(43) Heading for Moni

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Sep 10, 2013

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Where I stayed
Christin Lodge

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Friday, July 12, 2013

We were up and waiting outside for our taxi at 4:30am but there was no sign of it. We walked to the main road to watch for it or catch another but of course there were none! Frustrated, we went to back to Lavalon and woke the owner who then called for a taxi (clearly he hadn't booked it for us!) and told us 7 minutes. With still no sign it turned out he meant 15 minutes and after 20 it finally appeared and we set off. We arrived still in good time but not as good as we would have liked, especially as it turned out that we weren't on the list for the flight! Our e-tickets were taken off to the manager's office and returned shortly after with hand written boarding passes and we saw the girl behind the desk writing our names onto the list! The flight was very empty so there turned out not to even be the chance of a problem. We did have a 20,000 departure tax each to pay but this didnt sting as much as Denpasar. We walked onto the plane via the fold down steps and Cat was very excited to fly for the first time on a plane which has propellers. Ally was interested to learn that it was a Fokker 50 plane and we enjoyed watching the landing gear retract as our seats were at the wing. We had a pleasant 50 minute flight which even included a pastry for breakfast which we appreciated greatly!

On leaving the airport terminal we really had no idea where we were as we had no map in our book. A man offered us a taxi and assured us that it was metered. On arrival at the car Cat couldn't see a meter and we each asked him again if he had one which he said he did. Only once we were in the car with our bags in the boot did he turn round and tell us that taxis in Java and Sumatra are metered but not in Flores! We were very annoyed, told him so and asked what it would cost to the tourist information. He said 50,000 which was ridiculous and we offered 20,000 to which he immediately agreed indicating that this was still a rip off, an incling that was confirmed to us when he literally drove us out of the airport, across the road and around the corner! Where he tried to drop us was not even the tourist information but just a flight information place so we had to give him the full address and he took us there. Thankfully this was a much further journey and so much more reasonable!

The man in the tourism office was very friendly and helpful although it turned out that there was not a tour across the island starting from Ende as we had hoped. He gave us the number of his friend in the tourism office in Maumere though who had said he could arrange something for us from there. He walked out to the street with us to flag down a bemo to take us to the terminal where we could get the public bus to Moni. The bemo was interesting; they are far too small for us and especially our bags(!) but we made it anyway for 10,000 each. Before the bemo had even stopped in the terminal some men had jumped on to ask for people wanting the bus to Moni and Maumere. We didn't let them carry our bags and had a look about when we got off, but the bus they directed us to was the only non bemo in sight! Our bags were put on the roof and we sat down in the back row. The bus left around 9:20am but immediately stopped outside the terminal gate to collect more passengers- why couldn't they just cross the road?! The journey was very windy and a bit bumpy. We collected many people along the way, far more than the bus is fit for. There were people sitting in the aisles on stools and bags of rice, boys hanging out the door and others sitting on the roof. At one stop many people gathered round the bus offering Nasi (rice) with various accompaniments which many people bought. At this stop we also seemed to collect every bag of rice in Flores! The roof was stacked and they were filling every spare (and not spare) space inside the bus too. We kept a careful watch in case our bags were sacrificed for more space, but they seemed safe and after some 20-30 minutes we set off again. This was short lived though as we tried to collect more passengers before stopping at road works for 10 minutes. We arrived in Moni after 2 hours or maybe 2.5 but not much more than expected so at least in Flores they factor in all the waiting time to the total estimated journey time that they tell you. We received our bags (hooray!) and found ourselves in the middle of Moni but at the first guest house, Christin Lodge. The lady there said she would call her brother off the mountain to show us a room. While we waited we left our bags there and went for a walk through the rest of the village.

It is a very pretty little place with many places to stay. We checked them all and, apart from a few too expensive for us but very lovely, most offered a room for two for 125,000 or 150,000 including breakfast and hot water! We returned to Christin Lodge and the man was there to show us the room, which was 350,000!! We said no, that everywhere else was 125 and we'd have to go to another. Suddenly he had a room for 125,000 but our other issue was that we realised we hadn't taken out any money in Ende and there are no Atms in Moni! We explained this to the man as we were now considering continuing on to Maumere today where we could get money and organise our tour. The man offered to take one of us on a moped to the next village to the atm there and so we felt that we should take the room even though it only had cold water. The atm is 12km away and so Cat set off to get some money but her Halifax Clarity wouldn't work for some reason and she had to use the Fairfx which is the emergency card. On the twisty roads where the maximum is about 40km/h it mean that the trip took almost an hour and the moped passed Ally on the way back, who was quite far along the road towards the atm...it later turned out that he was worried that Cat had been abducted as she'd been away so long and so had started to walk to see if he could find her- aww!

Once our room was sorted we began to sort out how we might do the trip up Kelimutu in the morning. The National Park is currently closed and so the prices for transport have rocketed for "danger money". A moped to the top will cost 120,000 each instead of 35,000 plus the entry fee of 20,000 and the thought of a moped at 4am when it's actually very cold is not appealing! We decided not to arrange anything for the moment and instead go for a walk around Moni and the outskirts to see the scenery. It was a beautiful day and we considered walking up Kelimutu this afternoon but decided to wait for a sunrise tour as this is meant to be the best time to see it. We returned to our room for a rest before dinner and heard a German couple arriving and asking about the tour. The man offered them mopeds or a car up! The car though would cost 400,000 but we thought if we offered to share then this would be cheaper, more comfy and preferable for all. We went out to offer and they were very keen on our idea and so we arranged it with the owner. Dinner was very early at 6:30pm but we were tired after our 4am start and needed an early bed for our 4.30am start again tomorrow!
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