Even Stuff too see on the Flores too Timor Ferry.

SONG FOR FLORES…..

https://www.strava.com/activities/1033949669

Follow this Link above too a great Hostel in Kupang. It’s highly rated and called Lavalon Seaview Hostel and here is the website – www.lavalontouristinfo.com

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Sitting on the Dock at Larantuka, Flores waiting for the Ferry to Load. It’s still and very calm and if I don’t mind saying so… What a great Photo.

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Thank fully not our Ferry. It’s a 12 hr Journey coming up mostly in the wide open sea. So the Ferry runs Monday and Fridays but it’s still subject to cancelation if the weather gets rough. Apart from enjoying a big ride to make the ferry its something else to consider when planning.

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If you catch the Ferry from Larantuka you might need to know it doesn’t leave from the main docks I slept in last night but about 5km west of the centre of Town.

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Coffee, Rice, Chicken, Pop Me are all available at the Harbour and some advice. Stock yourself up for the Trip. On board everything is double the price.

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An Ekonomi Ticket comes in at just 1050000 rp. About £6 including my bicycle. I hoped to sit on the top deck, charge my Gear and wash and dry some very dirty clothes that are slowly festering in my bags. We cannot go up top, I don’t know why but it means but this view will be home for the next 12 hrs.  As with the other Indonesian Ferry trips I have made I reckon on plenty of room to stretch out. We leave at Midday and arrive at about Midnight.

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Just behind me, bunks are available.

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I arrived early and misread the situation. Before long the Ferry is very full. Very. The Sign says do not chuck rubbish in the Sea!

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The last look at an of course cloud covered Flores. Strange too think How dry Sumbawa was too the west was and to hear that my destination 12 hours south is likely to be much the same and so different from Flores.

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Some of my neighbours for the next 12 hrs.

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It’s only as the last of the day’s sun starts to disappear and I realise how beautiful my bed will be tonight that I dive onto the cargo deck to grab some stuff from my panniers that I discover just how many of us are squeezed in everywhere.

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My bed for the evening night. My Tarpaulin was a great purchase. Getting a fancy sleeping mat out here doesn’t feel right.

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And if you are tired and I am anywhere will do.

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It’s a friendly view of course from down here.

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And anywhere apart from the very top deck appears to be fair game.

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But its the Hold/Vehicle deck that blows my mind. These fellas are stretched out on top of trucks snoozing.

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Or concentrating hard on playing Cards in the back of a truck.

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Or just behind the truck.

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Get comfortable and sleep.

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Even here will do!

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Or how about on top of the Banana’s, nuts or whatever else is here?

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Or if you can find it, a little solitude is OK

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And what a view from his spot as the Sun disappears. AND look at the sea, as calm as you like. The idea of rough seas play a little on the back of my mind.

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One tightly squeezed in Black Flash.

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“Coffee Mister?”

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The hold of our RO-RO sure is full of life.

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I don’t really need too tell you my neighbours have been just great.

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And as night falls I am still feeling a bit hyper from the last few days. I need too calm down a bit, stop bouncing around and let the endorphin levels get back to normal.

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Looking up the stairwell is some great balancing going on.

We had the most perfect and smooth 12 hr Ferry ride but it was too late to sleep anywhere else other than the very lively terminal. Its Indonesia, it is what it is.

I have made it to the Hostel this morning and have found 10 surfers stranded. They have not been so lucky and the wind has got up and the ferry too some superb surfing Islands have been cancelled due too rough weather.

I am ahead of schedule and cannot wait to do nothing for at least 2 or 3 days and they tell me there is a KFC in town…. Perfect!

I give that ferry ride 11/10 its a must do experience…… Thanks Indo!

Racing too the Larantuka Ferry

https://www.strava.com/activities/1031864641

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Just a few miles covered and a big mileage day ahead but an offer too stop is irresistible. This is the start of the day on the South of Flores, it’s the Savu Sea.

Its something like just before midnight and I’ve arrived in Larantuka harbour, and the day has of course included plenty of climbing but also the first extended section of flat.

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The small boat gets them out too this. Its rolling a bit on the Savu Sea today.

It’s about 30 miles and it feel strange but its come at the right time when after 12000 metres of climbing over just over 400 miles over the last 8 days is what my Garmin reads. It could be more (or less) as my Garmin edge 200 has as reputation for under-recording elevation.

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And this is where this mornings catch will be cooked.

Its irrelevant, it is what it is and from the painful first 2 or 3 days the legs have found some rhythm and maybe just maybe the climbs have got a little less aggressive.

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I just can’t eat the Fish but a fresh Coconut. Yep.

It’s possible my endorphin bank has remained sooo high and the priceless enthusiasm from almost every local has dragged me up the hills.

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How fresh? Over the road and up the tree Fresh.

Whatever it is at about 7 or 8pm I’ve stopped for food and coffee and the dwindling power and desire has returned and my legs are feeling fresh out of the box and ready for the final 40 miles with 75 miles completed.

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He is not taking the top off the Coconut but trying to make it lighter so I can carry a few with me.

And what was the best moment? Its hard to know but when I roll into the almost empty streets of Larantuka which look absolutely stunning at night with some rough thrown in, along a fabulous promenade and into the tired Harbour the all night food area is open and scattered with few sleepers on benches and cardboard boxes I’ve asked the question “Mister, can I sleep here and whats your name?”

