Flight delay, but the pilots and crew were extremely friendly and played with our daughter. When the flight finally did take off the next day, they invited her into the cockpit, and they even invited me to sit in the cockpit during landing in Bangkok on the way. Quite an experience, and I’m sure I will never get the chance again.
We only spent two days in Bali, since we had booked our flight to Flores a couple of days later, no sure if we were be there on time (fortunately. Once in Flores, we immediately took buses to the far east of the island where we got a boat the next day to Lembata Island. The ride was spectacular, passing by volcanic islands. We were the only tourists on board and saw no other ones on the island (although that has certainly changed in the meantime!). That became quite apparent when we went to a fantastic beach but were quickly surrounded by a horde of friendly children. We had hoped to go to the south of the island where the fishermen still hunt whales by jumping o their backs and spearing them, but then we heard that there was malaria there and there were no roads worth speaking of to get there.
Back to Flores:
we headed to some bungalows operated by a French couple on the north coast. Great swimming, great food and very relaxing.
There was fresh fish for dinner every day.
Then on to visit Kelimutu Volcano in the center of Flores. We got up early to experience the sunrise over the three crater lakes of the volcano, each with a different color. Impressive!
Then markets and long bus rides, especially since the roads were so poor and the buses often broke down.
However, after a long day we arrived at a traditional village where animism was still practiced.
The weaving reminded us of weaving in Guatemala, but then so did weaving of the hill tribes in northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam as well as southwestern China. I wish I had the intellect to study the different languages in those areas to determine whether there is also some similarity.
On to the west coast of Flores where we stayed on a beautiful small island off its coast. Could have stayed a lot longer, but unfortunately our vacation was limited and it was back to mainland to arrange for boat transport west. We got places on a boat that would take five days to reach Lombok, but stopping along the way on Komodo Island and a few others. Several other foreigners showed up and also wanted to travel on the boat, but we decided as a group against that, since it was already so crowded. On top of that, one of the new arrivals had been quite obnoxious the night before at the guest house where we had all stayed. Then there was a delay, because the boat’s crew demanded more money and refused to sail, but fortunately they finally agreed after the guest house manager, who had arranged this, made some deal with them.
The komodos seemed very fierce and can run, swim and climb trees all very fast, but you go with a guide who makes sure nothing happens (as longer as you do not do something very stupid!).
One island we stopped at was nothing more than a hollow mountain with a huge lake in the middle. The boat crew prepared our meals, and we slept snuggled next to one another (17 tourists and 5 crew members on a 17-meter boat). The sea got rough at times, and it seems like the waves were coming from three different directions at the same time.
We stopped nights, but the boat captain rain the boat into corals a couple of times, and a similar boat had recently sunk near an island for that reason with the unlucky and unhappy tourists swimming to shore. One young guy was supposedly our guide, and one female tourist had an affair with him, something that is supposed to bring bad luck on a boat.
Arrival on Lombok and off to play the tourist there, on the Gili Islands (which were not yet the party islands of raucous, young people) and Bali.
What a trip!