The Decision, half naked hikes, and dragons
Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
86Trip End Jul 27, 2011
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Where I stayed
On a boat
What I did
Snorkeling around Komodo National Park
Satunda National Park
Early morning boat from Gili back to Lombok. Walk (with option to horse cart) from Lembar harbor to bus. Stops for shopping. Pick up a couple of live chicken: Dinner is covered. The chickens, right under my feet, poke their heads out of the rice bags they're in, looking sad and clucking. One wiggles half way out of the bag. I expect it to go loose in the bus any moment. We cross Lombok to another harbour. Then boarding our boat. Clean. Toilet looks alright: Squatty going straight into the ocean. Better hold it on the snorkeling stops. Shoes stay off on the boat. I am not happy about that. The only time I am comfortable shoe-less is on a sandy beach. I like even less that our backpacks are put away under deck. We have to take out what we need. How am I supposed to know?! I have never been on a boat for this long. This is stressing me. I can get over my fear of open waters. But I am ridiculously nervous about the comfort and hygiene. No showers before bed
On the bus across Lombok I (re-)made a decision. It isn’t the first time I have changed my mind, but this time feels different, firmer. I decided to skip Oz and NZ and instead make Indonesia the last big destination, before traveling back the way I came. Maybe reconnect with a few people I met along the way, maybe poke my head into another country or two on the way, spend some time with my family. For the first time in over 7 months I am not panicked at the thought of returning. I am tired of uncomfortable, never-ending bus rides, cold showers, haggling, BYOT (Bring Your Own Toilet paper) and communication challenges. Indonesia is a country of staggering natural beauty, but it has topped all the rest of this continent on my stops so far, for being uncomfortable. I want to come here again. But preferably not on a backpacker’s budget.
Last night I felt a little better after having dinner and a beer. I forced myself to get over my desire to be anti-social out of fear to be considered the boat’s prissy sissy, spoiled, uncool brat
Breakfast of toast and jam. Then swimming ashore to Moyo Island, bikini-clad hike through the jungle. First walking through man-high bushes and hip-high grasses, then wiggling through vines and lianes and wading across little fresh water streams. Showering at a beautiful fresh water fall cascading through the jungle. This will be our only shower on this trip
Satunda National Park in the afternoon: Swimming ashore again, or rather snorkeling ashore. Thanks to which we swim over and did not step onto the sea urchins with air bubbles glittering between their spikes in the shallow water. Warm saltwater lake in the middle of the island. I think the name of it was Satonda, uninhabited like many islands around here in the Flores Sea.
Commencing on a 16-hour boat ride from here to Komodo Island. Most people in bed again by 8pm, some even right after dinner at 6pm. There is not much to do after sun down. It is dark, the engine is too loud to talk other than one-on-one. Myself and Thorsten, one of two German brothers stay up later, chit chatting until 11pm or so. Still the earliest I have gone to bed in some time. Thorsten, 32, is an avid travel addict, former bar chef at a techno night club, convicted drug dealer from those wild days, has many tattoos, piercings and body implants, is a chain smoker
Banana crepes for breakfast
More snorkeling by an Island that might be called Gili Banta. Hanging out at the famous Red Beach, which is picture-perfect once the Asian tourists in their fully covered, parasol holding, sun avoidance disappear. Pink sand. My water proof camera doesn’t capture its colours. My other camera is on the boat.
Komodo Island in the early afternoon. Wrong time of day to see dragons. Too hot. We see just a few of them lazying around. Back to boat. Swimming with microscopic jellyfish: Stings. Showering with a bottle of drinking water to make the jellyfish burn stop. Dinner. Vendors hanging out around the boat in their canoes trying to sell wood carvings of Komodo dragons
We slept without moving, no engine sound, just the gentle sway of a calm sea. Before our last snorkeling and swimming stop for this trip, Rinca (pronounced Rin-tcha) Island is our second stop in search of Komodo Dragons. It is early morning, therefore we are lucky this time and see these pre-historic beasts active. A couple of hours hiking through the muddy, pretty, Lord-of-The-Rings- and Tierra Del Fuego reminiscent scenery on Rinca leaves me with hiking boots that proved to be as waterproof as they claim. I wash them off with sea water and leave them on the front deck (or is that the bow?) to dry. 30 minutes before we dock at the final destination, it starts to pour so hard I can’t get to my boots without risking to completely soak my fresh clothes I just put on to de-board
We arrive at Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores in the afternoon. Here, we have the option of sleeping another night on this boat. About half of our group takes advantage of this. Vera and I find the best hotel I can afford, with a gorgeous view over the harbor and most importantly, a hot water shower. Getting clean has rarely felt this good. We meet the majority of our boat mates for dinner before splitting up to go our respective separate ways. Vera will be flying home from here, while I am going to hang around waiting for Manu to catch up again.