A Travellerspoint blog

August 2019

The Lesser Sunda Islands III

Komodo Archipelago

sunny
View The Lesser Sunda Islands on Lingering's travel map.

Sunday [23/12/2018] - Today, I would be going for the 3 days liveaboard with Yudith only as Teddy has some personal stuff to take care of. So after having breakfast at the hotel, Renyold and Yudith came to pick us up at 8am. On the way to the harbour, we stopped at Blue Ocean hotel first so that I could leave my luggage there since we will be checking in on 25th December. After that, we went to rent snorkeling gear before going to the harbor to find our private cabin bedroom boat. It took us quite a while to find it as there were many cabin boats but finally we did. After saying goodbye to Renyold and Uwi who wanted to walk around the town before heading back to the hotel, we went on the boat and started sailing.

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The boat has 2 decks where the lower deck is the living quarter where there are 2 cabins, 2 toilets, an open air kitchen at the back, eating area in the front and the captain's driving cabin where he also sleeps while the upper deck consist of bean bags and cushions for people to relax and sleep. There is the captain and his 2 crews where 1 of them is in charge of cooking the meals and the other one is helping both the captain and in the kitchen. The boat was pretty comfortable and stable. It was a relaxing cruise with the cool wind blowing even though it was a very sunny day.

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Our first stop is at Kelor island where we were given time to hike up the hill and go snorkeling. There were already a lot of boats docking on that island and people who were not snorkeling, climbed up the hill. We were sent to the island using a small motor boat and we arranged to be picked up within an hour. We decided not do do any hiking up any hill since we did not wear our sport shoes so we just stayed in the water and tried out snorkeling. The sand was white and the water was very blue. We didn't stay too long in the water as there was nothing much to see near to the shore and we did not dare to go further out into the sea since there were not many people snorkeling around. After a while walking on the shore, the small boat came and picked us up.

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Then we head to Manjarite island. This time, the water was deeper than Kelor island but nevertheless, still blue and very clear. There were a lot of people snorkeling here compared to the previous island as the water around the jetty was calmer. After having enough of snorkeling, i walked towards the island on the bridge only to find out that there is a signboard saying "Private property. No tresspassing". So I walked back to the jetty and after a short while, the small boat came and picked us up. On board, lunch was served. Even though it was cooked for 2 of us, the food could actually feed up to at least 5 person. Although the food was simple, it was delicious but also probably because we were hungry. We told the captain not to cook a lot of food for us but he told us, that is the standard portion they cook every time so the rest of the food that couldn't be finished, we always tell him and his crews to finish it for us.

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Our next destination and the one which I was looking forward to is to see the famous komodo dragons on Rinca island. There were a lot of boats there so we had to wait for our turn to go to the jetty. Other than the komodo dragons, there were also other wildlife such as mud crabs, monkeys, buffaloes, deers and birds. As we reached to the ranger camp, we saw people walking in groups with a ranger holding a stick. After buying the tickets and getting a ranger, we head off to see the komodos. There were quite a lot of komodos just resting around the ranger camp area. We were told that the komodos have already eating so they were not hungry to chase after people but we still have to take precautions. We were not allowed to go very close to the komodos and get fooled by their close proximity to humans as its one of their tactic to get our guards down.

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The ranger told us that there are currently 1500 komodos marked on this island with a ratio of 3 males to 1 female. The number of komodos here are higher than those on the Komodo island and the mating season is between July to August. The female can lay up to 36 eggs once a year in September but the hatching rate is only about 40-45%. The eggs are buried in either the hillside nests, ground nests or mound nests initially built by the orange-footed scrub fowls. The eggs will take 9 months to hatch but the female komodo will only guard the nesting site for 6 months. Once the young komodos hatch, they will run away and climb up trees to avoid being eaten by their mother or other komodos. Unlike the adult komodos which feed on carcasses and animals, the young ones feed on small lizards, insects, snakes and birds. When they are 4 years old or have reach 20kg in weight, they will come down and live on the ground. The feeling of finally seeing the komodo dragons up close and personal is so unreal as I never thought I would be able to do so.

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The last thing to do for the day is to set sail to Kalong island. On the way to that island, the crew had fried banana fritters topped with chocolate syrup and cheese shredding for us but we were still full so we only had a few and had to ask them to finish off the rest, We reached there before 5.30pm and found a spot to dock our boat like all the other boats who were doing the same thing. While waiting for the flying foxes to come out, I saw that most boat crews were already starting to prepare the ingredients for dinner. The bats didn't come out until an hour later but once they came out, they came out continuously. The sight was so amazing with the sunset and the bats flying. As we started sailing again to find a place to dock for the night, the bats were still coming out from that island. There were probably few hundreds of them dwelling on the mangrove island.

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By the time the ship was docked, it was already very dark but we saw that we were near to some island inhibited by people as there was a bright spotlight shining. I thought we had docked somewhere near Padar island since we were supposed to go up there tomorrow but the captain told us that we had gone back to Rinca island and docked there because the water was calm. Dinner was served at 7.30pm. Since there was nothing much to do after dinner, we went into our cabin which has a double bed double decker and went to bed. The power for the air conditioner was switched on for the night so that we could sleep comfortably. I have never slept on a boat overnight before but I have to say, it is very peaceful.

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Monday [24/12/2018] - I woke up automatically at 5.30am just to see how sunrise look like at sea. Unfortunately, the sun hasn't come out yet but I could see how calm the water was. The other boats which had also docked for the night were still there but the crew were getting ready to start the day. We were supposed to sail to Padar island today but due to the sunken boat incident that happened around 5am yesterday, all boats were not allowed to go to Padar area at the moment as they were still trying to find the missing bodies and also the waves were pretty rough at the moment. So we had to cancel Padar island and after discussion with the captain, he suggested that we go to Komodo island and then to the village instead.

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When we started sailing towards Komodo island before 7am, breakfast was served which consist of french toast and fried egg. We reached to Komodo island around 8.30am and there were some boats there already. There were kiosks selling things unlike on Padar island but we went to check out the komodos first before checking out the kiosks. After buying the tickets and getting a ranger, we started our walk. Komodo island is very different from Rinca island because we did not see any komodo resting around the ranger camp nor were there any wild animals. The komodos here are also difficult to see because they are wilder and due to shortage of food, they have to go further to hunt for food. Since the komodos here are hungry, we had to be extra alert as they could attack people anytime. We were also told that there are only 1377 komodos recorded here.

