Overview
Costs
Food
Hotels
Money
Mobile phones
Internet
Weather
Health
VISA
Security
Recommended
Avoid
Getting around
Photos

Bali, Flores, West Timor, Sumba



19.8: Bali -> Labuan Bajo
20.8: Snorkelling trip around Labuan Bajo
21.8: Labuan Bajo -> Komodo -> Labuan Bajo
22.8: Labuan Bajo -> Ruteng
23.8: Ruteng -> Bajawa
24.8: Bajawa -> Villages (Bela, Luba, Bena) -> Hot spring -> Bajawa
25.8: Bajawa -> Nanga Penda beach -> Ende -> Moni
26.8: Moni -> Kelimutu -> Ende -> Kupang
27.8: Kupang -> Kolbano beach -> Boti
28.8: Boti -> None -> Oehala -> Fatumnasi -> Kefamenanu
29.8: Kefamenanu -> Tamkesi -> Maslete -> Kupang
30.8: Kupang -> Tambolaka -> Sumba tour (Ratenggaro, Pero beach, Waikury lagoon)
31.8: Sumba tour (south Sumba villages: Waigalli, Prainggoli, Wuntalaka, Tarung; Marosi and Kerewei beaches)
1.9: Sumba tour (Praiijing, Maderi, Mamboro area)
2.9: Tambolaka -> Bali -> Kuala Lumpur
3.9: Kuala Lumpur
4.9: Kuala Lumpur -> Dubai -> Munich

Planning and overall impression

Travelling across Nusa Tenggara is a bit difficult, because of the less developed tourist infrastructure and the dearth of travel information in the Internet and in travel publications.
My initial idea for this trip was to spend about 10 days on Flores and a few on West Timor, just to get a glimpse of the place.
Before the trip I didn't have a detailed day-to-day plan about what to do in Flores because travel information about Nusa Tenggara is a bit spotty. The Flores itinerary was essentially finalised in Labuan Bajo with the help of a local travel agent and turned out to be shorter than I originally thought.
The travel agent convinced me to finish the trip in Ende (perhaps because this way the return trip to LBJ for the driver would have been shorter) instead of Maumere. 
In hindsight, with better information I might have also visited (the area around) Maumere and the Wae Rebo village, although I hear that Wae Rebo is heavily commercialised.
In total, I spent only seven days on Flores (which, by the way, is a very scenic and beautiful island) and arrived in Kupang (West Timor) on August 26th in the evening.
There I was  lucky to meet Edwin from the Lavalon hostel, who helped me define the itinerary for West Timor. I used a draft itinerary for West Timor which I found in wikitravel for the discussion with Edwin. Together we finalised the itinerary, and Edwin explained that three days would suffice and arranged a car with driver for me.
West Timor is a pretty cool place, not receiving many visitors but with many cool sights. Tourist infrastructure is quite underdeveloped (for instance there are almost no tourist restaurants and many roads are really bad). One of the places I visited, Boti, receives fewer than 200 tourists per year. And it's impressive that in the villages houses are still built with traditional materials.
Having done Flores and West Timor in less time than planned, I still had a few days to kill and used these for a brief three days visit to Sumba.
Also in Sumba I relied on a local travel agent in Tambolaka to set up an itinerary. I had cars with drivers for these three days, which proved a very effective way to explore Sumba without wasting time.
Sumba also has many traditional villages with houses built with traditional materials and there are some nice beaches. The geography however is less variable than in Flores and West Timor, i.e. the island is more flat and Sumba seems to be more touristy. Probably Sumba receives plenty of tourists who come from short trips from Bali. In any case, local people more aggressively try to sell to tourists stuff and solicit donations.
Two to three days are enough for the western part of Sumba because there isn't that much to see.


Costs

The travel expense in Nusa Tenggara is relatively low. Simple rooms with A/C and attached bathroom are in the 10-30 Euro range, food in the roadside restaurants where I ate was inexpensive. The biggest expense were the cars + driver (in the 700000-800000 IDR/day range). Flights were also relatively inexpensive.


Food

The biggest difficulty was to find places where to eat. While on Flores at least in the major tourist centres there are restaurants catering to tourists (unless you don't mind eating in restaurants for locals with poor quality and dirty food), on West Timor and Sumba I couldn't find restaurants. Either there were none, or the food was so bad that I didn't dare to eat it. It was basically so that in the mornings I would buy cookies, chips, fresh fruits and drinks, eat that stuff during the day and then have a dinner in the hotel in the evening (when the hotel had a restaurant).


Accommodation

There is a reasonably good infrastructure of hotels in Flores (although except perhaps for Labuan Bajo I didn't see anything in the middle to upper class range). There are also hotels (basic ones) in West Timor and Sumba.
Perhaps Sumba has good hotels and I didn't see them. But both Flores, West Timor and Sumba are relatively underdeveloped for what concerns hotels (if compared to standard tourist destinations such as Bali, Malaysia or Thailand).



Money  / Exchange rate (August 2016)

1 Euro = 14500 IDR
1 Euro ~ USD 1.08
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.




Mobile phones and prepaid cards

Simpati SIM card for about 150000 IDR with a data package bought in a shop in Labuan Bajo (preactivated, no ID required). I had a 1GB data package (+2GB over LTE; LTE only in the biggest urban centres) which I used for web browsing in the evevings in the hotel, because the hotel WLAN was too bad. I then bought a data recharge in Waikabukak on Sumba. Decent coverage, except for the most remote places.


Internet access

I often relied on the mobile phone as a Wifi hotspot, if for instance the hotel WLAN was too bad (which was often the case).



Weather

August is the dry season in Nusa Tenggara. The skies were almost always blue with no clouds. It only rained or was overcast on very few days.



Health / Vaccinations

The typical set of tropical vaccinations. For this trip I didn't refresh any immunisation and didnt take anti-malaria pills, relying instead on mosquito repellent to avoid mosquito bites.



VISA / Entry requirements

This time no visa was needed for me (German passport). In previous years I had to pay some money for a visa on arrival.


Security

No issues here - Nusa Tenggara is a quite peaceful place.


Recommended things



Things to avoid



Getting around

I used flights to hop from island to island and had my own car + driver on each of the three islands. This allowed me to quickly move from one place to the other and the driver also acted as a guide and introduced me to the local people.




Continued from the Taiwan 2016 travelogue



(some of the thumbnails are clickable and lead to larger images)


19.8: Bali -> Labuan Bajo
Exotic Komodo Hotel, Labuan Bajo, opposite the airport. 31 Euro for a nice bungalow with adjustable A/C (remote control), flat screen TV, small table, nice comfortable bed, bed lamps openn cupboard for the clothes and nothing else. The attached toilet has a bad water sink (small, no surface for toiletries, little water, water only comes out if you press the button). The shower seems decent. Very heavy noise of planes from the nearby airport in the afternoon, quiet at night as there are no flights. About 1km from the village centre. The room is clean.
Weather: sunny, but with many clouds in the morning in Bali, hot & humid. In Labuan Bajo almost spotless blue sky and surprisingly fresh (not hot, there is some light refreshing wind blowing)

I get up at 9:20am, get ready and have a breakfast. After 11am I walk out of the hotel with the idea of having a quick look at the beach in Kuta. Turns out that this is too far away, so after a while I walk back to the hotel. I check out at 12pm, then proceed to the domestic terminal. To get in you must show your ticket. Since I have no printout I show them the email on my smartphone. Then there is an initial security check.

When I try to get cash from the ATM with the DKB card, the card is again blocked (BTW, limits are again quite low, max. 2 or 2.5 million Rupiah). Will have to call again the DKB bank in Germany and ask them to unblock the card. Then I try the Targobank VISA card and this one works, i.e. allows me to get cash.

Then I check in at the counter for the flight to Labuan Bajo. Now I would need a SIM card, but there is no outlet selling one in the departures area. Plenty of shops selling various stuff for travellers, several restaurants and cafes, but no place selling SIM cards.

The 1:40pm flight to Labuan Bajo with NAM Air is delayed due to the late arrival of the aircraft. The plane will only start rolling at 2:43pm and finally take off at 2:50pm, i.e. one hour later than scheduled. It's an ancient Boeing 737-500 and at the safety briefing the hostess says "let's now all pray for the safe arrival to Labuan Bajo". If NAM Air was a good airline, praying wouldn't be necessary...

I'm seated next to the safety exit, so have more leg space. The flight proceeds smoothly and we land in Labuan Bajo airport at 3:50pm. This is a small airport with just two gates, but it seems relatively recently built or expanded/modernised. Very few luggage trolleys, and all are taken by porters.

