Published: April 5th 2007April 5th 2007
Zeus of the Heavens
7am. We looked across the lake towards Gunung Batur (around 2000 metres) for a few silent minutes.
Like the navigator Antonio de Abreu before me I headed East across the arphicalego, towards the Cabo das Flores
Instead of searching for Sandalwood I was looking for Komodo Dragons and coloured volcanic lakes. For currency I carried Indonesian Rupiah, whereas the Makassasrese before me would have used Gold, or maybe even elephant tusk.
Flores had definitely seen changes. Six-foot Satellite dishes beamed MTV down from space into villages where huts are still made from bamboo. Noisy Bemo wind through roads which follow the ancient igneous landscape. The crucifix looms tall in villages where some do not know who Jesus Christ was, but still practice Animism. Buffalo sacrifices are still common, tiny huts called Ngadhu are the centre of each village, and death is still a punishment used in some villages. Yet in Labanbajo there are half a dozen Padi-dive centres and tourist restaurants, while the coloured lakes of Kelimutu have a heli-pad for VIP tourists to be flown in. Flores is still not quite sure of itself as a destination, it boasts some of the most impressive sights in the world, but doesn't have the vanity to tell the world about them.
Before Flores I was
My hostess in Ubud was beautiful and she supported her feet on her heels for the hours of Gamelan playing.
in Gili Trawanagan off the Island of Lombok, the young backpacker’s party-place in Indonesia. And I began my stint exploring Hindu Bali, where my travels combined with Nyepi (New Year celebrations).
Over the 30 days I began writing a journal everyday, not trusting my appalling memory. I improved my photography, and I learnt just a little bit of Bahasa Indonesia (the national language).
I had broken from the group, but I was only on my own for a few days in Kuta, Bali.
Francesco, a Sicilian who ran a restaurant in Ibiza was my companion for Bali and Gili.
Martin and Henk, Investment bankers from Rotterdam, were a laugh in eastern Flores.
Inland Flores was explored with Feri, a grounded IT consultant from Ghent.
Finally a Bolivian man whose name I forget amazed me with stories of East Timor and communism on the road to Maumere.
It seems as though there were almost too many friendly Floresians, Balinese and Trawangians who became friends and who lit up my days teaching tricks with matches, illegal martial arts and traditional weaving.
I will try and tell my story with photos. But sometimes you can't
No visual effects were used here. Just Flores giving me one last glimpse of it's beauty before I hopped on a plane back to the rest of the world.
take a photo. Like when after fourteen hours of hassle and extortion from the touts and crooks, your Italian friend finally explodes.
The scrum of Indonesian con-men finally scatters.
Or watching the sun emerge from behind the volcanoes on top of an old school bus somewhere in the Nusa Tungerra. Gripping the roof-bars with some new mates from Sumbawa - delirious after fifteen hours on the road, with eight more on a ferry to come...
There are more photos below