Trip Start Oct 12, 2013
Trip End Oct 11, 2014

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Another country!! This time Indonesia. I had been there with my friend Joep 4 years ago for 4 weeks, and liked it so much that I decided to go back, for 2 months this time.

I left The Netherlands on the 13th of January. I flew Etihad via Abu Dhabi, where I arrived the next morning at half past 7. I had chosen to stay the whole day, until 2 AM in order to visit Dubai. Dubai is a 2 hour bus ride from Abu Dhabi. I got of the bus at Marina, where I walked around. I also walked to the entrance Palm Island, but from the ground there is really not a lot to see. Marina looked like a nice area though. And in January the climate is really nice in Dubai. From Marina I took the Dubai metro to the Dubai Mall, in order to visit the Burj Khalifa, the highest building of the world. When I arrived at the Dubai Mall (never seen such a huge shopping in my life) I tried to get out in order to see the Burj Khalifa. Not easy!!! Really trapped in the mall. After more than half an hour I found a way out though. Really impressive, the Burj Khalifa. 828 meters high!
From here I took the metro to the Dubai creek, which I crossed in a small boat. Now I was in the Deira area. This is the oldest part of Dubai. Well, old, the oldest buildings are from the 1930's and are museums because of this. There are also some typically Arab markets. But if you have been to other Arab countries before then the Dubai zouks are not really interesting.
In the late afternoon I took the bus back to Abu Dhabi, where I had dinner at the home of Berry and Esther and their two children. Berry was a housemate of me in Delft. After dinner he drove me around in Abu Dhabi.
Interesting to see Dubai and Abu Dhabi, everything is new, and nothing looks finished. One day was enough for me though (well, I could stay a few days).

On Wednesday morning the 15th of January I arrived in Jakarta, from where I flew the same day to Balikpapan, Borneo. I have 2 friends, Grégoire and Marine, with who I shared a house 10 years ago in Angola, who live there, together with their 2 children. They live in the Total camp overthere. Really nice place for living. I stayed with them for 5 days. Good food and company and very good resting.

On Monday the 20th of January I flew to Palu, on the island of Sulawesi. Not a very interesting place, but anyway I had to go through.

On Tuesday the 21st of January I travelled by mini bus from Palu to Poso. The road goes through the mountains. There had been heavy rains the weeks before and on many places there had been land slides. Many times we had to go through the mud with the car to get through. Poso is in an area where there has been quite some fighting between muslims and christians about 10 years ago. Poso (at the coast) is 90 % muslim, but when you go only a few kilometres inland, most people are christian (protestant).
Hard to find a place for drinking a beer in Poso.

The next day, the 22nd, I travelled to Tentena. Tentena is at the Danau (lake) Poso, a very big lake. The town is protestant. From Tentena I visited a water fall and a nice lakeside beach. There are a lot of clove tree plantations around Tentena.

On Thursday the 23rd I travelled first back to Poso and then to Ampana. I wanted to arrive there this day because there would be a boat to the Togeans the next morning.

So Friday morning I took the boat from Ampana to Bomba island, an island just off the coast of the bigger Batudaka island (part of the Togean island group). On Bomba island there is the old village nurse of the village on Batudaka, just in front, who runs a small resort. You can stay in one of the huts for less than 10 euro a day including food and excursions. Really nice. To my big surprise I heard someone shouting my name when I arrived. It was Tanja, a Dutch girl who I met 4 years before on the boat from Lombok to Flores. I did not even know she was back in Indonesia!!! 

I stayed 4 days at Bomba, so nice, so relaxed. A bit of snorkeling, reading...

On Monday the 27th of January I chartered a boat together with some other people who brought us to Kadidiri. Kadidiri is another island of the Togean island group. I stayed again at one of these small resorts. This one was a bit more luxureous than the other one. With shower (the other one only had buckets) and normal toilet. Here I also stayed for three nights.

On the Thursday the 30th I left Kadidiri (and the Togeans). First to Wakai, on Batudaka island, from where I took the overnight ferry to Gorontalo. I was leaving because I was going to meet my friend Nicolas in Manado. Otherwise I wouldn't have mind staying longer on the Togeans. I think I will come back some day here. Such a nice place, and still many islands to discover for me. Together with an Austrian guy and a Finnish couple we rented a hut on the ferry. When the Finnish girl opened the door of the hut later that evening, she apparently saw at least 10 cockroaches. This meant that I had the hut for myself now (well, together with a few cockroaches, but I did not see that many, and anyway they were everywhere on the ferry, not only in the hut). I also met Tanja again on the ferry.