It takes about 20 minutes to get the luggage. Then I wade through the taxi drivers and walk to the hotel which is basically opposite the airport. There I check in and get to the room.

After I'm settled I walk towards the town centre (let's say the village centre). Labuan Bajo is a small place, but it is expanding a lot. Shortly before 5pm I walk along the coastal road and see the stunning panorama of the bay with all islands. Should look even better in the morning or at sunset.

Labuan Bajo reminds me a bit of Krabi years ago. Sort of a tourist village with restaurants, tour operators, dive shops. I check the tour options for the next days. 2D/1N trip to Rinca and Komodo for 750000 IDR, 1D trip to Komodo for the same price, both leave very early at 6am. 8am snorkelling trip to some islands north of Labuan Bajo for 300000 IDR. 6D/5N tour of Flores for 8.5 million IDR (hotels and meals not included) and 4D/3N tour of Flores (driver+car only, 850000 IDR/day, apparently no need to pay for the driver's hotel).

I have a fish dinner in a restaurant overlooking the bay and then book the snorkelling trip for tomorrow.



20.8: Snorkelling trip around Labuan Bajo
Exotic Komodo Hotel. This could be a full service hotel, but when I ask them if they can wash my T-shirt, this generates a few minutes of discussion before they agree to wash the T-shirt. Mediocre restaurnt: the grilled chicken I order has very little meat and comes with no sauces (quite dry).
Weather: sunny, blue sky the whole day. No wind, the sea is quite smooth. No rain and temperatures up to over 30�C, more fresh in the evening.

In the morning I leave the hotel at 7:20am and walk to the city. A motorbike picks me up and for 10000 IDR will bring me to the city. Once I'm above the viewpoint, I get off and shoot some photos of the bay, then walk to the tour operator. It's 7:40am and there is already some activity at the operator's office.

At 8am I walk with a group of three Italian ladies to the boat. We lose some time and in practice only leave at 8:30am. The boat heads along the coast to the north. The coastline is green, but there is a lack of trees. Either they don't grow or have been cut. Not that many beaches and no coconut trees, which surprises me a bit.

At 9:30am we reach the first place, an island with a sandy beach. There we get off the boat and spend the next hour and a half swimming, snorkelling and lying on the beach. Nice sandy beach, but with lots of coral and no trees on the beach, i.e. no shade. Plenty of fish in the water (one even bites my leg), but otherwise a pretty boring place.

At 11am we move to the next place. This is another island, this time with a resort on it (the Seraya hotel & resort). Seems to be an upper end/midrange place. It's section of the beach is clean and coconut palms have been planted.

This island is sort of cute, but again there isn't much to do here. It would have been better if the tour was touching more different spots near Labuan Bajo instead of just two.

I swimm a bit, rest, then have a lunch here. At 3pm we take the boat back to Labuan Bajo, arriving there shortly before 4pm. I walk to the main street and enquire about tour options. I end up booking a daytrip to Komodo for 650000 IDR (leaving at 5:30am, my goodness) and a five days trip across Flores island until Ende for a total cost of 4800000 IDR (800000 IDR/day for five day and an additional day for the driver to drive back). I'm back in the hotel shortly after 6pm and sleep shortly after 10pm.



21.8: Labuan Bajo -> Komodo -> Labuan Bajo
Exotic Komodo Hotel
Weather: sunny, blue sky with some clouds and a thin high altitude clouds layer here and there. No rain. In the early morning quite fresh, on the sea not too hot. Not too hot also in Labuan Bajo.

I wake up at 4:30am (!), stay in bed for another 20 minutes, then take a shower and get ready. By 5:20am I'm in the hotel lobby and wait for Ryan, the guy who sold me the tour to Komodo and promised to pick me up at the hotel. And indeed, at 5:24am he is there and brings me to his shop. It's still night and it's amazing that he starts working so early in the morning.

In the shop I meet two girls who will also today go to Komodo, but with another boat. Then another guy walks me to the harbour where soon after I get into the boat. The other tourists on the boat are two Spanish guys and a Spanish couple. Lots of Spanish spoken today on this boat. Yesterday Italian, today Spanish.

As I expected, the boat starts leaving the harbour at 6am. The sunrise is at 6:15am. Impressive light and colours. Our boat and another one today go to Komodo island together.

The boat is exactly the same as I had yesterday. I was hoping to have a bigger boat, on which you can walk on the deck because they told me yesterday that the trip lasts four hours, but it's a small boat with two benches facing each other. Not possible to walk or stand up, you have to sit all the time.

The scenery is, wow. Very cool coasts and islands in this early morning sun. Here and there small fishermen villages just waking up. Lots of islands everywhere. The islands don't have much vegetation. Mostly grass and bushes, very few trees.

Either all trees have been felled, or they don't grow because this area doesn't receive enough rain. Which is strange because we are in the tropics. I wonder if the explanation is cold water currents which inhibit the rain (as is the case with the Sahara desert). In any case the typical tropical weather pattern (dry mornings, gradual clouds buildup, rain in the afternoon) is missing in this area. And also, between the islands there are many currents, and in some spots the sea water is quite cold.

Before 8:30am we are on Komodo island, which means that the boat trip took less than 2 1/2 hours, not four hours as they told me in Labuan Bajo. We are in Loh Liang, a bay on the eastern coast of Komodo with a beach. Here the headquarters of the Komodo national park are located. There are some facilities (basically just toilets and the administrative office - no restaurant, shops, cafes or cafeterias). But there is no souvenir shop, which is strange.

We pay 306000 IDR each (290000 IDR entrance fee + 16000 IDR for a ranger shared by five people - ranger costs 80000 IDR). There are three or four different trails: a short trek, a medium and a long one. In addition also an adventure trek which however takes four hours or more (and we only have two hours here according to the plan).

We wait a bit for the ranger, then finally at 8:50am start walking. The area around Loh Liang is dry but lightly forested. So we walk for part of the time under tree cover. We slowly walk up a hill, Sulphurea hill, with a view of the Loh Liang bay. From here you can see that this part of Komodo has some trees, although not that many. It takes only 25 minutes to reach this hill. From the hill we will walk down again to the Loh Liang bay, with the ranger all the time explaining things.

In total we see three Komodo dragons: a small baby one on the top of a tree, a medium sized one (perhaps two metres long) walking in the undergrowth and a big fat one almost four metres long resting on the beach under a tree, not far from the park headquarters. This latter one is surrounded by tourists who take pictures of him. The Spanish couple visited Rinca yesterday and saw seven Komodo dragons, but smaller ones. Later on the beach we see a group of deer who are taking a rest and are not afraid of humans.

Shortly after 10am we walk back to the boat. The boat brings us to a small bay with a nice sandy beach, about 20 minutes away from Loh Liang. We'll spend over an hour here, swimming and snorkelling. Lots of boats with tourists anchor here. The sea water is a bit cold and there is a strong current.

At 11:50am we leave this place and go to another one. It takes one hour to reach this place. Here, in the middle of the sea, there are mantas. Lots snorkelling tourists looking for these mantas. Finally, the boat brings us to a third place where to snorkel (some place near a beach).

We are back in Labuan Bajo shortly after 4pm. I get out of the boat and have some food in the pancake restaurant (pricey ice cream at 19000 IDR per scoop). Then I withdraw more cash from an ATM and walk to the Gertrudis travel agency where I pick up the plan for the Flores trip. Then I head to the La Pirate restaurant where I get more food (in practice I'm having lunch and dinner together - I didn't eat the food package served on the boat). At 6pm I walk back to the hotel.



22.8: Labuan Bajo -> Ruteng
Hotel Rima, Ruteng. 175000 IDR for a room with a TV, two beds (soft mattress), toilet with hot shower and nothing else. Rather basic room. The hotel is on a main street in Ruteng, very noisy the whole day and even at night. Very thin walls which allow you to hear everything which happens in the nearby room. Floor which vibrates when people outside the room walk. In fact this is a wooden hotel (floor and walls made out of wood). AC power is briefly cut off twice in the evening. No air conditioning.
Weather: hot and sunny in Labuan Bajo, blue sky with some clouds. Inland still hot and sunny, but more cool the higher the altitude. Very strong sun. Many clouds in the interior of Flores, sometimes overcast. No rain the whole day. Quite fresh in Ruteng after 4pm.

At 8:30am the driver (Stanis) of the Gertrudis travel agency picks me up. The car is not a tiny little car as I had feared, it a white Toyota Avanza with plenty of space. We first drive to the travel agency's office, where I pay the remaining balance of the trip (3800000 IDR).

