Monday, July 9, 2012

Riung - Exploring the Other Side of Flores

Back in May we (myself and a small group of other VSO volunteers) decided to take advantage of the long weekend and planned a trip to Riung on the North Coast of Flores. Riung was the perfect meeting spot as it was only a 4 hour drive for me from Ende and a 3 hour drive from Bajawa for Sarah, Alanna and Roland, though notably mention must go to Nancy and Edgar who travelled 10 hours by bus from Maumere to join us! 

Getting to Riung was half the fun for me. This was my first long bike trip. So by 7:00am I was on the road prepared to make frequent stops as needed. Aside from all the road construction the ride was quite enjoyable. The trans-Flores highway tops any road I have ever driven before. It is a narrow winding road that clings to seaside cliffs and climbs mountain ranges through a series of hairpin turns. Most of the highway is barely wide enough for a large bus (thankfully there aren’t very many!) and the general rule goes that bigger vehicles have the right of way (if you are on a motorbike you best get out of the way). 

From the turnoff to Mbay I was blessed with smooth tarmac and no other vehicles.

However, once I reached Mbay I found myself asking for directions at every turn and often being escorted to the correct road by friendly locals. 

But by 11:00am I had finally found my way to Riung and after a failed attempt to meet up with Sarah and Roland at a remote beach (I went straight instead of going through the cow field). We finally all settled into our rooms at SVP Pondok. That night we walked down to the harbour to negotiate a boat and driver for the next day. It turns out that Riung has seen some support in developing its tourist industry and all boats now charge a flat rate for the hire of a boat and driver to take you to the islands (lunch, and snorkel rentals have to be negotiated separately).

After what seemed like weeks of unending rain all across Flores it was a real treat to enjoy some sunshine and such fine company. 

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