Flores Island, the island named ‘flowers’ by 16th-century Portuguese, is becoming Indonesia’s next big travel destination. Flores Island, 450km long, offers the traveller an exciting and spectacular journey overland, encountering expansive rice fields and hidden beaches, exotic and ancient cultures and intriguingly beautiful coloured lakes that varies in colour. Not to mention that Labuan Bajo, in the far west, is a bustling sea town that offers the gateway to tropical beauty with nearby attractions such as Komodo National Park, finest dive spots and pristine clear beaches.
Growing up in a densely populated and built-up cosmopolitan like Singapore, Flores Island’s natural beauty and rich historical culture definitely sparked my wanderlust.
My journey began in Singapore on a flight to Bali, which has daily flights to Labuan Bajo in West Flores and Maumere in East Flores, the two main gateways for tourist visiting Flores Island. My road travel saw me arriving in the East coast (on the right of the map) all the way across to the West coast, on the right.
Day 0 Singapore to Bali
SARDINES is located in Seminyak along a road of famous restaurants, with its small restaurant front along the road, you would have to keep you eyes open to spot the white wall exteriors and a small sign board.
SARDINES is a very popular restaurant and bookings are a definitely must for a good dining experience. Unfortunately for us, due to the bad traffic, we arrived at the restaurant too late for our booking and were put at the drinks and tapas area while we waited for seats.
The tapas choices were very interesting and appetizing sounding and ordered a few to share. We were shifted to a table for our meal, having tasted both the tapas and the mains, I would recommend that you try the tapas more than you should try the main as the balancing of taste and textures was much better done than the mains which lacked excitement.
SARDINES has an open field of sunflowers beyond the seating area and I can imagine its beauty in the day with the white upholstery and greenery that extends afar.
By the time we were done with dinner it was already close to 12 midnight and headed to our hotel to rest for the long days ahead of us.
Headed out for some local flavors along the road side for a meal of noodles and rice before we get on the flight to set foot onto the island of Flores.
Day 1 Bali to Maumere, Flores Island
It takes slightly less than two hours to arrive at Maumere, where we met our guide, grab a late lunch and got whisked off to our first location, Koka beach.
By the time we arrived at Kelimutu Eco Lodge in the village of Moni, all woozy and wearied from the endless winding of the mountainous road late into the evening, it was so dark we couldn’t quite see much of the hotel surroundings other than hearing the strong gush of water in the river by the side of Kelimutu Eco Lodge. A simple dinner later, we headed back for an early night.
Day 2 Kelimutu, Bena Village, Bajawa
The wake up call before dawn saw us packing up our luggages at 3.30am and checking out of the hotel to begin our day with a 45mins hike up to Mount Kelimutu in Kelimutu National park. We arrived at the summit when the skies were slowly brightening up and in time to catch the sunrise and soak up the view of the jewel colored lakes in the craters atop Kelimutu’s volcanic peak.
The sunrays were so brilliantly glowy when it inched its way up into the sky and it was beyond elated that the Casio FR100 was able to capture its full glory and beauty! The images above were not even edited.
Utilizing the interval shots of the Casio FR100, I strapped the camera portion of the FR100 to a railing and set it to take interval shots of the sunrise over a 20 mins time frame. The rolling clouds and soft glow of the sunrise were all captured whilst I was taking pictures with my friends and of the surrounding with the DSLR camera. I wouldn’t have been able to capture the sunrise any other way without being at a fixed spot for 20mins if not for the Casio FR100 and accessories.
Bena Village was the largest village that we visited that day, maintained its cultural and historical roots and had people living the same way they did many years ago. Though this village is one of the more popular and famous village in the area, it still managed to preserve its peaceful way of life and there wasn’t any touting or haggling. Women were sitting on their verandas weaving the ikat fabrics, one of the trademark handicraft of the area. The villages practiced matrilineal traditions so the houses were passed from mother to daughter.
After a soak in a hot spring nearby Bena village, in very dim lighting conditions that resulted in no pictures nor videos, we arrived at Silverin Villa in Bajawa. The image of a villa might have already been imprinted in our visual memory as that of lush greenery, a dipping pool and the luxury of space akin to peaceful hideout. In fact at Silverin Villa, it was a room, pretty much like a bedroom in a house and an added mattress like how your friend is here for a sleepover. Perhaps it would have been a better experience if the water heater was working and the bed did not have those wonky spring that bounced with every toss.
I leave you with this video summary for this long day on the road.
Day 3 From Bajawa to Labuan Bajo
Though it might have just been two days into the trip on Flores Island, it seems like we have seen quite a number of places and covered quite a bit of road. Actually we have traveled almost half way across Flores Island until last night in Bajawa.
Today is supposedly one of the rare days we didn’t need to wake up before the sunrises and it is a day where we travelled the rest of the journey across Flores Islands stopping by to see the Spider Web fields in Ruteng, before arriving at the biggest town in the west of Flores, Labuan Bajo.
When we arrived in Labuan Bajo, the guide drove us to a supermarket and told us to load up on snacks and tidbits for our boat trip the next day to Komodo National Park. Followed by dinner and checking into our hotel at Jayakarta Suites.
Day 4 Komodo National Park
When we got on the boat, it was dark and we couldn’t really see the surrounding scenery. The sunrise lit up the place and brought life to the flowing water and ridged mountains. The morning’s golden glow made everything so vivid and glistening.