It's 9am when we finally leave Labuan Bajo and start driving towards the interior. Surprisingly the landscape changes quickly and becomes very green, with plenty of forest. Very hilly terrain, countless curves in the road. From Labuan Bajo to Ruteng it's slightly above 120km, but Google Maps calculates over three hours of driving time. With a road like this it's no wonder. In addition to the curves, the road is also very steep in some sections.

Stanis drives the car very quietly at an average speed of around 30km/h. The first stop is a viewpoint from which there is a nice view of the Labuan Bajo bay. Must say that the scenery today is very, very photogenic. Great green colours of the vegetation, coupled with the blue sky and red earth. Very scenic landscape.

We continue driving, stopping every now and then for some pictures. I discover that cloves are grown here - on the ground there are mats covered with clove seeds drying in the sun. Strong smell of drying clove in the air. Also coffee and cocoa are grown here. Whereever there is some flat land there are rice fields. Even terraced rice fields in some spots.

Everything is very colourful. Strong colours and contrasts in the cities and villages, countless photo opportunities. I have to restrain myself from continually taking photos...

Flores is a beautiful, gorgeous island. The only thing which is missing are some temples or historical sites, easy access by plane from Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur and a better tourist infrastructure (i.e. hotels). 

Shortly before 12pm we stop for lunch in a restaurant in Tangge. The food is so-so but then I wasn't expecting much anyway (small, overcooked chicken leg with plain steamed white rice and uncooked vegetables)

At 12:20pm we continue driving towards Ruteng. There are more rice fields, this time green ones along the road. Brief stop in a farm, where cocoa and coffee beans and cloves are drying under the sun.

After some time the landscape changes. The road climbs along the mountains. We reach 1100-1200m of altitude, majestic forests on both sides (with the road on one side of the mountain, below a valley, and opposite another mountain). We cross a mountain pass, then the road goes down again.

Shortly before Ruteng we stop at another place for a nice view of rice fields, then later shortly before Ruteng we stop at the place where there are the spiderweb rice fields. Entrance fee of 15000 IDR. Small path you have to walk up to reach the viewpoint.

After the spiderweb rice fields, we drive to a reconstruction of a Manggarai traditional village (the Pu'u village). This is on a hill near Ruteng. Entrance fee of 20000 IDR. Relatively unimpressive because there are only three houses whose roofs have been reconstructed in the traditional manner, while the bottoms consist of wood planks or even cement. Young guy showing me the place, speaks some English and wants to practise the language

At 3:45pm Stanis stops in front of the Rima hotel. Some discussion, then I choose a "standard" room for 175000 IDR. 

At 4:10pm I'm back on the street, looking for a shop where to buy some food. I'm immediately approached by school kids who want to practise their English with me. Also, they need to collect the names, nationality and signature of the foreigner they spoke with as a school assignment.

After a while I have a swarm of six girls who are walking with me to the shop. After the shop, one of the girls asks if I can go with her to her school, because her classmates need to practise their English as well. Because I have time to kill (my dinner is a 6pm) and this way I can help these kids practise their English, I agree.

So we walk to this school, which is actually quite far away, all the time filling out exercise books with my name, country of origin and signature. Once at the school I'm directed to a classroom. The girl talks to the teacher who is holding a lesson on how to deal with customer complaints (this is apparently a tourist-oriented high school). I'm introduced to the class and because none of the students dares to put any questions to me, the teacher asks me to introduce myself.

So I explain who I am, what I'm doing in Flores, why I'm travelling alone (wife likes to shop in KL). For about 10-15 minutes I'm there. Plenty of questions from the teacher, since the kids are too shy to put questions. I'm not exactly prepared for this kind of thing, but I'm used to talk in public, so I don't have too many difficulties.

When I walk out of the classroom it's 5:15pm. Lots of students are leaving the classrooms (school is closing now). I run into the German language teacher of the girl who brought me here. It's a pretty young girl, actually more than pretty, really beautiful. Small chat with her in German. Apparently German is taught in eight schools in Ruteng, which is a lot for a small city of 50000 inhabitants and for a not so widely spoken language. I guess they are preparing these kids to deal with expected tourist arrrivals. Perhaps also French and Spanish are taught.

Then we walk back to the hotel. Again I have a swarm of schoolkids around me.

At 6pm the driver brings me to the Agape restaurant. This is a tourist-oriented place, serving decent food. Small portions - I have to order an additional dish (banana pancake) because I'm still hungry after eating the main dish. I'm back in the hotel around 8pm.



23.8: Ruteng -> Bajawa
Hotel Villa Silverin, near Bajawa (a couple of km out of town). 300000 IDR for a room with a bed, a cupboard, no A/C (but not needed as it's quite fresh here anyway), small table with mirror and chair, very basic toilet with water boiler system (small water boiler, i.e. not enough water for a shower). No WLAN in the room, only in the reception area. Quite noisy as the hotel is on the main road. Not sure if I would recommend this place. Opposite the hotel there is a restaurant serving mediocre food.
Weather: sunny with clouds in Ruteng, fresh in the morning. Quite hot at sea level. Overcast in some spots in the mountains. Cold and overcast in the evening in Bajawa. No rain the whole day, a bit windy here and there (light breeze).

We leave the hotel in the morning at 9:40am, then briefly stop in a supermarket in Ruteng where I buy some food and get additional cash, then leave Ruteng on the montain road for Bajawa. The road will cross one mountain range, then get down to sea level, then shortly before Bajawa climb up again the mountains as Bajawa lies at 1100m of altitude.

Again pretty scenery on the way, with mountains, forests, rice fields etc. but less impressive than yesterday, or perhaps I just got used to all this. Pretty green for most of the trip, even if at the moment it is not raining in Flores.

At 10:35am we briefly stop at Ranamese where there is a lake. Pretty view and a bit unusual here in the tropics.

Shortly before 12pm we stop in Borong along the coast for lunch. It's the Bougenvile bakery and restaurant and the food is so-so as I expected. Here in Flores you only get good food in special restaurants in tourist centres, but in the countryside the food quality is unimpressive.

At 12:35pm we continue the trip. The next stop is at a palm sugar processing centre in Aimere, where they distill some liquor (Arak). Near this place there is a dark sand beach (you could say a black sand beach).

Shortly after that we start climbing again the mountain range. Again a road with countless narrow curves. With some stops along the way (one at a clove plantation - interesting that it's a tree which is the source of this spice) we reach Bajawa at 3:40pm. The driver brings me to the hotel.

Now, on the plan for today there is a stop at the So'a hot springs. But I hear that it takes almost one hour to get there. If I spend one hour there, with the time needed to get back, it's almost 7pm, too late. Driving in the darkness should be avoided, because the road is narrow and frequently damaged, and in the darkness you might not see the holes.

So we just drive into Bajawa, to the local market and have a look. Bajawa itself is unremarkable. Ruteng is almost more interesting, although both places have no touristic highlights. Somehow the landscape reminds me a bit of Laos - southeast Asian country with mountains. At 5pm we drive back to the hotel. I have a dinner at the restaurant opposite the hotel at 7pm.



24.8: Bajawa -> Villages (Bela, Luba, Bena) -> Hot spring -> Bajawa
Hotel Villa Silverin, Bajawa. In the afternoon there is neither water nor electricity in the room. The hotel staff says it's because the whole of Bajawa has no power. But at 5pm when a new customer arrives and asks about the electricity, they switch on a generator.
Weather: a mix of sunny and cloudy, totally overcast after 2-3 pm. Quite fresh (temperatures around 20°C when the sun isn't shining). Some very light rain, every now and then.

The plan for today is to visit the traditional villages near Bajawa (Bena, Luba and Bela) and a hot spring. We leave the hotel at 9am and drive to the first village (Bela). Along the way pretty impressive views of the Inerie volcano.

We reach the first village (Bela) after less than 20 minutes. Must be very close to Bajawa. The village consists of houses built with bamboo walls and characteristic palm leaves roof lined around a rectangular common square. On the square there are some graves and some gazebos, also built with wood and palm leaves roofs. You have to sign in a guestbook and pay a 20000 IDR entrance fee.

Bela seems alive, because there are kids playing, i.e. it's not an abandoned village or a village where only old people live.

After Bela we drive to the next village, Luba. This is similar to Bela, the only difference being that there is no fixed entry price (you make a donation) and the main square is arranged in terraces because the ground isn't even. Next to the village there is a school built out of concrete. Some women are weaving cloth in this village. There are no souvenir shops or other shops at all in this village. While I'm there, there are another 2-3 tourists visiting the place, i.e. it doesn't get that many visitors.

