, and the landscape grows in detail. As the horizon turns to pink, the clouds roll over from the neighbouring crater like water flowing over a stone, only to evaporate above the lake.

Kelimutu

Kelimutu

I start talking to a guy from Lembata island (to the east of Flores). Yes! There are boats. I can go there and get to Alor island, and from there to Altapupu on Timor island near the border with East Timor. I had read about this on the internet, but I saw no confirmation that this boat exists. Well, it does, and I am going to take it! Very cool!

When I finally got going from Moni – the village at the base of Kelimutu, I was expecting a smooth descent to the coast. Well, there seemed to be more up than down, and as I crawled over the endless ups, I realised I was tired. The early morning and the many long days recently have taken their toll. I stopped at Koka beach at 3 and decided to call it a day.

Mountain village

Mountain village

Koka Beach

Koka Beach


‘I practice my English by counting the Bule (foreigners) that pass,’ she said as we sat in the little shop on the side of the road.
‘Wow!’ I replied. ‘I practice my Indonesian by counting the number of hello misters. How many bule have you seen today?’
‘One,’ she replied nodding to me.
‘Ah!’ I replied.

River

River

I certainly would have beaten her one bule. I wasn’t counting but there might have been one hello mister every minute or so averaged out over the day – still, nothing like yesterday. Today was a late start after searching (and finding) the screw that broke on my saddle, and taking it for another welding job. It was kind of nice being forced to sleep in – I couldn’t leave until the shops opened and my bike was fixed.

Saddle repairs

Saddle repairs

My destination was the village at the bottom of the famous Kelimutu volcanic crater lakes. A short day with a 1200m climb and a drop to the village where I was able to set up my tent next to the river.
I followed a river all the way up, passing lovely little villages and paddy fields.

Village

Village

Hut

Hut

Tomorrow morning I’ll leave at 3 for an ascent to the crater.


I closed the hotel door and collapsed on the bed. Today was intense. The ‘hello mister’ density was staggering. I felt the poverty of the people. I gasped in awe at the beauty of the landscape. I passed 35000km, and my saddle broke in front of a hotel.

35000km

35000km

Everyone says ‘hello mister’, mostly followed with ‘ke mana?’ or ‘where you go?’ Cars pass, roll down with windows and ask this, they cry it from busses, from the crowd of people packed into trailers or from motorbikes. They usually honk to reinforce the greeting.
They cry ‘hello mister’ from the side of the road – kids, fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers. When playing kids spot me, someone screams out ‘BULE!’ (foreigner), or ‘TOURIST!’, and then there is a chorus of hysterical screaming ‘MISTER! MISTER! MISTER!’. Then I hear the frantic patter of feet behind me as the kids rush to catch me. If I’m on a downhill I just whoosh away, but on the uphill I have them follow me, asking me where I am going or crying ‘My name is! My name is!’
Sometimes I hear a slow motorbike following me at my speed just behind me, or next to me. Several times they followed me for minutes – in silence after all the standard questions have been exhausted. Stopping does not deter them – they stop too. Taking a piss in front of them doesn’t deter them. They wait patiently.

Some interested kids

Some interested kids

Lots of kids cry out ‘Money! Money!’ I thought – just mischievous kids. Sometimes I stopped and asked them for money – saying I thought they said they had money for me. When I pulled in to a collection of houses at the beach, I was taking in the scenery and taking some photos with the kids buzzing around the bike, when the father came up and asked for money to fix his electric saw. My spur of the moment reaction was to say I didn’t have any. Later they daughter was telling me in Indonesian how Flores is much poorer than the rest of Indonesia. There is no industry here, and no way to make money. ‘Life is not good,’ she said. The family live in what looks like paradise to western eyes – on a beautiful beach lined with coconut trees, with turquoise blue water lapping the shore. They live in a ramshackle lean-to which may also look idyllic to a westerner – if one doesn’t have to live in it. It left me thinking as I pulled away on my Rolls Royce of bicycles, with the GoPro mounted and all the accessories exuding wealth. I wish I had given the father some money to fix his saw. It probably would have only cost a few dollars, and it would have made him very happy.

The beach

The beach

The road was amazing, descending down to the beach with mountains everywhere. The coastal road was to die for – hugging the coast, and then rising and falling 50m at a time – around each crag and over each headland.

Mountain view

Mountain view

View of the sea

View of the sea

The beach before Ende

The beach before Ende

The beach road

The beach road

In the beachside village

In the beachside village

The ‘hello misters’ rose to a crescendo as I approached the town of Ende. I just needed to get away. I wanted to avoid a hotel today, but I just needed out. I pulled up to the first hotel – down a small alley. Surrounded by a crowd of kids, I tried to turn the bike 180 degrees by lifting on the saddle and the handlebars when I found the road was a dead-end. CRACK! The saddle snapped. ‘Where you from, mister!’ ‘Where you go mister!’ ‘MISTER!’

I’ll fix the bike tomorrow. Tonight the door is locked and I’m inside – alone. Sometimes the hermit in me wins out – and that is OK.


‘Ini mandi atau keringat?’ (Have you had a shower or is that sweat?)
It was sweat. The ascent was long and I was wet. An ascent along a road that wound around and around and up and up, passing through forests, overlooking a massive volcano, and past another naked guy walking along minding his own business.

The volcano

The volcano

I left from the paddies at sea-level, climbed to 500m, and then dropped to sea-level for a swim.

The rice paddy out the front door

The rice paddy out the front door

Midday swim

Midday swim

And then it was a climb to 1300m, up and up and up. Motivated by a conversation with Will, and a recommended hotel in Bajawa, I felt the peaceful bed beckoning. An evening alone is nice for the hermit Matthew. ☺

On the way up again

On the way up again