Flores island hopping

Hi all!

Island hopping in Labuan Bajo area in Flores was the main reason for the short escape from Singapore. I specifically chose this tour operator (even though it was slightly pricier) for its boat safety and the service quality. And I think every penny was worth it. We started the day pretty early (about 5 am) and headed to Padar island for a short hike to get this beautiful view. I also started to understand why the tour combined this activity with snorkelling. It was HOT! The heat and the sun was super harsh and a mix of dry and humid, totally different from Singapore.




Seriously, just look at how pretty this place is.


After that, it was back to the boat to chase some manta rays at the manta point. Even though I didn’t get into the water because I can’t swim, it was a funny experience witnessing my boat mates chasing the manta cluelessly. Here’s them floating about after failing to see the manta the first time around. Eventually, a rope was thrown to them in the waters and they had to hold on to it as we went in search for the manta. I did see the manta’s head poking from the sea waters, which was really clear.


After everyone saw the manta rays, we headed to the pink beach. This was the main reason I was glad to choose this operator. They brought us to the longest pink beach in the area that had nobody because it was off the main boat route. Here, you can do some slight snorkelling to see baby turtles and sharks (if you’re lucky). But it’s a pretty safe zone for snorkelling. I also saw a squad of squid from the bridge (below) as we were walking over to the beach. The water is actually that clear and pretty (there’s no editing done to this picture)!




The pink from the beach comes from the red corals that has eroded over time due to the waves. The sand here is actually some of the finest and softest sand I’ve felt. You literally sink slightly as you take each step forward. But it’s really fun. It was here I also started to understand why people enjoy beach holidays. Something I usually scorn. This location was sooo pretty I felt slightly sad to leave.








After the pink beach, we headed over to Komodo island. It was noon by the time we arrived, so we did a mild hike, except for a short portion that was slightly tougher because it was very sandy and my shoes didn’t have a good grip on the steep slope. I also experienced my first sun burnt here. That’s how harsh the sun was, considering I don’t burn even without sun screen and being out in the sun for a long time. 20180825_112847

The view from the top of the island, which is where the komodos usually hang in the morning when it is cooler.


There’s this small white patch on the ground in the picture below, and that’s where the komodo have mark its sun bathing spot.


Our one and only komodo that we saw. Male, 26 years old, he was resting next to their water basin. He was just lying there and everyone was pretty calm. But when he suddenly stood to walk to a shadier spot, everyone literally scampered away, yet trying to capture its movement at the same time.


After lunch at komodo island, it was down to Taka Makassar, a crescent beach located in the middle of the sea. At first everyone had to swim a good distance to reach the beach. But after the boat got closer slowly, me and my friend who were the only one left on board could actually walk over. But it was super crowded, so I didn’t head over. Plus I’m really short, so the water would probably reach up to my neck (based on the water level against my taller friend that eventually went in for a dip).


Corals from the boat.



The crescent beach from afar.


The last place for this tour was Kanawa island, a private island open to the public for free. The sand on the beach here was not as nice as the pink beach (more pebble-like), but the waters was still pretty clear. I even saw 2 starfish that was found in the shallower waters.







This marks the end of my first short beach getaway. It was fun and relaxing. Though getting on and off the boat is slightly intense because of how slippery and high the dock is to the boat. So the locals always had to pull us up, in particular when we arrived back onto Labuan Bajo, just in time for the sunset. Till the next post, bye!


Labuan Bajo

Hi all!

I flew to Labuan Bajo over the weekend for a short getaway towards the end of August and it was wonderful. Flying over was pretty interesting…we had to walk on the tarmac to get on the plane in Singapore (which was a first for me in Singapore airport). Then my luggage came out during transit when it was supposed to be put straight through to Labuan Bajo. Our hotel driver arrived late to pick us up, so we were surrounded by taxi drivers who were hounding us to take up their cab rides.


After we were all settled in, we walked about the island (really small) and came across one of the harbours situated near our hotel.


The thing about this place is that it is still in it is developing phase. So it is not as crowded when compared to say Bali. But you can tell it’s headed in that direction when the food here is more Westernised in nature.



