Crossing the bridge into the Indonesian side, where we felt as if we were the only people there. Riding past a crisp single file path through the overgrown grass to a timber building with peeling paint and another, preminate concrete one. We parked our bikes outside the only life we found. A concrete structure with six Indonesian boarder police crammed inside on the tiny timber benches. Handing out passports over to them, they shook their heads and said ‘Immigration’ and point to the timber building.
Marching back along the worn grass path to the same peeling painted timber structure we had first seen, we found an immigration officer and his girlfriend. They tool our passport and told us to sit. Turning around we discover a timber bench behind us next to the timber louver slacks. After a few minutes we were handed back our passports and told to go to the customs office (The deserted concrete structure behind us). As we filed over there, we were interrupted by the police once again. Beckoning us over to their shelter. Once again, obeying orders we head over to them and handed our passports over. As they filled our details out in the over-sized ledger, we discover that the customs officer was in the village 5 kilometers away and we would have to wait until he arrived. Until then we had to join them in the tiny shelter and joked about who looked more Japanese than the other. When the Customs officer did eventually arrive, it was a matter of minutes before we had rushed through the process of telling him when to stamp and where to sign.
Five kilometers down the road we were stopped once again, yet another police check point, where they took our details down along with our passport numbers and told – if we have any trouble please call him, though he did not even offer us his phone number.
Frank was carrying around the equivalent to $8USD in Indonesian Rupiah, heading for a petrol stations we filled up with only 5 liters each and had a ‘Bukso’ Soup (Bukso Soup is an Indonesian dish consisting of noodles and beef balls, if you have the deluxe version, you may be tofu as well). With no money left we rode on to the next largest township in search of a bank.
In a larger bristling town of Kefamenau, we found three banks. The first one, wouldn’t take Franks card and my card took longer in the machine but was eventually blocked and spitted out. The second bank acted in the similar manor. At this point we were tired and desperate. We tried the third bank, where we discovered it took master-card and visa but was not work until 4pm, that was a whole hour away, where we could be on the road. Angry, I entered the bank and said, either to give me cash in advance or exchange my US dollars He eventually agreed to exchange our money just as the tropical down pour started. It wasn’t our day.
Dressing up in our water proof gear, we pulled off into a petrol station, where we discovered that the power had since gone out due to the storm and we would have to wait. Just as a window opened in the storm we headed across the road to a small ‘Bensin’ bottle shop. I put another 5 liters into my tank and handed the lady 40,000 RP (equivalent to 4 Euro’s). She started to argued with me, and in the slightly spitting environment, I got angry and pointed to the 6,000 per liter sign and indicated to the 5 liters she just tipped into my tank. When that wasn’t working, I pulled out my pen and paper and wrote 36,000 and then handed the paper to her, she took the pen from my hand and wrote 10,000,000, which quickly blotted with the rain. By this time, I had a massive crowd around me consisting of mainly children. I was refusing to pay this exorbitant amount for 5 liters and she was not budging. Lucky for me and just as I was about to ride off a guy in a blue poncho, who we had briefly meet at the broken petrol station came to my rescue and spoke quickly and sharply to the old Indonesian woman. She responded abruptly and handed my 4,000 change to me. I thanked him, with a huge two handed hand shake and mounted my bike. As I pushed the kick start around to the right position, a 13 year old boy spoke up ‘Touristy pay more!’ I was wet, angry and told this little shit to fuck off, if Indonesia was more tourist they treat them better and do not attempt to rip them off like that old lady.’ I finished my rant, knowing the little boy had no idea of what I’m saying, however I did feel a little better.
Frank and I were really looking forward to getting to Kupang, we had been invited by Meika and Daniel (Who we meet in Dili, East Timor) to come and stay with them in their apartment. Not knowing when the ferry was due to leave, we joked it would leave on Monday, which would give us time to relax, do some washing and not really have to wait long for another boat.
Daniel and Meika picked us up from the arranged meeting point on their local dirt bike and guided us back to their house. Once we arrived at their beautiful apartment overlooking the sea, Daniel, who could speak and understand Indonesian, commented on how we had caused such a stir amongst the locals. – I personally must be getting use to the attention as I hadn’t really noticed! After a quick catch up and shower we went back out on the motorcycles and down to the wharf. We discovered that the ferry in fact left tomorrow at 3pm, but we would have to be there at 1pm to ensure we get onto the boat. The ferry would take 18 hours (-+5hrs) and cost 170,000 rp (17 euro). Frank and I were astounded this was going to be the first ferry we wouldn’t have to wait for.
The following day we drove our bikes onto the boat, parking them perpendicular to the sacks of rice that ran along the edge of the boat. We grabbed our tank bags and headed upstairs to have a quick look around. I soon discovered the best place in the boat was on top of the rice stacks down stairs in the cool. I left Frank to guard two comfortable seats in the hot stuffy room, while I went back down stairs to guard the bikes.