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As we walked along the trail, the ranger from another group told our ranger that they spotted 2 komodo dragons on a particular spot so we headed there and sure enough, there were 2 adult komodo dragons and 1 small one. The small komodo was afraid of people so it went away very fast. As for the other 2 adult komodos, one was sleeping while the other one was pretty active. There were groups of tourists around and their rangers were helping them to take photos with the komodo. Suddenly, the active one seemed to sense blood around while one of the female tourist was getting her photo taken so the ranger asked if any of us were on our period and we said no. After having my photo taken with the sleepy komodo, we walked back to the ranger camp since we did not come across anymore komodos and thanked our ranger. Then we walked to the kiosk and I bought a few komodo souvenirs as well as a face mask made from jackfruit wood. Since it was still early, we decided to have fresh coconut before heading back to the jetty at 10.30am.

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Once we were picked up from the jetty, the boat sailed to Komodo village which was not very far from the komodo park. Komodo village is small and when we were walking towards the village, I could see a lot of rubbish in the water. An elderly man chatted with Yudith and offered to guide us around for a fee so we agreed. Basically, we walked through a small path where there were houses on both sides. I could see people in this village still help each other out and kids were playing around barefooted. There wasn't much to see but I managed to find komodo postcards which I have not come across so far, in one of the small home store selling souvenir. After the short tour, we decided to get back to the boat since it was getting very hot already and then head on to pink beach.

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There were not many boats at pink beach so we docked there and had lunch first. We rested until 2pm before we went to the shore to check this beach. It is called pink beach because there were supposed to be a lot of broken red corals on the shore that results in the pink colour. There were a lot of broken white corals instead and nothing much to see unless we snorkel far out into the sea. After staying for a while there, we decided to head back to the boat and discussed with captain what else could we do since it was still early. He told us that it would be better that we head towards Manta point for docking. On the way, we passed by Taka Makassar island and saw some people walking on the shore.

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By the time we arrived at the docking area in the middle of the sea, there was already a diving boat docked already. It was a lucky thing we arrived there early because the captain told us that only few boats could dock there and if the dock is full, other boats have to find somewhere else to dock. By then, the sky had already become dark and the waves were getting rougher. Then came the rain, thunder and lightning. Good thing the rain did not continue for long so we had dinner before going to sleep.

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Tuesday [25/12/2018] - Today I automatically woke up before 6 am just in time to see the lovely view of sunrise. After the storm, the water was so calm and clear that you can even see your own reflection in the water from the boat. It was low tide so we could see a lot of islands which was not present yesterday. The boats that had docked around us had either gone off early or drifted away from our boat. While I was taking a shower, Yudith told me that I had missed seeing a manta ray flying out of the water. After breakfast we head back towards Taka Makassar where we had passed by yesterday.

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The water was so low that a lot of corals were exposed on and around Taka Makassar island. The small boat could only take us to a certain part since the water was so shallow that we had to walk in the water until we reached to the sandy area. The sand on this island was white and very hot actually since it seems to reflect off the heat of the sun. The captain and 1 of the crew went walking around the island with us to check out all the different types of animals and corals that were stranded in puddles of water due to the low tide.

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It was very fascinating to see all the living creatures because there are some which I have never seen before like the blue starfish whose body is soft, long worm like creature and corals of different shapes and sizes. If we went there in the afternoon, we would not be able to see all these creatures up close and personal. After an hour, we head back to the boat since it was getting so hot by then.

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Then we went to the manta point, hoping to see the manta rays. I am not a strong swimmer nor have I ever tried jumping from a boat into the sea before but the captain told us that the water was only 10m deep. When the captain saw manta ray swimming by our boat, we had no choice but to follow one of the crew and jumped into the water right away. It was scary yet exciting and we did see a manta ray swimming by us. It was so fast that even though we tried to catch up with it, we couldn't and in the end, it left for somewhere else. Since It was not the manta ray season, we were not able to see anymore swimming around but hey, at least we saw one which is better than none. After no more manta ray passed by us, we went up the boat and then head on slowly towards Labuan Bajo direction.

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Our last stop is at Kanawa island which took 2 hours to reach from the manta point. At one point near to this island, the waves were so strong that the boat was rocking left and right until that the bench we were seating on near the front deck almost threw us off. It was a good thing that it didn't last forever and I was glad I didn't get seasick like when we were heading to Karakatau in December 2017. After that rough patch, the waves were calmer all the way until Kanawa island. There were few bungalows and a restaurant on this island but since we were not interested in checking them out or doing any hiking in the hot sun, we straight away went snorkeling. There were a lot of corals and marines fishes near to the jetty and the water was very clear. While snorkeling I could feel the hot and cold current mixing together in the water. I spent 30 minutes snorkeling in the water before I went up the jetty to see the fishes near to the steps. Unfortunately, the crew thought we wanted to go back to the boat already s they came and picked us up before I had the opportunity to snorkel near to the steps.

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After taking a shower, we had our late lunch and then slowly sail towards Labuan bajo. We reached Labuan Bajo port at 3.30pm and with our stuffs, we walked by foot to return the snorkeling equipment first and then to Blue Ocean Hotel so that I can check in. Uwe had already checked in earlier and his room was next to mine. After saying goodbye to Yudith, I sorted out my clothes to be sent to the laundry and took a bath again because it was so hot in Labuan Bajo. I talked to Uwe and we decided to just stay in our room until late afternoon when it is not so hot, then we will take a walk to find somewhere to have dinner. By the time it was slightly cooler, we decided to head upwards away from the harbour towards Luwansa beach resort direction to check out the post office. There were a lot of small local shops and tour operators offering liveaboard but other than that, there was nothing much to do. So in the end, we decided to try out an Italian restaurant where both of us ordered a pizza each for dinner which was not bad. This restaurant was pretty crowded and people seemed to know it from reviews given by people who had eaten in this restaurant before. By 8.30pm, I was already feeling sleepy so we head back to our hotel and call it a night.

