On leaving Riung, regardless of the destination the advice is to head east and then south to Ende to get back to the good road the easiest way possible. I considered that option for a split second but quickly concluded that it wouldn't be in the spirit of "Following the Front Wheel" and besides I'm on a Postie Bike so rough roads hold no fear for us.
Bayu (owner of the homestay I was in) told me that on the road to the west along the north coast, the first 30km were very bad but after that it was good road. So west it is then. I'm so glad I decided to go that way, I had a fantastic day, and here's why.
The road starts out pretty bad but gets worse soon enough.
Long downhill washed out sections of dirt and equally long washed out uphill sections.
Bits where the road has collapsed.
But rewarded with incredible views of calm shallow bays that are fished by man and monkey alike. I was never quick enough with the camera to catch any monkey action, they are hunted for the table in these parts so understandably are a might skittish.
I came to a village not more than 8km out of Riung and saw this lady weaving under the house. I signaled that I'd like to come over for a look and was invited in. After getting permission I took some pics and video.
The weaver near Riung Flores from Robin Thomas on Vimeo.
Then produced a print for her which had the usual effect of spinning her and her friends out completely. She started yelling instructions at one of the younger girls who raced up the steps, inside and then came out with an A4 size card with these pics on it.
She was clearly pleading with me to make a print of this card which of course I did. I have no idea of the importance of that card but she was overjoyed to have a copy.
I continued on up the road stopping for pics and to rest the body from time to time.
A gratuitous shot of PB
Followed by a shot of engineering excellence.
About half way along the dirt section I came upon a tourist "Eco Lodge" which was fortuitous as it's Flores Coffee time.
A nice place run by the lady in the pic above and owned by her and her French husband. Seems he's in France drumming up business and she's holding the fort. It's a nice place, very remote though and a bugger of a drive to get to it.
The road now was good gravel and I was making good time getting all the way up to 40kph at times. And then almost at the 30km mark exactly.
White lines and everything and all to myself. I was fairly flying along now and making good time. Look at that road and the views and NO TRAFFIC, this is bike heaven
Riding over a bridge a splash of bright colours caught my eye, laundry day by the river.
Passed through a number of villages where the materials used in house construction are a blend of traditional and modern.
Continued on a similar vein until the small town of Reo and then the road heads inland along a river where all sorts of activity are on the go.
The road stayed in remarkably good shape apart from a few small sections where the tarmac had broken up or been destroyed by land slips. I was now climbing some serious hills again with several first gear sections. There are masses of terraced mountain sides for rice production. I've put pics of this in on other days so will leave them out here.
It was getting on for lunch time and apart from the fried banana breakfast I'd not eaten so stopped at this mobile Bakso Kitchen for a fortifying soup. Great value, a beef stock with noodles, beencurd some veg and two boiled eggs. I don't like the beef balls they put in so opted for the extra egg. A good feed for $1
Mobile Bakso Kitchen from Robin Thomas on Vimeo.
After this the road enters a high altitude valley completely given over to rice production and harvest was in full swing. By this time I was in light rain so sorry but no pics. The rain got heavier so the wet weather gear came out for another test. It's a suit I picked up at Biker7 in Japan and it's very good. The jacket is a nice bright Honda red; with that and my white beard the kids along the sides of the road must have thought Christmas had arrived early.
I get all sorts of reactions on this trip, mostly it's a friendly "hello mister" yelled by one and all and a big wave. Sometimes it's a shocked "whoa" but on a couple of occasions I've had kids turn on their heels and bolt as fast as their spindly little legs will carry them. Not sure what that's about but Simon, whom I met on the ferry to Larantuka did say he had at first thought I was a priest!
I thought I might make it all the way to Labuan Bajo and probably could/should have but I saw and decided to stop at this homestay about an hour before and in the mountains above the city. Note to self, avoid like the plague any homestay with a 2 year old. The kid cried all bloody night.
So now kicking back on the deck of a restaurant overlooking the rocky islands dotting the shores of western Flores Island. tomorrow I go to those islands because, there be dragons.