The bus to Ende picked us up right on time then, or course, spent the next hour cruising the streets of Bajawa looking for extra passengers, passing the bus station at least 6 times in the process. Only Thierry, Linda and I were on board: the others had decided to stay in town for a bit longer.

The journey to Ende took us through some quite spectacular country, beginning with the wooded, volcanic skyline around Bajawa then following a long valley which ran around the bases of a huge volcano clothed in deep green rainforest and riven by a jagged chasm from its summit to its base.  From the gash in the reddish black rock issued a seething cloud of gas and smoke and on the lower slopes of the volcano, deeply-eroded gullies were scored into fields of blackened ash and pumice.

Around midday we left the forested valley as the road climbed out onto a high rolling plateau of tussock and scrub. We stopped for a meal of Nasi Sop Sate (rice, meat, salad and peanut sauce) at a small village on the plain where a warm wind blew down from the hills, then followed a good road down towards the coast through a fertile landscape of rice paddies where a bountiful harvest was in full swing.

The coastline leading along to the Ende Peninsula was quite spectacular, with beaches of black sand and steep sandstone cliffs. Ende itself was less spectacular, however. The bus stopped about 3 kilometres outside of the town centre in an obvious scam to get people to pay for a bemo ride into town. We resisted the advances of the cunning little cunts who climbed, unbidden, onto the roof of the bus and threw our packs down onto a waiting bemo van, and set off to walk.

Thierry set off on his one to find a bank while Linda and I sat on a street corner listening to innumerable calls of “Hallo Meester, where you go?’

When Thierry rejoined us (having not found a bank) we set of to walk to our chosen accommodation. It began to rain just as we got to the Losman Iklas and it pelted down for an hour or so. 

Thierry wanted to go and find the local office of Merpati [Indonesia’s domestic airline] to book a flight back to Denpasar and as Linda and I had decided to fly across to Kupang, in Timor, we went with him¹.

The Merpati office was staffed by a very helpful and friendly woman who not only booked our flights to Kupang for the following Tuesday but also reserved us seats on the Kupang-Darwin flight for the next day. The cost of the Ende-Kupang flight was R87,00 for two: rather a lot of money but worth it for all the hassle it would save.

We ate at the losman that night and around 8:30 PM Ed, Sean, Trish and Michelle all turned up. 

¹Our original plan had been to keep travelling overland all the way out to the village of Larantuka, on the eastern tip of Flores, and take a ferry across to Kupang. But we were running out of money and had been on the road for a long time so the prospect of retuning to Australia was beginning to get very appealing.

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