All villages I visit this morning consist of houses built with traditional materials. There are no tin roofs for instance. They all lie at about 600m of altitude. Some of the graves show people who lived until almost 90 years of age, i.e. the lifespan of these villagers seems to be quite long.

We then drive to the last village, Bena. There are probably more traditional villages in this area (on the road I see a street sign pointing to one), but Bela, Luba and Bena are probably the more famous or touristy ones. And I must say that all these villages look similar. After having seen two or three you are not exactly keen to see more of them.

Between Luba and Bena it's just a short five minutes drive. Bena is the cutest of all these three villages. Same structure as Bela and Luba and here the central square is terraced with non even terraces, because the terrain is not even. Entrance fee of 20000 IDR and they even have real tickets. There is a tourist info centre, with exhibits explaining the village. This village is the best organised for tourists of the three villages.

I walk up until the end and reach a viewpoint with a nice view of the valley behind the village. When leaving I'm asked to write a short comment into a book.

At 11:30am we start driving to the hot spring, arriving there 25 minutes later.

Today the roads have consisted of narrow, steep and curvy mountain roads. Slow speeds, the road being for a large extent across the rainforest. What is impressive of this forest are the bushes of bamboo, some of them 30-40m high (or perhaps more).

The Malanage hot spring is not that easy to find. From the road you walk a small trail downhill for about 30m. Then you reach an entrance, where you sign in a guestbook with your name and nationality and pay 10000 IDR. The hot spring itself is a small forest river where all the water is hot. Further upriver, a small river of even hotter water most likely mixes with a cold water river.

The only facilities of this place are a rather basic changing room and some gazebos providing some shadow. There is no restaurant, there are no shops and I also do not see a toilet or shower.

The experience is quite pleasant. I end up spending about an hour in this place, then shortly after 1pm we drive back to Bajawa. With us in the car there is a guy of the hot spring who needs to get back to Bajawa.

I'm back at the hotel at 1:50pm and the day is essentially over, because we already visited all places. I'm starting to regret having planned so many days on Flores. Seems I could have done everthing in one or two dys less. Or perhaps I should have planned a more ambitious itinerary, with a stop on the north coast or a trek to Wae Rabo.

At 2pm I have a small lunch in the restaurant opposite the hotel. I spend the rest of the day in the hotel because the weather is not good and the hotel is quite far away from the centre of Bajawa city.



25.8: Bajawa -> Nanga Penda beach -> Ende -> Moni
Pondok Wisata Silvester homestay, Moni. Sort of a guesthouse along the main street; the room is noisy. 300000 IDR for a clean room with two beds (soft mattress) and no other furniture (except for a small table for the suitases). Water basin in the room. Attached bathroom with a shower (hot water, water boiler system, a bit bigger than the one in the Silverin hotel) but no water basin. No A/C (it's fresh outside, but would be nice to have a way to make the room more dry), no WLAN. Breakfast included.
Weather: most of the day overcast, every now and then some light rain. Fresh at altitude, very hot at sea level when the sun is shining. In Moni in the late afternoon it's overcast and there is some light rain. Mud on the streets in Moni. Over 22°C in the homestay room in Moni, warmer than in Bajawa probably because the altitude is lower.

We leave the hotel at 9:15am and start driving towards Ende. It's overcast and a bit rainy. The landscape is relatively unimpressive until we reach the coast. Plenty of settlements, farms, moderate slopes, no dramatic scenery of wilderness or steep mountains. The region seems even a bit dryer than the region around Bajawa.

At 11:30am we reach the coast. The sun is shining now and it's quite hot. We continue driving and at 12:10pm we reach Nanga Penda beach. This is a black sand beach with several blueish stones on it. Near the beach there are heaps of these blue stones, as if somebody had collected them. The colour is actually cyan, some kind of green-blue. Except for the stones this beach is relatively unimpressive.

After 25 minutes on this beach, we continue driving towards Ende. With a stop or two along the way, we reach Ende at 1:20pm. Ende lies along the southern coast of Flores, near what seems to be the cone of a small volcano. Lots of construction ongoing in Ende. The city is not terribly interesting, except for a traditional market which looks nice.

We have some lunch in a restaurant (the Edelweis restaurant in the Grand Wisata hotel). Quite decent food.

At 2:05pm we continue driving towards Moni. Moni is a mountain village lying at 720m of altitude. The road to get there is currently being reworked, i.e. there are roadworks along the road. From what I'm told later, this road is only open during certain hours (for instance 12-1pm), probably to allow the roadworks to proceed. The scenery is quite green. Lots of villages, farms and rice fields along the way.

At 4:20pm we reach Moni. It's small mountain village full of mud, because it is raining. Apparently Mt Kelimutu lies 900m higher than this village, but this is the access point to the mountain. We settle the stuff in the place the driver chose for me, the Silvester homestay. Access to this homestay via a muddy path, my goodness.

After putting my things into the room, I walk a bit around the village. There are several guesthouses and homestays, some of them being built. Not a too touristy village at the moment - there are few tourists and only a few cafes and restaurants. Lots of small kids on the streets (happy little kids), farms, chicken and pig everywhere. Seems a very dynamic place, i.e. a growing village.

I have a dinner in the restaurant opposite the hotel. The spaghetti bolognese they serve are full of chilli (40-45 minutes waiting time for the food).



26.8: Moni -> Kelimutu -> Ende -> Kupang
Lavalon hostel, Kupang. This is located along the waterfront in the centre of Kupang and is run by Edwin, the owner of www.lavalontouristinfo.com. The room I have costs 260000 IDR and has one big comfortable bed, A/C, fan, water basin in the room, a frame usable for clothes of towels, free WLAN (reasonably speedy). The toilet has a modern closetbowl (best quality so far on this trip to Indonesia) and a shower with hot water. The room is clean and you can see that the owner cares about quality. Only drawback is the main road nearby which is a bit noisy at night. Edwin himself knows a lot about West Timor and Nusa Tenggara and can help with the planning of the trip. Breakfast included (simple, but good breakfast: tea or coffee and a banana pancake).
Weather: overcast, poor visibility and some rain in Moni at 6am and on Mt. Kelimutu. Not too cold however. Later at 10am the sky opens up in Moni and there is some sunshine, but Mt Kelimutu is still in the clouds. Hot and sunny in Ende.

I'm glad I didn't decide to wake up at 4am to see the sunrise, because this morning there was no sunrise on Mt Kelimutu. Instead I wake up shortly before 6am and a bit after 6am I'm in the car to Mt Kelimutu. This is a narrow and curvy but paved road which leads to a parking very close to the summit. 

Poor visibility and rain because we are driving through the clouds. We arrive at the parking at 6:45am. Entrance fee of 150000 IDR/person + 10000 IDR for the car. Waste of money this morning, because there is nothing to see (clouds/fog with roughly 10-20 metres visibility).

Since it's raining, I wait in the car, hoping that the weather improves. While there I see wet, frustrated people walking down the staircase, back to the parking. It may be the dry season here, but this doesn't mean that it's sunny/blue sky everyday and everywhere.

After 40 minutes, since we are starting to run out of time, I finally get out of the car and start walking on the trail to the summit. It's a relatively short and simple trail, consisting of stairs or paved ground. You could walk that with beach slippers. Nice trail across the forest by the way.

Soon I reach the viewing spot for the first lake (there are three of them). The viewpoint is on the crater. From there across the mist and fog you can guess that there is some blueish lake below. But right now all you see is that you are in the clouds: water vapour and water droplets floating in the air and flowing past by you. If you could fly, this is what you would experience when flying through the clouds.

The vegetation is "milking" the clouds, i.e. the water in the clouds condenses on the trees and bushes and drops to the ground. This way, even if it is not raining, water is transferred from the clouds to the ground. And you get wet even if you have an umbrella, because the water from the clouds, i.e. the "wet air" flows past you. I have to keep the camera inside the jacket to keep it dry.

Some wet macaque monkeys near the summit (1650m of altitude), probably waiting tourists to feed them.

From the first viewpoint you have to walk to the second viewpoint. This lies on the highest point and from there it should be possible to see all three lakes. Just guessing of course because from there I only see clouds.

Very few tourists are here this morning. On the summit there is a lady with a big umbrella selling soups and drinks. Must be no fun being here today.

Around 8:20am, since there is no hint that the weather is going to improve, I start walking back to the car. At 8:40am I'm back in the car and we start driving back to Moni. Initially due to the clouds there is almost no visibility, max. 10 metres or so.

Back in Moni I have some breakfast, then I take a shower and pack my things. Suddenly the sun is shining and the sky is partly blue. The homestay owner suggests to go back to the summit, but it's 9:30am and already too late and in any case the summit is still covered by clouds.

