5 hours to drive 50 km (yes, we did say that everything takes longer on Flores but really?!) turned an easy journey into an unnecessary dragging trip… Starting at stupid o’clock, I am known anyway for loving those ridiculous early starts, we reached Moni 10 hours later. We had to wait two hours for a ferry (we sure learnt patience over the past few months) and we were stuck an hour on the road due to a landslide. Locals seemed however prepared: popcorn and other finger foods were organized and sold to the unlucky crowd blocked on that mountain road. When we finally arrived in Moni, we were surprised to find a town that was built around one main street. Since we had no clue where to be dropped off, the bus driver unloaded us in the ‘center’. We had looked into booking a hostel (the only hostel in town actually) but we were told that it was located 3 kilometers out of town. I was in no mood to debate walking distances with M as I was hungry and tired. Since we both desperately needed food and M was not keen to see me change into a “hangry” monster, we stopped for some well deserved fried rice before we started looking for our home sweet home for the night. Life being quite amazing, the restaurant, owned by a lovely lady and her husband, had also two double rooms. Affordable and cute, we decided to stay there for our Moni / Kelimutu exploration.
Proud owners of a scooter for a day (definitely born to be wild), M and I headed to Mt. Kelimutu early enough to miss the usual midday clouds and late enough to avoid an unnecessary sunrise. Kelimutu was located at the end of a scenic drive and granted us an easy access to the park. This was only a short walk from the parking to the tri-colored crater lakes and we quickly made it to the view point over Tiwu Ata Polo. Known as the red lake, the lake of evil spirits was for us dark turquoise blue. It was beautiful even though we didn’t get to see it red. Rushing down to take pictures of the two other lakes before any cloud had the chance to ruin our shots, we were stopped by Indonesian families who (desperately) needed a selfie with us… Because why not? We had been warned by this phenomenon but with our dark skin and brown hair, we didn’t except to be treated like rock stars! 11 “missy, missy, photo?” later, we were finally able to have our first glance at Tiwu Ata Mbupu, known as the blue lake aka the lake of the ancestors’ souls and Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai, known as the green lake aka the lake of young people’s souls. Both lakes were blue, light or turquoise that day and it was really hard for us to comprehend how those lakes could be green, brown or even red!
After cruising down onto the beautiful road back to Moni, we decided to make the most of our day and head to Paga and Koka beach. The latter was described to us as a deserted and secluded beach and we couldn’t wait to check it out. We stopped on the way to the Moni waterfall, a hidden fall where local families seemed to gather to cool off. Paga was supposed a cute village on a river but we didn’t find any proper village nor a river but the drive to Paga along the coast was fantasticGoing up and down on a windy road, under a beautiful blew sky, was priceless! A local guy recommended us to stop at a small restaurant on the side of the road to get some fresh grilled fish. We did as he said and we were served the most delicious tuna steak we got to try in a very long time! To finish this great day, we took the off road to Koka beach, keen to have a beach for ourselves… Imagine our surprise to be asked for an entrance fee, a parking fee and a mirador fee! What was supposed to be our Robinson Crusoe afternoon became an hour among screaming kids (happy kids tho), the beach bordered by vendors and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong: Koka beach was beautiful. Fact. It was just not as secluded as we were told and disappointment was quite big. The walk up to the mirador was easy tho steep and on very wobbly stairs (made with bamboos and sand bags. Safety first). The view over the two bays was gorgeous and peaceful… until a tsunami of local tourists made their way up. We knew then that it was time for us to leave.
Flores island was incredible and fun to explore for 10 days. The drives on the island, tho (very)long, strenuous and at times smelly, were extremely rewarding. M and I had the feeling to be explorers the same way we felt in Central America. We barely saw any tourist on the buses and our Bahasa basic knowledge became quite handy! We simply loved our time on this island. However, after a short stop over in Maumere, we were ready to discover another island. The town itself was not that special but we met a lovely Australian traveler and our only evening in town was spent laughing and eating Bakso: in other words we had a great send off! Sulawesi, here we come. Next stop: Tana Toraja!