Fried goreng pisang (fried banana fritters) sold along the road. Their banana (the green type when ripe) is different from ours, slightly less sweet, slightly tougher. Didn’t form a really good goreng pisang.




A noodle cart.


Each time you walk pass a laundry place, there’s this strong smell of fragrance that wafts pass. Not a good place to wash your clothes if you are sensitive to strong scents.


The dried fish market. Really strong fishy smell and this was as far as I could go. There’s baskets of dried fish being sold. And lots of flies.



Ended the day with dinner at La Cucina, where there was a wonderful view of the sunset. The food was also really good and it was here we discovered how fragrant their black pepper was. I brought back 4 bottles.

La Cucina. Address: Jl Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Flores 86554, Indonesia


Free bread platter. Though the bread was stale so the sides was pretty tough. But the bun (white part) itself when pretty well with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar combo.




My tuna pasta! It’s really good with tuna chunks (instead of the flaky canned tuna) and tasted even better when topped with their black pepper!



A look of the restaurant from the harbour and a closer view of the sunset.



There was this pasar malam just round the corner of our hotel and we had dinner here one night. My friend was craving ikan bakar really badly. The interesting thing is you can choose your fish here form  the stalls and have it cooked for you. But you need to choose the correct type for each dish. My friend chose a fish that had too many bones and the flesh was sticky to the bones so it made it hard to eat the meal. It was a good was to end our day and till the next post, bye!





Hi all!

I’m finally down to my last post from my Japan trip in Mar/Apr. My last full day in Japan was spent at Nikko. If you do not have a JR pass, you can get a day pass from the tourist information centre located right outside Asakusa station. However, my JR pass did cover the JR ride down to JR Nikko, so I bought the chuzenjiko onsen pass (2000 yen) from the local Nikko train station (right beside the JR station) instead. This made it cheaper and I could enjoy unlimited bus rides to/fro to the places I wanted to visit. Side track, my first and only picture with the Shinkansen, just for memory sake 🙂


I actually dropped off at the wrong stop and ended up at taking the ropeway (600 yen/adult) to a viewing platform. It is actually quite pretty to see the water flowing from Lake Chuzenji to form the Kegon waterfall. This was not in my initial plan because it was slightly pricey and my money was stretching slightly thin by then. But as I mentioned, I blindly followed the majority of locals who got off the bus, wrongly assuming it would lead to the observation deck to see the waterfall up close. It turned out to be an unorthodox hiking point of sorts for the locals as they started climbing up an unmarked path with warnings of bears into the forest. I was slightly befuddled and lost at this point and headed back down to the carpark to await for the bus. Spent some time looking at the bus stops led me to realise I got off 1 stop early. Silly me!



Finally at the correct place! The elevator ride (return) costs 550 yen and it gives you the opportunity to witness the falls up close. In my opinion, this is truly the best way to enjoy and capture the beauty of the falls.



Had suiton (vegetarian dumpling soup) at this store below – located right outside the Kegon falls elevator. It totally hit the spot in this cold weather. Topped it up with a yuba croquette (fried tofu skin) and a cup of amazake.




From here, headed down to Toshogu shrine (1380 yen/adult) which I was hesitant to visit because of mixed reviews about how overrated it was. But I genuinely enjoyed my time here even though part of the main shrine building was under construction.





The “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” monkeys are located here and they are honestly quite small (though not the smallest of the iconic wood carvings).



Right opposite the monkeys are the Sonozono elephants.





The tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu.



The super small wood carving of the sleeping cat (nemurineko) of the Sakashitamon gate that leads to a flight of stairs to the tomb. IMG_1875

Beautiful paintings of the dragon on the ceiling.


Aside from that, there’s the Honjido hall that house the “crying dragon”. This is due to the acoustics of the ceiling (where a dragon is painted). Only when one stands under the dragon’s head, can a ringing sound be heard when 2 blocks of wood are clapped together. This is performed by a priest and it is pretty cool to witness it. Unfortunately, no photography/videography was allowed in the hall.

Ended the day by popping by Shinkyo bridge which was located in the middle of the road. You can pay a fee to get on the bridge, but I think it is best seen at a distance (and free). Nikko can be fairly expensive to visit as a day trip, but it was worth it. Till the next post, bye!