Nusa Tenggara - Eastern Islands of Indonesia
Past World Cycling Tour - 2004
The Indonesian Islands of Bali, and, to a lesser degree, Lombok, are well known to international travellers. However, there's much more to the east in the fabled island chain known as Nusa Tenggara. On this trip, I flew out to Maumere, eastern Flores, then made my way back to Bali through rugged, fascinating Flores, Sumbawa and Lombok, with lots of side trips along the way. This was a year after the notorious Bali bombings, so the limited tourist spots were almost deserted, but happy to see a traveller. Reaching west Lombok, I chilled out for a while at Gili Islands, a small travellers' paradise on the shoe-string trail. I speak enough Bahasa to get by on the basics, and this was a great trip.
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East Indonesian Islands - Route Map
These islands are often called Nusa Tenggara. I flew from Denpasar on south Bali to Maumere on NE Flores. Flores was the most mountainous island, endless steep hills made tougher by the need to adjust to the tropical heat. But also a very interesting place - Christian in largely Muslim Indonesia. I loved the local practice of interring family members in big concrete boxes they kept in the front yard for a few years so they could make sure the departed were still able to hear and see how things were going for the family. Had hoped to make a side trip to Komodo Island to see the famous dragons, but boat rental was real expensive, and there were few other tourists, as this was not so long after the Bali bombing.
On to Muslim Sumbawa for a whole different culture. Great side-trip down to the surreal little surfing haven of Huu along the south coast. On a few occasions, I had alpha monkeys throwing sticks at me for my temerity to ride through their small patches of forest. Perhaps they suspected I might be after the females.
Next, on to Lombok, with towering Mt Rinjani, still an active volcano, in the middle. Threw my bike in a small boat to head out to Gili Islands for some days of idyllic R & R along the seaside. Then back to Bali again.