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Its easy photo’s in Indonesia and it would have been easy to stay longer.

The answer is a no-brainer “Yes Mister and my names Lucky”. Even at this late hour its worthy of a chuckle.
You can tell the Catholics here just by the kind of european names of yesteryear. Randy, Elizabeth, Chocolate, Santos, Blesious etc etc.

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Maybe a sub 10 second 100 meter sprint even in Sunday best. The local Churches are rammed on Sunday Mornings.

A huge statue of Maria and some religious fella and some what must be Portuguese inspired religious architecture provide a memorable welcome. It’s a fabulous looking place that will get more attention when I return in a month or so.

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Selfie Please Mister! Thats the reason for the sprint.

For now I’m happy that I have no race in the morning and just have time to reflect on the most amazing 8 days in Flores. The cloud has been my friend and kept the burning tropical Sun away. Its been surprisingly cold on the summits and almost comfortable at sea level.

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And if you like Fish it’s all here all day cooked, cooking or to take home and cook yourself.

I have a lot of gear that needs some drying from the rain and humidity of the first 75% of the Island but this final 25% is almost bone dry with much lower passes. Maybe I’ll be able to get on the top deck of the ferry and dry stuff out.

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They call this the Bus/Truck for obvious reasons and it provides a huge energy boost as the passengers call out as they pass. And big smiles.

What I can report about Flores is this. It’s renowned for World Class diving and that’s why many people come here to be around the Islands many dive spots. It’s relatively cheap, figures starting from around £30 a dive are being mentioned in Labuan Bajo on the very west of Flores.

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It’s just not in budget for me but as a cyclist its been superb. World Class surfaces, climbs and descents to test, some more rideable than others, more hairpins and twists than you can imagine, absolutely stunning scenery and the best fact is this. You don’t ride through Flores, you become part of Flores.

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See that? Yep that’s Flat and the rarest sight in Flores. In that strange way I am missing those hills already. Still a few more too come though.

The main road is mostly so small you feel all of the incredibly simple life around you. I didn’t see much tourist stuff except the mind-blowing Kelimutu Volcano because I don’t have the energy to detour after the days exertions but if you want to know the main reason to ride it’s because you see, taste, feel and smell everything here. My heart and soul is truly nourished particularly by the constant friendliness.

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Back on the North of Flores (its only about 35 miles too cross at the thinnest point) and The Flores sea is looking very calm.

You feel like you are really in it. Just like today I’ve ridden maybe 5 miles and some Fisherman have flagged me down. They have a fire burning and the Freshest catch I have seen come off their tiny boat and straight onto the fire.

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And fitting those tropical images. I have seen maybe 7 dive/homestay locations here.

They want to share but Fish just doesn’t agree with me mentally or physically but whilst they have prepared their breakfast one of them has shinned up a coconut tree at breakneck speed and is picking the Freshest coconut to slurp.

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Throw in some mangroves as the road winds around the North Coast.

They want me too take four of five with me but I reckon they are more than 1 Kg each. It’s not numbers that work for me so stripping weight and the heavy outer shell/skin reduces the weight but its like putting wet seeping balls in my bag. The Solution is to fill two empty 1.5 litre plastic bottles and I have the best rehydration solution I know. The cost? Nothing, Zero, Zip. And as its Sunday as I wind through the fabulous so close you can touch villages everyone is in there Sunday Best and crowds bustle too and from there date with the Catholic religion.

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There is still some more climbing too be done and as the road turns east again this marks the beginning of the final climbs. It’s a gentle river that I hope tells me it’s not so steep. And it isn’t. Its my last look at Flores in daylight whilst cycling. WHAT an Island!!

The sight of countless rammed small churches which also have lots of people sat around outside listening to the service as a result in yet another still morning is to be adored. I’m not comfortable getting the Camera out but I can assure you these are special moments. The tranquility is broken briefly by the busy city/large town of Maumere which marks the fact I have temporarily left the Savu sea on the South of the Island behind for the gorgeous and far gentler and typically tropical looking Flores Sea but it’s not long before I head back East South East where the Flores adventure, for now anyway is over and its todays second look at the Savu Sea where tomorrow I’ll make the 12 hr Ferry ride too Timor in the South. Ride or Swim or Snorkel or Hike. Flores will steal your heart. My advice, do it on your bike. You may regret it occasionally but it won’t last long and you may never want to leave the lush green Jungle landscape. Thanks Flores… Its going too be a tough act to follow.

Volcano too Beach

https://www.strava.com/activities/1029122087

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Kelimutu…..

4-15 am is wakey wakey time. I’ve inadvertently slept next to the multiple warungs (pop up cafe) by the car park that serve the hungry, cold Bule visiting what promises to be something incredibly beautiful.

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Have you looked in the mirror at your Fashion sense lately mister?

I’ll find out just how beautiful shortly but 4 1/2 hrs sleep feels like 5 minutes and although no-one is saying MOOOOVE!, “Gooooood Morning Mister” at full volume from the wrapped up against the cold lady food sellers means just that. “Moooooooove”.

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The middle lake looks Blue today.

I have an audience as I roll up my not quite dripping but extremely wet sleeping bag, mat and tarp, Slip on my shorts and t-shirt and a couple of layers for my trunk and gulp coffee and munch pop me and check around too who has surely punched my in the face hard!!!

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Looking across to the blue lake from the Green lake?