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Wednesday [26/12/2018] – Today is a free and easy day and we did not have any specific plan since Uwi refused to go on a boat or ride a motorbike and there was no car taxi waiting for passenger so we could not even visit other places outside of Labuan Bajo. The only thing we could do is just to walk around Labuan Bajo so I woke up around 8am. Then we went to the rooftop to have breakfast by 9am while enjoying the view of the harbour. I already miss the liveaboard and the best thing about it is that we still get mobile signal everywhere we went to. It was a very hot day and the hot breeze did not help much either. After breakfast, we went back to our room and decided to go out later since Uwi said he had walked around the whole town while I was living on the boat and there wasn't much to see and do. So I used the time to write a few postcards in my room since the post office is open today.

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We started walking at 10,30am and the weather was even hotter than earlier in the morning. We went to the post office first to send off the postcards before going towards the harbour. Labuan Bajo is actually a very small sleepy town as there was nothing much to do if you are not going out to the sea. We went and checked out the fish market which was dirty and smelly and then went on walking to the back of the street which leads back to the main road in front of Blue Ocean hotel. Since breakfast was just 2 slices of bread and omelette which is not filling and doesn't last until lunch time and Uwi didn't want to have lunch because he was still full from breakfast, I decided to stop at a small cafe called Catur'z Kopi Club to snack on something and also to get out of the hot sun since it was already noon time. I ordered fruit juice and what we called in Brunei and Malaysia, kuih lenggang which is basically pandan pancake with shredded coconut cooked with gula melaka syrup. After spending some time cooling off in that cafe, we slowly walk back to our hotel to cool off in our room and I started to packing my things since we were going to leave Labuan Bajo tomorrow.

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At 3pm, we walked out again this time to Bajo Bakery since I was getting hungry. I ordered a savoury quiche, meat pie, danish pastry, chocolate banana muffin and tuna wrap to share with Uwi. We sat at the window area overlooking the harbour just to pass time while eating the pastries. We came back to hotel around 5.30pm to check on my laundry but it hasn't arrive yet. So after taking a shower, we head out to Le Pirate restaurant for a light dinner. They have interesting interior design and food was alright. We stayed there until 9pm before heading back to the hotel to pack our luggage since my laundry has finally arrived. At 10pm, I received an email from Garuda informing that our flight tomorrow morning had been changed to evening due to technical problem with the plane and we will only reach to Bali after 9pm. For me there is no problem arriving late since I fly back to Brunei on 28th December 2019 but it was such a big deal for Uwi since he stubbornly booked his flight back to Berlin that evening also without taking into consideration that flights can be delayed. So in the end, we had no choice but to throw away our Garuda ticket and purchase new tickets from another airline that has morning flights. I told him that the other airlines are not safe and they also have delays but he rather take the risk and said that he didn't trust Garuda at all. So after searching, the only earliest flight available in the morning is Wings Air which was not what I wanted because Wings Air is famous for its poor air safety records due to numerous accidents. However, Uwi didn't care at all because he rather not miss his business class flight instead of being concern about the safety inside the plane. So fine, I let him have his way but after all the things have happened in Flores, this will be the last and only time I will ever travel with him so we went ahead and purchased the tickets.

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Thursday [27/12/2018] – We checked out of Blue Ocean Hotel at 8.30am without having breakfast since Uwi wanted to go to the airport as early as possible and told me that we can have breakfast at the airport. Komodo airport is still pretty new and has limited amenities. Since Wings Air only give 10kg free check in baggage and I couldn't even purchase additional pre-paid baggage through their website, the ground staff let me off the hook for checking in 3kg excess while I have to carry the rest of my stuff in my hand carry bag. This is also another reason why I refused to buy Wings Air ticket at first even though it is cheap unlike Garuda where you get 20kg free check in baggage. Then we went to check the gate where we were supposed to wait and there were a lot of people also waiting to board their flight. Since it was still early, I walked around to see what was available. There were a few souvenir kiosk, a book shop and 3 kiosk which is supposed to be selling snacks and drinks but only 1 of them had food for breakfast but they had limited number of beef pastry left. So everyone who was hoping to get breakfast at the airport could only order the beef pastry and after it had run out, people could only order drinks. So much for Uwi's idea of having breakfast at the airport. Our flight eventually departed at 9.55am instead of 9.35am and we arrived at Bali 30 minutes later than the expected time. Wings Air live up to their status of never been on time and not being safe at all since I saw cracks on the ceiling of the plane. No meal was served on board as no one purchased any food. Uwi on the other hand did not say anything but after the flight, he posted on his Facebook saying that Wings Air is the unsafest plane he had been on. I already told him about it but he refused to listen since his business class ticket was more important than safety at that time.

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After landing at Bali and getting our luggage, I looked for Gusti as I have arranged with him to pick us up. Since Uwi's flight was only in the evening, I told him that we could go around Denpasar for a while and we will send him back to the airport but he refused because he didn't want to miss his flight so I just let him be. Gusti took me to a restaurant for lunch and after that, we went to Krisna to and then to Lotte supermarket to look for some souvenir before checking in to Tanaya Bed and Breakfast. In the evening, I made arrangement with Gusti to have dinner together at Mama's German restaurant which is not far from Tanaya Bed and Breakfast so before that time, I walked along the streets of Legian just to see what shops and restaurants are around. At Mama's German restaurant which serves German food, we ordered their famous pork knuckle which the waitress told us that it's at least 500g. We didn't expect it to be huge when it was served so I couldn't even finish half of it and also it was very greasy unlike the one I tasted in Prague. After saying good night to Gusti, I went back to my room, packed all my stuff and went to bed early since my flight is at 7.10am the next day.

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Friday [28/12/2018] – I woke up at 3.30am because Gusti was going to pick me up by 4am to go to the airport. There was no traffic along Legian street as the bars and pubs have closed already unlike late last night where the traffic couldn't even move at all. There weren't many people in the airport so everything was pretty quiet and I am glad that Royal Brunei Airlines left exactly on time so that I could catch up with some sleep on the way back. This trip has been long and I have learnt a lot of things about both Lombok and Flores as well as how it is like to travel with Uwi. Honestly speaking, without Rinjani, Lombok does not have anything much interesting to see or do unless you head out to the Gili islands and it is still a long way from being developed like Bali. Flores on the other hand is pretty much surprising to me as they have similar food culture and Malay language like Brunei. The places are still unspoiled by tourists and not commercialised yet since most tourists just tend to go to Labuan Bajo in order to get to the komodo islands or at most they will travel to see Kelimutu lake and Wae Rebo village rather than going around different cities of Flores. I love to go back to Flores again one day to climb Mount Inerie and do liveaboard again as I enjoyed it so much and hoping to go to the top of the hills of Padar island to take the lovely view of the island.

