I have wanted to go to Flores since 2012. By that time, Flores was not a choice. I have just graduated from college, I did not have money, I did not have sufficient time, and I did not have friends who were willing to spent as much money to travel even if we were ‘capable’ to do that. In late 2015, like, by the end of my master’s studies, I contacted four friends: Dian, Diaz, Mus, and Pman, and asked whether they were interested in having a ‘reunion’ of our 2012 Lombok Trip, but this time, with Flores as our destination. All of them said yes, but guess what, I finally only went with one. Thanks you guys, thanks.
Three years after graduation we are still not ‘as rich.’ We still value money over time, so when we found out that there’s quite a big difference between Jakarta-Lombok and Jakarta-Labuan Bajo (Flores) flights, we decided to land on Lombok and continue our way to Flores overland. This, though, means that we would also be having two ferry crossings along the way. The total time of the trip from Lombok International Airport (LOP) to Labuan Bajo was about one and a half day. This is how we got there:
LOP – (bus) – Mandalika Bus Terminal – (bus) – Kayangan Harbour – (ferry) – Pototano Harbour – (bus) – Bima – (mini bus) – Sape – (Ferry) – Labuan Bajo
It is not that complicated, actually. You would only need to buy a bus ticket from LOP to Mandalika, afterwards from Mandalika just look for a provider which serves Mandalika-Labuan Bajo. The ticket will include the ferry crossings, but not the mini bus. We departed from Mandalika around 15.00 and started the first ferry crossing as the sun went down.
Through our overland in Sumbawa, we mostly slept. We were awaken at Sumbawa Besar to have dinner, went back to the bus, have a 1-hour chit-chat and went back to sleep. We arrived at Bima the very next day around 04.00, and we waited for the mini bus which will only arrive when the sun is up, like around 06.00-07.00.
As we had too much sleep and still 2-3 hours overtime, we talked to other people we met there. Literally anyone. From the locals to the foreigners who were on board all along with us. Two of them are French! I was so happy meeting them so I could still recall my French skills, which was not as bad as it is right now, I guess.
Funny thing happened when me and the French girl, let’s call her Christelle as I forgot her name, were looking for a toilet. I told her that we should follow the ‘Adzan’ sound as mosque’s toilets are generally clean. As we arrived to the mosque, we were stopped by an old man who asked us for money.
“Sorry, we don’t have any money,” Christelle said as she was about to cancel her will to go to the toilet.
“No, no. Can. Go,” the old man said and I responded him “Thanks,” in Bahasa. He was kind of shocked, realizing that ‘the other girl’ was not a foreigner.
After we finished, the old man offered his hand to Christelle as he introduced himself “John,” and she replied, “Christelle,” politely. Not long he asked for “Kiss,” which was actually no more than cheek-to-cheek kiss, or as we call it bisous in French. She was a bit confused at first, because even though it is quite common in France, we do not normally give bisous to strangers. But finally, she decided just to give it away. When he asked me I said no, and he just laughed. I told Diaz about this and his response was, “That lucky bastard!”
The second crossing was a lot longer than the first one. It took about 6-7 hours. We met a lot of other people on board, we even exchanged contacts with a couple who were looking for travel mates. We promised to meet each other in Labuan Bajo after me and Diaz got back from Wae Rebo.
Thus, after the long overland journey, we could finally say: hello, Flores!
PS: Hey! I am currently competing for a volunteering program in East Flores. I posted a video on Youtube, as one of the requirements, which you can see through this link. If I were chosen, I will be going to East Flores to document the Wonder Women a.k.a. “Ibu Inspirasi,” which is an initiative by Kopernik NGO based in Bali. I will absorb what I will witness during my time in Flores and share it in, well, many forms. So, if you really like the video, please give a thumbs up in the Youtube link. Cheers!