I Left My Heart in Flores
Flores island was always in my bucket list of places I have to visit before I die, and traveling alone was also in it. After a deep break-up of 5 years relationship, I decided to do something that I always wanted to do; VISIT FLORES ISLAND. So, I booked one-way ticket to Labuan Bajo (it’s in Flores Island) and I booked a hostel for my stay for only 3 days. I just didn’t know what to do there, I just wanted to see Flores.
So, after the end of my job contract as a teacher in a Junior High School, I flew to Flores, as a backpacker. It was my very first time traveling alone. It took me less than 3 hours to fly from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo. I arrived there a few hours before sunset. The airport is much smaller than the airport in Jakarta, but it looked quite nice and tidy. The taxi drivers were not that aggressive as in Jakarta or Bali. Since Labuan Bajo is a small city and I checked on google that my hostel wasn’t that far from the airport, so I took ojek (taxi moto) to go to my hostel.
The view on the way from the airport to the hostel was really impressive, I felt like I couldn’t wait to explore and at the same time it was hard to believe that I was really in Labuan Bajo, alone, like “Yay, I am really doing this”. I arrived in my hostel and it was really close to the port. It was in a neighborhood that’s quite crowd, and really near the night market in Kampung Ujung. Anyway, it was also my first time to stay in a hostel.
At first, I was the only guest in the hostel. It wasn’t what I expected, I booked a hostel because I wanted to meet other people, lol. Anyway… The receptionist was really friendly, he asked me what I wanted to do in Labuan Bajo, and my answer was really simple, “I don’t know”. So, he suggested things to do and to see in Labuan Bajo.
He took me to a beach to see the sunset. So, with his bike we went to Waecicu beach. It was nice, it was beautiful, the waves were not strong, just calm, and I could see little islands around. The road to reach there was not that good, it was kind of sandy so we needed to be careful.
After the beach, the guy took me to a night market for dinner. It was awesome! Fresh seafood, all in local taste. The guy knew many people in there and he took me to the best warung to eat in the night market.
I asked the guy if there was any bars or any nightlife entertainment around the area, he said that there was only bars and warung at night. Labuan Bajo or Flores Island in general doesnt have clubs. Most of the bars are also reggae bars. So, I asked him to take me to one of the best bars there, and he took me to “Paradise Bar”. Yes, the name of the bar was “Paradise Bar”. He proposed me to try “Sofi” which is a local arak (liquor). It tasted a little bit like vodka and slow enough to make my face feel numb. Anyway, the view from Paradise Bar was really awesome. Where else you could chill at night with super affordable drink and with amazing view of the lights from the boats at night?
The day after, I rented a scooter to explore the area alone. I went to Batu Cermin Cave and Bukit Cinta. Funny thing was I fell down from my scooter in the middle of the road, in the forest, there was no one, haha. Batu Cermin was beautiful, not so many tourists, and we needed to walk around 15 minutes from the parking lot to see the cave. It was really calm. You will need to past a kind of forest, but don’t worry because there’s a pathwalk. I saw some other tourists (local and international), all of them were with friends and I was just alone. When I was walking to the cave, I couldn’t help my tears. No, it was not because I was sad. I was impressed by myself that I could really do it.
After seeing the cave, I went out of the track just to see something around. It was worth it. To be honest, I was kind of scared because I was just alone. I mean, I was scared if there was a snake from the tree or on the ground and no one was there to warn me, lol.
I continued riding the scooter to find Bukit Cinta, it was a little bit hard to find. It was like in the middle of no where. I parked my bike and walked a bit. It was really beautiful. I took some pictures and I rode my scooter again to find somewhere to eat.
I stopped by a little warung where the local workers go to have lunch. The warung looked really simple and it didn’t have many menu options. Well, I just needed to eat. So, I ordered something really simple and it cost me less than 2USD. That’s a really good price for a simple lunch with priceless view. The view was amazing. I can never find that in my hometown, Jakarta.
Oh, in Jakarta, I booked a one-day trip package in Flores to see Padar Island, Manta Point, and also Komodo Island. I paid around 400,000 IDR or around 28 USD. I texted the company of that trip, and unexpectedly he proposed me to visit his office in Ciao Hostel to have a drink to see the sunset. Absolutely, I didn’t say no. So, for sunset this day, I went to Ciao Hostel rooftop. The guy was really nice and he told me his story about how he made this company and what he did before he ended on this beautiful island.