It's around 10:30am when we start driving back to Ende. At 11:35am we reach the roadblock of the roadworks. Officially they only open the road at 12pm, but in practice already at 11:50am the cars can drive through.

We raach Ende at 12:20pm and pass by the very lively market. Then we drive to the Edelweis restaurant where I have some lunch.

Shortly after 1pm I'm done with the lunch. The driver then brings me to the airport. Small tip of 500000 IDR, then we part.

The airport in Ende is very small. There is just one small check in hall with no benches. Luggage trolleys are available however. It's still to early to check in, so I have to wait a bit. Finally at 1:35pm the counter of Wings Air opens and I can check in. 10Kg excess luggage, which however only costs 110000 IDR. These have to be paid in a counter outside the departure hall.

After I get the boarding pass, I proceed through security and walk to the waiting hall. There is just one gate here.

Long wait at the airport, then it turns out that the flight is delayed because of the late arrival of the plane.

The departure was supposed to take place at 3:45pm. In reality we start walking towards the plane at 4:05pm and the plane (an ATR-72 turboprop of Wings Air) only takes off at 4:23pm. The cruising altitude is about 5000m and the speed is around 470km/h.

We land in Kupang at 5:12pm, with over 30 minutes of delay. The scenery is quite interesting: much dryer than Flores, looks very much like the savannah type of scenery there is in Australia. At 5:22pm I'm walking into the terminal,just four minutes later I'm already in a taxi into Kupang. Extremely fast procedure here in Kupang, also helped by the fact that the aircraft and the airport are both small. In a place like KLIA2 I would have lost 10 minutes just walking from the gate to the baggage retrieval area.

Getting to the Lavalon hostel takes a bit over 20 minutes. When I arrive Edwin isn't there but arrives within 10 minutes. I check in and later discuss with Edwin the car rental and the itinerary for West Timor. We end up with a three days trip across West Timor, starting and ending in Kupang. Leaving tomorrow (27.8) and back on 29.8 in the evening.

Edwin tells me that Sumba is also interesting, so I book a flight to Waikabubak (Tambolaka airport) for August 30th.

In the evening I get more cash from an ATM. I can't find the restaurant Edwin claims there is so I just eat a chocolate pancake purchased from a street stall along the way. I discover the night market where they offer freshly grilled fish. Will eat there when I'm back in Kupang on the 29th. I buy some food in a small supermarket and get back to the Lavalon hostel.

Kupang makes overall a pretty good impression. It's much bigger than the cities I have seen on Flores, is growing (lots of contruction ongoing), seems to be reasonably wealthy (lots of big cars on the streets). The city itself is quite modern and relatively clean. Interesting night market area near the Lavalon hostel. However I can't find a restaurant.




27.8: Kupang -> Kolbano beach -> Boti
Hotel: a hut in the Boti village. Very basic accomodation, no running water. Toilet is outside, for the shower you have to use a bucket of water. 100000 IDR (and I pay another 100000 for the driver). Dinner is included, but I don't dare to eat it because it is all cold food (cold chicken, vegetables etc.). There is also a small welcome drink (tea/coffee + cookies) and a small breakfast the day I leave. I'm sleeping in a hut with thin walls, some battery powered lamp outside. The bed is very hard (I have to take the pillows of the neighbouring beds and put them below me) and there is no blanket.
Weather: sunny, blue sky the whole day. Very hot in the sun.

After a breakfast, at 8am I meet the driver. The car is again a Toyota Avanza, big enough for everything. At 8:15am we leave for Kolbano. It first takes a while to get out of Kupang, then the scenery becomes obvious. It's quite dry here and the landscape is like a savannah. Every now and then some small town.

At 9:30am we stop at a small town where there is a colourful market. At 10:20am we cross a wide river which at the moment is not carrying too much water.

The scenery now becomes more green, i.e. there are more trees, more plants, sort of a tropical rainforest.

At 11:45am we reach Kolbano beach. This is a beautiful beach with small pebble stones in different colours. The setting is absolutely gorgeous: blue sky, turquoise sea waters, white or lightly coloured beach. According to Edwin there are crocodiles, so I don't swim.

At 12:15pm I'm done with the beach and check the restaurant. Since the food is pre-cooked and full of flies, I skip it. The driver instead doesn't care and has a meal there.

Around 12:30pm we continue driving. Now the driver picks a small, bad road which climbs up the mountain. To a large extent this road is not paved and is very, very steep. In 10-20 minutes we climb to 700m of altitude. The driver has to switch off the A/C because the engine of the car is not powerful enough for such steep slopes if the A/C is on.

Very green scenery: the slopes of this coastal mountain range are heavily forested and very green. Must receive enough water even in the dry season. The landscape is mountainous in the interior, but I see no volcanoes.

The road continues to be horrible and will be so for the next three hours, until we reach the Boti village at 3:15pm. The paved surface with the tarmac has been almost completely washed away and the road is almost all dry mud and stones. I'm worried that the car might break down. For sure this road is more suitable for an off-road vehicle.

After several stops to take pictures of this interesting and gorgeous island we finally reach the Boti village at 3:15pm. There I'm introduced to the king (and it's a real king according to the Lonely Planet guidebook) and meet the other village people.

The Boti village is not too scenic or photogenic. It's a collection of huts in a forest of palm trees which provide a lot of shade. I see lots of old people, some women and children. I guess that perhaps the young men are somewhere at work. The men of the village wear a sarong.




28.8: Boti -> None -> Oehala -> Fatumnasi -> Kefamenanu
Hotel Litani, Kefamenanu. 300000 IDR for a big room with A/C, a bed with not so soft mattress, TV, some furniture (cupboard, table+chair etc.). Bathroom with shower (hot water, small water boiler) but no water basin. As water basin I use a big container with water tap which actually is meant to be used as a source of water to flush the toilet, since there is no water closet system.
Weather: initially sunny and blue sky with some clouds. After 2-3pm the sky is overcast and there is some rain (only 20 minutes). Fresh at altitude, hot at lower elevations.

I wake up at 5:50am then get up. This was a tough night on that hard bed in the cold hut (at night it gets quite fresh). I sort of get ready, pack my things and have a short breakfast. Before I leave there is a weaving performance at 7:30am of the ladies of the village, followed by a tour of the souvenir shop. It's 7:45am when we start driving.

This will be an intensive and somehow tiring day, with many places visited and lots of driving. First we drive back a piece of that horrible road. At 8am we stop in front of a church. Today is Sunday and people are dressed up for the day and ready to go to church. Chit-chat with people, lots of photos of these people and the kids. Very colourful event.

Then we continue driving and reach the None village at 9am. We drive through the date and pick up a local guy who is dressed up as a village chief and some kids. Donation of betel nuts and other fruits to the village chief (we bought them before arriving in a small town; driver told me to do so). At 9:10am we park the car next to sort of a fort. This is a structure with some stone walls, some traditional huts inside.

We'll spend the next 35 minute inside this fort with the village chief showing me around (he speaks some basic English and is quite photogenic). Interaction with the kids (small group of three girls who like to pose for the camera and have a lot of fun with different facial expressions). Then brief visit of the souvenir shop and finally at 9:50am we drive to the next place.

The next stop is Oehala which we reach at 11am. This is not a village as I initially thought, just a recreation area in a gorge with a nice set of waterfalls. Very fresh and scenic. Lots of local people are there on this Sunday morning and some have spent the night there sleeping in a tent. This is a great place where to relax for the weekend.

After half and hour in this place, at 11:30am we start driving to the next place. This is the Fatumnasi traditional village, which lies somewhere in the mountains at 1500m of altitude. The change in altitude is noticeable as we drive, because the scenery becomes more and more alpine (or sort of). There are cows and we pass by a beautiful forest of casuarina trees at 1300m of altitude.

The road again is horrible. Reminds me of the joke about the best military jeeps in the world ('Our military jeeps are the best in the world. We have created the worst roads in the world to test them.') Basically we drive over stones, large and small stones. There is almost no tarmac.

With a number of stops along the way to take pictures of the scenery which is really nice, we reach Fatumnasi at 1:10pm. I'm welcome by the village chief, and elderly guy dressed up in traditional attire. Together with me also a group of Indonesian people from Kupang came with a truck. And I meet again the Italian guy I had met the day before yesterday in the Lavalon hostel in Kupang.

There is some kind of function going on. People assemble in a circle in the events area and the village chief says something in local language. There is also some music. In between I take a walk through the village.

The historical part of it consists of nice, well preserved traditional round huts with a conical, palm leaves roof. One hut per family as I hear. And they seem to be still in use.

