Day 1: Labuan Bajo to Bajawa

Not quite an early start

I managed to get myself out of bed by 0645. Whilst I had been aiming to pick up the bike at 0700 and head off by 0800 that wouldn’t be possible anymore. I still needed to pack my day bag with everything I would need for the next 4 days.

After a bit of faffing around, I dropped my bag off at the dive centre, got a quick bite to it then continued on to the bike shop. Hans didn’t disappoint with his very German way of doing business. He had a perfect filing system for all of the forms. He had meticulous notes on the damage to the bike. The form I had signed had a detailed list of the existing damage to the bike. Hans made it a point to show me each point checking that I agree with the list and that there’s no other damage not documented.

Hans gave me another briefing. A very good briefing actually. But it meant I would be extending my trip.

  • Day 1: Lubanbajo to Ruteng to Bajawa (if possible)
  • Day 2: Bajawa to Moni
  • Day 3: Moni to Bajawa to 17 islands (Riung)
  • Day 4: Around Riung
  • Day 5: Riung to Bajawa
  • Day 6: Bajawa to Labuanbajo

While Hans gave his briefing I made a few annotation to my maps.me app that should help me along the way.

Hit the road Rosh

So by about 1030, I was finally ready to leave, but I headed back to the dive shop first get a few more things from my backpack. I needed a few extra supplies for the additional days. I also needed to stop for petrol. But I finally set off.

The start of the trip was easy, the roads were good, as promised there were a lot of bends in the road, but they were fun to ride around with the sun shining.

After 30 minutes, I found the cell tower. Opposite it was the pillars and arch to the waterfall. I turned right and headed down. I had to slow down, the road quickly became bad. I knew it would be about a 20-minute journey on the bad road so I tried to take my time.

After 10 minutes, the centre of the road became really rocky and bumpy. I moved to the side of the road where it would be easier to ride on. I squeezed the breaks to slow my speed and lost my back tyre. It slid out. I was travelling about 20-30kmh (maybe less, I couldn’t tell). My bike fell. I was flung off the bike.

I fell on my right side and hit the road hard. 6 seconds later after I stopped moving. The pain began to surge through my body. I yelled loudly. It just felt like the right thing to do.

I did a quick scan down my body. I had been extremely lucky. My ribs hurt on the right side…a lot. My right leg hurt. I had a graze on my right leg and arm.

I knew I needed to clean my gazes up so they wouldn’t get infected. I thought I was quite close to the waterfall so I rode on and thought I’d sort everything out there. But after 10 more minutes of riding I found a quiet place on the side of the road to clean myself up.

I was tempted to give up but saw some other tourists drive past. So I prepared to continue on. They came back a few moments later and said the waterfall was about 3 minutes away but is a 1-hour trek there and 1 hour back. I pressed on anyway.

I drove carefully down. After finding their bikes, I pulled up and was offered to be taken there by a local guide. He showed me into the jungle. When he saw that I could keep up moving fast, we jogged to the waterfall.

The Waterfall

The waterfall was nice but nothing special…

I would have swum in the waterfall but didn’t feel like it having just put some dressings on the grazes. So I took a few snaps with the camera then told my guide I was ready to head back.

image

We moved fast on the way back, but the way back was all uphill which was tougher. My ribs were really aching by the time we got back to the main road.

 

Slow progress

I had wasted a lot of time between my slow start in the morning and falling off the bike. So I gave up any hopes of making it to Bajawa. I’d have to aim for Ruteng which was only 130km from Labuanbajo.

I drove fast but cautiously to try and make it to Ruteng before it got dark. I could make it within an hour or so, provided nothing else went wrong.

As my bike climbed the mountain the temperature cooled rapidly. I was very quickly driving through the clouds. I felt the humidity change – increasing the higher I climbed and lower the temperature dropped. No surprises what came next. Rain.

Everything in my bag was already in plastic bags and my day bag is fairly water resistant. So I put my rain coat on.

So I continued but had to slow down.

It took me until night fall to get to Ruteng and I didn’t make it until after dark. Fortunately the rain started dying down as the sun set so I didn’t have to deal with both poor lighting and wet roads.

In Ruteng I wanted to stay at a place called the Monestary but nobody knew of it. I asked somebody to point me in the direction of a hotel. He motioned for me to follow him. The hotel was a bit pricey but I was cold, hurting and just wanted a warm shower.

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