Flores Pt. III – The Blossoming Island

It was nearly five when my alarm sounded; the faint cool wind drifted from out of the window, blown by the ceiling fan, and brushed my cheek, lulling me back to sleep. I forced myself to wake, however, for I had an appointment with a man that will take me around the islands of Riung that morning. Finished washing myself, we traveled down the main road of Riung towards the dock. Riung is a recently growing town due to its tourism potential; its seventeen offshore islands, along with deep diving spots with intact coral reefs and lively biota is definitely a huge asset for the town. Its small age in the field of tourism, however, meant that the facilities provided in the town were very limited; there were two inns, and a couple of small restaurants. Not to mention the roads to get to the town was a small road, enough only for one car, surrounded very tightly by tall shrubberies, with no guiding signs – it literally took us hours to find our way into the town from Mbay. Riung had, in the local’s term, just recently bloomed. Riung’s young age, however, had a couple of gains; for one, Riung was empty from tourists; for another, the people of Riung was still maintaining their traditional lifestyle, and thus some things were still visible – such as an old fisherman and his fishing net early at dawn.[gallery type="rectangular" ids="1785,1786,1784"] A day away from Riung, is the port city at the western end of Flores – Labuhanbajo. The name itself meaning ‘The Port of Bajo’, Labuhanbajo harbors tens of ship of all sizes around its coastline. The feel of Labuhanbajo itself was an echo of Riung, or perhaps the it goes the other way around, with Riung echoing Labuhan; regardless, both towns has their ports, boats, and multiple island outside of its shores. Unlike Riung, however, Labuhanbajo is a port located right beneath a mountain, which produced a wonderful sight for those who had never seen it. Also unlike Riung, Labuhanbajo was much more developed – its port was lined with diving companies; most of which are owned by foreigners, its city houses many more hotels compared to ruing, and constructions could be seen all throughout the city. The reason for this entire crowd is the many islands outside of Labuhanbajo, including the Island of Rinca, and the Island of Komodo. Many companies offer their boating and diving services to foreigners; they would take them to diving spots, or simply take them on mini cruises around the islands. Despite its massive outgrowth, Labuhanbajo is also considered as blooming by the locals due to its young age in the field of tourism – a mere two years. Labuhan panorama-2-2 [gallery type="rectangular" ids="1789,1791,1790"] Despite their differences, both Labuhanbajo and Riung shows what Flores trully is; an island full of wonders yet to be explored. Whether or not the tourism waves will good for Flores in the long run is yet to be known. I have heard of people comparing Labuhanbajo to Bali's Denpasar, but in my honest opinion, I think Labuhanbajo, given time and care, will give Denpasar a run for its money. In the end, Flores currently is truly, a blooming island.