Archives for posts with tag: Boat Trip

Another early wake up, we see the sun rising as we cover the last little way towards Komodo Island. We are traveling through a channel between 2 land masses and the water is weird here, lots of little whirlpools and odd looking currents running in unpredictable directions. We are all eating breakfast, buffet style as usual, when the boat hits what must have been a very big whirlpool, the deck tips rapidly and food and hot beverages go flying, fortunately the boat rights itself quickly and the crew have the mess cleaned up and food replaced so fast that 2 minutes after it happened you couldn’t even tell.

Arriving onto the island we are split into 2 groups and each group has 2 Rangers. Each Ranger carries a stick taller than their height; the stick is forked near the end and quite sturdy. This is to keep the dragons at bay in case they come towards us as they are wont to do apparently. We are also informed (a bit late I might add) that if any of the women are `at that time of the month` it is not advised that they do the tour as the dragons can smell it and will likely attack, information that might have been provided when booking one would think. Fortunately none of us ladies has Aunt Flo visiting (or none of us admit to it anyways) so everyone gets to go see the dragons.

It`s about an hour hike through a dry landscape, this is not the rainforest. The dragons aren’t caged, they roam wild in the area we are walking in, one Ranger in the front talks about various plants and other wildlife we see while another Ranger brings up the rear, watching our backs. We see a small dragon right away, it`s quite young and looks very much like a large monitor lizard, we all take about a billion photographs of course. We continue our walk and see lots of wild deer, some beautiful white cockatoos and a couple more Komodo Dragons, each one successively bigger than the one before it. The last one is longer than I am tall, and probably outweighs me by about 50 to 70 pounds. He is laying on the trail as we approach and lazes around for a bit, blocking our way, until it decides to start heading down the path in front of us. We follow him, jockeying for positions near the front on the narrow path so we can get more pictures.

Intimidating.

Showing a little tongue for the close up.

We finish the hike at an area where the Rangers live and it`s here that we see the most dragons, they come and hang out around here because they can smell the food the Rangers cook and it attracts them. There must be about eight of them, hanging out, lurking in the shadows under the stilted buildings. Everyone goes photo crazy and the poor Rangers have their work cut out for them trying to make sure we are all safe. As we head to the pier to get our ride back to the boat we pass through a gauntlet of souvenir touts selling sarongs and Komodo t-shirts, “real” pearls and carved Komodo Dragons.

The typical landscape we are traveling through.

It’s time for more travel, spending that time lounging around the boat, napping, sunbathing, reading, flirting with “The Italian”, etc. etc. In the afternoon we hit up our last snorkel spot, a place called Pink Beach. It`s pink because mixed in with the creamy white sand are tiny pieces of coral coloured coral, it`s subtle but quite pretty when you see it close up. It`s the prettiest beach we’ve visited, made even more so by knowing it`s our last stop,  there is that sense of bittersweetness that happens at the end of a journey, you are excited about the place you will be visiting but know that everyone will be parting and the company has been lovely. A couple of the girls find a half of a giant clam shell, it`s been bleached by the sun to a perfect white and I can imagine it being home to a miniature Venus. I get this shot as a memento of “The Italian”, a perfect Michelangelo moment.

“The Italian”

As we are nearing Flores, our final destination,  a couple of dolphins come alongside to play in the wake from the boat, we are all mesmerized, lots of ohs and ahs and giggles, what a perfect ending. Those of us who are disembarking do so once we arrive in Labuanbajo, some people are staying on board for the 2 day return trip to Lombok (including “The Italian” sigh). There is a farewell party back on board tonight though, so we find accommodation, get cleaned up and head back for final farewells. It’s a fun night and my 3 day Italian flirtation cumulates into kisses under the stars.

Advertisements

Waking early, with the sunrise, we have almost arrived at our first location, a saltwater lake, formed when the top of a volcano blew off and the sea rushed in to filled the gap. There may be little fish here that like to nibble on your toes, like the fish spas all over SE Asia, I’m not thrilled by this prospect, yuck. We breakfast and then head on over to the island. A short hike up a steep hill and we get a view over the ocean and the lake at the same time. Our guide, the lovely Gary gives us some history about the place which, frankly, I don`t listen to. Back down the hill and we head to the lake. The water is murky and there is greenish brown algae covering all the rocks visible at the water’s edge. Not too enticing but I decide to go in anyways, it’s early in the morning, I haven’t showered today and maybe it’ll wake me up a bit. I wander off along the rocky shore a little bit away from the others, strip down to my suit and jump in. It is refreshing actually and thankfully there aren’t any of the nibbly fish. It’s not that I’m scared of these fish; it’s that when I have seen them in fish spas all over SE Asia it has grossed me out, chewing on dirty tourist feet all day, day after day, in the same water, ew.

Nobody seems overly impressed with the lake, only about half of us even bother going in. It’s a short walk over a small hump of land back to the beach we arrived on and most of us head back there early. This is definitely a filler activity on the way to Komodo. Back on board we get underway again, still moving eastward. Our next scheduled stop of the day  is for snorkeling, due to the tides we have to anchor fairly far out from the site and swim through deep water to get to where it’ll be good. Andy and I have teamed up as snorkel buddies, we both wanted it, having someone keep an eye on my back always makes me feel much more comfortable in the water, her as well. So we buddy up and explore, staying in the water for almost an hour. The swim back to the boat is long and a little creepy being in such deep water but the snorkel was good.