3pm came and went, it was now 5pm and we still haven’t left the harbour. I could see something was happening at the entrance of the boat, a coffin was loaded and suddenly all the street vendors left the boar the door was shut. Now the 18 hour countdown begins. I left the sacks of rice to see Frank, have some dinner and then we watched a film on Frank’s computer. When his battery ran out, I slipped down onto the floor between the rows of seats amongst the dirt, shoes and the left over dinner rubbish and attempted to fall asleep with the lights on, the blearing tv, people listening to the latest music from their cell phones.
I woke to the same noise as I fell asleep to, but there was a different tension in the air. I look up to Frank and he tells me the most amazing news I had ever heard, ‘We are nearly there’. Looking out the window, I could see land once again. The ferry was 2 hours delayed in leaving, but was four hours earlier than we were told!
The island of Flores is meant to be the most beautiful island of Indonesia. It has everything from beaches to volcanoes. Our planned route wouldn’t stray too far from the main trans-flores highway as this road will take you to most of the main sights of Flores.
We left the port town of Larantuka after a quick breakfast. Just outside the town, I found a place to pull off the road in the nice shade with a beautiful sandy beach. It was just perfect for a swim before getting changed into our motorcycle gear. Just as I was slipping my motorcycle pants over my wet undies a group of motorcycle police arrived to see what we were doing. Being such a Muslim Island, I was worried I was going to get into trouble for exposing too much flesh! But they were just interested in our large motorcycles not my bottom!
A few days later we arrived in a small villager called Moni, which is situated under Mount Kilimlto. Mount Kilimlto is known for its three coloured volcano lakes, one was black and the other two area shades of blue and green. The weather looks pretty bad, but we decided to head up there anyway. By the time we reached the top car park we were lucky to have the clouds part for us and the sun twinkly on the thick paint like water.
Riding onwards to Bajawa, we stopped into Ende to give my credit card a go once again. When it didn’t work on several machines, I exchanged the rest of my US dollars and carried on. I am getting annoyed with this credit card situation. In Bajawa, I call my bank for the second time in a week, to discover that someone had tried to withdrawal money in America. Therefore my card had been cancelled and I was out of pocket. Arranging for another one to be sent to the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta, I now had to rely on Frank to lend me some money.
Moving north from Bajawa, we head down a small mountain road to the beach town called Ruing. When we arrived we were hot and bothered sitting in dense forest without a breeze in our motorcycle gear. All we wanted to do was go for a swim but this village wasn’t going to give it to us, as there were stilt houses amongst the mangos. We had planned to ride a long a small road on the northern side of the island, but after much discussion with a few members of the villages, we were turned off the idea of swimming bikes across massive rivers, as all of them suggested we take a boat. That meant riding back to Bajawa and along the trans-flores highway to Ruting.
Having bukso soup for lunch
We had another easy ride down the mountain to another sea side fishing village called Labuan Bajo. This quiet village is intertwined with tourist coming to visit Rinca and Komodo Island. This is where you get to see the huge Komodo Dragons. We stayed in a nice wooden home stay, for 60,000rp (6 Euro) for the room. We could pull our bikes off the street and place them around the back out of sight.
The original plan was to go to Rinca Island the very next day and leave the following, but this proved too difficult as the boat people were charging too much just for the two of us. We decide to hang around for the day and do some motorcycle maintenance and find a bargin for the boat. I had wanted to clean my petrol tank out since I’ve started my trip as I have been carrying a huge ‘Huntsman’ spider in my tank since leaving home.
We joined a group of travelers to Rinca Island early in the morning. We all followed a guy through the twisting ally way between the local houses to the wharf. Jumping across two boats we arrive at our own. Two hours later we arrived at the island, arranged for a guide to show us around the island and protect us from the Komodo Dragons! We joked between us about only seeing water buffalo’s and monkeys, as we have all seen these before. Suddenly, the guide told us to get back as a Komodo dragon started running towards us and full fight with another male dragon. We were all stunned into silence and were ready to run for our lives. After a few minutes, we set off for our tour of the island which only took us past water buffalo’s and only one other dragon. I would have been happy to sit under a tree for a few hours watching them sit under the islands kitchen!
Early the following morning, we rose, packed our bikes but left them at our guest house to go and get our ferry ticket to the next island. We had heard that upon seeing the bikes they decide to charge you for a three wheeler, which is double the price. Not wanting to take that chance so we walked in without motorcycle gear on and asked for a Gol. 2 (two wheels) ticket. Once we had it we went back to the guest house and got our bikes, riding onto the wharf I hand over my ticket to the officer, he looks at my bike, frowns, tears it into two, hands me back my half and lets me on board.