“Breakfast” at the Asia Wisata consisted of stale doughnuts and lukewarm coffee, a bit of a variation on the usual Indonesian breakfast fare but still not great value for money. The bus arrived at 7:30 but we discovered that only Trish, Sean, Thierry, Ed and Michelle had been booked on it and Linda and I would have to await the arrival of the next one. It duly turned up at ten to eight and then spent the next hour touring around the rutted streets of Ruteng looking for extra passengers!

By 8:45 the driver seemed happy with his load so we headed out of town over a low saddle beneath a forest-clad peak cleaved by a steaming lava dome. The countryside alternated between steep, forested hills and winding valleys and the road seemed to have been reasonably well maintained so we made good time.

The approach to Bajawa was through a landscape studded with truncated volcanoes, forested on their lower slopes then bare and rocky beneath summits swathed in swirling mist.

We spotted Trish as we drove into town and got off the bus outside the Sunflower Losman where we all ended up staying.

Once we were settled in, Thierry, Linda and I went for a walk up to a low hill at the edge of town. One of the locals showed us the path which led up through stands of bamboo and out onto the top of the hill where tall grass grew wide and some stringy crops were planted. The view was quite beautiful, with rows of hills stretching into the blue and grey horizon while the nearer hills were closely farmed and forested. A church, prominent on the far side of the valley, was occasionally picked out by golden rays of light as the wind moved the clouds gently across the landscape.

Another local showed up and offered to take us over to the church but after a few minutes, it became clear that he didn’t actually know the way so Linda and I turned back, leaving Thierry to go on with him. We were only halfway back down to the village, however, when Thierry caught up with us, saying that the fellow had led him down into a gully with no way out so he’d told him to bugger off.

That night, we dined at a popular local eatery and drank cocktails of arak and orange juice out on the porch of the losmen. The local geckos entertained us with their strange calls and Dub, a DJ in his spare time back in Holland, came up with a rap called GEK-GEK-GEK-O!

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