Thursday, March 19, 2015
2/26/15 Day 406 The Slowest and Cheapest Route: Labuan Bajo to Mataram
We have seen the mantas, we have seen the dragons it is time to get out of Labuan Bajo, everything in town is overpriced and overrated, plus we can't afford to swallow any more dust. The easier escape option (easiest would be by flight) is to take the daily morning ferry to Sape for 56,000 rupiah, but we like to do things a little differently. So we chose to take the bi-monthly ferry to Bima for 90,000 rupiah; we are instantly amazed about how local this option really is. We get to the office and it is absolutely swamped with Indonesians, the air was thick with tension, we had no idea how the process works and no one we could ask in English. We assumed it must be due to a lunch break flood of locals and returned later in the day. Getting back to the Pelni office the horde of desperate Indonesians had certainly not decreased but actually increased so we fought our way up to the front with our scrap of paper scribbled with our names, birth dates and our destination, Bima. Slightly less than two hours later and we surfaced with tickets to make our way West to the island of Sumbawa. Ready at midnight for what we thought to be told was a 1:00 a.m. departure. We learned from one of the hundreds of locals milling about that the boat wouldn't takeoff until 5:00 and that they weren't actually locals of Labuan Bajo, but all over Flores and that's why they were waiting there all night, they had no place to stay. All of a sudden it clicked, people from all corners of the island have congregated to catch this bimonthly ferry. In accordance with the strange timeliness of Indonesian transportation the boat was docked at 2 minutes after 5 and everyone was edging towards the ramps that had been lifted by the combined weight of 3 men hanging all of their weight on a pulley. Finding a mattress on the huge ship was a bit of a chore, luckily we found the secret bottom deck before the hordes filed in and we got four beds in a prime corner spot next to a porthole. We fell asleep with a line of Indonesians staring at us like zoo animals...besides that we dozed in and out of our 8 hour boat ride with relative ease arriving to Bima at 1 in the afternoon, just on time. The kota or city center was just a few short kilometers from the port and the bus terminal centrally located from there. The whole town is completely devoid of dogs, but goats on the other hand are adorably rampant, roaming wild in the streets. We took our time haggling down to 150,000 rupiah for the upcoming 10 hour bus ferry bus combo that would deliver us to Lombok the next morning. Swerving like a madman the bus driver somehow managed to deliver us on to the ferry, drive us off to the island of Lombok and all of the way to Mataram by 6:00 in the morning.