I’m dribbly and stunned by a swift wake up and it’s too early for telling stories of on the road bravery to the German Fella with a strange mixture of infectious enthusiasm with a mixture of doom “Its cloudy, we ain’t gonna see nothing” who has just made the car ride to the top just like a few other fabulously friendly and excited bule in clean hiking gear with the tantalising smell of cleanliness who are arriving.

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Check out that circular Rainbow and say Wow…. How the ????

One couple will make the trek back down and even one came up on foot. I bet it was gorgeous through the Jungle that wraps around this Volcano. Not so many of us here maybe 20-25 up top of the easiest maybe 10-15 minute almost stroll too Kelimutu’s beauty. We do have to wander between the 3 lakes viewing points and initially stare into white cloud mist or whatever but I’m relaxed.

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Turn around for the 3rd lake. Its black today!

Mornings seem to provide most blue sky moments and when the sun show’s it outline through the white cloudy sky as we sup Ginger Coffee the oooohs and ahhhs and wows are almost a certainty and they are proven correct as the first of the 3 ever-changing colour lakes appears….

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You mate know too much (maybe even long equations) and as always scare me a little!

Depending where you read its possible they don’t quite understand why the colours which I think are generally one red one blue and one green occur. You can read all the long calculations and maths and science and stuff which could all be hot air or true because no-one really understands the mile long equations that gobble up blackboards…Do they? It could all be Mickey Mouse?

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The name I forget but its unique too Flores.

We could all get some chalk and long maths on the board and look smart eh? Stuff the science and see and wonder with your own eyes. Make your own mind up and enjoy the Mystery I say! Suck up the energy, atmosphere, and treat your eyes and soul. Feel it!
I’m ready for sharing some stories my (bullshit) heroism when we return to the car park. People never understand I’m just cycling and I’m far from the first but people like the heroism so that’s what they get.

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Choice is look or dive in!

The hardest thing is breaking free from the western fears of pensions and shiiiite but that’s a story for another day. The descent back to the main road will be a bastard, it’s very steep and windy and wet. I’ve mashed an almost brand new set of brake pads in one wet Flore week.

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Totally different from the main road.

Rizla thin and they don’t stop me but just make the un-clipped descent do-able..Just. And the thick mud that engulfed my Rims and covered my chain and every component is grinding and in the daylight the large mud and waterlogged section shows itself. Its more grinding components and some beautiful and tough climbing once I hit the main road.

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A machete and basket is carried by almost everyone for taking whatever is needed from nature.

The math is two days and 150 miles to the ferry and today and tomorrow to achieve this but with just 119 to go, the legendary Coka beach track appears on my right. It’s the right decision. I need to strip and clean chain, cassette Bottom Bracket and rear and currently seized front mech.

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The Lonely hut. THE Best hut in THE world. No power needed, just a mattress and a view.

As with the miracle of amazing roads and incredible phone coverage (The reason for the great networks in these ‘poor’ countries is the fact that when they arrived late the technology and knowledge was superior too our lets say 20 year old networks and the best of the best is therefore here I am told.) I have found some WD40 and my home for the night is powerless hut with just a mattress and sheet, no neighbours and grandstand view of Jungle or Volcano or beach whichever way you look.

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And there is the view! happily shattered right now!

The bike is relatively clean and I’ve decided I’ll try for the whole distance tomorrow or perhaps do the majority and then get up early and race to the ferry which leave at 10am the next morning. Sometimes I love the pressure and I definitely Love Love Love Flores…….

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It’s the Truth!

I Do have a confession, I whizzed through the manned barrier on the way down. I’m sorry for my ‘corruption’ but by the time my cheese brakes stopped me 1/4 mile down the road going back up was never an option but for the record it’s about £7 or not a lot really! Feeling a bit Hypocritical.

Beach too Volcano

https://www.strava.com/activities/1029122089

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Beach and Curious Visitors

It’s almost a given that someone is going to appear on my little beach paradise this morning and they do. Firstly it’s a hijab wearing older lady collecting firewood. She’s got a slightly nervous look I reckon and keeps her distance but still gets a Jasper Cheesy Grin & Wave.

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Savu Sea, Cliffs, Jungle, Tent and new friends equals great night.

This means its 99% certain that a fella will turn up soon. He’s got a maybe annoyed, possibly “get off my land” or probably a curious but just to be sure, straight face on.. Maybe.

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A very light green rock has been broken into various grades along this superb sea side road.

I know the rules, confident but not Cocky and jump up, hand outstretched and ask immediately Kopi?

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My new Anker Solar Pannel gets its first ‘in the field’ use. Even the watery sun provides enough power. For now my USB E-werk is still working well and doing most of the work but this looks a great back up and just £50 and light and small. 21w output.

My cookers boiling water and the timings perfect and shortly afterwards his mate appears with 2 cows too be tied up next too some juicy jungle/grass for the day.

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Only traffic jam you’ll see in Flores. We are waiting for maybe an hour as heavy plant widens the road for improvement. It’s a time for an Indonesian Love in. It’s the Law.

Stage 2 is complement Flores beauty and use the word “Love” lots. The 3 of us (the lady is here now) share a good chat in our own languages and of course get on Marvellously.

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Looking back into the jungle from where I just climbed from. Again. Its rolling hard here.

Can my day get any better? I’ve got a decision to make. Can I push hard and make the Kupang Ferry which only Runs twice a week.

