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Travel itinerary: Philippines, the island getaway.

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What does a travel blogger do without a camera? He mourns.
And so we’re mourning for our camera which was stolen on the overnight Pelni ferry from Kei to Banda islands. It served us well and was with us on Indian trains, Nepalese buses, hot Bikaner desert and cold Annapurna base camp at more than 4000m. It helped us to make thousands of beautiful photos for both blogs.

We spent the night on a deck and as tourists we were an easy target for the group of young men who make a living by stealing from locals and tourists (btw we were the only tourists on the boat). The worst thing was knowing the camera is still on the boat. But with thousands of people, baggage and packets it was impossible to search for it. We even tried to ‘buy’ it back by anouncing the reward on the speakers. But no luck. They’ll probably sell it for a lot less money in Ambon 🙁

And now we’re stuck on the most beautiful remote islands we’ve ever been to with a GoPro 2 with a scratch and an iPhone 4S. Sometimes life really is a b*#%h.

We would like to give a special thanks to everybody who made a dontaion and bought us a beer which we’ll use to help us buy a new camera, probably in Bangkok transit.

Here are some pictures from Kei islands, where their main export is agar-agar.

 

We’ve got some beautiful news again 🙂 We’re on Maluku islands, somewhere between Sulawesi and Papua. The other name for Maluku islands is ‘the spice islands’ because of their nutmeg and cloves production in the 17. century.

Heaven.

It was our wish to go to Banda islands (part of Maluku) when we were planning Indonesia, but unfortunately the rare boat was unavailable (we just missed it) and planes didn’t seem to operate when Merpati went bankrupt. So when a really cool guy at the tourist info told us he has a solution for us, there are flights to beautiful Kei islands (btw, Dutch exchanged their Kei islands with Americans for an island that is now Manhattan) and from there we can catch a 10 hour Pelni boat to snorkeling paradise of Banda islands. We totally dissed our first plan and bought the ticket! Yaaaaaaay!

We’ll try to go to island Seram and visit Manusela National Park and do some trekking, but it’s hard to say so much in advance. You never know what happens in 14 days 🙂

Usually when we go to the bus or use an ojek, people give us a higher price because we’re bulejs, white. We try to travel as local as possible, do the same routes, have the same (un)comfort, it takes us the same amount of time as the local people need. But still we see the locals who joined the bus pay less money than we. It’s not a lot and it probably wouldn’t matter to us if our journey wouldn’t be so long. 10.000IDR and 20.000IDR and 10.000IDR makes a pile in 3 months.
When we bargain the ridiculously high price of the ojek or a snorkeling boat and we get to a good price for everyone, we’re happy, they’re happy, but then when we want to pay, the price is suddenly higher, because and they don’t even want to take the money at first.
We don’t give in (at once), we stand our ground. Like we don’t lower the price after we’ve used the room. Aren’t there any rules to bargaining here? 😉 So it takes our energy and time and we just feel weird about it, being angry.
It’s stupid to worry about this but Flores is just tough, tougher than other countries. I still can’t believe we got a ticket for a 10c bus ride in India, every time (and we had to keep it the whole ride, LOL).
But then this sunrise comes along and we think, if our road wasn’t so tough, we wouldn’t see this beauty 🙂

Amazing sunset over the Kelimutu crater and the blue lake.

(just to make an example: the entrance fee for tourists is 150.000IDR, at sundays 225.000IDR, and for locals 5.000IDR).

The long bus ride took us to our next goal – fishing city of Riung. Transport really seems to be the low point of Flores (by now, my butt is made of stone). Riung is a very calm and silent city with interesting elevated houses near the port. It is a gate to the ’17 islands’ to where you go for snorkeling trips. The number of islands is actually 21 but because Indonesia became independent on 17.8. they named this archipelago after this event 🙂

Mic and his nuts :)
After a sleepless night at the cute Nirvana bungalows, because the neighbor’s karaoke sound system has 10 speakers (it was some kind of wedding preparation) we decided to go to Pantai Watulajar or beach Watulajar 20 km from Riung. After 2 hours of waiting for bemos or buses we were kinda stuck in Riung. It seemed like there is no way to go to this beach. So we had to convince 2 ojeks to take us there.
Uncle Phillip, everybody knows him as om Lipus, built this little resort of 5 bungalows with an interesting concept, called Eco Eden Bungalows. Very natural, all bamboo, big lemongrass bushes against mosquitos, free coconuts. Very cool. Bamboo huts with its open bathroom are basic but nice. It opens officially in the end of 2014 and it has a price of 250.000 IDR for now (in july 2014 it was 200.000 IDR). This will probably get very expensive in time, so get it while it’s fresh 🙂 Siana makes amazing fish and fish soup and coffee is free. She can teach you a thing or two in the kitchen or teach you lyrics to popular Indonesian song (why not, eh?). The resort is beautifully planned and Phillip will tell you lots of interesting facts about Flores because he was a guide for 20 years. The resort is right on the beach which is nice but the sand is brown so it looks different from white sand beaches.
This little village has no tourism at all and that’s why it’s so special. Phillip also invited us to tag along to a wedding and it was a unique experience. Lots of awkward dancing, that’s all I’ll say 😀 He tries to involve tourists in the community and we get to see the culture. Win-win!

Sunset on the beach.

 

We went on a snorkeling trip which was supposed to be much cheaper than in Riung. With Phillip’s help we got the price down from 500.000 IDR to 350.000 IDR for the boat as we were alone (which is the normal price in Riung, where they include the lunch also). But after the trip they wanted us to pay more, something we found is very typical for Flores (and you don’t need to give in). We settled things with Phillip’s help but it leaves such a strange aftertaste.

And if Evo Eden beauty is not enough, they have a special kind of dragon that you can see in the backyard, ‘Riung dragon’. It comes looking for food and it’s quite big (but not dangerous).

Big bird posing foe us.

Although we didn’t really need a rest, it’s was nice to stay for a couple of days, relax, read, eat some of Phillips delicious sun dried meat, washed in the sea, drink some of the palm wine.

As long as we’re not too far from Bali, it’s still time to post something about the beautiful Balinese food and food from Nusa Tenggara islands.
We lived 3 weeks in Ubud on Bali and we had the chance to taste a lot of local food, spent a week on Gili Air, crossed Lombok and Sumbawa. Currently we’re on Flores, eating mostly Ikan Goreng or rice with fried fish. It costs 10.000 IDR or 0,6 eur. For Mic a little bit more because he has to order extra fish. He’s a hungry guy!

We have some tasty photos for you. Enjoy 😉