The two hour boat ride saw us admiring the view in between taking forty winks on the top deck before arriving on the shores of Komodo National Park for our hunt for the Komodo Dragon. The Komodo Island is a natural habitat of the Komodo Dragon, they are free to roam the island, sightings of a Komodo Dragon is not guaranteed as it depends the chance of bumping into them whilst they carry out their daily activities.
The walk around the island had to be guided by two park rangers, armed with a long stick with a “Y” at the end.
Lucky for us, a short 10mins from the beginning of our trail and we met one of the bigger dragons on the island, aptly named Hercules. His slow swagger and tongue hissing gave us ample opportunity to take pictures of this prehistoric reptile while oohh-ing and ahh-ing.
We all left the island feeling very happy to have spotted so many Komodo Dragons big and small.
And I bought a mini Komodo Dragon wood carving magnet, see if you can spot it in the video for today.
After walking in a hilly terrain, it was time for some relaxing time at the Pink Beach. It was also a location for snorkelling, which proved to be quite a workout too with the very strong undercurrents.
After Pink Beach, our final stop was Rinca Island, which is also a sanctuary for Komodo Dragons. This island is smaller than Komodo Island, correspondingly less dragons too. It had started to drizzle a bit but we still carried on with our 30mins trail round the island.
Day 5 & 6 Trip to Wae Rebo
From Labuan Bajo to Wae Rebo, it was pretty much of a backward loop back to the town of the Spider Web Rice fields but since we were travelling with a group, we didn’t have much choice of breaking away from the itinerary. The trip to Wae Rebo is an extended trip taken only by us three girls. We organised for a driver to take us there, arrange for our homestay and guide through a local tour agency.
We had to head back to Ruteng, a 5hr drive away, but this time it felt so much faster and more comfortable in a car with more leg room. Stopped for lunch at a village before the uphill drive to the starting point of Wae Rebo.
We had a local guide cum porter who led the way, however he didn’t speak any English at all. The route up was a well seasoned dirt path peppered with pebbles and steps of stones. It was only pretty tough on the legs in the first 45 mins of the climb as it was a steep uphill climb that needed more strength and expended quite some energy.
However beyond that section, it was a gentle slope up all the way to Wae Rebo village.
Upon arrival to Wae Rebo, we were greeted by an English speaking member of the village. He informed us that we could only take pictures of the village and surrounding after we have paid our respects to the ancestors of the village and asked for their blessing to stay in the village and take pictures.
We were shown the way to the hut of the village head which was the one right in the middle of all the huts and had a stone “patio” to differentiate itself from the other huts.
Rapheal, the village head with a pretty cool name, performed some chants with some floral and rice offerings after our donations were made.
We were then brought to another hut where Wae Rebo coffee was served. The beans were grown by the villagers and it tasted a little fruity, smooth and hardly acidic. It was the best local coffee I had in days on Flores Island.
The thick clouds were coming in and we had to take our showers before it turned dark and colder. We can either take a shower in the spring water outlet that was out in the open, locals shower there, or in the shower room. Either way, we had to shower in cold water, which I am not a fan of as I love my showers hot and steamy, but out of necessity and comfort, I had to take the plunge.
There wasn’t much to do while we waited around for dinner to be served so we started taking pictures of the hut, it dark outside already.
After dinner, I watched a bit of stars outside for a bit before turning back to my sleeping mat for the night.
Oh and it turns out we had to sleep in the main hut where Raphael performed his offering rituals as the visitor hut was already full. It was a communal hall sleeping arrangement where we slept on straw mats, given a blanket and pillow.
It can get a little cold at night if you are sleeping near the door, like where I slept, and I had to wear my jacket under the blanket to keep warm.
I was awaken by the clucking of the chickens that lived below our hut since early morning and tried to get back to sleep a couple of times until my body didn’t want to.
After breakfast, the villagers started their daily chores of sunning the coffee beans and building new hut for visitor’s accommodation. If experiencing culture and rituals are your kind of thing, the Harvest Season in Novemember is where you could witness their elaboration celebration.
If our local guide could speak English, he could have helped us in communicating with the villagers which would have helped in our understanding and appreciation of the life and culture of Wae Rebo. For now, it did feel like we were just there for a look see.
After breakfast, we packed our stuffs and headed downhill for our journey back to Labuan Bajo.
The video below summarizes our journey and sights for the past two days for your viewing pleasure.
Day 7 Returning to Singapore
The last day saw us travelling back to Singapore in two flights, one from Labuan Bajo to Bali then from Bali to Singapore.
It was a wonderful trip on Flores Island where the place was so beautiful that no filters were needed for the orange glow of the sunrise, the turqoise waters of beaches nor the clear blue skies. The Casio Exilim FR100 was a great camera to have on the trip and below are the reasons why I think the camera is a must have for your next adventure.
Casio Exilim FR100
To be an adventure camera, it definitely needs to be waterproof for any splashes, rainy weather or snorkelling.
The wide angle lens of 16mm does wonders in capturing the background whilst taking the selfie shot, which is more superior to the iPhone 6’s range.
I never expect to like this mode so much as it evens out the skin tone, reduce shadow and basically makes you look refreshed even after a tiring day of travel.
With its design centered around practicality and convenience of the active user, the accessories that complements the camera proves to be a camera that you can use anywhere anytime.
Casio debut its world’s first lifestyle concept store in Tampines Mall and it is the perfect place to have a touch and feel of the Casio Exilim FR100 along with the other cameras they carry. Nothing beats the experience of seeing and trying products with your own hands.
Read up on Casio Exilim range of cameras here Casio Exilim Cameras.
Live & Love Life,