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Cliffs both side, one drops off to the Savu Sea. WOW just Wow!

I forget the distance but it has some big climbs in-between of course and the option of a small but very steep diversion to the 3 coloured lakes of Kelimutu.

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“Buleeeeeeeey, Hello Mister” Its food for the legs and heart and soul. It’s early morning Friday so it must be School time and its Friday so at some point Friday Prayers. Maybe.

I’ve bumped into a few tourists in the last week who’ve griped about the cheek of the Indonesians to charge us too see stuff like Volcano’s or Waterfalls.

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The Savu Sea has a frisky headwind today.

It’s usually more money for the Bule of course and I’ve been swept along with the “How dare they charge us too see stuff” as everything is Free back in Europe. NOT!!! Fucking ridiculous.

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I would guesstimate 95% Catholic here but with the occasional Muslim area appearing.

Maybe it does go in pockets or not too where it’s supposed to go, maybe corruption is rife but I’m not about to stage a one man protest. It is what it is and if you don’t like it then Fuck Off.

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Ende has a Harbour and an option to get a ferry too Timor but we have more Flores too enjoy yet. Its tooooo busy!

Yep i’ve annoyed myself by allowing myself too think this way. The only real question is can I make the Ferry by Monday because waiting another 4 days for the ferry doesn’t excite me plus I am still awaiting the outcome of my Timor-Leste Visa and the next Island of Timor (The Indonesian part) has a Timor- Leste consulate in the Port of Kupang and because I have not heard back from my online Visa application its gonna be prudent to pop over too Timor and see what’s happening. Over staying my Indonesia visa is expensive but more than that I don’t wanna annoy Indonesia Immigrassi because I am planning too come back for some Indonesia Visa time.

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Huge Road-side Markets are common in the big towns.

Papua is a possibility, its a long way east but Sulawesi and Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) is definitely on the cards. It’s all gonna be fine of course but I still carry mild traces of western “But what If?”.

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Flores means Flower…. Any idea why?

The coast road to the bottom of the climb is of course stunning and brutal. Its Flores, and today tired legs get a frisky headwind as well.

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Ende marks the end of the briefest flat Section and back into the climb.

Do I have to tell you the weather forecast? The start of the climb looks epic with towering mountains and thick jungle close each side and a gorgeous river with boulders the size of London buses.

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This is the painful bit where nerves are showing, will it be tooo steep to ride?

Its fearsome and I’ve scared myself witless with the idea of this climb and rain and then no rain is and so on is on the menu. Its means lots coffee and Flores/Indonesian Love in’s. I’m still feeling the fear and mild ‘can’t do’ but a particularly friendly coffee stop where I fall in love with multiple beautiful wide smile ladies immediately has typical bassy loud (in this case Java) music and I’m that close to Dad dancing (and I’m certain the locals would be up for it) I don’t but I’m soooo pumped that when the rain is gone I’m on it and of course the climb is not easy for sure but neither is it hard.

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Frighteningly big boulders, you’ll see the odd one on the road. The power of Rain I guess, Thankfully its infrequent.

Wanna see my route? Its easy, follow my trail of endorphins. Its dark about 6pm here and I am still undecided, Volcano or no Volcano. I’m feeling so fucking invincible and ‘can do’ by now that when I stop for a cigarette break and review a right by the road and on the verge tent option and have that most amazing of things a super quality (because like the roads the phone signal even in the jungle is sooo good) whats app call with a mate that I’ve decided that only a div would not try to have it all. Ferry and Volcano. Ive topped up with pepsi, water, pop mi (Kinda like Pot Noodle) and biscuits for up top of Mount Kelimutu (that’s the name of the 3 coloured lakes Volcano I saw in an inflight magazine I saw all those years ago).

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You’ll have to trust me its epic up here because soon after my legs got into the groove and stopping ain’t happening for photo’s and anyway after 6pm its dark. I rode until around midnight, powered by endorphins.

I am cruising nicely in the dark, mostly without lights, I’m conserving battery for the unknown whatever and the almost full moon although slightly dimmed by cloud is enough. Still the road is periodically lined with the Flores crew who can spot a bule even in the dark and they or passing scooters or truck loads of passing locals call out “Buuuulllleeeee, Hello Mister, Good Morning” (whatever time of day, love that..LOTS) or “where you go Mister” to name a few and the friendliness drives me on. Climbing? Painful Legs? Late night???? Who are ya? WHO ARE YA!!!!

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Nearing the top before the volcano turn off is full of rice fields.

At the one way up and one way down and probably silly steep about 15km slog too Kelimutu locals have ambushed me…”Please come stay at out house” but I can’t, it’ll take hours too get up this final leg (and it does, approx 4 hrs) and right now time ain’t my mate.

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Feel the energy.

The bottom is swamped with syrupy mud and “how deep is that Angel Delight looking consistency puddle/Lake?” The answer is crack on lucky legs (it’s over my shoes). At about 11-30pm I’ve made ‘base camp’ in the wet shivery clouds (I’ve ducked under the barrier by the payment window about 4km back maybe I’m about to achieve my own small corruption) and its time for a makeshift tarpaulin shelter squeezed up against my thick mud covered steed maybe 50m from the tomorrow mornings final walking section. Even with a buzzing body and flowing endorphins I am asleep double quick with Jacket and Woolly hat jammed on and sleeping bag zipped up tight. WHAT a day.

