Welcome to my …

mapThe first reggae song that I heard in Indonesia is “Welcome to my paradise”. That was 1 and half year ago in a reggae bar in Jakarta. The first time I enjoyed it, but after that, hearing it every day in buses, waroengs … 8-9 times a day it started to be annoying. But when I reach Flores my first thought was – finally Welcome to paradise.


The Fajr (mosque morning prayer, around 5 am), wakes me up, to earlyyyy. One year in Indonesia and still I didn’t get used with this, shit I deserve 1 more hour of pure morning sleep. 7:00 am, quick shower, packed everything, take the bike from the reception and go directly in the port to buy ferry tickets. 8:30 am, I got the tickets for me and the bike, but the ferry leaves only around 12 o’clock, so plenty of time to do nothing. Chillin’ in the port, breakfast and watch the activities around the port. It’s a big melange of different cultures, but all are Indonesians, there is a saying in Indonesia – same same but different. I can spot the locals – Sumbawanese, and then the Javanese and also a new distinctive face structure probably they are from Flores. Finally after 3 long hours of waiting, everything (including chikens) was loaded on the ferry and we leave.

Sumbawa – Flores journey is another 4 hours of playing hide and seek with the sun  around the ferry.  We get closer to Flores and the view is changing, all this small islands popping out in the middle of the sea, with perfect white sand beaches, coconut trees, amazing view of the big islands, small fisherman boats… paradise?

We arrive in Labuan Bajo (Flores) in the afternoon, so I go directly to search for a travel office to plan a trip for Komodo and Rinca island, no time to loose. The place is tourist oriented, there is a long one way street full with hotels and travel agencies,  and the price even after negotiation and the student in Indonesia “discount” is a bit to high for me – 150$. I know it’s still a “special” bule (westernen) price. Out of nowhere I remember that 2 months ago while at a party in Jogja, half drunk, a friend told me about his trip in Komodo and gave me the name of a place were he got a very good price, but what was the name? I wanted to write it down somewhere but of course I didn’t, I was drunk.  It was something with sun-sunny travels or tours… I got a new plan, go to the beginning of the street and look for travel agencies with that name. After 1 hour of asking around and almost giving up I see a small plate with Sunny Tours Travel. I enter and tell the guy that I have a friend from Hungary that was here 1 year ago and he recommended me this place. Luckily the guy remembered my friend and:

– Kamu mahasiswa di Solo? (Are you a student in Solo?)

– Yeah Pak, aku punya scholarship di sini, ambil bahasa Indonesia. (Yes, I have a scholarship there, I learn the language.)

– Ok, harganya untuk kamu, 2 hari 1 malam 750.000 rupiah, baigamana? (Ok, special price for you, 2 days 1 night 75$, what do you say?)

– Ok Pak, bagus makasih. (Sounds good, thank you.)

– Tidak bilang orang lain yeah? Kamu tidur di mana? (Don’t say to others yeah? Were do you sleep?)

– Belum cari. (I don’t have a place yet.)

– Kamu bisah tidur di rumahku, nanti aku antar kamu ke sana. Ayo ambil 1 beer, istirahat di sini 1 jam. (You can sleep at my place. Take 1 beer, have a rest here, I close in 1 hour. )

– A BIG SMILE on my face.

A big dinner some more beers and a proper bed, good night.

7:00 am I am already on our “cruise ship”, an old wooden boat with a super loud engine. We are 9, the captain, 2 locals and another 5 tourists. I am excited like a 7 years old kid that goes for the first time in a trip with the school. Direction? Rinca island, to see the Komodo dragons.

This places are amazing, the views, the animals… but the most striking thing is that I don’t see trash, you see Indonesia you CAN if you WANT.

Night comes and we stop near Komodo island, tonight we will sleep on the boat. In the menu we have fried rice with fish and special samba (spicy sous), delicious. I spot a local in a canoe selling beer, hmm that would be just perfect, you can’t love Indonesia, everything is possible here. The starting price is 10$, man I know you have to feed your family but you don’t have to completely rip me off, I’m not the Australian tourist packed with money, with 10$ I live 2 days. 15 minutes later the price goes down to 4$, still expensive, but what more can I ask in the middle of the ocean.

As I was laying down on the boat completely lost in the night sky and universe… and all of the sudden something huge felt from the sky almost hitting me. I jumped and almost fall in the water. It was a huge flying fox, at least 1 m long.

I wake up with an amazing sunrise, I just realize that since I am on the road I didn’t miss almost any sunrise or sunset, I am all the time outside and a certain feeling established, man I love to travel like this.

After a few hours of trekking and snorkeling, tired and burned by the sun, we go back to Labuan Bajo. We all fell asleep, background music – the sound of the engine.

Whenever I have the opportunity I visit the local markets, is something there that attracts me. So with the last drop of energy I make a short tour.

I want to apologize to all the people that helped me. I promised that I will send you the postcards and the photo books in a 3 months time frame, and I didn’t. After I came back from  Maumere I needed 1 month to get used with a daily routine again. And then another great trip, the adventure in Maluku, 2 months of hitchhiking from island to island. I’ve change a lot and it took me some thinking to realize what I’ve experienced and how it rewrite me. Now the hardest part is to put all this in a visual story. But the good part is that I feel inspired and I start to feel what I want to put between those 2 covers.

If you are new here and want to support my work check my goodies page, maybe I have something for you.


5 thoughts on “Welcome to my …

  1. hoy hoy!!!! apa kabar kang asep!!! I guess I know the answer when I read about your trip in Flores and Malukuuuuuu!!!! Great job!!! It is just so difficult to go to Maluku! Can’t wait to see the pics, and to hear your stories!!! I’ll be coming back home, Indonesia pasti, on 11th march. In bandung first for a week, and then I’m hoping to come and visit you in Solo around the 18/20 march. Let me know if you’ll be there 🙂

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