Day 9 – Bajawa to Ruteng to Labuanbajo

I spent most of today in the 4WD, trying not to puke my guts out. The road winds round and round the valleys, hills and coasts. The idea was to cover Bajawa → Ruteng → Labuanbajo, which in most itineraries, would take 2 days. This way I’d save one extra day to base myself in Labuanbajo. However by doing this, I miss the Soa hot springs and Wawo Muda, a series of yellow mini-lakes over the landscape, creating around 2000-ish when some volcano exploded. 
Set off at around 7.30am, along the way to Ruteng, passed by more highland area, cool morning and more flowers. Stopped for a short while to catch a bird’s eye view of Lake Ranamese, which is 20m down below, just off the main road. Somehow, the landmark on the road is a brick wall. Look behind the wall and you see the lake. Weird. 
Stopped for lunch in Ruteng, another town set in the hills. This is in the Manggarai region, the ikat worn is not so fanciful. The architecture is interesting, bamboo criss-crossed a la ketupat make up the walls, covered by zinc thatched roofs, seen on all the houses by the road. Nasi Padang again for lunch. 
After lunch, made the long way down from Ruteng to Labuanbajo. The road here is pretty bad, with potholes and gravel. On the way, stopped at Cancar Village (10,000 Rp donation fee), which is basically a point up a slope overlooking the padi fields below. The interesting bit is that the padi fields take the shape of a giant spider web, all pointing towards a center point. Took some shots, then off we go again. 

Reached Labuanbajo at around 4pm. This place looked fantastic from afar, the bay itself with views of the nearby islands and boats docked at the pier. I booked a place at Gardena Hotel, on the main beach road parallel to the sea, cheap rooms were full so I took a 125000 Rp room. It’s a bit of a culture shock, for the last 9 or so days, there were hardly any tourists, and now everywhere you turn are tourists who had just got off two boats from Lombok. Dumped my stuff, went downstairs, again some fellow tried to talk me into a two day package to Komodo and Rinca, waved it off and decided to look for myself around town. 
There were a bunch of dive shops here, some things to get done. First I confirmed my flight with TransNusa on the 25th, there were two angmohs, Martin and Alisa who had got off the Lombok boat and booked a dive trip out tomorrow with Dive Komodo. I decided to join up as well. It was 800000Rp for 2 dives, plus a 225000Rp entrance fee for Komodo National Park. Next I had to get some cash from the ATM, a 1km walk down the road. Spending quite a bit now, there’s still 2 days and 2 nights out in Bali to consider. :(  
Came back, sat around for a bit with Martin, who’s english and has a bar in mallorca, and lisa, who works to set up programs with some NGO. Had dinner with them, some hot plate, but I still prefered Padang, ;) , then went off to get my first Internet fix in 9 days. It was near the BNI ATM, up above the Pagi department store, on the third floor. The speed is atrocious, after an hour (5000Rp, I got to read some emails, it’s too slow for the reply email to load, so I gave up. Went back to room bought a Martabak special tried to sleep early.

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