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Posted by Lingering 08:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

The Lesser Sunda Islands II

Flores

sunny
View The Lesser Sunda Islands on Lingering's travel map.

Saturday [15/12/2018] – We left Mana Retreat at 4.13am after the taxi arranged by the retreat came and picked us up. Since no one was at the reception counter, we just left the key of the bungalow there. Surprisingly, there were already quite a number of people at the airport waiting for their flight. As it was still early and there were not many shops to check out, we decided to have breakfast while waiting. At 6.10am, we flew to Bali where we had to transit at the airport for 2 hours until 9.05am before we flew to Maumere using a fokker airplane. The last time I sat on a fokker plane was back in 2013 to Kuching. It was a pretty small plane and the stewardess just gave us a snack box rather than serving us meal on the tray since there was not enough time to distribute and then collect the trays back after we were done.

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When we landed at Fransiskus Xaverius Seda Airport, the weather was very sunny and hot. We had to walk by foot on the runway to the terminal building. The arrival hall is very simple and pretty empty except for 2 luggage belts where you collect your luggage. While waiting for our luggage, I saw Teddy waiting for us outside. Teddy reminded me of Bob Marley because of the iconic reggae hairstyle. Since it was noon time, we checked into Amrita beach hotel first which is built next to the beach. After having the welcome drink of papaya juice and leaving our luggage there, we head out again to a local warung where they serve babi guling for lunch. It probably wasn't up to Uwi's standard to eat food like this as he never had in before in Bali in a small warung and it's not western standard.

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After lunch, we head to Wuring fishing village. It is a small fishing village where houses are built near to the concrete pier. On land, there are 2 storey wooden houses whereas those on the water are just single storey wooden houses built on stilts. We noticed a lot of children kept on saying hello when they saw Uwi. According to Teddy, western tourists in the past who visited this village gave the children pen so they were also expecting Uwi to give them a pen also. There were also a lot of rubbish in the water, pretty similar to the water village in Brunei but the water here is clear. Teddy told us that the people who live in this village are the Bajo people.

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After taking some photos, we head back to the car and then drove to the tip of the peninsula to see the view from the top of a hill. Unfortunately, it started to rain so we didn't get down from the car and decided to go back to the hotel instead. On the way, we stopped at a local supermarket to check out the price of cashew nuts which is mainly grown in Flores but surprisingly, it was more expensive than the cashews sold in Brunei. When we were back at the beach hotel, we checked out the surrounding which was pretty simple and nothing much to do. We ordered dinner to be sent to our bungalow since there is no restaurant area and after that, we just relax in the room. The bathroom was once again open style but the good thing is that they provide mosquito coil to be used in the bathroom and the bedroom so we will not bitten by mosquitoes like at Mana Retreat. By 7pm, the ladies brought dinner to our bungalow where we ate outside since there is a small patio with a bench and a small table with 2 chairs. I ordered daging rendang and it tasted exactly like the ones cooked in Brunei! After dinner, we relax for a while before turning in for the night since we woke up very early this morning.

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Sunday [16/12/2018] – Today we woke up early and started packing our stuff before our breakfast arrived. Once again, we had breakfast at the patio and waited for Teddy to pick us up to go to Sikka village where we will visit St. Ignatius Loyola church. Built in 1893 and established on 24 December 1899, this Roman catholic church still maintain its Portuguese architecture. The roof frames are still the original teak wood that has not been replaced at all even after 119 years. The warden of the church explained that there are 3 different service per week. The first week service is conducted in Latin, the second week service is conducted in Bahasa Indonesia, third week service is conducted in Sikka language and the fourth week service is conducted in Bahasa Indonesia. For a very old church, it can accommodate up to 600 people.

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After the church visit, we went down from the back of the church to a Sikka village. Over there, Sikka women gathered together and their ikat products were hung for display. According to Teddy, he had asked the women to gather together to demonstrate the steps of weaving the ikat. It is a laborious task as it can take up to 2 months to complete a sarong or blanket size ikat. I bought a Sikka motif ikat scarf just for souvenir and also to support the local community as the women depend on selling their ikat products to support their family.

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We then head towards Moni but on the way, we stopped at Paga beach to stretch out a bit and have lunch. Surprisingly, the way they cook their food is similar with the way we cook in Brunei. After lunch, we kept on driving until we reached to Koka white sandy beach. In order to go to this beach, we had to drive through the villagers' private property where the land are mostly used for farming. Although the sea was very blue, no one went swimming because the waves were strong. In order to go up the view point, we had to climb up the steps made of bamboo and wood which were not only steep but each step is also far apart from the next. By the time we reached to the top, the view was just so amazing! We couldn't get over the fact that the water was so blue! After having enough of the view, we slowly climbed down again and then head on to our final destination for the day.

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It was more than 1 hour drive before we reached to Moni and we reached to Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge before 4pm. The air was already getting cooler and people were wearing jacket. After checking out our room which comes with a balcony and the bathroom's roof is party exposed to the open air for ventilation, we head out to check out the surrounding. The restaurant is very simple and we also placed our order for dinner since we were told we had to do so before 6pm. Then we walked around the garden which has a small bridge to go across the river to the other side which leads to people's rice fields.

