Day 684: The Slow Fast Boat

15.11.10: The bus drove through the night, arriving in the eastern port town of Sape at 8am, just in time for the ferry to Labuanbajo in Flores.  The helpful tout dude from Maluk yesterday ripped me off good an’ proper.  I paid 150,000 Indonesian Rupiah for a ferry ticket that was worth 40,000.  150,000 is about US$17: enough for three nights accommodation in a Indonesian flea pit hotel.  I may have to return to Maluk and kill him. He also lied about the speed of the boat: this was NO ‘fast boat’, it was slower than a West African internet connection and didn’t get me to Labuanbajo until it was almost dark.  This a merry man did me not make.  I checked into the cheapest joint in town and headed out to find out the times of the ferries leaving Flores for Kupang in West Timor. …

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Day 687: There Be Hobbits

18.11.10: One of the things about living out of a backpack is that it’s so easy to forget things.  I’ve probably got about one hundred items with me, ranging from my glasses to my malaria pills to the charger for my electric razor, and first thing in the morning is the worst time for having your brain in gear.  When I think of all the things I’ve lost on this trip (my South America Lonely Planet, my little diaries, my hat) – it’s even more remarkable the things I haven’t lost. Having said that, I do sometimes suffer from lapses in concentration that are, quite frankly, embarrassing.  One such lapse occurred today as the bus charged towards the port town of Aimere (pronounced Eye-Mere-Ay) – I left my infernal Yellow Bible in the little eatery we stopped at to get the usual BLURGH of steamed white…

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Day 698: The Ende of All Things

29.11.10: So the ferry pulled into Larantuka port nice and early, around 7am.  Now I just had the small matter of the entirety of Flores to get across.  Cast from your mind any concept of nice straight Roman roads – this is a volcanic jungle baby, and these roads are longer and windier than you would believe.  But, damn what AMAZING scenery.  Vast forests cladding soaring hillsides, valleys of greenest green far below, and when we scoot along the coast the silhouettes of ancient fishing boats rendered by the golden sunbeams glittering in the deep blue waters. Even better, the stereo on my minibus wasn’t working, so I didn’t have to suffer that dreadful Indonesian musak!  I was also lucky to have a sensible driver – one that didn’t fang it around blind corners whilst overtaking a convoy of trucks.  On top of all that, I…

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Day 699: The Ruteng Clan

30.11.10: After dragging myself out of bed at 6.30am, I wasn’t too chuffed when I was told that the minibus to the next waypoint, Ruteng, didn’t leave until 8am.  But no sooner had I settled down under a bamboo bivouac at the side of the road to drink coffee with the locals (the coffee in Flores and Timor has an amazing spicy taste to it) than the bus driver started tooting his horn. The bus was already full and therefore what was the point of hanging around? I wish bus companies in the UK could be as damn sensible.  By 7.30am we were whizzing past Ende’s city limits and back into the jungle.  Timetables be damned!! I could wax lyrical about the drive, but suffice to say that it was incredible and a whole lot of fun.  I just wished I was driving.  Damn, I miss…

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