Lemon Badger

Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
1
41
62
Trip End Dec 01, 2012


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Where I stayed
Komodo Indah

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Labuan Bajo, (or Lemon Badger as it was quickly christened by Karens brilliant foreign language and pronunciation skills) is described in the Lonely Planet as "the Next Big Thing in Indonesian tourism". so we had high expectations. In truth it didn't live up to any of them.

We arrived at Lemon Badger at around 4 o clock that first night and after a look around town we headed back for our last free dinner (noodles and….well more noodles – that was it!) After dinner we headed onto dry land to the Paradise Bar for a few drinks with the rest of the group and the crew. It ended up being a late enough one and without a proper feed we had sore heads the next day and were gutted to remember that we were still on the boat!

Having decided to take the cheap/backpacking option of not turning down a free nights accommodation on the docked Komodo boat, we stepped off, dirty, salty, sweaty and not smelling the best, in need of a decent shower, not having washed in 4 days. We were lucky enough that Rob and Daphne had done some hard work the day before checking all the different hotels in town and had found a nice cheap place that they were sure would have room for us as well. We had planned to check things out ourselves but we had spent the evening stressfully trying to decide what our next steps would be after we had foolishly gotten a bit carried away with ourselves in Indonesia, not really leaving ourselves enough time to see all we wanted to see. We now had 5 days left, before we were due to fly out from Jakarta to Vietnam. Jakarta being on the island of Java about 700 or 800 miles away from where we sat in front of a very confused computer screen in Flores. We had planned on having time to see all of Flores, then get a bus/boat back to Java and spend maybe a week or so travelling around the island seeing the sights like the Borobudur temples and climbing Mount Bromo. But wed just enjoyed Bali and the Gilis more than we had expected… and now it was finally dawning on us that we really need to make a decision on what exactly we were going to do.

We had 3 options – 1. Try and fly back to Jakarta, involving 2 flights and nearly 180 euros each; 2. Get a bus from Flores to Jakarta… 40 something hours of a bus, neither of us liked the idea of this one but it was a lot cheaper than flying at only about 35 quid each; 3. Write off the flight we had booked to Vietnam and try and spend more time in Indonesia and then try figure out where to next. To say it caused a heated debate between us would be an understatement, but in the end we decided we really wanted to see Mount Kelimutu on Flores and that we couldn’t really afford to cancel or shouldn’t really sacrifice the flight to Vietnam. Kelimutu was a 16 hour bus journey to the other side of Flores from Labuan Bajo, so that meant if we were to get the bus we would be on the bus from Labuan Bajo to Kelimutu for 16hours and then that meant 16hours back and then we would have to get on another bus for 48 hours so in total 80 hours on a bus in about 5 days. Sounded like absolute hell on earth, so in the end we swallowed our pride and booked an Air Asia flight from Bali to Jakarta and said we would mull over how we were going to get to Bali… basically putting the thing on the long finger, or procrastinating as Im famous for!

Anyway back to Lemon Badger, I mean Labuan Bajo. We said our goodbyes to the crew of the boat, and followed Rob and Daph off towards the highly anticipated comfy beds and showers. It was a nice place and they’d gotten a good price, 80,000 a night, and the showers had those huge shower heads that you normally get in expensive hotels at home. We showered, shaved and basically made ourselves feel human again! Felt like a new man. We headed out for a much needed breakfast with Rob and Daphne, I had a bread overload, Karen and Rob went for egg and bacon burgers… that didn’t have any actual burger in them, Karens face was a picture of disappointment. And randomly I tried my first ever Root Beer… DISGUSTING! It tasted and smelled like drinking a can of Deep Heat spray. Luckily Daph was on hand to polish it off, she inexplicably loved the stuff. With semi full bellies the sleep deprivation began to set in for the rest of them, all in need of a nap we headed back to our rooms (As I mentioned in the last blog, I slept like a baby on the boat. But anyone that knows me knows that I’d never turn down a nap!).