Its Paradise just not quite how I Imagined it.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1026520377

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The Portugese came with the Catholic religion back in the day.

Another absolutely incredible Flores day. The things that seem normal now are of course being normal. When I wake up I’m feeling a bit guilty about being a bit harsh about Bajawa. The higher prices are because of us tourists (not many of us by the way) and anyway Its a beautiful morning, I slept like a baby on my bed, had another HOT shower because at about 4000ft of course its a bit chilly or just perfect for cycling and of course with it still being wet season on Flores, the 75% of dark clouds and 25% of Blue Sky means a high chance of rain.

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No Gortex Required here!

So being high means another great descent today and following the rule of thumb if the ascent is steep then generally so is the descent or in this case long gentle climb and the mirror descent. No throbbing hands at the bottom and like most of Flores, for us cyclists (I havent seen others yet) the road surface is generally world class and a little bit technical to add some spice and fun. It really is so, sooo good.

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Lets run towards the Bule REALLY fast….. nooooo lets run away!

And in the Indonesian normal and particularly Flores normal I’ll wave hard and shout Hello all day and take cover from the Rain/Sun/Rain all day. Have a love in with the locals and drink tooo much Coffee. Its more and more ‘have nots here’ and its a thought provoking thing too be on this superb and mostly new road surface and right next too it is ‘poor’ however you define poor especially when people seem relaxed, happy and no-one looks hungry.

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Its sooo wet and grey but still, apart from the blast of wind before the rain comes.

Its a little disapointing that yet again I can only imagine what must be a fabulous panorama under the low dark clouds. Its still very beautiful but the camera just won’t capture it. So awesome riding and the goal of some seaside camping tonight and if like me you’ve been fed for years on the tropical idea of perfect blue sea, blue Sky and Golden beaches you would be oh so wrong.

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Enjoying the moment of pretending too be fast! Check that road surface. Superb.

The final 15 or so miles gently wind up and down and around the coast and some thin stretches of stony beach appear. Its beautifully rugged and a verging on wild. Not quite an English Channel wild but rugged and just stunning.

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I have been told Flores means Flower.

I’ve asked a few times about camping in the just how you might imagine villages and it’s a resounding yes and I’m contemplating a night of happy solitude in between these villages and one of those super rugged beaches appears but the only hurdle is a fella who just makes me feel uncomfortable and its only me him and the nature. His stance and posture just read bad news.

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And the First sign of super friendly Muslims at the end of the day.

I’m pretty good at reading this stuff I think, its no science for sure, but in THE rarest of things I’ve decided at dusk I’m not staying.

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Up and down and winding around the coast.

Its a race too find a spot in the dark and as the road climbs, dips and winds the cliffs on the ocean side are not big but mean no access too the beach and the other side is thick jungle. With the endorphins flowing hard and a little nervousness, out of the dark comes a steep but passable track which surely must find the beach and it does.

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Always some sort of Palm Tree

Its a maybe 400m Cove with black sand backed onto jungle and the perfect flat spot in between for camping. I can just about hear the lightest of traffic and thats the only sound apart from the crashing waves that echo off the back of the cove. Its a nice temperature. A full moon occasionally lights up the cliffs and jungle around me.

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Up top its still looking very Wet.

There is not a sniff of wind, the odd spot of rain and flickering lights from an Island directly out too sea. The faint sound and lights of a few boats, maybe fisherman and wait… Is that the faintest sound of a kind of traditional singing or just my mildly overactive imagination?

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As much blue Sky as I saw all day.

You know the rules Jason “Anything COULD’ happen but it probably won’t”. Yep this is absolute paradise just not how Thomas Cook would have us believe.

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Its highly likely its another Volcano.

A tent, a cooker and some biscuits for pudding and just me. How Happy?? 110% Happy. And how many Mosquitoes? None. Not seen any in Flores yet! See that’s Paradise.

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What is above that cloud I wonder???

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Taken too Paradise again!

Coming in from the Hot/Cold

https://www.strava.com/activities/1024843071

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That’s a lot of Banana’s and unsurprisingly this is a common sight.

4 Days means Its my longest free camp stretch in Indonesia. Its time too have a proper bed, shower and sleep. I’m not sure I its been the right choice though.

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The moment you learn that something that we eat LOTS of in Europe starts its life like this.

Bajawa is a Tourist hotspot in Central Flores in reach of Volcano’s ‘traditional’ Villages and Flores man, the latter which get a very general thumbs down.

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As are these super tough and overloaded buses and they seem too make the climbs no problem.

Its overpriced and still getting too grips with how too look after tourists, but there is a great reason too be here as well. My Homestay has a hot shower. I repeat hot shower and the last time I had one of those…. Hmmmm, Months definitely, if not over a year and watching the brownest water wash off my soapy body is quite fascinating and useful because I am at the top of climb 3 at 4000ft with just one more too go.

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A brief sighting of Blue Sky and just behind it tantalisingly close is another Indo Volcano.

If todays descent was memorable then so was this climb. More hairpins than you can imagine but not so steep but long and more gentle than of late and two great nights sleep equal happy legs and mind. Its the sort of climb you can do almost all day and not only are we physically high, its emotionally high as well.

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That’s as close as it gets though.

