Day 21-28 (part 2): Labuan Bajo, Flores

After a 4-day road trip on very curvy roads to traverse the steep terrain, we were ready to spend a few days in one spot.

There are many boats harbouring here, most of them to take tourists to the islands in Komodo National Park, and to take them diving and snorkelling. A big attraction here is to swim with manta rays.

The actual town is a bit shabby and ramshackle; old shops and restaurants mixed with new hotels, cafes, and dive and tourist shops.

We had to renew our Indonesian visa here. Australian citizens get an automatic free, 30-day visa to Indonesia. (Canadian friends, don’t be alarmed; I am a dual citizen of Canada and Australia.) But since we were going to be in Indonesia for longer than 30 days, we’d have to pay for the first 30-day visa, then renew for another 30-day visa.

Yes, totally unfair. More so because it cost us three about AUD $160 total for the first visa, and about AUD $105 total for the second visa. And it was quite an experience to get our visa renewed in Labuan Bajo.

We had to get a taxi to the Immigration office. Staff there told us we had to get photocopies of our passports and also of our flights out of Indonesia. So we got the driver to take us to the photocopy shop. (Lucky I speak basic Bahasa!) Then we returned to the Immigration office, only for them to tell us that we’d photocopied the wrong flight. ARGH!

Family selfie.

So then we had to find an internet place (remember them?) so I could download and print the right flight out of Indonesia. Then we drove back to the Immigration office, filled out the form and submitted our passports.

We were told it would take 2 days and that we had to come back in the morning after those 2 days and get our photos taken (and fingerprints we later found out), THEN we’d have to come back in the afternoon to pick up the passports AFTER we paid the visa fee at a post office! Yep, I know… But we got it all done and they were really friendly at the Immigration office.

View of the port from the Green Hill Hotel.
View from Le Pirate Hotel.

Food in Labuan Bajo

There was quite a bit of choice with what to eat in Labuan Bajo. We stayed at the Green Hill Hotel on the main road, which included breakfast (most hotels in Indonesia included breakfast). What was great for me was that there was an awesome cafe – with really good espresso coffees – run by the hotel. The iced coffees there were perfection.

Paul’s favourite lunchtime meal was the Padang food of West Sumatra. (In Sydney, when we crave Indonesian food, there is a Padang restaurant we go to in Kensington called Pondok Buyung.) Paul found a local Padang resto and for a plate of yummy, spicy food consisting of rendang, fried chicken, stir-fried veg, fish curry, it was about $3 per person.

There was also a nightly fish market down by the docks and we ate there three times.

We kept coming back to this stall. First you choose what fish or seafood you wanted. There was snapper, grouper, squid, lobster and prawns.
You can choose to have it deep fried (goreng) …
… or barbecued (bakar).
Elina waits at the table for our meal.
It comes with rice, sambal (Indonesians eat sambal at almost every meal!), and cucumbers and cabbage. Elina and I shared the deep fried snapper ($6). Paul got prawns ($6). The price depends on how big the fish or seafood is. There were sinks to wash your hands after meals.

The area around Labuan Bajo

This beach was about an 10-minute taxi ride away.
Paul and Elina were going to go snorkelling here just off the beach but, sadly, there was too much garbage in the water.
These insects also live in Australia! (Forgot what they’re called.)

This bay was about 20 minutes away from town and we were going to take a boat to a cave you can swim in, but the fee for the boat was an exorbitant $100 for a 15-minute boat ride there and back. We decided it wasn’t worth it. The guide book said it was only $10.

On another day, Paul and Elina took a day trip to a canyon you had to hike into, and where you can jump off and swim. You can see the video on our Instagram @three4theroads. I didn’t go as I don’t swim and wanted to catch up on my blogging.

This one tree was growing out of a clump of rock, the sea swirling around it. It was bizarre, reminded me of the song lyrics “stuck between scylla and charybdis”.
We stayed at La Cecile Hotel for a few days and it had the most amazing views of the port. I took a pic of Elina taking a pic for the Instagram feed.
The hotel also had a nice swimming pool.

The sunsets from up here were also incredible. I couldn’t choose my favourite, so here are a few.

Thanks Labuan Bajo for amazing sunsets!
We thought there would be some places to eat at the airport, but once you get through security, there were only cafes selling drinks, coffee, cakes and …. spicy cup a noodles.

We had a wonderful time in Flores and loved the island and it’s people. So chilled and such spectacular scenery. I told Elina to brace herself for the much more densely populated island of Java.