“Life was made for good friends and great adventures” – a quote from somewhere and someone.
Truer words couldn’t have been said or written especially after my trip to Flores, Indonesia in June with my brother, sis-in-law, girlfriend and four of our closest friends. Instead of making that typical trip of visiting Bali, Jogjakarta, Bromo and where have you, the eight of us decided the best way to cut ourselves away from civilization was to live on a boat for four days and three nights and explore the relatively untouched islands of Flores.
A few tips first
To get to Flores, you’d first have to fly to Bali and once you’ve touched down in Ngurah Rai International Airport, you’ll have to transfer to a domestic flight towards Labuan Bajo. Be warned, as we were delayed in the airport for seven hours. So it’s advised that you bring some form of entertainment or your charging cables with you. The flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo takes just about 45 minutes. Be warned though, as the landing can be a little rough.
It takes about 15 – 20 minutes to get from Bandara Komodo airport to the harbour side. So you can either stay at one of the many AirB&Bs, hostels or hotels. The night before our trip, we opted to stay in a hostel called Dorme Tree, which costs about RM65 (US$15) per pax a night. Due to the fact that our flight was delayed for seven hours, we didn’t get to explore Labuan Bajo at all.
The next morning, we were up bright and early at 6 a.m. as we had to head to the harbour to catch our boat and living quarters for the majority of the trip. Our trip was planned out by the Bromo Explorer agency and we paid about RM15,000 for the entire trip. As there were eight of us, each of us paid about RM1,600.
This package includes lodgings, the boat we stayed on called the KLM Kalaki has a total of four rooms (one with single bunk beds, one with a queen sized bed and two with queen sized bunk beds), so in actual fact, you can easily fit 12 people on the boat. The crew also provided us with three meals and light snacks in between. However, you will have to purchase your own snacks and beverages if you desire. Just keep in mind that there aren’t any floating 7Elevens or Family Marts in the middle of the ocean.
If you’re wondering what to pack, bring the essentials such as shampoo, body wash and toothpaste. As for clothing, pack light and cotton shirts (UNIQLO’s Airism wear works wonders) but also bring a jacket as it gets quite cold at night. Throughout most of the trip, the men were mainly in boardshorts while the ladies were in their swimwear. It was only during hiking trips that we switched to cargo shorts or leggings. On that note, do bring a pair of comfy shoes.
Last but not least, if you absolutely must have mobile connectivity (killjoy), coverage is actually surprisingly good because even though it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere, those of us who bought local sim cards from Telkomsel received constant 4G data. I personally opted not to have any connection whatsoever as I really wanted to be off the grid.
I kept my screentime to a minimum and the only time I took my phone(s) out was to just take photos and videos. For this particular trip, I swapped between my own personal Xiaomi Mi 8 and a Xiaomi Mi 9 review unit. After a short while though, I mainly just used the Mi 9 as its triple camera array just offered a better range of shooting options.
Shot on Mi 9
So without further ado, here are my photos and videos from the trip. Photos have been lightly edited and watermarked.
Shot in 48MP, the details and textures in the painting are retained even when zoomed in.
Night mode on the Mi 9 works beautifully as it brightens up the image but still keeps the details.
Labuan Bajo harbour before we set sail.
With the stock camera app’s Manual mode and a tripod, can get some breathtaking shots.
The best time to visit Rangko Cave is between 2PM to 3PM as this is when the sun shines right into the cave, lighting up the clear blue water.
We weren’t able to hike up Gili Lawa as it was closed due to a fire that ravaged the entire island in 2018.
We spotted a fairly tame/lazy Komodo Dragon towards the end of our tour in Komodo National Park.
An adolescent Komodo Dragon seeks sanctuary up in a palm tree.
If you want to catch a spectacular sunrise or sunset, the 20-minute hike up Padar is well worth the effort. While staying in bed is nice, sometimes it’s worth waking up at 4AM to catch the sunrise.
Pulau Kelor is beautiful from the shore.
But it’s also quite breathtaking right at the top. You just have to go through a 20 minute hike.
This waterfall is situated about 2 hours away from Labuan Bajo and you will have to hike about 45 mins through a forest to get to it. Be warned, if you plan to rent motorcycles to get to the falls, the roads heading in aren’t in very good conditions.
Day 5: Cunca Rami
If you’re one of those who love to travel to places that are off the beaten track and aren’t too touristy, then you definitely have to visit Flores. For the adventurous lot, there’s really a lot for you to enjoy as the coral reefs are still mainly untouched and beautiful as ever.
However, for those wanting to visit Komodo Island, this might prove to be a challenge as the Indonesia Government has announced that it will be temporarily closing down the park next year for maintenance and also to revive the population of the dragons. But there’s still Rinca where there is the Loh Buaya Komodo National Park.