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After checking out everything, we slowly head back to our room and quickly took a bath as the wind was getting cold. It was a lucky thing that there was hot water for the shower because it felt like bathing in an air conditioned room with the cold wind blowing in from the gap of the roof. By 7pm, the temperature had already dropped to 24.2 °C and walking towards the restaurant was like walking in a very big air conditioned room. We ordered the set meal which comes with rice, tomato soup, stir fry cabbage and carrots, ayam masak merah (chicken cooked with sweet tomato sauce), tomato and cucumber salad as well as pudding. It was a bit too much for both of us so we had to give the rest to Teddy and Constantin to help finish for us. Teddy told us that we have to get ready and make a move by 4am to watch sunrise at Kelimutu lake. By then, Uwi was not feeling well already so he decided not to go and chose to sleep in. By 9pm, the temperature had dropped to 22.4 °C

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Monday [17/12/2018] – Today I had to wake up very early as we were going to leave for Kelimutu by 4am. The temperature had gone down to 18.8 °C. Without having breakfast and going alone without Uwi, we reached to Kelimutu National park area 25 minutes later and started walking to the viewpoint of mount Kelimutu to see the sunrise. The path was not that difficult as one could even walk up using slippers if you can stand the cold wind. By the time we reached to the viewpoint, it was already 5am and the sky was not as dark as we started off. The wind was strong and people were just sitting around, taking photos while waiting for the sun to rise. Well known for the 3 colour lakes, even in dim light, one could see how green Tiwu Ko'o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) are which were separated from each other by a shared crater wall. The third lake, Tiwu Ata Bupu (Lake of Old People) located away from the other 2 lakes, is not so outstanding as it is smaller in size and the colour of the water is brown.

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We stayed until 7am when the sun is fully up before heading back down to the car park. On the way down, a lady was selling markisa (passion fruit). Unlike the passion fruits found in Brunei and Malaysia which is usually purplish in colour, the one in Flores are yellowish orange in colour. We reached to hotel half an hour later and Uwi was already up. I took a shower first before packing and then went for breakfast. Breakfast was simple, scrambled egg and toast only. I also tried the passion fruits and true enough like what they say, it is very sweet unlike the purple ones which is sourish. After that we checked out and made a move to a nearby waterfall called Murundao waterfall. It was not really an impressing waterfall as it was only 8m tall and nothing much to see. On the way to our next destination, we stopped at the fruit and vegetable stalls in Nduaria where I bought some more passion fruits.

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After a while on the road, we arrived at Wologai traditional village of the Lio tribe. It is a small village with few traditional houses made of wood and palm leaves. In the center of the village, there is a ritual area where visitors are not allowed to step into it. There were not many villagers around, only a few elderly women who were busy drying coffee beans and walnuts on the ground which they had picked from the nearby forest. The men in this village are wood carving masters. Teddy brought us to see the chief's home just to give us an idea how the interior of the house look like. We had to bow our heads to enter the house which was pretty dark since there were only a few windows and the light rays were blocked by the low roof. There was no electricity, furniture and toilet. The house consist of 3 bedrooms, 3 cooking area, 1 area for storing musical instrument and 1 area for storing stuff. Since there is no fridge, the food cooked is usually dried so that they can be stored longer.

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We then travelled on towards Ende on winding roads for 3 hours before stopping for lunch at the Blue Stone beach (Penggajawa beach). It was a hot day and even though we were near to the beach, it was not windy and the wind was hot. I ordered sweet and sour prawns cooked with tomatoes in watery tomato sauce whereas Uwi had gado-gado. After lunch, we walked down to the beach to check out the turquoise, blue and purplish stones. The stones were pretty smooth and if you have the patience to search through the stones, you can find various colours which you don't commonly see on the beach. The locals collect stones of different colours and sizes to be sold as a source of income.

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After taking enough break from sitting in the car, we drove on to Bajawa. Our accommodation was at Manulalu Bed and Breakfast which is located in Jerebu’u Village. It took us a while to reach there and by the time we arrived at there, it was already 5.30pm. The sky was starting to get dark as the sun was already setting and the weather was pretty cold. Inside the building of the front office, they have a living and dining area with a fireplace. Outside the front office building, they have made long cement table with chairs for people to sit outside and enjoy the view of the mountains and the partial view of mount Inerie on the right. We were supposed to stay in one of the room at the Bed and Breakfast building on top of a small hill but since those rooms were used to accommodate the construction workers who were currently working on their new restaurant, our room was upgraded to Manulalu Jungle. It is few minutes drive down the road from the front office where there were several domed roof bungalows built on a sloped terrain facing the open valley.

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Each bungalow has a terrace equipped with a wooden daybed and a set of dining table where you can sit and do nothing but just enjoy the prefect view of mount Inerie. The bungalow is so spacious and there is 2 floors where they have put a double bed on each floor but it seems like it is either still new or probably hardly used as the bed on the first floor was pretty dusty. The dome of the roof is made of glass but since we were sleeping on the ground floor, our view was blocked by the ceiling unless whoever sleeps on the first floor, then you can enjoy the stars at night when you lay on the bed. As for the ground floor bed, it was so comfortable and they have installed netting also just in case we open the doors at night for the breeze to come in since there is no air conditioner. Oh, did I mention that all of the walls of this bungalow consist of glass door panels which can be open? Even in the bathroom, they have installed 2 full glass panel at the corner of the toilet so that you can enjoy the partial view of mount Inerie while sitting on the toilet seat. The bathroom is somewhat simple as the walls are just plastered with cement and they used wood for the floor and the bench for the sink whereas bamboo was used to decorate the floor and also used as hanger for clothes and towel.

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For dinner, we had to order the car provided by Manulalu to bring us up to the front office building. Surprisingly, the menu consisted more of western cuisine rather than Indonesian food. There is grilled chicken breast, grilled tuna, chicken wiener schnitzel and pasta as well as sandwich. The only Indonesian dish which is filling for me is the nasi goreng which comes in big portion but at a touristic price. After dinner, since there wasn't anything much to do, no internet nor tv to watch, we decided to go back to the bungalow and just relax outside the terrace while enjoying the cold breeze. Before we left, we ordered our breakfast to be sent to our bungalow for tomorrow instead of us coming up again since Teddy was going to pick us up from the bungalow. Once again, we had to wait for their car to send us back down to our bungalow. Since it was still early, we just sat at the terrace while eating chocolates. By 9pm, the temperature was already 21.9 °C, even colder than in Moni but it was cozy inside the bungalow where it is not too hot nor too cold even though we had closed all the doors. We slept early since I was a bit tired from waking up early to go to Kelimutu.

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Tuesday [18/12/2018] – I automatically woke up at 5.30am to check out the sunrise view from the terrace. The view was lovely with the orange hue of light coming from the back of the mountains as the sun was slowly starting to rise. Since it was still early, I just went back to bed to get some more sleep until my alarm rang again. By the time we were already up and ready for the day, the workers have sent our breakfast to the terrace. While enjoying our breakfast, we noticed that the day had became hotter as the sun was already shining brightly unlike evening where the wind was very cool.

