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Saturday 9 Aug
Flores Island, Indonesia

Flores Island Excursion - Last Posting!

The next four nights of our trip was a journey through Flores Island, one of the few (if not only?) Christian islands in Indonesia (98% of inhabitants are Christian).

We departed Labuan Bajo early in the morning, knowing that we would be driving for 8.5 hours that day. The roads in Flores are not terrible, however they are extremely windy. The island is 350 kilometers long and the cross-island road is 750 kilometers. This windiness is due to dozens of large mountains and small villages everywhere. It is heavily forested - very lush and scenic. In the morning we stopped off at a small village to watch some ladies make some weavings....though they were not all that nice. The highlight of the morning was stopping off at the "spider rice fields"....basically a nice view over rice fields that have been sectioned off in the shape of a spider web. Lunch in Ruteng was uneventful, as was most of the drive. Made a short stop off at an Arak distiller...Arak is a palm wine that can be very strong. Tastes a little like sake but less palatable. For $2.50 you can get a small waterbottle full of it. Yum! Spent the night in a town called Bajawa, near the coast but up in the mountains. It was actually pretty cold!

Left fairly early the next morning to hike up to Wowomuda, a volcanic crater (a caldera, for any aspiring geologists). Was very pretty though not much to write about. Stopped off for lunch and dropped by the hotel...mom went back into her room and found a visitor...a chicken was in her hotel room! The chicken had made sure to conduct some serious business all over the floor of her room, which was fantastic....this whole thing was very bizarre, she had no idea how it got in there!

The highlight of the day was visiting a traditional village. The villages lacked any sort of modern luxuries (at least as far as we could tell) and the people were very friendly. The houses all had thatched roofs and were made of wood that had been engraved with intricate designs. Our guide told us a good deal about the traditions of the villagers....including, in this particular tribe, the concept of matrilineal descent...property is passed down through daughters rather than sons. Pretty interesting. We also had the opportunity to chat with some local villagers when we sat down to coffee. All the women have black or red teeth because they chew betel nut (my favorite!) 24/7. I think the older ones were trying to set up the younger ones with me and mark. Terrific!

Last activity was visiting a hot spring that was pretty cool....it was so large that an entire stream was a hot spring. At one point I was up river from Mark and mom was taking a picture....The current was quite strong and I started sliding toward Mark and I slid right into him...I couldn't really stop myself and I couldn't get off. "Stop. Michael, get off me. Get off me. You asshole move stop sliding into me. You're a jerk." haha

Next day we left to drive to Moni. Morning activity involved going to a market in a place called Boawae...which was really cool because it was a once-a-week market AND it was a public holiday...so the market was PACKED. Pretty much were selling everything you would expect, just was really interesting given the number of people and the fact that we were the only gringos in sight. This morning we also visited what is called the Blue Stone Beach, a beach with...you guessed it....blue stones. Unfortunately many are gone because people gather and sell them and also use them for driveways and in their houses.

Arrived in Moni and headed to dinner. First place we went to didn't have any food other than omelets. Awesome! Next restaurant ... no chicken, no pork, no this, no that....but they had a couple things. I mean, no chicken!?!? There are about 10 chickens walking in the street! Kill one of them! On a separate topic, we had organized for the performance of a traditional dance after dinner. 10 dancers, dancing for just the three of us, in freezing cold weather. Let's just say it wasn't a pleasant experience for them or us. They really shouldn't call their "performance" a dance...uh...no further comment.

So the last day of the Flores trip was mostly spent heading up to Kelimutu, the famous set of three lakes on top of a mountain. We left the hotel at 4:30am to head up there for sunrise...cold, but beautiful. The three lakes are all different colors. One is turquoise, one is black and the other is "dark green"...aka also black. Afternoon was spent traveling to a couple weaving villages where we bought a couple traditional weavings.

Flew back to Bali the next day to stay for one night. Hotel was fantastic. Bali is great, would love to go back soon. Next day flew to Jakarta for one final night there before heading home. Was very sad to leave mom and Mark, we all said our goodbyes at 5:30am and I headed home!

Spent a couple hours in Hong Kong...wasn't able to do much other than take a train to the center of the city and walk around a bit. Seems like a place to spend a lot more time!

Anyway, that wraps everything up. If you've gotten this far, you obviously have a pretty long attention span...thank you all for reading the travelogue. I very much appreciate all the nice emails and messages I've received about it...I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it! Ciao!


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