Flores is living up too the exotic images that filled my mind before I arrived. Turns out I slept in an old bus depot last night and it was lovely and warm down there and if I had made another 3 miles last night would have put me right next too the Savu Sea and that’s a new name too tick off with local properties backing onto a small section of beach and shade from the early sun. 4 days away from seaside feels a long time.

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I never imagined this is how it started.

Its just right for some breakfast at a warung run by a fella with a claim too 20 Sons and Daughters. And that’s just like the rest of another amazing Flores day. Lots too see and wonder. But definitely skip Bajawa.

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That’s just amazing, that is how Chocolate starts…

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“Its called a Cannon in Indonesia” and if I understood right he is a Monkey hunter and what he catches will be for food!

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Just under the cloud is a brief view of the Savu Sea.

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And very typical Flores living.

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Maybe 6 foot long and although I don’t know the name, lots is being purchased at the side of the road and it will be cooked with Pork.

The BEST descent in the WORLD

https://www.strava.com/activities/1023648843

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Mum on the left is just fascinating and has lots too say.

Flores is looking delicious again this morning. I cant get my Camera too capture the huge variation in cloud types and colours from the purest white too the angriest black and all shades in between, high clouds, low clouds and all beautifully mixed in together.

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Cool, Still and its looking good for Sun Today. The perfect start.

Even though like most days the weather is perfectly still the clouds move and change very quickly. Its a cloud lovers paradise here. Its still chilly but its not until the end of the day when I have reached Sea level I find out why. We were still about 4000ft and that’s a big reason why my day has been so good.

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Its the first bit of beauty and the start of a very special day.

As soon as I wake up I can feel I am fresher and the legs are happier but I still can’t get the dread of more possible killer climbing/pushing out of my mind. My Hosts won’t let me leave without Coffee and more Chicken & Rice for breakfast.

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What goes up must go down. At this point I have no idea how high I am and that the perfect descent is on the cards.

I am captivated by Mums face and yet again the face structure is just so different from ours, maybe the picture shows it. Her lively dark eyes and very animated face and voice that gets louder as she makes her point about whatever is just so engaging.

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Hairpin after Hairpin and its just about too head down hill. See the cloud. I can only guess how good the view is.

Its Indonesia so maybe 25 handshakes from all the neighbours and its time too head off into the day which is now constantly on the verge of rain. I’ll take that its perfect riding temp.

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It looks like a landslide has taken its toll but like the rest of Flores the surfaces are well suited for cyclists and any rough bits are always being worked on. Great Job.

After a big 7 or maybe 8 hairpin descent which immediately turns into the almost identical climb I’m not feeling the love but its not long before not knowing the profile of the days ride has super benefits. I’m on a looong stunning Jungle descent, its technical and fast and lush and green. The roads pretty good as well.

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In the middle of the photo you’ll see statue of Mother Maria. She’s just about too take a trip to the next village and the next and the next. Its by no means a big ‘main’ road through Flores but it keeps things moving and this ceremony has Police at either end making sure the traffic has stopped. Maybe triple this crowd and that’s about the size of it all.

The only break is for a huge Catholic ‘ceremony’ that blocks the road in a tiny village. The catholics are surely dominant in this part of Flores and the ceremony marks the passing of a statue of the Mother Maria between neighbouring villages and she’ll have a long journey although I don’t know how long until she returns too the village and repeats here journey.

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Long gentle climbing in the afternoon broken by intermittent rain.

Yep Religion is strong here in Indo whatever your Faith Its another day intermittent rain. Its a good thing take cover under any house porch and make new friends. Coffee or Tea is always on offer. I’ve just been with a Chocolate Farmer and his Family.

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I’ll take cover here in between showers. That’s Chocolate and its drying. If I understood correctly it will take about 3 days and has a pungent smell. The wiiidest smiles and when I dive under the porch hospitality begins.

Always bring plenty of ciggies too share and smile. And too finish the most amazing days descending at almost sea level and in the dark a circus has appeared. “Room for a Tent Fellas?”.

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He has 50kg of raw chocolate here that he will sell for 20000rp or just £1.16 per KG. I couldn’t work out how many crops he gets a year but it seems a Chocolate plant takes 5 years too grow. He also grows Bananas and Papaya. £1.16 per KG, I still can’t get my head around that.

Of course there is but in this typically tired Indo type office or admin block in the middle of the travelling circus I’m upgraded too a kind of battered empty office and some respite from the countless selfies and super enthusiastic Indonesian friendliness but there is still time too nip out too watch the insane riders on the wall of death.

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I am buzzing, for sure another Coffee has just been consumed buts its more about the best days Flores riding.

What an amazing day. What was best? The descending, the countless waving or the stunning Jungle or my delicious breakfast. All of it is the answer and although you can’t miss the awesomness of the last few days I don’t miss the battle and almost 70 miles covered feels like something not achieved for a long time.

Paradises little treasures.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1023648832

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The Rain has stopped and its a great view from my Sleeping Bag.

So pleased the locals let me sleep in the ‘Sports hall’ and that’s my very optimistic description. Its dry and almost draught free and for the second night running I am in my sleeping bag zipped right up! Its cccold up here.

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This is how the local’s crept in all night to take a look at the Bule.

Being soaked doesn’t help and everything is hung over my frame. Not to dry but to be a little less wet in the morning. High humidity is not your friend. But its perfect.

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Look one way for rain.