Fatumnasi is located in a place with not exactly a plain, but some kind of plain with a small slope, surrounded by a river valley and mountains. Quite scenic area. There are also some cows.

At 2:20pm we leave this place for the last place of the day, Kefamenanu. It's about time to leave because the drive to Kefamenanu should take two hours according to Google Maps and it's likely that we'll do stops along the way.

It turns out that the driver doesn't take the shortest route, and instead first drives to Soe where he has some meal in a roadside restaurant. It's 4:20pm when we start driving again towards Kefamenanu, but the driver will make it in less than two hours, arriving in Kefamenanu by 6pm. 

There we refuel the car (another 200000 IDR for 31 litres) and drive to the hotel. In the evening I'm too tired to do anything (and the driver probably as well).

I give a call to Philip Renggi, a tour operator living in Sumba and then send an email to him. Philip will arrange for a driver to pick me up at the airport on August 30th and bring me around Sumba for a two days tour. Price per day is 750000 IDR and that includes the car fuel.



29.8: Kefamenanu -> Tamkesi -> Maslete -> Kupang
Lavalon hostel, Kupang. In the evening, shortly after 10pm the is a A/C power cut lasting a couple of hours and affecting the entire block.
Weather: overcast in the early morning in Kefamenanu. By 8am the sky opens up and it's mostly sunny with some clouds for the rest of the day. Some light rain during the day. As usual quite hot except at altitude.

We leave the hotel at 8:25am and drive into town. There I buy some groceries in a shop and get some cash from an ATM. We also buy the bag with the betel nuts and other vegetables.

At 8:40am we start driving to Tamkesi. This is another village in the mountains, somehow northwest of Kefamenanu, built on a rock. The road is initially good, then in the last section becomes very bad (unpaved, full of stones). The landscape is relatively dry here.

At 10am the driver stops the car in a place near a limestone hill. From there it's a 5 minutes walk to Tamkesi along a path of stones. Tamkesi is a fascinating village with traditional huts in a rocky terrain. There are stones and rocks everywhere and wooden huts with a conical palm tree leaves roof. Sort of a mysterious Indiana Jones atmosphere. Donation of the betel nuts to the village chief (a lady, what is she doing with the betel nuts?).

The village seems deserted. I only meet some old ladies and a young lady with a child. Perhaps the men and all other younger people are out in the fields for work or perhaps they have left this village, which is understandable given that there are not too many modern comforts in this village.

By 11:10am we are back at the car and start driving towards the next place, Maslete. This is actually just outside Kefamenanu and is sort of an open-air museum consisting of a few traditional houses. Before getting there, we again buy the betel nuts gift in Kefamenanu (and later I read that chewing betel nuts can cause cancer...). By the way, driving from Tamkesi to Kefa takes 1:20 hours.

Upon arrival in Maslete we are greeted by a lady, apparently the village chief, and hand over the betel nuts to her. It turns out that this old lady is the only person left living in this place and her hut, a big hut, is both a museum and her home. She has 10 children, who are all somewhere in the cities.

After Maslete we have a brief lunch in a restaurant in Kefamenanu at 1pm. By now it's very hot in Kefa and this restaurant has no A/C. The food is so-so. I have some noodle soup, but this noodle soup actually is not good.

One thing I have noticed is that most houses and homes in West Timor have no A/C. In Malaysia most houses and homes have A/C, but here this isn't the case.

At 1:35pm we start driving back to Kupang. It's a long drive (> 200 km) which on the roads in West Timor takes over four hours. My driver drives extremely fast, overtaking everbody, even overtaking where overtaking is not allowed. But he manages to cope very well with the traffic, the not so good roads and at 5:20pm we are at the Lavalon hostel.

I pay the driver (2550000 IDR for the three days) and we agree that he'll bring me to the airport tomorrow for 70000 IDR. Then I check in the Lavalon hostel.

In the evening I get into the shops area and buy a Magnum icecream and have a dinner of grilled fish.



30.8: Kupang -> Tambolaka -> Sumba tour (Ratenggaro, Pero beach, Waikury lagoon)
Hotel Sinar Tambolaka, Tambolaka. 450000 IDR for a deluxe room (deluxe because it has A/C and hot water). The room is quite good (nice furniture, good bed, flat screen TV, elecronic safe, table, chairs) but the A/C is a bit weak. The toilet is horrible. Old, broken and dirty. Nothing is as it should be. The toilet should be completely renovated, but I guess the hotel owner wants to save money. Tea/coffee making equipment (water boiler, sugar, tea and coffee bags, cups)
Weather: sunny, blue sky and hot in the morning in Kupang. Sunny, blue sky also in Sumba.

I'm ready at 7:50am, but the driver isn't here. Edwin shows up a few minutes later. Some discussion, Edwin calls a taxi. The driver of yesterday won't show up. Finally at 8:10am the taxi is here and we drive to the airport. With some fast driving we arrive there at 8:27am (trip costs 70000 IDR).

The airport is quite small and a bit old. I check-in and proceed through security. By 8:45am I'm in the departures hall, the boarding time is 9:15am.

At 9:19am the boarding the Garuda GA0461 flight starts. This is a flight to Denpasar with a stop in Tambolaka. The plane is a CRJ1000 with plenty of leg space (2+2 rows).

The plane starts rolling at 9:37am and takes off at 9:47am (scheduled departure was 9:35am). Small refreshment served during the flight.

The plane touches down in Tambolaka airport at 10:40am and at 10:47am we are allowed out of the plane. Then it takes a while to get the suitcase (I only get it shortly after 11am) and I walk outside, looking for the driver holding my name plate.

I look and look, but there is no driver with name plate, only taxi drivers asking me if I want a taxi, where I am going, which country I'm from , what is my name etc. But Philip Renggi had written in his mail that there would be a person with my name plate to pick me up at the airport.

After waiting for while, I call Philip. First he doesn't know who I am, then he remembers me and apologises, saying that he'll be there in five minutes.

Finally after some time Philip shows up and brings me to a car with a driver. This is a minivan and the A/C is a bit weak. We first drive to the office of Philip, where he would like me to get into his office. But because it's already 11:30am and the day is half-gone already I tell him we can discuss the tour later and that we should start the trip.

The driver then wants me to check in the hotel, but also here I tell him that I'll do it later. So we start driving towards the southwest coast.

Sumba seems to be a quite dry island. There is some vegetation everywhere, but no rainforests. The area through which we drive in the west of Sumba is also quite flat, i.e. there are no striking geological formations. It's relatively densely populated, because wherever we drive you can see the effects of civilisation. There are houses, people, villages and farms everywhere.

Shortly after 12:30pm we reach the traditional Ratenggaro village. This is a very impressive place, really amazing. A set of traditional Sumba houses with the high roofs and in the centre some stone structures. Really amazing view.

Immediately after the arrival I'm approached by some souvenir vendors who quite persistently try to sell some handicrafts. People didn't behave like this on Flores or in West Timor. Perhaps people here are more poor and at the same time there is an influx of wealthy tourists from Bali.

I walk around a bit, but am quickly redirected to some old lady who asks me to write my name into a guestbook and then make a donation. Then I continue exploring the place.

Ratenggaro is not only amazing, it also lies in a pretty unique setting, overlooking a quite cool beach.

Shortly after 1pm I'm done with Ratenggaro and we drive to the nearby beach. Here there is a river which is flowing into the sea. Everywhere around the beach there are very sharp rocks. Amazingly sharp, these rocks could even be used to cut things. At 1:15pm we drive to the next place, the Pero beach. Getting there takes about 15 minutes.

Pero beach is not too terribly impressive. There is some sandy beach in a small bay, but otherwise it's mostly rocks (sharp rocks) delimiting the beach. Near the beach some cows and strange buffaloes with big horns are grazing.

At 2pm we start driving to the next place of the day, the Waikury lagoon. This is a 45 minutes drive from Pero beach and the drive goes through farmland and occasionally some small forest. The last part of the road is not paved.

The Waikury lagoon is simply beautiful. Sort of an elliptic pond, surrounded on all sides by tall and sharp rocks. Inside crystal clear water, sand and corals.

I spend some time exploring the place, then look for the driver. The driver mentions that this is the last place of the day (after we return to the hotel). It's actually still a bit early to finish the day (only 3:20pm). so I spend some more time in the lagoon.

At 4pm we drive back to Tambolaka. Driving takes over an hour and passes through farmland.

It's 5:20pm when we are back in Tambolaka. There I discuss with Philip the options for the next day. The plan is to do a trip tomorrow (Aug. 31st) and then take a flight to Bali on Sept. 1st.

