To Reuteng

It took us nearly 3.5 hours to get back to Labuanbajo against the current, but I didn’t mind.

We started at 05:30 and the sun was still low.  The air and sea spray were cool, enough to wake me up after just a few hours of sleep the night before.

Once back in Labuanbajo I ate like one of the Komodo Dragons.  My pack of Ramen Noodles the day before hardly covered the calories needed for my trek, so I ordered two dishes at Gardena and barely stopped for breaths in between mouthfuls.

After gorging myself, I grabbed a local bus to Reteung, the next village.  There is nothing to see there, but the road through Flores is murder, full of twists and turns which makes everyone sick. There probably isn’t 30M of straight road along the way!  It takes hours just to go 100KM and despite the gorgeous volcanic scenery, its not a very pleasant ride.  It wasn’t a good idea starting a bus ride like that with such a full stomach and I had to fight the urge to grab a bag and join the pukers on board.

The bus lumbered up and down the steep hills along the rocky road – I was sitting on the back axle and was bouncing all over the place. Also not good on a full stomach.

About an hour into our journey it started to rain hard, making the going even slower.  Suddenly the bus stopped and everyone jumped off in the rain to peer over the side of the mountain.  I could see the skid marks going over the cliff and already knew what had happened.

“Apa ini?” (what is this?) I asked one of the guys standing in the doorway looking down.

I was hoping he would say “ojek” (motorbike) but instead he answered grimly “bemo” A bloody minibus had skidded off the road and fell the 1000+ ft to the rice terraces below.  We were so high I could see clouds hanging out in the open air where the bus had fallen.  Game over for those guys.

I definitely had no desire to see death today, so I kept my seat on the opposite side of the bus.  Especially considering that I still had 4 hours left to go on that same wet road.

Soon enough, we were back on our way and I was trying to find a place to sleep in Reuteng.  The night air is actually cold here in the mountains.  This is the first time I’ve ever really been cold in Indonesia and didn’t even think twice about taking a frigid shower, even though I was brown from trekking and sleeping on the boat earlier.  I felt sorry for whoever had to sit next to me on the bus to Bajawa in the morning – hopefully they would smell as bad as I did so I wouldn’t feel guilty.

Reuteng was as expected, a nothing village in the middle of nowhere.  Once again, I was the only Westerner and it took all the patience I could muster to deal with the gaping stares.  Am I loosing my vagabonding spirit?  Despite such a great adventure on Rinca, I’ve still got too much on my mind to really enjoy the challenges a place like this presents.

“Challenges” is a politically correct way of saying “pain in the ass”.

The old women here all chew the addictive local Betel nuts, it gives them a buzz and stains their mouths red.
With the blood red juice running down their chins and their staring yellow, intoxicated eyes, they look like zombies after a feast.

Something else interesting, unlike the rest of the world where kids yell a prolonged “helllllooooo” at you, here they always say “hello mister”.  You hear it 10,000 times on every walk.  If they know another word in English after that, it is always “money”.  These aren’t the “poor” kids, they are well dressed and fed, but if I acknowledge their “hello mister” at all, they turn their waves around to show their palms and demand “money!”

Sad, but at such a young age these kids are programmed to think that all Western people are walking ATM machines.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t change a bit as they get older.  If you travel here and are crazy enough to reinforce the behavior by handing out money, I hope a Komodo dragon eats you in your sleep.

In the morning, I’m off to Bajawa, then Ende, then eventually Moni.  All are small towns and villages along the road in Flores. I could bypass them (and probably save money) by booking a 12 hour bus straight through, but honestly I don’t know if my patience and/or stomach would survive the journey!  Unfortunately, I am this deep into the mountains and its a long way out in either direction – so on I go in hopes of seeing the volcanic lakes of Kelimutu then booking a boat out of here!

Forgive me for the negativity and burst of blog updates, I write on my laptop as I go and save them to a thumbdrive so that I can upload whenever I find internet access – which isn’t always so easy.  To be honest, I am really missing the islands and would do anything to get back into the water.  Maybe that’s why I’m cranky – I’ve been out of the sand too long…..shouldn’t be too hard to fix in a place with 12,000 islands!

I’m still contemplating a major move out of Indonesia, maybe to Malaysia, the Philippines, or Fiji.  Unfortunately the rainy seasons and flight prices are making it a very tough decision.  Plus, I hate to leave so much of Indonesia untouched – it still feels like I am just starting here.  My gut feeling says go, and every time I’ve ignored it in the past I’ve regretted it.  While vagabonding, your gut instinct is definitely your greatest asset.

The urge to go back to good old Thailand is overwhelming.  Cumulatively, I’ve spent 6 months there so its definitely time to see something different.  Still, cheap Pad Thai and a place to get some work done for a month is pretty damn tempting!

Be patient with me, time will tell.  Thank you for reading, it seems we are both in for an unpredictable ride.  🙂

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5 Responses to “To Reuteng”

  1. Visit the Philippines, I’d love to read your travel chronicles from our country.

  2. Thailand will be comfortable, in more ways than one. But while one side of you may crave comfort, I am sure the nomad side will put up a good fight.

    Glad to see you are back on the road … and reporting when you can.

  3. Greg,

    I am glad to see you have decided to stay out of the cubicle and continue your journey despite your loss. You are a true inspiration and stir my desire to start vagabonding. I hope your remain safe and wish you all the best. Thank you for sharing your experiences and allowing us to live somewhat vicariously through you.


  4. If you haven’t been to the P.I., you would be in for the time of your life. Nice part is that a lot of filipinos speak pigeon english besides tagalog. There’s some beautiful places to be explored there as well.

  5. I agree with chad, there is a lot of beautiful place in the Philippines, one example would be Boracay and El nido Palawan, that is if you like beaches lots and lots of nice scenery there.

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