I really enjoyed Labuan Bajo, the Flores port city where our boat from Lombok docked. Labuan Bajo has only become a destination in recent years due to its proximity to many good dive sites, which means that it still feels quite a bit less touristy than other places we visited in Indonesia. Plus, it’s just really pretty!
The focus here is definitely on snorkeling and diving tours, which we weren’t interested in (this time!), but I still enjoyed wandering through Labuan Bajo. And we did a lot of wandering, because accommodation was really hard to find.
Many places were full when we got there, so Danielle and I had to wait until check out time to see if any spots opened up. Note to self: next time I travel to Labuan Bajo book accommodation in advance! Luckily we ended up getting a bungalow at Gardena Hotel, which very comfortable and had a great view ($25/night for 3 people with a fan).
Flores is a big island with much to offer, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to leave Labuan Bajo. We had planned on renting a motorbike and doing a day trip to some waterfalls, but somehow ended up spending all day swimming instead? I guess we were tired after the boat trip!
We had a final dinner with the remaining stragglers from the boat at Made in Italy — one of the most popular and certainly most delicious restaurants in town. Order the Marco Pizza! Still bittersweet though, as yet again I was saying goodbye to some wonderful new friends. Though I learned the next morning that goodbye doesn’t always have to be for long, when two of our favorite Austrians walked into our hotel while we were having breakfast. So of course we had to take them to Laprima’s beautiful pool and our favorite Italian restaurant. Again.
Options for getting back to Lombok or Bali from Flores were: reversing the 3 or 4 day boat trip we had just made (ha maybe not quite ready for that again), flying from LB for around $130, taking a ferry to Bima and flying for $50, or getting a 30+ hour ferry/minibus/bus combo ticket for $40.
And of course these frugal backpackers went with the last option! Ahhh.
Travel by bus and ferry from Flores to Lombok and Bali
We bought our ticket the day before through one of the many tourist oriented shops (bargain!) and they promised us and A/C bus with reclining seats, three free meals, and that one of their representatives would always be there to guide us to our next ferry of bus. Hm maybe not quite, though it wasn’t such a bad trip.
The seven hour ferry from LB to Bima was just like the Scandanavian ferries I’ve grown up with: pure luxury. Or not. We sat in the “plush” VIP section and they even played a movie. Twice!
Then Danielle and I were herded towards a very crowded minibus, where the driver kept insisting that we had to sit on the roof for the two-hour ride because there were no more seats. “Good pictures,” he promised us. We politely declind and instead squeezed into the front of the bus, with Danielle wedged next to the driver and me with my back to her, in prime position for oh so many stares.
A couple hours later and we were in Bima, ready to board our luxury A/C bus, ready for the 15-hour ride. . Somehow I had forgotten that A/C in Asia usually means absolutely chilly (did that work? ha maybe not). With our faces slowly turning blue we had resort to desperate measures: removing the curtains and using them as blankets.
Now we’re back in Bali where we met up with our good friend from Chiang Mai, Jeanna! She’s technically on a visa run, but she managed to extend it a bit to explore Indonesia with us because she’s the best. So excited for our upcoming adventures!