Unfortunately there are no flights tomorrow (all fully booked), and I can only find flights on Sept. 2nd. I end up booking a Lion Air (Wings) flight from Tambolaka to Denpasar and a Malindo flight from Denpasar to KL.

At 8pm I have a quite good fish dinner in the restaurant of the hotel.




31.8: Sumba tour (south Sumba villages: Waigalli, Prainggoli, Wuntalaka, Tarung; Marosi and Kerewei beaches)
Hotel Sinar Tambolaka.
Weather: sunny, blue sky in the morning. After 3pm the sky is overcast in Waikabubak and it even rains a little bit.

We leave the hotel at 8:12am and initially drive towards Waikabubak, arriving shortly before 9am with a stop for the pictures in between. The landscape between Tambolaka and Waikabubak is considerably more green that the western part of Sumba I saw yesterday. There are some hills (the altitude is around 400m).

Then the driver wants to buy some special fuel in a petrol station they only have in Waikabubak. Long queue and we lose about 10-15 minutes. After this, we drive into the centre of Waikabubak and in a shop I buy some food and drinks for today, since there are no restaurants in the areas we are going to visit. I'll actually survive until the dinner just with some chocolate milk, green tea and some soft drink. Not sure why I'm eating so little here.

In the same shop I also buy a data package to recharge my SIM card. It's 20000 IDR for 340 MB. My phone had only 140MB left on it, but after the recharge it shows 340 MB only and not a total of 480 MB. Or perhaps I misunderstand something. Somehow I regret not to buy the 1.3GB package for 50000 IDR, but I have only a couple of days left in Indonesia and won't be able to use so much data.

We then drive to the first village. It's mostly hilly/mountainous terrain, although the road is to a large extent paved, even if very narrow. With a photo stop along the way, it takes almost an hour to get there. We are in Waigalli at 10:27am.

After having seen Ratenggaro yesterday, I must say that I'm a bit disappointed by this village. It's much smaller and less scenic than Ratenggaro. Later I'm told that actually Ratenggaro is the nicest willage in west Sumba, so all other villages will disappoint.

In any case Waingalli consists of some traditional houses around a central square with some stone monuments or structures. Quite a small place. People are actually living here, i.e. this is a living village. Also here I'm asked to write my name in a guestbook and leave a donation. Not too many entries in this guestbook by the way. Either not so many people visit the village or people don't want to sign in. 

While I'm visiting this village, there is a female tourist who is discussing the prices of handicrafts with some locals.

It's not yet 11am, but it is already very, very hot. I can't stay more than 20-30 minutes outdoors in the sun, so my visit in this village is short. At 10:47am, i.e. 20 minutes later, we leave this village for the next place.

The driver brings me to the Lapopu waterfall in some national park (Manupeu Tanah Daru?). We are at the parking at 11:20am. The entrance fee for this place is 150000 IDR, which is quite expensive. Looking at the pricing table, it appears that locals only pay 5000 IDR, i.e. foreigners pay 30 times what a local is paying. Asides from the high price it seems very unfair that foreigners have to pay 30 times what locals are paying. So I decide to skip this place.

We then drive to the next place, the Prainggoli village, arriving shortly before 12pm. This village is similar in size and structure to Waigalli. Same procedure as in the previous village: guestbook, donation, pictures. Again I can't stay more than 20 minutes, because it is just too hot. By 12:20pm I'm again in the car, driving to the next place for today.

This is the Marosi beach along the southern coast of Sumba and we'll be there at 1:20pm. Beautiful sandy beach, empty (no people, no infrastructure, nothing). Only far away I see somebody in the sea, perhaps fishing.

Now, while this beach is beautiful, the problem is also that it's 1:20pm , the sun is high in the sky and there isn't any shadow on this beach. No tree, no palm tree, nothing. And it's also very hot. There is no cafe or restaurant where I could sit down and have something, while enjoying the sea breeze or the view.

So after 15-20 minutes frying in the sun I'm done and walk back to the coastal forest area where there is some shadow. There I reat for a while, then ask the driver to bring me to the next place.

This is the Kerewei beach and we arrive here at 2:08pm. This beach is a bit less empty than the Marosi one. There is a building or two, and this beach seems to get lots of visitors. In the palm trees area there is lots of plastic rubbish lying around. The beach itself is a bit ugly, but there seem to be some waves which might appeal to those who surf.

I give a call to Philip and ask him what to do next, because today's program again finished early. He suggests to visit a nearby village (Wuntalaka) and then the Tarung village in Waikabubak on the way back.

So we drive to Wuntalaka. This is right behind the beach and is interesting because it's a living village. People live there, there is a school in one of the traditional houses and it's even so that one traditional house is being built. So apparently these traditional vlllages on Sumba are not just museums, these are places where people really live. 

After a few minutes in this place we start driving back to Waikabubak. Along the way we stop in a couple of places to take a photo of some megalithic place with some stone structures.

We are in the Tarung vilage shorty before 4pm. Tarung is interesting because it is much bigger than the other villages, i.e. consists of many traditional houses. But there is a mix of traditional and new because for instance there are electric power lines everywhere, satellite dishes etc. While I'm there, a traditional house is being built. I also manage to step on a stone which must be a holy stone or something similar because locals are shocked when I step on it. Maybe I angered the gods by stepping on this stone.

While there I run into Yuliana Ledatara, the other guide mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook. It's a friendly local lady and we spend some time chatting about Sumba and tourists etc. Then, around 4:30pm I head back to the car and we drive back to Tambolaka.

In Tambolaka I meet Philip, discuss the program for tomorrow and pay the car rental. Then I head back to the hotel, where I have a shower and sme dinner.



1.9: Sumba tour (Praiijing, Maderi, Mamboro area)
Hotel Sinar Tambolaka, Tambolaka. Some brief AC power cuts in the evening.
Weather: sunny blue sky in the morning, very hot. After 3pm the sky closes and is mostly overcast. Only a few drops of rain along the coast, but more inland.

Today's trip covers a number of places, but there are fewer highlights than I saw over the past two days.

It starts at 8:10am, when we leave the hotel and drive to Waikabubak. I have a new driver, and the car looks like an offroad vehicle, although it doesn't seem to be a 4WD car. But at least the A/C in the car works fine and is powerful enough. Yesterday's car was like a sauna.

We reach Waikabubak around 9am, do some shopping (food and drinks for the day, because there are no restaurants where we go) then drive to the first place, the Praiijing traditional village. This is a short drive from Waikabubak, located somewhere in the hills/mountains around Waikabubak. 

The village is quite nice and so is also the setting around it. It's no so much centered around a common square, it's more a group of traditional houses which extend along a line. Or perhaps the village has been expanded from a historic core in one direction. Some of the houses (a few only) have tin roofs, and at least one house is being built now, or has its roof renovated with traditional materials.

When I'm about to leave I'm asked to put my name into the guestbook. So I sit down and take the guestbook. But there is no pen. When I ask for it there is some discussion/confusion. I wait a bit, then turn around and look. My driver is trying to sharpen a pencil with a giant machete knife. I tell him to forget about it and just to leave the place. So around 10am we drive to the next place.

This would be the Pasunga village, only a 15-20 minutes drive from Praiijing. Pasunga consists of two rows of houses facing each other with a common square in the middle. But these houses all have metal (corrugated tin) roofs. Not scenic at all. I tell the driver to skip this place and to drive to the next one, which is the Gailbakul village.

This is only a few minutes away, but is also quite ugly. Either there are modern houses with concrete walls or traditional houses with metal roofs. Also here I tell the driver to skip the place.

We then drive towards north for a while. The landscape is now quite dry, not as green as the landscape around Waikabubak and not very scenic.

At 11:10am the driver turns left on a small unpaved road, drives for about 500-600m then stops in front of a path. He tells me to walk up this path.

So I walk up this path and after a few minutes I reach the Maderi village. This is located on a hilltop and is a mix of houses built with traditional materials and houses with tin roofs. Doesn't seem to get that many visitors. Not that many people living there. Overall quite nice and with many stone structures. I meet two children (girls), quite cute. People are friendly and there is no harassment at all.

Around 11:30am I'm back at the car. We now drive to the Mamboro area around the northern coast.

At 12:23pm reach the Manuakalada village. This is again a village with traditional and not so traditional houses. I walk around a bit checking the various houses. Also this place doesn't seem to get that many tourists. Some locals approach me. Brief chit-chat with somebody who speaks some English. Overall friendly people.

Because it's hot like hell, the sun is very strong and there is little shadow in this place, I quickly walk back to the car. We then drive for half an hour and reach the next place, the Wawarungu village at 1:05pm.

