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Short Wander to Komodo National Park and Bena Village!

I wanted to go for a getaway once again as a closing trip to my long-long holiday, to the amazing year 0f 2016 and to celebrate my new employment. Yes, I’ve got a job already, and it starting very soon!

Actually, when I came back from Australia, I did bought my ticket from Sydney to Labuan Bajo, with an overnight transit in Bali. I was planning to spend few days in Labuan Bajo, but since I had to take care of my Schengen Visa immediately, I decided to cancel it and spent time in Bali for few days then come back to Jakarta.

Now that I still have chance to visit the national park, then lets do it! Though it will be a very short getaway and a bit different than I expected. I mean, I always wanted to do Live on Board in Komodo, unfortunately this time I only have 4 days 3 nights to go to the National Park as well as the traditional village. So yeah, maybe next time.

It’s kinda tricky to make the itinerary though. I’ve always thought it’s impossible to visit Komodo in such short period of time. And now I have to add traditional village visit in the same period? Err… well I made it anyway.

Day 1 : Jakarta – Labuan Bajo
I took direct flight from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo, with Garuda Indonesia- the only airline that serve direct flight from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo. Arrived at noon and got picked up by the hotel which surprisingly located only 5 mins away from the airport.

I stayed at Sunset Hill Hotel. From it’s name, it’s obvious that this is the great spot to catch the sunset. Well, I liked the hotel. The best point from the hotel lies to the balcony in my room (every room) that facing the ocean. Pretty much outweighs it’s location that kinda far from the city centre. I had to spend IDR 50,000 to go to city centre one way! Imagine if I need to go back and forth for 2 days, it will cost me IDR 200,000! Puh!

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After checking in, I went out to the city centre to get lunch and find a tour for island hopping on the next day. FYI, for a shared tour, you can arrange the route yourself. Since I only have 1 day, I settled with the most highlighted part in the National Park *based on survey* which is Padar Island – Komodo Island – Pink Beach – Manta Point.

Needed a lil effort to find a right tour with a right price. Yep, I need to show off my bargaining skill to many tours along the main road in Labuan Bajo. The prices were vary from IDR 350,000 – 700,0000. I finally opted the one with IDR 400,000 because it includes pick up to my hotel, as our boat will leave extremely early in the morning (read : 5 am).

My first sunset I enjoyed was in Le Pirates Restaurant. Here, the sunset can be enjoyed from the restaurant balcony on level 2 or from a tiny pool on level 3. I would recommend this place to stay too. Though the room will not as spacious as the one in Sunset Hill, nor have the balcony. But at least, it has a good location in the heart of the city.

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Day 2 : The Island Hopping; Padar Island – Komodo Island – Pink Beach – Manta Point

Padar Island was the first stop on today’s islands trip. I spent nearly 1 hour to get to the top and cherished one of the most breathtaking view in my life. FYI, the trek was not difficult, just medium. Better use proper trek shoes though! I used flip-flop and it was irritating to get slip many times.

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From Padar Island, we continued sailing for 1,5 hour to get to Komodo Island. Soon as we arrived, we register ourselves and buy the ticket in the office. I’m sorry but I was very disappointed towards the ‘very-traditional’ ticketing system in Komodo. Helllooo?? In the year of 2016, and as a tourism spot that fully supported by the government, why on earth they still use and count the ticket price manually – with a calculator ??!

Also, they had us to pay various amount of money, for the National Park entrance, retribution, beach entrance, ranger fee. Duh! Why don’t they just simply make the package and sum it up. It will save time and paper (yep they use different paper for each fee)

Anyway, at the end this was the price we pay : IDR 70.000 for locals and IDR 240.000 for foreigner.

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We took a medium trek, which is not bad. Basically I didn’t want to have so much hope to see the dragon in the island.  My research says that the right island to find Komodo is actually in Rinca, not in Komodo Island. But, since most of our destination today lies around Komodo Island, so here we are!

But it wasn’t bad, really. I got to meet few of them on the trek. Please manage your expectation of the dragon. They are not that huge, doesn’t have wings and doesn’t do fire-licking. They are just a giant lizard – a quiet dangerous giant lizard. Don’t get too close I warn you!

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Ola Chica!

After spending for about 1,5 hour walking through the medium trek, off we went to Pink beach which also lies on the other side of Komodo Island. Again, do not set your expectation too high. The beach is not gonna be pink – pink.  Though, when you hold the sands with your hand, you will see the pink grains clearly.

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It was around 2 or 3 pm when we heading to the last destination – Manta Point! I would say that was the highlight of the trip!! Right after our boat stopped, we could see some mantas swimming gently on the surface around our boat! Whooaaa, I joined them right away – for sure! Though the visibility was not that good, but I still can see them super clear since they were so many and so big! Probably there were dozen of them! I was incredibly happy and excited to chase them around. They were too adorable to be true!

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We came back to the main island accompanied by sunset on the sea! Oh, if you happened to have dinner in the city, please manage to taste the street seafood in the market! You won’t be disappointed!!

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Day 3 : Labuan Bajo – Bajawa – Manulalu Hill – Bena Village

Other place that I wanted to visit in Flores besides Komodo National Park is it’s authentic village!! There are many of them on this island. The most popular one is Waerobo which located in Manggarai. But it needs more than 5 hours to access the village by trekking. Definitely did not suit my time situation. So I tried to find another option which was Bena Village. It is further if compared to Waerobo (from Labuan Bajo), but the access to get there is still make sense to my timing. No hours of trekking required, all I need is just to get a flight and rent a bike!

Yet that was my shortest flight ever. Ever! It took 15 mins for take off process, then 15 minutes flight, then another 10 minutes for landing. Funny huh!? I didn’t even have time for napping.

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I’m happy that I found a cool villa in Manulalu Hill – named Manulalu Bed and Breakfast. Need less than a minute scrolling down through their instagram to decide whether I would stay there. The place was super lovely and perfectly located 15 mins away from my main destination, Bena Village. Though it took 1 hour to get there from the airport (P.S : you can arrange airport transfer with the B&B!)

It is possible to walk down to Bena Village from the B&B but I don’t suggest you to. Because It will take maybe 40 mins by walking – I guess. I rent a bike only as reasonable as IDR 100,000 for a day. There are a lot of village nearby, but I only visited 2 of them, Luba and Bena. Both of them situated just within 500 m to each other. Not so much different between those 2, only Bena is way bigger.

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The people were really nice, they would happily talk to you and answer all your curious question about the village. Once, there was an old lady keep waving at me from afar, asking me to come over to her house. When I finally got at the front of her house, she hug me tightly, hold my hands, and hand me a tiny pineapple while giving me bless. So cute!

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Before going back to B&B I continued the ride to Malanage hot spring. This hot spring is famous for both hot and cold current. You will be able to find a super hot water on some part of the river, while the water next to it is incredibly cold. You gotta find the perfect spot of mixed water somewhere lower. Cool, eh? I got there on the late afternoon, joining locals for a quick dip in the river. Then headed back to the B&B before dark.

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Did I tell you about the B&B yet? Oh yes, here it is :

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Day 4 : Bajawa – Labuan Bajo – Jakarta

Woke up early to enjoy this stunning view on my breakfast and had a quick visit to Manulalu view point before going to the airport. Just 2 mins walk from the B&B!

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Beyond happy that I did this trip!
Now I am ready to hit the office job – again 😀