The next day, I went on that one-day trip. Breakfast and lunch included, which was cool. The first stop was in Padar Island. I didn’t know I needed to walk to the top and carried this fabulous fat body. But, I didn’t surrender just like that. I kept walking to reach the top.
On this one-day trip, I met some other tourists from Bali and from East Java. We talked a lot. The one from East Java was a girl, and the one from Bali was an old man, he used to work in the presidential palace. I even sang together with this old man along the way. He was impressed by me because he thought I wouldn’t be able to go to the top since I am a plus size girl, but see, I did it.
Komodo island was the next stop. I was excited to see those giant lizards in their natural habitat. There was a ranger with us and we took a short track. I was amazed by this island. Komodo dragons are dangerous and they can run really fast. But there are people who live on that island. Crazy. But it’s not crazy for them, lol. You should never walk around the Komodo Island without any local guard (ranger), because sometimes you can hardly see the komodo dragons and they can attack you when they’re bored (lol, I am joking, but yeah, you better go with local guard for your safety).
The next stop was Manta Point. I was too confident to swim around without the fins. Then it was hard for me to go back to the boat because the current was strong. I thought I would die that day, but no, hahaha.
We arrived back to the main Island after sunset and I decided to move to another hostel, that Ciao hostel with super amazing view. It cost 200,000 IDR or 14 USD a night for a mix-dorm with 6 beds. For a few days, I didn’t do anything special, I just chilled and enjoyed the view it offered.
A staff from the hostel offered me a one day trip to see a waterfall called “Cunca Wulang”. I accepted this offer. We went there by a motorbike. It was a bit long but worth it. We also needed to walk through a forest to see the waterfall/river. I needed a local guide as well to guide the way in the forest. He’s an old man but he’s really cool. His stamina was much better than me, lol.
We had nasi bungkus for lunch and I went swimming in the river. By the way, the river is 30 meters deep during the rainy season. The water was green. I was a bit scared since I couldn’t see what’s in it. But the guide told me not to be worried. There might be just some river eels. Anyway, that didn’t comfort me more but I swam anyway, haha.
I got bored then I decided to go to another city on the island. I planned to go by scooter but I thought it was too risky for me as a solo female traveler. So, I booked a flight to go to Ende. I stayed there for 3 nights in a creepy hotel, lol.
I visited Soekarno’s (The first president of Indonesia) house of exile. It was nice and authentic. after that, I went to a beach nearby, it was not that pretty but okay, then I walked back to my hotel. Funny, there were some shops named “Jakarta”. It’s cute. And everynight, I had dinner in a small restaurant called “Ayam Goreng Jakarta”. I missed home yes, but I was happy to be there.
The next day I rented a scooter again and rode for a few hours in the morning to go to Kelimutu. The view along the way was really priceless, amazing, I really enjoyed it. I was wishing my eyes could record everything I saw and replay it in my dream when I sleep.
I was too confident, I didn’t take my jacket. I always knew that Kelimutu was on the top of a mountain, but why I didn’t take my jacket. Yeah, typical urban girl who’s too confident, lol. Once I was riding and I could see the sea of clouds just next to me, amazing! Yet I couldn’t feel my fingers at the same time, I was numb, it was super cold, lol.
Kelimutu was amazing. Yes, I needed to walk through a forest but it was worth it. There were some monkey and once I saw a monkey stole a pop noodle from a little girl, lol. It was beautiful there.
After spending a few days in Ende, I flew back to Labuan Bajo and stayed in the same hostel. I really liked this hostel and this hostel namely Ciao Hostel is the best hostel in Labuan Bajo, Flores. I really liked the view I could see from my room and also from the rooftop of this hostel. Simply amazing. Especially to see the sunset.
I met some travelers from couchsurfing and we decided to explore together. Also with a guy from the same hostel. We went to Rangko Cave. It was not far but the way to go there was a little bit rough and we needed to take a little boat to reach there. In Rangko Cave, we could swim in brackish water. Outside the cave, there was a beautiful beach and ofcourse with beautiful view.
I didn’t plan to stay that long in Flores island, but I ended up staying there for 2 weeks. For the last night, I went out with some other travelers i met from Couchsurfing (girls from Jakarta) and also some locals. We had drinks and went to a party in Paradise bar. Yeaaaah .. Reggaae!!
Sadly, I decided to continue my journey to the next island, Sumbawa. So I left the island the next day by ferry. But one thing, I left my heart in Flores and surely I will come back there.