I'm alive and lazing

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
Trip End Feb 27, 2013

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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Friday, February 22, 2013

So, I've been on this island called Gili Air for 3 days I think now. The internet is crap here hence my disappearing act. I haven't scaled any mountains or volcanos. I haven't driven any dangerous vehicles. I really haven't done anything. This island has about 1,000 indigenous inhabitants and the rest are toursits, except this is the rainy season so there aren't really any toursists. The island is kind of like a ghost town. Unlike Cambodia's islands off the coast of Sihanoukville, the infrastructure for tourists is here on this island, there just aren't any people here...so it's kind of eerily quiet. Additionally, it has rained for the past two days. Which, after I got out of that concrete sweat, mosquito box they called a room and upgraded to a private bungalow with a TV, air-con, and a sweet outdoor bathroom, the intense rain humidity ceased to be such a blight on my existence. That's right, I did it up Western style. I'm sorry, but I'm not here to spend my nights unable to sleep because of potential-Dengue Fever carrying pests biting me and the fact that I can't actually sleep since my body temperature couldn't drop. In my new bungalow, the rain was endearing and calming rather than annoying and soaking. However, the sun came out just long enough today to scald my melanin-deficient skin.  The humidity was amazing--take the most humid day you've ever felt in Tennessee and then double it. Hello tropics--ugh!
I've had difficulty finding satisfying food. The prices are pretty high and I leave neither truly satisfied or full (of course, maybe that's the tapeworm talking). I finally decided to explore more of the island's innards, suspecting that there were places the locals ate. Sure enough, I found a delicious, cheap Indonesian warung (restaurant). I think it is going to be the equivalent of my noodle soup joint that I became addicted to in Cambodia and Laos. You gotta latch onto good food when you find it!
My days have been filled with walking and sitting mostly. Walking around the island. I had heard about these giant lizards that lived in a swamp back toward the harbor, so I had to go check it out. Holy moly! Crazy crazy! These guys are at least 3 ft long, perhaps longer with the entirety of their tails. There is something so intriguing yet frightening about seeing a giant scaled creature silently slicing through the dark water. His head the size of a pineapple, just barely breaking the surface and watching as the tapering tail rudders behind him...so creepy. But, the most alarming/freaky part is that there isn't just one of him. Oh no, there's a whole damn village of these giant lizards. I counted at least 8 heads in the water...of just what I could see in an area the size of two kiddie pools. Now the whole swamp is bigger and I have no doubt it is just teeming with these things. To make matters more exciting, these guys venture out of the water of course. I just hope they do not deign to cross the path when I happen to be crossing it! I have no idea what they subsist on but the locals insist they're not dangerous. As a topper, there are mini-lizard-dragons as well. These guys are a mere foot and a half to two feet long. I happened to startle one on my way to my bungalow and in his mad escape, he actually ran up on the porch to my bungalow and tried to get inside. Thankfully, he failed. Can you imagine??!
Another interesting point is that every day we hear the call to prayer over loudspeakers from the mosque on the island. The nature of its disembodiment lends a very otherworldly, mystical feeling to the island. I've always liked the sound of the mosque's calling as it reminds me of Gregorian chants mixed with an R&B singers warbling. You see men dressed in their church-going garb making their way to and from the mosque at various times during the day. I asked one guy working at a restaurant what the folks working did at prayer time. He said that they could pray later, after work or when it wasn't busy. The lack of internet has been interestingly nice as well. A real place to just unwind. I didn't realize it but the entire duration of this trip has, by necessity, been filled with planning and figuring out next steps. Everything has to be figured out. Where should I stay? How should I get there? How do I make sure I'm not being ripped off? How do I get around? What's a fair price for taxis? Laundry? Internet? Food? Not to mention activities and sightseeing in each area. It's easy to judge the folks that are just lazing around rather than 'taking in' all of the sights of their location, but I understand now. After a while, you become tired. You just really want to vacate, but there is the persistent voice saying, "You're in Bali---you've dreamed of going here for years and years...how can you just sit in hut and not explore all the amazing ruins and cities and temples and and and??!!" But, on the other hand, it is annoying when you actually need to plan something. I am having a hard time figuring out how and if I can get to Komodo Island to see the dragons. There have been conflicting reports about whether boats are going out there. Apparently, during some times of the year, like now, the seas are too rough to go. The problem is that I can't get any solid information on this...as in, the boats that go to ALL the surrounding islands can't go because of rough seas or only the Komodo Island ferry. I don't want to do all the other islands...I just want to get to Komodo. I can fly to the jumping off point, an island called Flores (where the remains of hobbitt people were recently discovered...Homo florensis..or something like that). But, once there, I do not know if they will let me over to the island or whether it's a good idea. Between these islands there are strong winds, currents, and dangerous reefs. I am not exactly looking to be shipwrecked. I think I will head back to Bali soon where I can hopefully have better information access. It's all so confusing really.
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alan on

I bet people eat the lizards sometimes.

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