After our two day holiday from the bike, we were back to business today. Since we had reached the western end of Flores in Labuan Bajo, it was time to hop on the next ferry bringing us to Sape on Sumbawa. The ferry goes every day and was scheduled for 8am this morning.
To make this rather early cut-off, we got up at sunrise which is about 5.30am at the moment. Packing still is rather quick (if you don’t have to put the tent down and store all the sleeping gear) so Flo got Rocinante out of her safe parking spot in the hotel yard to put the panniers back on. The bike didn’t fit through the gate to the yard when it was fully loaded so to manoeuvre it, it had to be without luggage.
At 6.45am, we were on the bike, driving to the ferry terminal. These tickets turned out to be expensive, probably because Flo ended up paying bemo fares for Rocinante which means she was treated like a mini-bus. One of the first on the ferry, we again, selected two empty rows for us and I lay down for another nap. Being scheduled to leave port at 8am, we finally left Labuan Bajo at 9.45am. While the cargo hold was pretty full, there were still many empty seats on the ferry. We had feared that it might be overcrowded with the volcano on Lombok playing up and all flights being cancelled. On the other hand, we trusted that vendors will come on to the ferry to sell us lunch but we were disappointed as they only sold bananas and snacks this time. Flo braved his first “Pop Mie” instant noodles cup while I stuck to oreos and TimTams.
We had lovely company for hours on the ferry, meeting Katja, a German backpacker, and Clement, a traveler from Slovenia. They both told us more about a story we heard…a tourist dying while snorkeling at Komodo. At first, it was said through the grapevine (aka news that travelled from boat to boat) that the tourist stayed in the water too long and exhausted herself which lead to her breathing in water and she basically drowned. Katja and Clement said it looked more like a stroke or so in the water. The tourist lady was about 70 years old.
Despite our late start, the ferry arrived in Sape at 3.30ish. So the ride itself was not nearly as long as getting to Flores and passed quicker than we had thought. There was a bit of chaos at the port as everyone tried to leave at the same time and get to their further means of transport on land but we managed to get out fine. We even found an ATM that would let us withdraw about NZ$250. The limit on the ATMs here seems a bit arbitrary and each withdrawal costs us fees at kiwibank.
Coming to a new island is always exciting. Sumbawa is less developed in tourism then Flores but, all in all, it seems to fare better. The houses all look bigger, all built out of stone and quite neat. The fuel at the roadside often comes in little pumps with the same brand as the gas station rather than in reused water bottles. However, there are also horse-drawn carts on the road which seems slightly weird. It’s not a tourist attraction but a legitimate way of travelling. Those poor horses must be close to a heart attack in the dense traffic.
Riding out of Sape, we headed for Bima, a town further north. The road was again in very good condition (but most roads are compared to East Timor) and we came through quite a few roadside towns. Now, it is noticeable that the majority of the people here are muslim. Mosques can be seen quite often and some of them are really impressive. The majority of women also wears hijab, most of them in very colourful tones.
We booked into a hotel for the night and it has free wifi, something we haven’t had in ages. On top of the free-ness, it is also quite fast so Flo is in internet heaven at the moment. 🙂