The billiard room has a hole in one end and all through the night local lads are climbing through to have a look at the Bule (white fella) all night and somewhere close by in this tiny hamlet is the sound of loud bassy Music until maybe 3am.

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Or the other way and it all looks good.

It’s the Indonesian signature, high tempo happy stuff. Not enough to ruin my sleep though. And this morning the rain has gone but it could easily reappear at any time depending on which direction I look and now after a fabulous descent through many super happy Villages with Bananas, Ginger, something from the Marrow Family and stuff I do not recognise for sale.

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‘Hello mister” comes from every direction and the common sight of men & women with huge machetes and baskets are out foraging for all sorts of unknown items. I reckon maybe 30kg bundles of wood are being lugged around on people backs or scooters around these monster climbs and tight hairpins.

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TuakManggari is an alcoholic drink made from coconut and as whilst I have pitched my tent too dry at the bottom of this mornings descent (it’s still wet from two nights ago) and the rain has reappeared its seems rude not too have a few glasses.

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I’m cutting down on Coffee overdosing and getting pissed instead. Low mileage days are in order. It looks like the rains back for a while and I should add I’ve just discovered that’s this drink is not from Coconut but something that translates as the pleasant tree.

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I’m wiped out by this terrain, stunned by the beauty. Its gonna take a little longer than anticipated to cross the first part of Flores but I think I am now at the bottom of the third of the four big climbs….I hope.

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Breakfast Stop.

And then in Indonesian style it all goes super double bagus (amazing). A perfect English speaker has watched me grovel and mean grovel pathetically up a climb and at about 3pm I’ve surrendered to the inevitable.

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Apparently its still Wet Season on Flores and here comes the next lot.

20miles is not even a half descent mileage but mentally and physically I am shot and an offer of a Flores Coffee quickly turns into a ‘stay the night mister’.

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The rice Harvest is in full swing and it means a little respite from climbing.

15 local kids, dirty, snotty nosed smilers are becoming part of an ever-growing number of super happy and perfectly noisy new mates and in this what we might describe as a ‘shack’ is perfect for sprawling on the handmade weaved mats. The atmosphere is superb.

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Its impossible too refuse this offer of a Coffee and a place to stay.

It’s a wooden structure with maybe a 20x20ft living area with two lightly partitioned bedrooms for my English-speaking University graduate host and her sister. Its less than basic but with a concrete floor and if you head out the back there’s the Parents room. It’ll be my room for the night on a crate.

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And what a Sunset.

Mum’s refused anything else and she’ll be wrapped up in the living area in her blanket later and what a Women she is. Very animated face and red damaged teeth from betel nut which was last seen in Myanmar and its the women’s choice here and ciggies for us fellas. She’s burst through door with 100mph energy and planted a big smacker on my cheek along with a big hug. Super friendliness and traditional outfit.

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The photo will deal with the description. This is basic living that might test a Novice Jason but I’m a basic or in western terms rough life lover and whilst I slip out the back via the lean to mud floor kitchen with fire pit and two huge blackened pans past the dog and Chickens to the outside and I mean outside shower area ie just a bucket topped up by fresh and cccold mountain water (it’s about 4000ft up here) all I have to-do is hide my modesty and wash fast because Mum is preparing Chicken and Veg and a sauce of fire. The Indonesians like their sauce thermonuclear. Its delicious and maybe 20 friends have squeezed in for a typically noisy and very lively evening and I am assured one of the countless selfies will be taking pride of place on the wall.

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Tonight’s home.

The kids are in awe of my basic (£50) smartphone, power pack and Garmin, wooly hat, gloves etc etc and my very knackered and unlikely too pass muster gear in European terms and I’m feeling waves of discomfort at my comparable wealth. They have shared my phones data and sucked up 2gb of data just like that… You can’t feel frustrated but can only enjoy their amazement at my worldwide plug adaptor for example. It’s a leveler for sure and it would take a 500 page thesis too even begin to note what I learn and feel….This is life…Flores life and its the best….THE best…. Maybe some fresh legs might be mine tomorrow…. Your physically hurting me Flores but the Soul… Its full of Indonesia…. Love you Indo….Lots….

Rain, Coffee, Hills and nearly religion.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1021076150

https://www.strava.com/activities/1021076148

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Wakey Wakey rise and shine. Almost sea Level here but the river kept things cool. Perfect nights sleep.

Flores sure is chucking large quantities of everything it has at me. Firstly its coffee. The people of Flores are so proud of their Coffee and its maybe 6 or 7 mugs so far today.

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Plenty of visitors and just too my right are some road workers who sleep under a huge Tarp. They offered me a space but I need some Jason time. Thanks Fellas.

That’s probably too much and I’m feeling a bit happily odd. Every stop up this climb and they are very frequent, ive only managed about 20 miles today involves coffee and friendship.

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The first of todays toooo many Coffees is just around the corner.. This is the important one. Fire the engines, the second monster climb is here already. Yet again, very little time too warm the legs.

The last one involves some google translate lessons about from some Farmers and whole Family, brothers, sisters, Children, Aunts, Uncles. You name it they are here.

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I am not feeling the cycling love….

We are squeezed in this concrete block building with a typical corrugated steel roof. Its less than basic and more than perfect and I’m thinking that I should have accepted the offer to stay the night because I now am experiencing some monster constant tropical rain and unlike down at Sea level which is wet from humidity and hot, its cccold and wet up here.

