Travels with V

Indonesia & Singapore

From pirate's nest to paradise

Labuan Bajo – Angel Island

Now the last phase of our Indonesian journey begins. We’re visiting the easterly island of Flores, a green island that tourists seldom get to see. Flores is probably most famous for the archeological find of the so called “Hobbit”, a small human species that lived here until about 20 000 years ago.

We land in Labuanbajo, a harbour town that’s really in our taste. A cool chaotic place that breathes life and motion. We get a little pirate vibe here, maybe because so much action is taking place in the port, that opens out into a clear blue sea. The waters are dotted with anchored boats, many fairly big and modern, other utterly primitive. Many of those ferry divers out to some of Indonesia’s (and some say the world’s) best dive spots, and the jetties are crowded by young western divers.

But first we have to go to Labuanbajo’s clean and modern hospital to have a check-up of V:s wrist. And then a check-in at our hotel, a sort of diver’s resort. Every morning breakfast is served on our small veranda, surrounded by fantastic flowers and birds. Then we take a stroll down to the fish market, the fruit vendors and the continuously hectic harbour life.

LABUANBAJO FISH MARKET
MOTHER'S LITTLE HELPERS CARRYING THE CANOE

In the evening tables are set on the quay, and gaslights and grills are lit. People are coming from all around to taste superfresh grilled fish. There are no menus, at every entrance all available fish is on ehibition, you just point out what you want for dinner. The men at the grills fan the glowing charcoal intensely with paper fans, and a sticky wood smoke hangs like a fog over the harbour.

But our goal tonight is the restaurant Mediterraneo, a diver’s hangout just as lively and noisy as a trattoria in Trastevere in Rome. The waiters run around like they’re on fire, everybody’s shouting, and guests come and go all the time.

Next morning we’re in the harbour waiting for a boat that will take us to the Komodo national park, just west of Flores. It consists of a handful of islands where You can spot the impressive and terrifying Komodo monitor, the world’s greatest lizard.

We land on Rinca, where we see several of them, particularly around the park guard’s kitchen, where they’re attracted by the food smells.

We are advised to always keep a distance of a couple of meters to the monitors, because they have a nasty bite that could kill you. The guards have only a wood stick to defend us with.

On our way back to Labuanbajo we stop at a small island with a golden sandy beach for some snorkeling. But to my surprise I’m attacked by a fish mob, one of the hoodlums even manages to bite me!

And the day after that we are once again waiting on the jetty, this time with our packed backpacks. A boat takes us out west from Labuanbajo to a small island called Palau Bidari, or Angel Island for tourists. It’s a wee little island that only houses an Eco Resort and nothing else. This will be our home for the next five days, days we will never forget. It may well be the most beautiful, friendly and most idyllic place we have ever visited!

Here’s a short clip from the boat ride to Angel Island, with a long canoe-like boat equippet with double (but not synched) outboard motors:

Angel Island Eco Resort consists of three parts, a roofed platform where meals are served (and a couple of tables placed in the sand right outside), a park with big and robust stone bungalows placed so that each is visually isolated, and finally a half moon sandy bay with crystal clear water and good snorkeling. It’s a cliché but this is f***ing close to paradise.

Our bungalow is spacious, the bed is like the size of half a football field. But the beauty here is the bathroom with just three walls, the fourth is open air!

The Resort was built by a couple from Scotland, both avid divers. The staff is all Indonesian, extremely service minded and professional. The restaurant has a lunch and dinner menu to choose from and the kitchen makes expert meals, both Indonesian and from other cultures. Someone is also a dry martini master!

THE AUTHOR AND THE MARTINI
TWO REALLY COOL WAITERS

The days on Angel Island are lazy and relaxed. It’s low season and few guests. Every morning we say hallo to a little shark patrolling the beach. We do walks across and around the island, swim, snorkel, eat, read. Re-charging the batteries.

Next we will explore more of Flores, the green isle. Join us!

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