That evening I ate at an empty café. There was no one around apart from David from England and his family. They were doing an Indonesia excursion.... All four of them. Lovely stuff!
I could hear the rain hammering outside in the darkness. It was 4.45am. My plan was to motorcycle a few kilometres up to Kelimutu Park to view sunrise over the coloured lakes. I had already accepted that a beautiful Indonesian sunrise was extremely unlikely, but I was up, so I decided to pull the poncho over my head and brave the weather.
Unusually the wind was also pushing through as I headed higher and higher towards Kelimutu. I later found out Flores was catching the tail end of a cyclone. Perfect timing. I dodged fallen trees, branches and bamboo as I pushed skywards. I wasn't expecting such cool weather and was already feeling a chill. The carpark is usually packed, but this morning there were just a handful of cars.... and my lonely motorcycle. I was cold. I decided to keep the helmet on as I walked the two kilometres. It wasn't to protect myself from falling bamboo, it was there to retain a degree or two of heat. I reached the lakes....
As you can see below the view was less than impressive. The view quickly improved when a beautiful Spanish girl named Elena came in to view. I'd seen her at the airport when I arrived on Flores. We shared our disappointment regarding the lack of lakes. We chatted in the strong wind. I said if we hang about we might just get a window in the mist.... Literally 10 seconds later we looked over our shoulders and there was one of the lakes.... I didn't even get time to take my camera out. The iPhone 6 was called in to emergency action just before the low cloud engulfed the emerald pool once again.
Elena was elated to see the lakes, her friends had deserted her, but she was keen to stick it out! We walked up to the highest point. The wind was blowing at a gusty 50mph through the narrow gap in the hills. If there'd been no railing alongside the concrete steps I don't think anyone would have dared tackle the ascent. We reached the top and took shelter behind the large monument. Elena asked another tourist to take our picture.
It was too wet, cold and windy to hang around so we headed back down to the car park. We said our goodbyes, and I gratefully accepted the offer to come snowboarding in Spain as we exchanged details.
Shortly after breakfast the rain stopped. The sky couldn't hide it's disdain with the land, there was going to be more. Dark purple clouds towered high in to the sky waiting to dispatch their soaking load. Today was going to be a tough one. I was headed North West hoping to pick up a tertiary road along the North coast. I had planned to reach the the village of Riung when I encountered my first rough river crossing. The river was fairly shallow, but there were big stones to negotiate. I picked my way across the 20 metre stretch with a steady speed then powered up the steep muddy back the other side. It went well. I enquired as to whether I was heading in the right direction, the guy I was passing shouted 'Wanker!'.... I was surprised, everyone up to now had seemed so friendly. I pulled over a kilometre or so away and checked MapsMe.....
It now appeared that either his insult had coincidentally matched a nearby place name, or he was shouting a nearby place name at me..... The latter made me feel better about myself, so I opted for that.
The next river was a different story. I was now on a muddy track, it couldn't be classified as a road. As I slowed down to assess the river I noticed the tail end of bus on the corner after the river. It was stuck in the mud and the locals were trying to 'unstuck' it. I pointed to the river. Two local men pointed to the middle as I enquired where would be best to tackle the flow, left, middle or right. They seemed certain to head straight down the middle. The water was dark and coloured so I couldn't see the bottom. I revved the scooter, dropped down the slope in to the water, the deep water, the very deep water.... before I knew it the stream had covered my knees.... and the bottom half of the scooter.... Glug, glug.... Gurgle... Cough... Silence. I looked at the guys questioningly, and pushed the scooter up the far bank. There was no way it was starting for a few minutes. The electric ignition just clicked and sounded grumpy and the kick-start didn't want to play. This could be a problem. After 10 minutes of me and a local guy attempting to fire up the Honda F1 110cc engine a young lad stepped in. He placed is bare foot on the kick-start and went at it until he got her to turn over... she died again... he went at it again... vrooooom, vrooooooOOOOOOMMM, water sprayed out of the exhaust as he revved the living daylights out of her. Then she died again. One more time and she was going, 'Mister, Mister.' he said, indicating that I need to get get her moving. Another local assessed the narrow gap between the bus and foliage. He waved for me to go for it. The locals looked on in delight as I navigated the treacherously slippery mud laden bank and road, clipping the rear corner of the bus as the tyres lost traction. Power and more power got me through as the crowd cheered me on..... The next 15 minutes saw me fighting my way through fallen bamboo and trees.
The wind had caused some carnage here. The rain continued to pelt on an off throughout the day. The scenery was at times stunning. The shouts of 'Hey Mister' and 'Mister, Mister' from the kids as I pootled through the tiny villages filled my face with smiles.