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By 9am, Teddy came to pick us up and we drove to the starting point of Bajawa area to start our visit to several Ngada traditional villages. From there, we walked by foot first to Luba village which is located at the foot of Mount Inerie. There were several cemeteries and numerous houses where the walls are made of wood but the roofs are made of dried leaves. The men and women were out in the fields and the only ones left were 2 women weaving ikat on the balcony of their home, an elderly woman and a young boy.

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Then we head on walking quite a long distance through tall grasses around the foot of Mount Ineire, passing through villagers' farming land before we arrived to the next village, Tololela. This village is smaller than Luba village and there was some construction going on. There were also cemeteries in this village but we could see more adults here in their house and a new house was in the process of being built. The children were also helping to carry bamboos from the road to the place where the new house was being built. I bought a book about this village and also dark chocolate produced here to support their economy. We stayed there for quite a while since it was already noon time and very hot before we walked back to the parking area where Constantin was waiting for us.

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Next, we went to Wae Bana Malanage hot spring near Bena village where the hot spring meets the cold water from Wae Roa waterfall. It was a unique experience because on one side of the river, the water feels hot whereas the other end, the water was cold but in the middle, the water became warm. After soaking in the water for quite some time, we decided to have lunch cooked by the women who were the only ones living next to this river. We had tapioca leaves and chicken cooked in turmeric, also similar to the cooking style in Brunei. After lunch, we dipped in the river again for a while before we decided to move on to the last destination which is Bena village.

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Bena village is the most well known village among all the Ngada village. There were more houses here which has similar style like the other 2 villages and there were big monolith stones. I bought a scarf weaved by the one of the villager as a souvenir. We then finally head back to our bungalow and had dinner at 6.30pm. We met and discussed with Ryan who will be guiding us up Mount Inerie. Based on his experience, the weather was not very good so we had to wait and see at 2am to see if the weather was favourable for us to go up. By 8.30pm, we had to go back to our bungalow to get some sleep as we had to get ready by 2am. By then Uwe was very cranky because we had to sleep early and wake up early for the hike.

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Wednesday [19/12/2018] – I woke up at 1.30am to get ready for the climb. From our terrace, I could see thunder and lightning surrounding mount Ineire so the chance of climbing up is very slim. When Uwe woke up, he was already scolding me for making him having to wake up very early which made no sense at all because he already knew what we were doing more than 6 months ago from the itinerary I gave him. By the time Ryan came at 2.30am, I went up to talk to him and he also said that it was not safe to climb the volcano due to the lighting. So we decided to cancel it and I went to sleep again. In the morning when we woke up around 6 30am, it was a very hot day. By 7am, Constantine and Ryan came to our place again and told us that since we did not managed to go up Mount Ineire, we will be hiking to Wawo Muda lake instead which is still in Bajawa. After breakfast, we started our journey at 9am to Wawo Muda lake. On the way, Uwe being sarcastic (after scolding me the night before) said it was too bad we couldn't climb mount Ineire but I just ignored him. Wawo Muda lake is located at Ngoranale village and we started hiking behind the catholic church. We had to walk pass a few village houses and coffee plantations before we reached to a vast area of eucalyptus trees. It was quite a distance before we reached to the top of the hill and saw the 2 colour lakes, where one is yellow and the other one is green in colour. We didn't stay long there as the sky looked cloudy so we decided to head down.

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On the way down, we stopped by the first house we saw as they produce their own coffee powder. We tried their coffee which was not bad but then again, I am not a coffee drinker so I do not know the difference. Then it started to rain heavy all of a sudden. I had my raincoat as always ready and I thought Uwi had his rain suit with him but I didn't know he didn't bring it in his backpack because he was so confident it will not rain at all. So Ryan had to cut banana leaf for Uwi and himself as "umbrella" and I saw that an elderly couple were also given the same thing by their guide. They were laughing of course while we head down and so did I because it looked funny but Uwi was swearing all the way down instead like as if he had never been in the rain before at all in his life!

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Since the rain didn't stop and Uwi didn't stop swearing, when we reached towards one of the house which was actually not far from where our car was waiting for us, Ryan asked us to wait there for shelter while he went to the car to get umbrella for us. I would have gone with him since I was wearing a raincoat and I am used to getting my pants and shoes wet when it rains but since he insisted, I had to stay with Uwi. The owners of the house which were 2 women were very kind as they offered us chair to sit while waiting for Ryan. When Ryan came, they insisted on offering us coffee and biscuits while waiting for the rain to stop and told us to sit inside. I politely decline to have coffee as it was troublesome for them since one of the woman had to walk to the other house in the heavy rain and flowing muddy water to get warm water just to make coffee for us. There was no furniture inside the house at all so the two women were sitting on the floor while 3 of us were sitting on the plastic chairs they offered. We waited quite a while until the rain became lighter and because of their warm hospitality even though they are very poor, I decided to give them some money. They were very happy of course and I wished Uwi would learn from them to be grateful for everything instead of being angry and swear at every little thing. By the time we reached to the car, the rain had already stop and the sun had started to shine again.

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We drove to town to have lunch and so that Uwi could change out of his wet clothes. Only then he took out his rain suit from his luggage and wore it when the sun was out. By then, he started to have his so called "diarrhoea" again and he became cranky that he scolded me in front of Teddy at the restaurant when I asked him what was wrong since he was swearing non-stop. It was so embarrassing so both me and Teddy just kept quiet while Uwi just kept on swearing by himself. We ate our meal in silence and I only talked to Constantin while ignoring Uwi because his attitude was unacceptable and very immature. It kind of spoil the whole mood and I was starting not to enjoy travelling with him already. After lunch, we went to Mengeruda natural hot spring in Ngada regency which was 1.5 hr drive from Bajawa. All the way there, no one spoke in the car which was fine by me because I was already not in a good mood and Teddy knew that after hearing how Uwi spoke to me.

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When we were at the hot spring, I wasn't in the mood to be around Uwi but he was very happy to be able to go into the hot spring. I just stayed in the hot spring for a while, didn't talk much to Uwi and then got out and walked around instead. I left Uwi to enjoy as much as he want since he has such a horrible attitude. After walking around to check out the place, I walked towards the car park and then saw Teddy drinking coffee at one of the warung while talking to someone so I decided to wait with him. He tried to make a joke to lighten up the air by joking about Uwi's name since in their language it means potato and both of us ended up laughing a bit. After a while, Uwi came out and headed towards the car so we continued on with our journey to our accommodation for the night.