This consists of two rows of houses all built with traditional materials around a common square. Not so many megalithic stone structures in this place, but the houses look nice. Not much is going on in this place right now, probably because it is so hot and everybody is resting in the shadow of a house.

Because of the sun and the heat I only stay for 12 minutes in this place, then get back to the car. Now it's 1:20pm and there is only one place left to see (a beach). Philip yesterday selected the Karendi beach along the north coast.

It takes one hour to get there, because the last km are on an unpaved road, quite hard to drive. This beach consists of white sand and lots of coral pieces. It's not much of a beach because the seawater is quite shallow and to get to the deep water you have to walk for a while on the corals, quite painful for the feet. According to Philip there are no crocodiles, but swimming here is almost impossible. At least there is some shadow provided by trees.

I spend over an hour in this place, because I'm not keen to get back early to Tambolaka. In the meantime the sky becomes overcast. It's low tide and some local people with buckets and nets walk in the seawater, probably looking for seafood.

At 3:30pm we drive back to the hotel, arriving there shortly before 5pm. In the evening I have a dinner in the hotel.



2.9: Tambolaka -> Bali -> Kuala Lumpur
Boulevard hotel, Kuala Lumpur. RM 288 for a nice big room in a four star hotel. Good level of comfort, very good shower. WLAN in the room is now free, but a bit slow at night.
Weather: sunny, blue sky in the morning in Tambolaka, with some clouds in the sky. Sunny with a blue sky (no clouds) also in Bali.

I sleep "late" until 8 something am, then have breakfast and check out of the hotel. At 11am I take a shuttle to the airport (takes only five minutes). There I check in. Charge of 118800 IDR for 9Kg of excess luggage, because Wings Air has a 10Kg limit. By 11:30am I'm in the departures hall waiting for the flight to Bali.

Due to a late arrival, the Wings/Lion Air flight is delayed (about 45 minutes). We start boarding the plane at 12:35pm and land in Bali at 2:10pm, 50 minutes late. The plane does not stop at a gate. There is not even a bus to pick you up. Instead you have walk on the airport trying to guess what the right door is.

Once in Bali airport I walk to the international terminal. It takes a while to find the left luggage. To get there, you have to walk out on level one and go to the left. I leave my bags there (50000 IDR per bag), then look for a taxi to the Kuta Beachwalk mall. 

First a guy offers to bring me there for 200000 IDR, which seems ridicolous since the distance is only 3.8km. Then I walk to the official taxi counter thinking the price there will be around 50000 IDR.

I'm told instead the price is 250000 IDR, even more ridicolous. Some brief discussion with a taxi driver. The minimum price for which he is willing to bring me there is 150000 IDR. Seems that the airport taxi drivers have formed a cartel to rip off tourists.

So I walk out of the airport and outside there I catch a taxi (not an airport taxi, a normal one) for 50000 IDR. Seems that for once I did the right thing.

Kuta (the area behind the beach) reminds me of Khaosan road in Bangkok. Countless shops, restaurants, hotels etc. Lots of tourists of any age. According to the taxi driver, the Australians form the largest tourist group, followed by the Chinese.

The Beachwalk mall disappoints. It's small, has just three floors, no A/C (my goodness!), a very small number of cafes and restaurants, no food court. Overpriced restaurants.

So I walk to the beach. Nice long sandy beach, full of people and life. The sea water is shallow. Lots of waves. Plenty of hotels and resorts on or immediately behind the beach.

Since it's quite hot and I haven't had lunch yet (it's almost 4pm), I walk back to the street and get to a KFC restaurant I had spotted before. There I have some food (the first big pieces of chicken I see since I arrived to Indonesia) and rest for a moment.

At 4:25pm I walk again to the beach. It's still hot, but the sun is less strong. I get back to the street and slowly start walking back to the airport. When the beach road makes a turn inland, I take the path along the beach.

Short stop in a beach cafe where I have some fruit salad and some fresh fruit juice. Then I continue walking along the beach until the sunset (after 6pm).

Some Indonesian girls from Sumatra ask me to pose with them. No problem. First a group photo, then individual pictures with each of the girls. Just for fun, "loving-couple" pose with my arm around them.

Lots of people on the beach. Some people playing football. Beautiful sunset at 6:15pm. Lots of tourists with selfie-stick smartphones taking selfies.

It's now 6:30pm and I'd like to be at the check-in by 6:50pm (two hours before departure). I speed up a bit, walk through the maze of narrow roads using Google Maps and finally reach the airport. There I retrieve the luggage from the left luggage counter and proceed to the gate.

Again some taxi driver asks if I need transportation. I choose to ignore him, since I am too lazy to explain him what I'm doing. He probably thinks that I just arrived and am looking for a taxi.

The check-in, security and passport checks are unremarkable. It's just that there are long queues everywhere and the A/C in this airport is too weak. Despite the A/C I still sweat a bit.

By 8pm I'm finally at gate 1. There I find some A/C power sockets (recharging station), where I recharge a bit the phone and the computer.

Around 8:40pm they change the gate from 1 to 4. The flight is delayed, because at 8:55pm we haven't started boarding the plane (planned departure was 8:50pm). In fact we'll only start getting on the plane at 9:10pm and the plane will take off at 9:30pm.

The plane of Malindo Air is a modern Boeing B737-800 with plenty of leg space, USB charger for phones (not powerful, probably 500 mA only) and screens in every seat with a movie library (limited choice and second rate movies). They even serve a meal (rice with vegetable biryani). I thought this was a cheap no-frills airline, but apparently the service is good.

We land in KLIA 1 (the old airport) at 00:30am. I get out of the plane about 15 minutes later. Some idiot rushes from behind to the front in order to be one of the first to leave the plane. For the passport control you don't have to fill out an entry card, but they scan your fingerprints and take a picture of you.

By 1am I'm at the luggage belt waiting for my suitcase. A few minutes later I have the suitcase, and by 1:08am I queue up at the taxi counter. Some queue because three backpacker tourists start discussing the price of the taxis with the lady at the counter. The price of a budget taxi to the Midvalley mall is 109.30RM.

At 1:20am I'm finally in a taxi to KL. The driver drives quite fast (120 km/h and even more) even if the speed limit is lower. At 1:53am, just 33 minutes later, I'm at the hotel. I sleep at 2:30am.




3.9: Kuala Lumpur
Hotel Boulevard, KL.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with many clouds, very hot. In the afternoon the sky closes and it rains heavily for about 45 minutes after 5pm.

Day spent meeting the family in KL. In the afternoon I take a taxi to KLCC (metered taxi but perhaps the taxi driver "tuned" the meter, because the meter is running a bit too fast), then spend the afternoon until 6:30pm in the Golden Triangle, walking until Petaling street. Construction is still ongoing around the Petronas towers, with more and more skyscrapers popping up around the twin towers. There is also a lot of development around Bukit Bintang street, with the Sungei Wang and BB Plaza Malls being demolished and replaced by something else. Bukit Bintang street is changing. For instance the connection to Pudu street is now different. It has been recently completed (I guess one or two years ago), but already looks old.

In the evening family dinner in the Midvalley mall.




4.9: Kuala Lumpur -> Dubai -> Munich
Home, sweet home
Weather: sunny, blue sky in KL in the early morning.

We get up at 6:30am and get ready. At 7:30am we take a taxi (hotel minivan, 130 RM) to the airport. There is little traffic on the streets on this Sunday morning and the taxi reaches the airport by 8:15am. There we check in. Long queue at the Emirates counter. We are sorted out because Shirley has the 10:10am flight and are processed immediately at the first class counter. Perhaps we should have arrived even a bit earlier, although 1:50 hours before departure should actually be enough.

While Shirley rushes to the gate (her flight is at 10:10am, mine at 10:30am; we'll join in Dubai), I have a breakfast at the Starbucks cafe on the floor above. Then I proceed to the gate.

The 10:30am Emirates flight to Dubai is delayed. The plane starts rolling at 11:01am and only takes off at 11:43am. The machine, a Boeing 777-300 has AC power sockets in the seats and is quite full (in the section where I am all seats are occupied).

We land in Dubai shortly after 2pm local time. There I reunite with Shirley and the kids who have been waiting for me at the Burger King restaurant. Around 3pm we walk to the gate (A16). To get there you have to walk quite a bit and take a train, because it is in another terminal.

Around 4pm we start boarding the plane to Munich. This is an Airbus A380 with plenty of space and AC power sockets in the armrests. My seat is quite cold, because the air ventilator blows cold air from the top directly on me.

We depart on time and land in Munich on time. There everything proceeds smoothly and we are back home after 11pm.




Copyright 2016 Alfred Molon