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But the friendliness…. It’s maybe THE worlds best.

It’s not all bad though. A Bamboo raised shelter has been home for 5 of us for maybe 2hrs as we watch the lushest greenest Jungle top up with water.

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And if you stay still for toooo long the crowd grows and grows. Fabulously Friendly.

No wonder its soo green and beautiful. I’m even considering staying here all night but soon the rain is creeping in through the bamboo roof. Its time to fish my cooker out and get the coffee on.

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They are SO proud of the Flores Coffee and here it is drying.

They have dug some Indonesian cakes out and it’s just amazing for how long you can talk without a shared language but with about an hours daylight left and this shelter getting damper I’ve decided to make the break and head maybe 200metres down the road and see if I can sleep on the porch of a house.

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The four stages of coffee from left too right.

There is no-one home for a while but 3 layers means I am warming up. When the owners do turn up it turns out they are saying goodbye too a local Nun who is off too a convent on remote Island and with the promise of a village very close by and a party to send her off it looks like too good an opportunity to miss but its off the main road, its dark, unsealed steep and a small break in the rain has been just that. Small.

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“Come stay for the night Mister”. The Coffee Farmers are of course very hospitable.

My humour has escaped me and suggestions the ‘Good Lord says this and that’ are driving me nuts and I’m shivering but the dark main road (read country lane) looks a better bet. It nearly wasn’t.

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It was a mistake too say No. This is the first sign of Insane Rain.

At a lean-to shop my basic Bahasa Indonesia tells me a guest house is 50km away and somewhere dry looks unlikely until of course I am saved. As this tiny hamlet prepares to sleep for the night a dry pile of concrete bags gets a point from my finger but in true less is more hospitality I’ve been upgraded too a tiny dry room with two knackered pool tables and at 9pm my matt is rolled out.

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Everyone takes cover and we wait, talk and share Coffee and cake.

The Perfect Camp Site

https://www.strava.com/activities/1021076193 

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7 days waiting for my Visa extension with the double nice people of Hotel Surya. If you pass through Labuan Bajo its my recommendation for staying here.

I’m going to forget the day and just remember the evening and its been better than perfect. A large river that’s full of people swimming and washing and is surrounded by lush Jungle and has some flat areas of grass has been confirmed as OK for camping.

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A last look at Labuan Bajo… Early Morning and its tough to leave, its stunning.

Its going to mean a constant stream of visitors and too many unhelpful, helpful hands. How many people does it take too put up a 1 man tent? First job is easy. Grab my soap and dive in for a wash with the maybe 40 fully soaped up locals.

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I know that its gonna be a tough week and this truck looks tempting! Nah…

Nothing better than a wash after today. Of course its humid and 1 week of doing nothing waiting for my Visa extension means that todays climb (push) has been slow, painful but very very beautiful.

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The road surface is first class but its rolling and there is no time too warm the legs and get into a rhythm for the upcoming climb. Nervous. But its stunning.

Its does mean I’ve stopped for multiple coffees and the people of Flores have been very vocal praising their coffee all week and it really is very good.

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Big Catholic presence. I haven’t seen official figures but they look to be the big religion here.

It has a strong and slightly chocolate taste and along with hands of small Asian Bananas and some freshly shelled nuts and I can confirm the freshness because I helped shell a few.

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Coffee and Bananas…. It’s a great combination for climbing. Keeping it simple as well. “You Can have Black with Sugar” Easy.

It’s all helped me manage a very low 32 miles. Unlike Sumbawa, Flores has insane amounts of climbing and it looks like my aim of crossing the Island in one week may have been a little optimistic.

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These are candle nuts.. I have never heard of these before. It’s an easy job.. See natures nut crackers in her hand?. Grab and smash… Easy.

It’s not going to be a problem. I have extended my Visa for another 30 days and its only about 600 miles too Timor Leste.

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It’s a little lost in translation maybe but it seems they are used for flavouring food, bio fuel or even for the skin. I’ll be munching them for energy! “Full of Energy Mister” 10000rp gets 1kg. That’s about 60pence…

Two reasons to head to Timor Leste. Its independent of Indonesia so I can get a new Visa for a further two months in Indonesia and the relatively new country of Timor Leste is supposed to be very beautiful and unspoilt.

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The camera is not being honest, these hairpins are brutal for legs that have done nothing for a week. I am struggling.

The only slight worry in my mind are my teeth which have moved from sensitive too so painful I can’t sleep at night without handfuls of painkillers. The choice is head back too Bali or see if I can last 2 or 3 months until Malaysian Borneo.

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It’s the end of the day so yet another coffee really isn’t sensible but I need to get to know the locals a little and see if its OK for camping under this bridge and let them know I am OK as well.

Its been a perfectly lazy week in stunning Labuan Bajo. I didn’t see the Komodo or dive in too what is amongst the worlds best diving they say but I’ve seem huge Monitor Lizards that rival the Komodo for size and I’ll find some great snorkelling spots along the way. Tough but awesome.

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That’s one climb too far for the end of the day.

 

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Everything going on here. Clothes are being washed, a Scooter is having a Wash, the Lads are swimming.

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And people are washing at the end of the day….

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Next time you take a puff on your Cigarette it may just have come from here, right behind me. Yep its Tobacco

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And these are Arak. It makes a traditional 2% proof Labuan Bajo alcoholic drink.