To say we slept like the dead would be an understatement, it wasn’t until, the Mosque next door started up at about half 4 did we stir. In a weird sadomasochistic way I kind of missed the wailing of those tone deaf chaps (at least I know I don’t have a key!) We managed to just catch sunset out over the bay. One thing Labuan Bajo does have going for it is its stunning natural setting, a beautiful bay with many islands dotted on the horizon. But other than that, it’s a bit of a hole! Theres nothing to do and I mean absolutely nothing. Its basically just one busy dusty and dirty street, with crumbling footpaths and open drains. The street is lined with not much else other than travel agencies and dive shops. The dive sites mainly centred around the nearby Komodo National Park, and is supposed to absolutely fantastic diving, but to get to the dive sites from Labuan Bajo involved a 3 hour boat ride there and then 3 hours back. As much as I loved the boat trip over the previous 4 days, I was in no hurry to get back to sea and fancied a bit of time on dry land, so that more less ruled out anything the place had to offer. There were a couple of really nice tourist café/bars and we settle down in on overlooking the bay for some dinner. The waiter was delighted to see us, even knew where Ireland was… albeit just because that’s where Westlife came from! He told us that earlier in the year Tony Blair and Gary Barlow had been in, not together though. We had a look around on the internet and Karen found a flight for about 100 euro from Maumere (near Kelimutu… the mountain we wanted to climb) to Bali that would make it all work out. We’ve given up on the hope of seeing any of Java this time around, but maybe some other time. The problem was the website wouldn’t let us book the flight, every time it got to the final section it timed out. So we were left with having to wait and go to the airline office the following morning and hope the flight hadn’t gone up.

The next morning we woke bright and early, well Karen did, the mosque started up at 4 in the morning (I slept straight through, much to her annoyance). Id say we were probably the first people into the Lion Air office and we were in luck the flight was still there and still the same price. Karen had lost sleep over nothing : ) So it was now nearly 10am and the bus to Moni (town where you have to go to start the Kelimutu climb) leaves at 8am so we had to spend another day in Lemon Badger, and to be honest we were really at a loss what to do. We tried to find the tourist information office… but couldn’t, which was weird giving the size of the town. We had a map to it from the internet but there wasn’t a sign of it when we got to where it should be. So we decided to just chill out, catch up on the blog and emails with a few well needed skype calls home. We found this really cool café restaurant place called Mediterraneano, it had stunning views of the bay, bean bags everywhere and a nice fast internet connection. We ran into Eva and Bernd around town and organised to meet up for dinner later and roped Daphne and Rob in as well.

Feeling like slobs, not quite wasting the day but definitely thinking wed weren’t giving the place a chance, we went for a bit of a walk that afternoon to one of the beaches near town. It wasn’t the worst beach ive ever been on, but it wasn’t great, the water was fairly dirty and there was a lot of rubbish. It’s a fairly common theme about most of Indo that people seem to throw their rubbish everywhere. It’s a pity really. We did find this patch of sand down the bottom of the beach that was in front of the only resort there, and the sand was nicely cleaned and looked like it had just been raked. Other than that it the beach was a bit of a kip.

Later that night we caught up with Rob and Daphne, Rob in the same situation as me… dying to see the United and Liverpool game and holding out hope it would be on in the place we were going for dinner, according to the locals the place had the best chance of showing the game. We were out of luck… only had bloody baseball on! Wed a lovely Italian meal, if a bit expensive, the 6 of us and 2 friends of Eva and Bernd that they had met on Rinjani that they ran into in town. At the end, we said our goodbyes, knowing the way things were going we were bound to run into them at some stage and slumped off to bed ready for a 6am but not looking forward at all to the 16 hour bus journey that lay ahead.

Disclaimer

Yup, not much to Labuan Bajo at all really….it’s the biggest town in Flores but like Tom said, it’s just really one 'high street’ along the harbour. It was a bit of a boring and frustrating stay, but a means to an end – can’t stay somewhere mindblowing the whole time! We didn’t end up paying anywhere near what we originally thought for the flights to Denpaser and Jakarta so everything worked out. Thank God we didn’t have to get the bus back to Bali, wait till you read the next blog of Toms recollection of the 16 hour bus ride to Ende!

 
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