I stayed one night in Gorontalo. A nice town. Quite some old colonial buildings which are well maintained. I stayed at a hotel where the owner (now the hotel was owned by his son in fact) was of (partially) Dutch decend and spoke perfectly Dutch. With Tanja (at the back of her scooter) we visited a waterfall and some hot springs. We had to walk quite a few kilometers through a dense forest. Arrived at the waterfall Tanja lost her T-shirt in the current of the river. Myself I could not find the helmet (which I borrowed from a the reception guy at the hotel) which I had hidden somewhere in the forest back. After 30 minutes of searching I luckily found it back though.

The next day, Saturday, I travelled to Manado, by shared car. 8 hours. Tanja came by her scooter and she arrived before me. Manado is a big city. It had been flooded 2 weeks before. I believe about 20 people died when some of the rivers around Manado overflooded. There was still a lot of rubbish around.

On Sunday the 2nd of February my friend Nicolas arrived to Manado. Nicolas is a French colleague, who is still staying in Angola, and with who I travelled a lot in Angola. 

On Monday we travelled to Tangkoko national parc. The next morning we woke up very early to see animals. We saw tarsius (looks like gremlins), black monkeys, kuskus (sort of marsipulami), hornbill (big bird) and a kingfisher.

That same day we travelled back to Manado, from where we took the boat to Bunaken, a small island near Manado, famous for scuba diving. We stayed her for 3 days. Good snorkeling! For the first time in my life a saw a shark!! A blacktip reef shark I believe, about 1.5-2 meters big.
On Friday we took the boat the boat back to Manado. In the evening we wanted to go out in Manado. Not a big success. First bar, only children and snooker tables, second bar, big empty place, nobody around, third place, a very bad singer and only old men with girls who were far too young for them. We flew to Bali on Saturday the 8th of February.

We stayed 4 days in Kuta. I had already been there 4 years ago. Many big and drunken Australians. The beach is quite nice though. The nightlife is really good.

On the 12th of February I took the boat to Lembongan island, where I stayed for 2 nights. Lembongan is a nice island. I also did some scuba diving there. I prefer the Togeans though for staying. More relaxed. And less tourists. 

Then on the 14th of February I went back to Kuta for one night, and the next day to Sanur for 2 days. Sanur has a really nice beach. Many old people though. From Sanur I travelled to Ubud. I had already been there 4 years ago, but it's a really nice place, between the rice fields. Many nice restaurants. In Ubud I rented a bicycle and went to Pejeng, a town with a few old hinduist temples, then I continued to the Gunung Kawi temple, a temple in the rocks dating from the 11th century. On the map this did not look too far (13 km), but it was all uphill so very hard in the heat of Bali. The way back to Ubud was easy though, no cycling, only steering and breaking every now and then.

From Ubud I travelled to Candi Dasa on the 19th of February. This place I did not really like. There is no beach, and all the bars and restaurants are around a very busy road. So you hear the traffic all the time. So the next day I went to Padang Bai. This is a lot nicer. I did some snorkeling there and the next day I took the fast ferry to Gili Air. 4 years ago I had only been to Gili Trawangan, which is a big party island. Gili Air is close to it but more quite and also a lot cleaner. I rented a small room next to the beach. Did some running around the island (6 km per round). And good snorkeling! I swum at least 30 minutes together with a huge turtle. After two nights I decided that I wanted a little bit of partying so I went to Gili Trawangan for 1 night. This was OK, but I prefer Gili Air.
On the 24th I went to Lombok where I stayed for 1 night in Sengigi (not very interesting) before going on the boat trip from Lombok to Flores. I had done this boat trip 4 years ago and really loved it. I decided to do the same trip again but with a little bit more luxury using Perama (4 years ago their boat was already fully booked when we wanted to go). This was really good!! A nice big boat, only half full. I could spend weeks doing this. Having nice landscapes passing by, snorkeling, drinking some beers, sleeping on the deck. Before reaching Flores, we stopped at the island of Komodo to see the dragons. Really impressive! Such big lizards!!
We arrived on the 28th in Labuan Bajo. A nice town a the western tip of Flores. This place changed a lot since 4 years. It has a nice boulevard now. The view from Labuan Bajo on the nearby islands is really fantastic. I stayed at a place a little up the hill, so having breakfast there was very nice.

