The additional 75,000 rupiah departure tax levied on all domestic flights was annoying but beyond that our flight from Bali was executed flawlessly, 20 kilos of luggage for free, a complimentary roll with water onboard, not only did we take off on time, but we landed on schedule at 11:00 in the morning at Maumere Airport on the far East of Flores, East Nusa Tenggera and our flight came complete with an extra Aussie, Gus decided to last minute fly with us for the magnificent volcanoes and scuba diving. The views from the small aircraft windows were absolutely spellbinding as we watched Indonesia sail on by. The bus from Maumere to Moni cost us 60,000 rupiah (5$) along with a few hours of our day winding along the mountains in the lush forests. The most astonishing difference on this side of Indonesia is how much cleaner the rivers and ditches are, the constant flow of trash and plastic is almost unnoticed here compared to other parts of the country. It may be due to the fact that the population is a mere decimal to that of the islands of Java and Bali, but perhaps it is also thanks to the fact that consumerism and plastics have not in the same way decimated the culture and therefore flooded the nature.
Getting to Moni was easy and locals were vying for our attention and tourist dollars at their homestays all along the main road. One in particular, Irwan who scootered up alongside us and gave us an eloquent English description of his not to be missed dining experiences at Bambu Restaurant paired with the fabulous homestay at Maria's next door. In case we sheltered any doubt he presented a tattered and dirty TripAdvisor certificate from out of nowhere, to reassure us that his food was rated highly by the TripAdvisor gods. After examining a few places, enjoying lunch at the Rainbow Cafe and gazing at the rainstorm we decided to just settle for Maria's homestay for 100,000 a room, a mistake that will in the future be duly noted. Julie and Gus additionally opted for the special dinner for 50,000 rupiah apiece for a three course meal. After being delighted by their offer of attendance Irwan seemed to be looming around our rooms excessively it out Kevin and I a bit on edge so we took off for dinner. We opted for peanut smothered gado-gado at a local warung, it was so good we returned for seconds the next day. We also looked up the reviews for Bambu and found out that he is a cheater, thief and liar with reviewers from both Bambu and Maria's guests being ripped off in one way or another. Jules and Gus reiterated the weird circumstances of their dinner the next morning how Irwan had served them minuscule portions and went completely missing in action after serving the last course, cigarette in hand. After waiting 20 minutes they tucked their payment under Irwan's tablet and went to bed, we have a volcano to climb tomorrow sleep is a must.
Upon returning to check out the next day Irwan conveniently greeted us the moment we had finally packed up and locked the door asking us about our day and reminding us that dinners balance was unpaid. I know the hair on my arms stood up as I looked around at my friends disbelieving faces, you have got to be kidding?! Gus and Julie started to explain the situation that he completely ditched out, and that they left the money securely under his tablet. He pretended to act surprised and confused, he brought the volume up many levels when they refused to pay him a second time, and when we turned to walk away the whole situation escalated. He strides in front of us and out of a planter box grabs this dull and rusted machete, we have certainly not had enough sleep for this! When Gus threatens to call the cops Irwan exclaims "I will kill the polisi!" I mean don't get me wrong, my adrenaline was pumping, but this tiny little Indonesian man with a butter knife quality machete, Gus towering over him at least has some comedic quality to it. We had defintely dealt with enough, Jules and I slipped through the alley so we could wait out this nonsense, joined by Kevin and Gus just a minute later. The moral of the story: the man who runs Bambu Restaurant in Moni is a delirious delinquent and I hope his karma catches up with him at some point.
The views over the Komodo National Park near western Flores
That white sand beach
Getting close to Maumere
Our little plane