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It took 2 hours to reach to Gemo Beach Cottage at Aimere. This cottage was built just next to the beach so the wind was very warm at night. Teddy had ordered our dinner in advance which was a lot for us as there were 2 types of fish which was very fresh. We also got to try a bit of moke, locally produced alcohol which is mainly produce in Aimere. The taste is not really that strong. After filling our tummy, we relax a bit before heading back to our room. There was no air conditioner in the room but fortunately, there were small holes on the wall for ventilation and I had to open the window a bit to let some air in so it wouldn't be so hot when we sleep.

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Thursday [20/12/2018] - After waking up, having a shower and then packing, we head out to have breakfast. Breakfast was simple which consist of papaya, hard boiled eggs, breadfruit fritters and buns. The sun was already so bright and hot in the morning so it is no surprise why Flores people are very dark. By 9am, we left the place and head to the alcohol distillation village in Aimere bay where we saw and learnt how moke was produced from the lontar palm juice. The process involved bruising the fruits so that they will secrete the juice which is collected in a bucket and fermented for at least 6 days before they carry out the distillation process. The concentration of the moke produced range from 15%, 30%, 40% and 50%. There is free tasting for visitors so I decided to try the 50% which was very strong compared to the one we tasted the night before and I felt a little light headed in the car after that. The good thing was that it was quite a while before we stopped to get out of the car so but then, I had already sober up.

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Halfway before we reached to Ranamese lake near Ruteng, we stopped at an area where there were a few warung at the side of the road for people to rest and have something to eat after a long drive. This place was on top of a hill so when we look down the hill, we could see terrace rice fields while enjoying a bowl of simple but delicious bakso. After having our tummy filled and enough of stretching our legs, we head on to Ranamese lake. The weather was not that hot and this crater lake was surrounded by the forest so it was cool to walk down. By the time we reached to the lake area, the clouds have slowly come down and we saw people fishing in the lake though no one was swimming in it. After taking enough photos, we slowly head up to go to Ruteng.

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When we reached to Ruteng, we had lunch first before we checked into Spring Hill hotel. After putting our luggage in our room, we went and said goodbye to Constantin who has been driving us around since day 1 as he is still not familiar with the routes that we will be going to until we reach to Labuan Bajo so Teddy had engaged another driver, Reynold for the rest of our journey.

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We head out again and this time Teddy took us for a walk passing through paddy fields in Ruteng. It was a long but relaxing walk even though there were nothing much to see as most of the paddy have already been harvested. Towards the end of our walk, we met 3 village boys playing near to the bridge so we talked and took photos with them. What I noticed about the boys in Lombok and Flores is that they are pretty shy unlike kids in other countries. One of the boy was pretty talkative compared to the other 2. He asked me where I am from and when I told him I was from Brunei, he said Brunei Darussalam. Imagine how surprised I was to hear him say that because for an island like Flores which pretty unknown to people of Brunei and from a village boy, Brunei seems to be well known. Then Teddy explained to me that they learnt about Brunei in school which was the reason why the boy knew Brunei's name. Since they learnt about Brunei in school, I decided to give each of them a B$1 note and that same boy asked me again how much is it worth in rupiah. I told him that it is about 10,500 rupiah and I told them to keep as souvenir so that they can show it to their friends and of course they were very happy. When we reached to their village, we noticed there were a lot of children compared to adults and they were heading towards us, standing around and looking at us as I guess the boy who was talking to me must have told his mother about the money I gave them.

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After that, we went back to our hotel, had some rest and packed our stuff for tomorrow's trip where we will stay overnight in Wae Rebo village. By evening, the weather had become so cold that we had to wear a jacket just to walk to the hotel's restaurant. There were a lot of people eating here and since it was full inside, we had to sit outside which was alright because it feels like you are eating in a big air conditioned open area. Food was not bad and the portion was also just right. Since we had to leave early the next day, we had to sleep early and by the time we went to bed, the room was quite cold like as if the air conditioner was on even though there was none.

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Friday [21/12/2018] - We woke up by 7am to get ready since we had to leave early today. There was blackout so there was no hot water and the wind was still cool. Uwi started becoming grumpy again early in the morning as his "diahorrea" came back. He kept on complaining he was a very sick man which is over dramatic since he never had to find toilet all the while we were driving from one city to another for few hours. So he did not want to have breakfast and since there was also no electricity, I just snack on the biscuit that I brought for the trip. It was not filling considering that we have to trek later but better than nothing at all. By the time Teddy came to pick us up, it was after 8am and this time, they brought another guide, Yudith with them who will be bringing us to Wae Rebo village.

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After checking out of the hotel, we head to the famous Lingko spider web shaped rice field. To see this field, we had to hike up the hill which can be pretty exhausting if you did not have much for breakfast but I'm glad we finally reached to the top in the end. We could see the patterns of the rice fields which is shaped like big spiderwebs. Each field belongs to a family and the size of the field depends on the number of people in the family. Smaller families will get smaller field and vice versa. After taking some photos, we head down to where Teddy and Reynold was waiting for us. The house owner's daughter brought out freshly roasted coffee beans which smelt so nice even though I am not a coffee drinker. Since Teddy recommended that he always get his coffee supply from here since it is the best coffee he has tasted so far, I decided to buy a few packets home to give away.

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From Ruteng, we slowly drove 2.5 hours to Denge village which is the last village before we will walk by foot to Wae Rebo village. Before we reached to the village, we stopped by the beach to have our brunch at 10.30am because once we reach to Denge village, we will hike right away until we reach to Wae Rebo village. We were all pretty hungry and finished our food since the portion was small except for Uwi who is always very picky on food and he complained that it was too early to eat even though he had nothing for breakfast. By the time we reached to Denge village, it was almost noon time and very hot. Since the car couldn't reach all the way to the starting point of the hike, we had to go on a motorbike as the starting point to hike to Wae Rebo village was 2km away from Denge village. Uwi refused to get on the motorbike so in the end it was only Yudith and me being driven by the locals while Uwi walked all the way to the starting point under the hot sun. We had to wait for him until 12.30pm before he reached to where we were. The hiking is all the way up and surprisingly with all the stopping for Yudith to rest, it only took us 2 hours to cover 5.44km where we finally saw the iconic Wae Rebo village with the 7 conical Mbaru Niang houses.