I arrived at a fork in the track. The left side had a sign suggesting the road was closed, but my MapsMe application said take it. Two motorcycles approached me from said road. A guy behind me standing at the side of the road waved me forward smiling shouting 'Yes, yes! It's okay!'. The surface was smooth and incredible. I couldn't believe it.... Until 20 minutes later I ended up at the back of a huge truck which was relaying the surface. The truck filled the entire single track. A slither of road was available beside it. The slither was soft and fresh with a drop to the right. The guy in front of me tackled the gap and tumbled off his bike.
The workers ran to his assistance helping him back up on to the road and on to his bike. My turn. I asked them to move out of the way. Speed was hopefully going to be my friend. The gap was so narrow I needed to fold in my right mirror. I went for it. The back wheel slid down the soft slope to my right, I revved giving the little engine a real working over, and up she popped on to the road past the huge truck! Yay!!!! Another victory for my tiny scooter!
Eventually I arrived in Riung, a tiny beach village. I found a very nice place to stay for 150,000 rupiah, it was also the cheapest I could find in the area. The owner brought me a huge pot of coffee. I decided to check out a little cafe I'd read about, and when I pulled up I heard a loud, 'Hello there!' The English couple from Wae Rebo traditional village were already there. They couldn't believe how many kilometres I'd covered. The American guys gave up and didn't even make it to Kelimutu. They were impressed, especially with the weather they knew I'd encountered. Then another 'Hello!' appeared, a chap called David was there too. David and his family were staying in the little town near Kelimutu when I was there, and I'd also met them in the carpark up at Kelimutu. This was a right little reunion. I think this was all the tourists in the North of Flores here in this café.
The following morning I jumped on my bike. Ended up driving in to a pool of water that almost killed my scooter again, just luck getting me through.... and before I knew it I was on some beautiful coastal track. A local chap decided he wanted to chat. I stopped a few times, as I just wanted to be alone to enjoy the peace and tranquillity. Each time I stopped he stopped. After my fourth stop he decided he needed to continue his journey and left me to my own devices. It really was stunning.
At times the track was insanely rough. At times the climbs and descents were unsuitably steep for my little steed, and at times they were too rough and too steep! Then the mud came.... Four or Five inches of 'slippery as ice' brown. The bike ended up sideways twice, how I didn't drop it I don't know. A couple of times it got stuck and I really had to work to get it out. The front wheel wanted to go everywhere I didn't want it to go. A local guy followed me. He could see I was struggling. He was on a proper motorcycle with decent sized tyres and good tread, I may as well have been on slicks.
Once we were past the worst of it he powered past me and waved! Then the tarmac appeared! Hallelujah!!! I stopped for food in a little dark warung.
The rain pelted down. I ate until the rain stopped then headed South to Ruteng. I searched for a hostel in the pouring rain. It was miserable. Yesterday and today had been tough going with the weather.
The room was damp, cold and mouldy. I sat on the bench in the hallway. I had no intentions of taking a cold bucket shower in the cold room. I could shower when I returned to Labuan Bajo tomorrow.
The following morning I set off to Labuan Bajo in the pouring rain. The poncho coming on, the poncho coming off. The rain was the heaviest I'd experienced so far. Cars were pulling to the side of the road, my poncho's arms had become separated from the main body due to the wind. The weather was bloody tragic. On top of all this I was cold. The low cloud as I climbed higher and higher before the descent down in to LB was getting cooler and cooler. The rain had found little gaps in the poncho, and I was beginning to shiver. I pulled over on numerous occasions due to visibility being almost nothing, but I knew LB was getting closer. I decided on an early brunch.
Late morning the sun came out.
The poncho was retired to the 'dashboard' pocket. I removed my helmet to allow the sun to warm my head.
Then the sky darkened and in came the torrential rain again.
I took it easy for the next hour or so rolling in to LB just after 1pm. I checked in to the newly opened Ciao Hostel. Alex and his two Italian friends had spent two years on this place, and it opened three days ago..... What a place it was! Beautiful views over the bay, stunning dorm rooms, clean new beds, gorgeous bathrooms with piping hot water and fantastic internet. I'd landed on my feet, and I felt I needed it after the past couple of days.
Tomorrow I head off to Lombok.... I think I'll climb a volcano there.... The first thing I'll do tomorrow is have an all you can eat breakfast of fruit, granola, fresh milk, pancakes, eggs, coffee and juice, all for the princely sum of £3.00 at Pirates where Brihanna had been staying.... I needed a little treat before getting on the plane!
See a little video of some of the places I rode through below..... Just click on it....