The next day I flew from Labuan Bajo to Ende which is more or less in the middle of Flores. The fight only costed 20 euros, so I could not resist. Would have been 15 hours by bus otherwise (but with some interesting stops to make).

I stayed one night in Ende. More than 10 enormous cockroaches in my room! That was not so nice. I walked around a bit in Ende. Not many tourists here!

From Ende I took a mini bus to Moni. From Moni one can visit the Kelimutu volcano, with its 3 (differently) coloured crater lakes. I stayed one night here, in the morning I went by motorbike taxi to the craters and then walked back to the village of Moni. At the crater I met a girl and a boy from Sumatra and Lombok who were traveling together and a group of 4 boys from the Seminary near Maumere who came for the day to see the lakes.

I traveled with the Indonesian boy and girl to Maumere. I stayed there one night. The next day we went with 2 of the guys from the seminary to Palau Babi (Pig Island, because of its shape). Before the 1992 tsunami about 800 people were living here of whom 400 died during the tsunami. The remains of their houses are still there. Today about 30 people live semi permanently on the island. Normally you cannot stay here, but we asked the villagers and the said we could stay in one of the empty houses on the beach. They also prepared us food. Really good fish. In the evening we had a small party on the beach with the locals. There were 2 ladies who looked like men (they were both fisherwomen, could be that they were a couple in fact), but were very cool and did some funny dancing. The Indonesian boy and girl had the same day of leaving Flores as me. They wanted to continue their travels to the Solor and Alor archipel, some islands at the eastern part of Flores. That had been my plan as well, but I though I would not have enough time before going back to The Netherlands. Since they had the same planning I decided to travel on with them.

On the 5th of March I travelled from Babi island to mainland Flores. From the village in front of Babi island I caught a bus to Larantuka, at the most eastern point of Flores. Funny how all the people next to the road are helping the western tourist to get his bus. By the way, from now on (the day before in fact) I would not see any other western person until arriving at Alor one week later.

In Larantuka I met my Indonesian friends again. The next morning we took a boat to Adonara. A really nice volcanic island. The boat ride is really beautiful. Since there are so many strangely shaped islands it looks like you're on a lake.

From Adonara we took a boat the next day to Lembata island. We continued the same day to Lamalera by truck. Lamalera is a small whaling town. When we arrived they had just caught 4 dolphins, which were laying (and cut to pieces) on the beach. Commercial whaling is banned nowadays, but there are still a few communities in the world where traditional subsistence whaling is allowed. In Lamalera hunting is still done by spears, but the boats have now outboard engines. Also the meat should not be comercialized, but on the bus the next day, there were many women with whale meat.Lamalera is a beautiful town. Probably due to the fact that whaling asks working together, there is a very good community organization. The place is very clean and everywhere I saw people working on things like roads and water tanks and so.

The next day we travelled to Lewoleba where we stayed for the night in order to catch the bus the next morning to Wairiang from where we hoped to catch a boat to Alor. We were not sure that there would be a boat, since many people said there were no boats. We were very lucky to be in the bus with a man with his child who told us that he would travel to Alor and that he would be picked up by his family. We joined them on their small and very noisy boat. The boat ride was 7 hours with a stop at the island of Pantar to get petrol. In the middle between Lembata and Pantar the boat broke down. One of the propellors broke. Luckily there was a spare one on board, and the captain changed the propellor using his snorkeling gear.

Finally we arrived on Alor! My final destination. This was on the 8 of March so still 4 more days before flying back to Europe. The first night we stayed at the house of Tante Bellas, a friend of the father of one of my indonesian travel partners. The next day we went to Kepa Island. A French family runs a small resort there. Mainly for diving but it's still low season and they were repairing the boat.
I stayed 2 nights in this little paradise before going back to Alor and take my plane on the 12th. First to Kupang on Timor. Then to Jakarta via Surabaya, and then to Amsterdam via Abu Dhabi. Almost 40 hours of continuous traveling!! Luckily I like traveling!

Next trip starting tomorrow: Colombia and Panama!!!!
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Bruno Pinon on

Toujours autant de plaisir à te lire! Tu me fais rêver!!

J'attend avec impatience tes prochains récits.


Nico on

J'ai adoré ces quelques jours avec toi gustave...On se refait ca très vite..

Yann on

Pas de stop à Gili Meno ?! C'est la meilleure des Gilis ! ;-)

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