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We headed down to the village towards the Gendang house, the largest Mbaru Niang traditional house among the 7 of them. This house belongs to the chief of the village of the Manggarai tribe where he carried out the Waelu (welcome) ceremony and prayed for our well being as well as safety during our stay here. Then we went to the first Mbaru Niang house as we entered into the village earlier on because this house was especially built by the government to cater for visitors who wants to stay overnight in Wae Rebo. Inside the house, the structures are supported by thick wooden frames and then bamboo frames are arranged in a conical shape to give the house its shape as well as to support the reeds and fibers which acts as the roof so that wind and rain do not go into the house. There are 5 levels of the house where Level 1 (Tenda) is the floor area where people can gather around and sleep, Level 2 (Lobo) is for storing food and things, Level 3 (Lentar) is for storing seeds of plants, Level 4 (Lempa rae) is for food reserve storage space and finally, Level 5 (Hekang code) is for storing offerings to the ancestors.

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We were offered a welcome drink of coffee and then we were free to explore around the village. Since it was still early and we were the second group to arrive, each of us were given a pillow and a blanket and we could choose where we wanted to sleep. After that, we checked out the kitchen, toilets, bathrooms and whatever was around. It must have been a shock for Uwi to see the local toilet and bathrooms as there was no shower heads because after checking the toilets and bathrooms, he studied the map of what was around the village and he saw a shower area. He was so determined to find it that he left first without even waiting for us even though what came across in my mind was that in a village like this in the middle of the forest, they will not make shower heads far away from the village for people to shower so something was actually off. I told Yudith that Uwe wanted to find the shower area and she was also surprised so both of us went to find him. Half way, we met up with him as he turned back since he didn't know where exactly it was but since there were 3 local children following me and Yudith, we told them to take us there. When we reached to the "shower" area, I wanted to laugh and so did Yudith because Uwe was even more shocked when he saw it and straightaway told us he is not going to bath there. Uwe's "shower" happened to be spring water which was following through bamboo sticks. The water and the wind was already getting cold so if one wants to bath there, he or she must be really out of their mind to do so.

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So we head back and quickly took a shower because even though it was only 5pm, the water was already freezing cold since it comes from the mountain. After that we just relax in the house and as time pass by, more and more people arrived. Each of us had a mat to sleep on which was hard but at least the pillow was alright, We were told that during the peak season, the house would be full so when they sleep, they have to squeeze 2 person on 1 mat. We went into the kitchen which was located in another smaller hut behind the house to see what we were going to have. The local women were busy preparing and starting to cook our dinner in the dark kitchen (there was only 1 small window and 2 doors) and everything including the floor is made of bamboo. The food were cooked with firewood instead of gas stove so it was pretty smoky in there. Dinner was served exactly at 7pm so all the guests gathered around in the middle of the room to eat together. There were local tourists from Java and foreign tourists like us and those from India, Italy and France. The Chinese squash, tapioca leaves with chicken and banana was just enough for all of us and there was nothing left so it was good since the village did not have any fridge to keep leftover food. There was no night activity in the village so most of us just relax, some went out to enjoy the full moon while some people have started preparing to go to sleep since everyone would be heading back down to Denge after breakfast.

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Saturday [22/12/2018] - I woke up around 5.30am because it was already starting to get noisy with people talking. The day was already bright and people were starting to take their shower and packing. There was quite a queue waiting for the toilet and the bathroom since there were only 1 bathroom with squatting toilet, 1 bathroom with seating toilet and another one is only for bathing. The water was so freezing cold so it was best to get it done and over with very quickly. Breakfast was served exactly at 7am where we had nasi goreng, omelette and crackers. After breakfast, everyone took the opportunity to take group photos and said goodbye to the chief of the village. We started hiking back around 7.43am and reached the starting point at 9.14am. On our way down, there was already a group of elderly men hiking slowly up to Wae Rebo village.

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When we arrived at Blasius homestay, Teddy and Renyold were waiting for us. We quickly took a shower before we head on to Labuan Bajo which would be a 5.5 hours drive. We went through an alternative route where there were not many villages and along the way, the villagers had just poured concrete to fix the bridge and did not allow any car to pass through it until the concrete had dried. It was already noon time and we weren't the only ones stuck there just waiting for the concrete to dry. After waiting for almost 1 hour, Renyold and the other driver, decided to just drive through the bridge since the concrete was already drying up and we continued on with our journey. By the time we reached near to Labuan Bajo, we stopped for our late lunch before continuing on for another 2 hours to Luwansa beach resort.

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Before we head to Luwansa beach resort, we stopped by at Roxy mart to buy whatever we wanted to eat on the boat as we would not have enough time to go shopping tomorrow morning since we are heading out to Komodo island. While I was shopping inside the mart with Yudith, Uwi was outside checking out the waves of the Flores Sea. When we were done shopping and was in the car heading to our hotel, Uwi repeatedly said he will not go on the boat tomorrow and since it wasn't the first time he refused to go on this and that, Teddy and I just kept quiet all the way even though to us, the waves was not even that strong. After checking into the hotel, I checked with Uwi again just to make sure before I messaged to Yudith to confirm that only I will be going with her on the boat for the next 3 days while Uwi will just hang around in Labuan Bajo so everyone was fine with that arrangement. I was also not bothered to convince Uwi to join even though he had already paid for the liveaboard trip because if he follow, he would only be in a very grumpy and foul mood and will just spoil everyone's mood in the end. Luwansa beach resort is a 4 star but out of location as it is far away for where the main activity is in Labuan Bajo. Since we did not see any taxi when we passed by Labuan Bajo earlier on and this resort is in the middle of nowhere, we decided to have dinner in the hotel instead and we happened to be the only ones eating there. After dinner, we went back to our room and I started packing my stuff for the 3 days liveaboard. Uwi decided to stay in this hotel until I come back to Labuan Bajo on Christmas Day since I had already booked our accommodation at Blue Ocean hotel which is just next to the Labuan Bajo harbour.

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Posted by Lingering 08:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

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