Sunday 1 Jan, 2017. Borong to Ruteng. 14th cycling day. 5 hours 45 minutes. 64.3 km. Average 11.2 km/h. 1655 metres up, 540 meters down.
No breakfast! 150k for a simple room and no breakfast?
We prefer you to buy breakfast.
I bet you do, but no thanks. Down the road I found various cakes, rice cakes and donuts (yes Morgan, donuts for breakfast! How good is that? But only allowed when on a cycling holiday in Indonesia. Come with me next time and we’ll eat donuts for breakfast and large mangos for afternoon tea.)
I must have said no to at least half a dozen offers for coffee over the last couple of days. I feel a bit mean each time I say no thanks and keep peddling, but I can’t say yes to everyone that expresses an interest or I’ll never make Denpasar by Jan 20.
Today’s ride included about 30 kilometres climbing 1200 metres. Here is the elevation profile:
I stopped about half way up to catch my breath and hand out stickers when another man appeared in his Sunday best having just been to church and offered coffee. On this occasion I said yes. Rudy turned out to be a high school teacher whose father-in-law, and two sisters-in-law were also teachers. Seemed a very nice family and we exchanged emails.
Further up the hill was a crater lake, Rana Mese, 7,500 for Indonesians and 100,000 for foreigners. I kept going. After seeing the lakes of Mt Kelimutu I’m sure I would have been disappointed. Rana Mese advertised paddle boats for hire.
In Ruteng I was aiming for my second Flores homestay. I wouldn’t call it another traditional village but there was a rock alter and two very large thatched huts.
This one didn’t work out with three different adults saying they know nothing of a tourist homestay and one little girl running away. A bit of backtracking to the Rima hotel which was just fine (100k, and gave me rice and egg for breakfast the following morning.)
The town was quite, lots of businesses closed for the holiday. I was able to scoot around on my bike and find a restaurant easy enough though for another meal of chicken and rice. The currys are lovely but they are an accompaniment to the rice, rather than a dish by themselves. A piece of deep fried chicken seems standard practice.
Monday 2 Jan, 2017. Ruteng to Lembor. 15th cycling day. 7 hours 6 minutes. 67.7 km. Average 9.5 km/h. 827 metres up, 1751 meters down.
My initial plan was to do Labuhanbajo in one go but that would mean a very early start and late finish to cover the 130 kilometres. It would be ok if it was flat but with these hills….. Instead I decided to use my second Flores spare day wild card and break it in two.
I was close to the cave where the Flores Hobbits were found but decided against a visit. A tourist report I read said the cave was bare and lacking in interpretation. However, the pedestrian signs in Ruteng seem to be playing along, with short stature people seemingly being portrayed.*
I pressed on to the Cancar rice fields (which were also lacking in any sort of information on the picturesque paddies. Just pay your 20,000, have a look, and get going was the message – I think what people normally do is with both Hobbit cave and rice fields is to get a motorcycle guide to take you and show you around.) Have a look at the photos below and have a guess what the rice fields’ nickname is.
1000 points to anyone who guessed spider web rice fields. The link takes you to the good folk at the UK’s Daily Mail who will explain more.
Scenes of daily life as I make my mountain climb for the day, the hills hoist hadn’t cracked the Indo market, who needs wire and pegs when you have hedges?
Coming into Lembor I stop for lunch and see a bloke with a hat Morgan would like, if only his name was spelt correctly.
Lembor is small, and I could find no mention of hotels via the usual Google searches. Actually, I did find one, another Flores homestay which promised to be near Lembor. No one at the restaurant had heard of the village, neither had the couple of people I tried talking to on the street. I tried the contact phone number on the site but the number was disconnected. I asked around for a losmen and was directed down the main road. Go that way. That way. No, back that way. Eventually a lady who introduced herself as Rofenah spoke English and was able to do more than just point up and down the road. Neither hotel sign says hotel or losmen. Here is a photo though. Again, I think this could be a good tip for somewhere else as Lembor seems to be a natural spot to stay between Labuhanbajo and Ruteng. I’m at the perfectly reasonable Damai for 100k a night. The Joyo Pangetsu (green sign across the road looks nicer but is in the process of being built. There is currently no office and I could find no one to help.
Rofenah invited me to her place for coffee, which I accepted, after a rest. And then after coffee she invited me to dinner. I’m now resting some more before joining her and her family again shortly.
*Actually, I’ve seen pedestrian signs with people shaped like this all over Flores.