Bandung to Labuan Bajo --> Tiredness

Trip Start Mar 26, 2013
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4
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Trip End Apr 16, 2013


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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Sunday, March 31, 2013

In our last episode, we ended with Michael and Halef getting to the airport at 3am, eating, and waiting for a flight to Labuan Bajo. Here, we pick this story up. It's boring. Feel free to stop reading.

We got on a plane from Jakarta to to Denpasar, Bali. We were tired on the flight. We had emergency row seats with lots of legroom. The flight attendant explained to the row, in Indonesian, their responsibilities. She then turned to me, the only white boy in the row, and proceeded to tell me the instructions in English. Now, what made her think that Halef, who is Indonesian, but is ethnically Chinese, could speak Indo? In fact, other than a racial Pre-supposition, what made her assume the two Indo guys in the other aisle were? I'm not the guy who thinks everything is racial in any case. I just want to be treated like a white guy who speaks enough Indonesian to understand the emergency row procedures

...WHICH, by the way, the only requirement is a willingness to do it, be over a certain age and not handicapped, AND SPEAK ENGLISH.

Not one of the other people, including Halef, were asked if they spoke English. Halef does. They probably do. But that's not the point. The point is she assumed they all spoke enough English to be an emergency hall monitor. She assumed I knew English. I know a pretty decent amount of Indonesian. So halfway through her spiel, I told her, in Indonesian, that I understand the language.

FYI, I wouldn't know enough Indonesian to save anyone on a downed airplane. And besides, if I'm in an Exit row, I'm getting out first and screw the rest of you. But I figured the odds of that happening were none, so it was better to make myself feel good. The flight made it to Denpasar without incident.

The next leg was from Denpasar, Bali to Labuan Bajo, Flores, our final destination. This plane was probably controlled via remote from the ground, it was THAT small. My first thought upon getting inside was that this was going to be 90 minutes of hell. Surprisingly though, it wasn't bad, even for the 280lb guy in front of me probably. The flight was pleasant. That was probably because the views from it were spectacular. The aerial photos on this post are from this flight.

The first thing you notice when you get off the plane in Flores is the intense heat. It was oppressive. A good fan would make it more than bearable. But on its own, it was awful. We quickly got a cab to try to find a hotel. We didn't yet have one. Today is Easter, so it made it more difficult to find cabs because everything was shut down. Locals were acting as cabbies and charging exorbitant prices to take guests from the airstrip to town.

FYI: Exorbitant = Rp.50,000/person, or roughly $5.00

In Indonesia though, you can usually go pretty far in a cab for a couple bucks. So $10 for two people was very expensive - especially for just a few miles. Fortunately, I have the advantage of 1. Having an Indonesian native speaker sitting beside me, and 2. I was able to throw in a few polite phrases myself, which always makes Indonesian people feel good.

I told him I was Canadian, to which he replied that we were rich and that Americans and Canadians "Good Tipping!" That didn't bode well. I thought we were screwed. I the end though, Halef definitely charmed the guy. He ended up talking the guy into Rp.50,000 for the two of us. And, just to make the guy happy, we also included a tip. Another FYI, outside of the US and Canada, tipping is very rare. In Indonesia, it's just not done. We thought this would be a good exception. And it was only 20-30¢. Nothing for us. Half a meal for him.

After some running around on Halef's part after the first one didn't work out because it had no rooms left with AC, we finally found the Hotel Bajo, right across from our diving center, Dive Komodo. Again, Halef's nationality comes into play. As a local, he got the room for Rp.250,000. The lady after us got rooms for Rp.350,000 each.

After getting checked in, we headed over to the Treetop Cafe for lunch and a Bir Bintang. Halef had the Mi Goreng (fried noodles) and I had the Nasi Goreng (fried rice). His was far tastier than mine - a rare miss for fried rice here. The photo of the boats with Halef holding the Bir Bintang mug was taken here. Nice spot. And we would probably have been better off coming back to here for sunset, but we were told that Paradise Bar was the place to be. It is a 15-minute walk up a hill from our place. Take a taxi? Who wants to waste money on a taxi when it's just a 15-minute walk.

We wish we had!! When we got to the bar, Halef and I (mostly Halef) we're drenched. It was an easy walk. But once we stopped and our bodies were able to process, it was BAD! For the first hour or so, not only was it hot at the bar, we were wet and miserable. But that changed after we were there for about an hour. The sun started to set, and it became bearable, mostly turning nice. The evening shot from the hill patio was taken here.

It was a great evening after all. The ONLY downside here was, I think, the way Halef was treated. It was the first time I'd see something like this, where the Indonesian server only seemed to want to deal with me. He talked to me, took orders from me, thanked me, etc. - even though Halef was the one with holding our money and doing the paying for everything.

My theory is that he didn't see Halef as a tourist, and his job is to cater to white people. He went out of his way to say thank you to me and get my orders out. He barely spoke to Halef. At the end of the night, I got money from Halef to pay the bill. The waiter thanked me, and Halef and I walked out. The waiter said goodbye with a smile.

To me. He didn't acknowledge Halef.

Home to bed!
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