//story and photos by Nabila As’ad.
We took a super early flight from Bali. I was so shocked because we encountered two Indonesians who wanted to cut the check-in line (a rare view in Europe). That experience was kind of ruining my morning enthusiasm about Flores. However, when our plane was about to land in Flores, I couldn’t close my mouth and kept pointing, “Guysssss, look. Look. Look. Look at those greenish and transparent beaches.”
I couldn’t believe that..we were in FLORES, BEYBEH!
I told you, we didn’t have any plan. We didn’t book anything. So we took an airport taxi to Labuan Bajo city centre, the driver persuaded us to pay IDR 2 Million if we wanted him to drive us to Ruteng (Hell no!), then he drove us to a random travel agent. Luckily, we met Mr. Vigo, who saved us by telling us how to get to Ruteng and Wae Rebo. Moreover, he gave us a nice price for 2D1N Komodo trip + snorkeling packages. Yeay!
Many people told us beforehand to prepare ourselves for a Bajo-Ruteng road trip. The road was heroic: cliffs on your left or right side and holes on the road (sadly, this is Indonesia). Abhe had a carsick, I stayed awake to enjoy the view but ended up sleeping, while Dimas chatted with Mbak Fonsy whom we met in a travel.
There is one big impression left on my mind about the Flores people: they are basically super nice. The less comfortable the public transportation we took, the nicer the locals were. We got some bad experiences with some men who forced us to join his car (they abruptly took our bags when we were so confused and a bit jet-lagged) and offered us an unreasonable price for accommodation (beware!). In contrast, when we took ottokayu or a public bus (where we were the only non locals inside), the locals were… adorable. They helped us carrying our bags to the truck; they gave seats to us, told us many stories about Flores, and even gave us a huge smile in early morning. I remember one slight movement made by an old man in a bus. He held my bag that was almost fell out of the bus every time it turned right (my bag was near the open exit door). Thank you, Sir🙂
When Abhe & I were waiting for Dimas in front of our hostel in Ruteng, we met several locals who went to Sunday mass. Everyone greeted us by saying “good morning” with a smile. Have you ever heard that a smile given by someone is one of the sweetest things you can get? I definitely agree on that. Moreover, I couldn’t forget those boat crews on our 2D1N living-on-board experience. They might have looked like some “alays” I met on a street, but hey! they were the best boat crews I have ever met: scary outlooks with Hello Kitty hearts.
We spent most of our days in Labuan Bajo where it took only less than two days for us to know everyone on the street. Whenever we walked, we met someone whom we met either in Bajo or other parts of Flores that we visited. One local even remembered my scarf colour when I met him in Cancar a week before! Furthermore, our group was getting bigger day by day because we merged with other locals and travellers (mostly were foreigners).
Traveling to Flores gave me an idea how did it feel living in a remote area. I had been so interested about the idea of living in a remote area, where there is barely any phone signal, electricity, water, and most importantly, no society who cares about which brand do we wear, which car do we drive, which gadget do we own, etc. We came with our city-kid apparel but it took less than 2 days that we started dressing with “only” comfortable T’s, pants, and shoes/sandals. Abhe got tanned so he looked more and less like a local :p
Lastly, Flores was unforgettable because I traveled with Abhe and Dimas. Nothing could describe this feeling of exploring Flores together with them for 11 days. Patrícia, a Spanish girl we met in Wae Rebo, told me, “You are so lucky having them by your side!” WOHOOO! We nailed it. Come on, guys, we have plenty of destinations to visit. I am soooo looking fw to our next adventure(s) and you guys have to come to Europe and fall in love with it like I did.
To sum up, Flores was a combination of perfect sceneries, heartwarming locals, and best travelmates. Pssst…I did enjoy our quality times there without any signal for days.
See you again, Flores.