Oh Flores…

Flores is the kind gorgeous that grabs hold of you tightly, Lonely Planet proclaims.

But as we trudged away from the fifth dingy hotel, still yet to find a room in Labuan Bajo, the ‘next big thing’ in Nusa Tengarra didn’t seem as charming as promised, with its corrugated iron roofed shacks and dour hotel staff who seemed affronted that we’d wish to sully their establishment with our presence.

It took leaving Labuan Bajo on a car tour to see what the guide books were so excited about.

Driving along impossibly steep and winding roads, corrugated iron roofed huts were suddenly quaint, surrounded as they were by palm trees and stunning mountain views.
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See?

Anyway, there are rocky streams emerging from the jungle, reminiscent of Bali’s countryside. Except these ones are lacking the obligatory pile of debris lying next to it.

The stunning jungle landscapes, volcanoes and coastline make up for the vertebrae-shattering drive along still-developing roads.

It nearly makes up for the people in the towns and cities, who seem begrudgingly reliant on tourists. Friendliness is only found in the countryside, and the male population haven’t yet heard that cat calling and leering isn’t OK any more. Walking down the street felt intimidating and I was extremely glad I was travelling with a couple of other people, as doing Flores on your own wouldn’t be fun.

Seeing the sun rise over Gunung Kelimutu was fun, however:

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And posing with a Komodo dragon was also fun (if slightly terrifying):

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So, I’m glad I’ve seen Flores as it’s truly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. And I got to see dragons and a hobbit, which is kind of cool, right?

Those Christians are right, yoga is evil.

In my previous post, I alluded to the amount of yoga I’ve been attempting since arriving in Indonesia. Some of those experiences are just too special to keep to myself.

Particularly the Flying Yoga class. The idea is that you work in pairs or groups and suspend each other in mid-air using your amazing yoga poses and strength. If you possess any, that is.

But before we got to that part, we had to warm up.

The first task was to introduce ourselves, by saying our name – and revealing which animal we’d be and why. Never one to take such things too seriously, I said in a dippy-sounding voice, that I’d be a unicorn, because they’re ‘magical’.

Next, the Brazilian guy co-leading the class (reminiscent of Salvadore of Couples Retreat) whipped out a ukulele.

He then started singing chants to us, which he explained were to encourage the spirit to enter us. We were to join in. I was slightly concerned as I’m not sure I want some strange spirit entering me, and the fact that  I was desperately trying to hold onto the laughter that was threatening to explode out of my big gob meant that my chanting was limited. So I don’t think I was spiritually violated. Phew.

Once the naughty spirit had penetrated everyone else, we started the bonding exercises. The first of which was to hug the stranger – I mean new-found-BFF – next to us for around 30 seconds.

I’m British. I don’t even hug my mother for that long.

After more warm ups involving invasion of my personal space, I felt not only violated, but concerned that I’d stumbled into a commune, and would be asked to contribute my financial assets, and take place in the compulsory orgy that evening.

Luckily (or disappointingly), my paranoid fantasies were not realised and we just did some yoga. It was a bit boring really.

Even so, I declined to be put on the mailing list. I’ve read about grooming.