From Flores to Lombok

Being a small village the only option to get out of Moni is by hailing a bus from the road. If you’re going to Maumere (wrong direction) or Ende (right direction) then no problem, there are lots of them. I however caught wind that there were two buses destined for Ruteng. The only problem was there was no telling when they’d pass through Moni.

It took three hours of standing, then sitting by the side of the road normally accompanied by a local or two playing spot the bus in the far distance as tiny dots emerged around a corner. Most times it wasn’t the Ruteng bus and when it was, it was full. The second one however could fit me in…just. I got given the ‘special seat’ crammed into the isle on a stool made of metal with no padding. Within minutes of starting off the woman next to me was violently sick out of the window and later into a sick bag. Flores is the first place I have been where every bus carries sick bags, whether by sea or road, locals really do not travel well.

As fortune would have it, whether she was at her destination or for health reasons, she decided the bus wasn’t for her. The lady departed after half an hour allowing me to squeeze into her seat that offered only a minor improvement in comfort.

Ten hours passed and I arrived in Ruteng relieved to find that the guest house I stayed in previously had rooms available. They were apologetic however only having the ‘economy ones’ left. Flores is good like that; it seems to attract people with money which means that none of the cheap rooms are ever taken.

The next morning I took a minibus to Labuanbajo and ran the accommodation circus once more. The next day I took an eight hour ferry to sape, a bemo bursting at the seams to Bima and then a wonderful AC nowhere near full bus which carried on over the ferry to Lombok finishing in Mataram. It was by all accounts a fair old haul. That leg took over twenty two hours and that’s not factoring in the fifteen hours down from Moni to Labuanbajo nor the journey after from Mataram!

Because it wasn’t over. From Mataram I caught a bemo to the town of Praya. To say it took an age to get there would be an understatement. In traditional bemo style it crawled agonisingly around town picking up punters before it would leave for Praya. It took over an hour for mine to get full. He was a lovely driver though, frequently running across the road to guild old ladies, balancing all number of goods on their heads to his bemo.

At Praya I was meant to catch another two bemos to get to Kuta Lombok but called it quits. Instead I called upon a motorbike/moto/ojek to run me the rest of the way. It cost more but was a lot of fun. My driver took to the roads like he was participating in the world championships. It would be my last ojek ride and by far the most fun.

I was almost sad to stop but upon stepping foot into my room I collapsed and saw very little of Kuta until the sun rose the next morning.

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