I had a brief stay in Labuan Bajo whilst travelling to Rinca Island, you can read about my time at Komodo National Park, Indonesia in a previous entry. I decided to fly here from Bali, there are a lot of overnight boat tours but this worked out cheaper. The plane was tiny and so cramped, my hand luggage was perched on my lap and I even wheeled my suitcase to the plane. The flight was a lot of locals and a few tourists, mainly older German tourists.
You can grab a cab from the airport, I was not able to get internet connection and had not checked out how far the hotel was so when I paid for what I thought was a 50 minute journey and it ended up being 15 I was not happy, however you have to make allowances for things like this during travel.
If you like diving (and if you have read some of my previous posts you will know I definitely don’t) then this is a great spot. The local streets are littered with dive shops and the harbour is full of fishing boats doubling up as dive boats. I called a cab from my hotel and immediately made a friend. His name was Franco and as I mentioned in my previous post about Komodo National Park he wanted to marry me and build me a house and what’s more he didn’t even care about my missing tooth – thanks Franco.
The locals are really friendly and wanted to stop and chat. I met two children who were really too shy to talk to me but I got a few waves and giggles out of them. Another man who owned a shop stopped me in the street asking to see my camera, I felt very nervous, if you have been to more popular tourist destinations such as Thailand you can sympathise that not everyone has the purest intentions. In the end he literally just wanted to check out my camera, he confirmed that this was a great model and he had a similar one at home, we chatted for a bit and then he waved me on my way after I bought a necklace as a souvenir.
Getting around by motorbike and scooter is cheaper and easier in Labuan Bajo, I am a real advocate of wearing helmets in Asia, I have seen many locals fall off bikes including children who are not wearing a helmet and its just not worth it, always make sure you request one. Pictured below is me riding on Franco’s Honda off to our house together in the hills. Oh wait we didn’t get married.
I stayed for three days at Bintang Flores which from what I have heard is the best hotel in the area. The views from the hotel were amazing and the grounds and pool area were beautiful. The people of Labuan Bajo are friendly and obliging, they all wanted to show off their town. I even had one girl who worked at the hotel offer to show me around on her scooter during her free time and we are in touch on social media.
I awoke with a start, an unsettling feeling inside, my bed edging its way across the room. I had only ever experienced an earthquake once before in my university town and had been too drunk on the dance floor to notice anyway. I had heard there had been earthquakes in the area previously so I was on alert and pretty worried. The thing that really hit home though was just how alone I was and how remote this place was. I was on the eighth floor and the hotel was fairly empty. I looked out over the wasteland surrounding the front of the hotel and saw a few fallen corrugated sheets and scruffy goats hopping around. It was early hours of the morning and eerily silent.
None of the staff spoke English so no one could explain what had happened and it was only when Franco came to meet me relaxing by the pool (uninvited of course) that he explained that there had been some tremors.
Towards the end of my trip I told Franco about how I had been overcharged at the airport for my taxi and he went to the company and got my money back for me along with an apology in person from the owner who had been trying to get hold of me through the hotel. I really love the honesty of Indonesian people, it had turned out the girl who overcharged me was on her first shift with the company and her very first job, she had completely guessed the price and felt really bad about it!
That concludes my post about Labuan Bajo, I really enjoyed my time here and at Komodo National Park, out of all my trips this was probably my most solo feeling one. Going to such a remote place and not meeting anyone who was a native English speaker was so eye opening. I am sad I didn’t make it to Wae Rebo however I can always return for this epic trip. If you have been or have any stories I would love to hear about them and as always feedback is very welcome.