We’re in for an afternoon of travel now, and the seas are a bit rough, some people start to feel nauseous. Plus most of us are pretty tired from the early morning and activities of the day. Sea sickness pills are offered around, I take some as a preventative measure, for some people it’s too late they’re already feeling awful. The deck slowly becomes covered in randomly scattered mats, the ones we use for our beds at night, as more and more people succumb to naps.

It’s probably planned but the crew takes pity on us and we make a stop near sunset at a beach made up of tiny shells and rocks. The crew have caught some fish while we were snorkeling today and they bring them ashore to gut, cover in sauce and then cook over a wood fire they start. We all just hang out, have a short stroll, taking photos and having beers and enjoying the sight of the sun setting and the smells of the fish cooking.

 

Once the fish has cooked and darkness has fallen the first boatload of us are taken back to the big boat, it usually takes 3 trips to get us all back. When the boat returns to the beach there is a problem and the engine will not turn over, they have to paddle the tender back empty, while everyone stays on the beach, to get the tools to fix it. With typical Indonesian ingenuity and a bit of muscle, they whip it back into shape and everyone arrives back on board eventually. Dinnertime and it’s not the fish they just cooked (we get it tomorrow at lunch made into a curry) but it’s plentiful, I’m actually impressed by the quality and quantity of food provided on this boat.

We all spread out on deck again, socializing. The water is still rough so it’s all fairly low key. “The Italian” and I have engaged in some low level flirting, it’s tricky with the language barrier, his English is not so good and my Italian is essentially non-existent, but the chemistry is there (to my surprise) and the flirtation is subtle and ongoing.

I get my passport back, freshly visa’d, and the next day I backtrack all the way down the coast to Padang Bai, time to return my lovely little moto. I’d assumed that I would have to spend a night in Padang Bai before catching the ferry to Lombok, but luck is on my side. I manage to catch an evening sailing of the slow ferry, only 4 hours which turned into 5 as we hovered in the Lombok Harbour for an hour for no apparent reason. I’ve signed on for a 3 day boat trip from Lombok to Flores Island, with a stop on Komodo Island to see (what else) the Komodo Dragons. I’ve gone with Perama Tours as they seem to be the only option. This boat holds up to 40 passengers, some of who pay extra for cabins but most of us sleep on deck. I’m nervous about this trip, what if it’s a 3 day booze cruise filled with vomitous 20 year olds?

After a short nights sleep in Mantaram I’m at the Perama office in the early morning where I’m handed my tour t-shirt, oh goody, this bodes well. The bus arrives, having already picked up almost everyone else in Sengiggi and I plop myself down next to someone who it turns out, I’m going to know for quite some time. However at this point we’re all sleepy and we cover the few basics of conversation eg: where are you from, name, where been, where going etc. And then we are delivered to the local shopping center to pick up anything we may need or have forgotten.

Shopping done and few more people met and I’m starting to feel pretty good about this trip, everyone I’ve met seems nice, friendly and not too party crazy, this could work out really well. We spend the next hour or so driving across Lombok, we need to get to the Eastern shore to get on our boat. On the way we make a stop at a village where we are introduced to the mysteries of Indonesian pottery making. I confess, I’m not that interested and spend the time wandering around the village poking my nose into doorways, snapping photos and trying to talk to locals.

I catch up with my group as we are loaded back onto the bus and then driven a bit further for a rest stop where we are fed fried bananas and tea or coffee. My seatmate and I, ok ok, her name is Andy, a beautiful French Canadian woman, Andy and I sit on the deck sipping our beverages getting to know each other. I like her already and don’t want to come across like some fawning puppy, but you know when you meet someone and you just know that you’re going to be friends and that’s kinda exciting, it’s like that. Anyways this is when I catch my first glimpse of “The Italian” and I comment to Andy what a fine looking specimen he is. Oh goody, I’ll have some age appropriate eye candy for the next few days, what a treat!

Finally we arrive at the boat, get acquainted with it and each other and start out on our adventure. Our first stop is Perama Island, a very small place where we will spend a few hours. First up, snorkeling and beach time, then watching the sun go down behind Mount Rinjani on Lombok. This is followed by a bbq dinner prepared on the beach and one of the crew playing guitar and singing along. It`s a great afternoon and early evening and a perfect way to get to know each other. We all seem to like each other, it`s a very comfy vibe, what a relief. I start to get an idea that “The Italian” may hold some interest in me as well, hmmm…a flirtation may be brewing, how nice. We`re back onboard by 9 pm and set up our beds on deck. It’s like a big slumber party. We are warned that we will be waking up with the sun so as to make the most of our days. With this in mind we bed down fairly early and as the boat continues to move eastward through the night we all drop off to dreamland.

Perama Island

I”m on the first shuttleboat to Perama Island. When we arrive these guys come up asking if they can take a photo. I turn the tables on them and get my “harem” shot.