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Indonesia

Sanur, Bali

Our last days in Indonesia

Knowing that Dan was going to be shattered from his volcano trek I took on my own challenge of trying to find some accommodation we could afford in Sanur. What I hadn't appreciated was that this area was predominantly resorts and at this time of year was very busy. This resulted in a couple of frustrating afternoons trying to search for something that wasn't too expensive. Finally I stumbled on Sunhouse Guesthouse and decided just to go for it and hope for the best.

I arrived in Sanur before Dan and got a bit concerned he might not be able to find the guesthouse as Wena (who had given me a lift) had to stop about 5 times to ask directions. It was located in the Jalan Matasari area which is the southern part of Sanur, a bit further away from the main area. We pulled up outside a walled compound with a big gate on the corner of one of the back roads.

This is what greeted me on the other side...

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I couldn't believe my luck, it was perfect and only 10 mins from the beach.

Its safe to say Dan was equally impressed when he arrived!

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On our first night I took Dan to a place I had found down the road called the Art cafe. There was an old couple from Austria sitting on the table next to us and towards the end of the evening the old man shouted over to us "have you seen the flying dog?" Not really sure how to respond to this random questioning, we gave him a smile and said we hadn't. "Its been up in that tree for the last 15 years!" was the next exclamation. He clearly had lost his marbles and Dan discreetly signalled for the bill as I obliged looking over at the tree for a flying dog.

As I looked at the tree I suddenly saw a movement on one of the branches and a wing unfolded in the darkenss, it was a huge bat! Turns out he had meant to say a flying fox and he hadnt lost his marbles after all!

I went back to next day to take a pic...

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Sanur is known for its 4km beach path so we decided to check it out. It is literally resort, after resort, after resort, with private beach areas and sun loungers. I now understood why I had so much trouble trying to find a cheap place here!

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We were a bit concerned at seeing this sign...

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But then relaxed when we saw this one...

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Being at the tail end of our budget and still needing to have funds to visit Singapore and get to Australia we didn't do much in Sanur other than walk along the beach and chill out at the guesthouse.

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Fish face!

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We didn't really go out much for dinner as the restaurants along the beach were a bit pricey as they tailored for all the people on holiday in the big resorts so instead we opted to get take out from one of the local warungs or pot noodles for cheap, and made use of the DVDs our gueshouse hired out for free.

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It was on one of these chilled days that we saw huge storm clouds coming over in the afternoon and soon enough it was raining. This turned into a huge storm in the night where the rain made so much noise you couldn't hear the TV even at full volume. Never experienced anything like it, and the thunder and lightning was epic! Lighting up our whole room as if it had struck right outside and with the sound of thunder vibrating right through you!

Another reason we were watching the pennies was that we needed to buy some warm clothes before getting to Australia as we would be arriving in Melbourne for their winter. As Australia is expensive we would make the most of the malls in Bali which hopefully would be cheaper.

Lets just say we got a bit carried away with the credit card! All essential items though!

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We nicknamed this dude Charlie. He lives with the laundry lady called Wayan down the road from us.

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It was time for us to leave Indonesia, the last two months have flown by!!

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We ll definitely be coming back! So much more to explore, we only scratched the surface!

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 17:03 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Volcanos, Crater Lakes, Mountains and Valentino Rossi

Trekking to Gunung Rinjani, Lombok

Now just as a prior warning I didnt meet Valantino Rossi the famous motorcycling champion, but all will be revealed.

As I stirred at 4:30am in the morning I was still unsure as to what to expect when taking on this trek. Sarah and I had heard murmurs of other people having a tough climb and it was a combination of that and other factors that meant that she decided to give it a miss. If I'm honest I wanted to push her a little bit to reconsider knowing that I would love to have another moment with her on top of a mountain. But as it was we both knew to separate was the best idea and I think in some way it gave both us a chance to have some alone time and experience something different as ultimately the dynamics change when you travel solo.

Waiting for the cab to take me from Mataram to Senaru where I would start the trek I was a little edgy as my driver hadn't turned up at 5am. The guy I bought the ticket from was the same person who sold us our ticket to Flores so I trusted him but you never know. The guy showed at quarter past which wasn't bad and we started our two hour journey. We had a few chats and I shared my bananas with him which he was grateful for and I found out he had slept in the car before picking me up as he lived in Senaru. I think because he had parked up in Mataram the mosquitoes had nestled in the car engine and as soon as we drove off they were coming out of the vents and causing a bit of a problem and we had to swat them every so often so it was good that there was no one on the roads. Being pitch black I didn't see any of the scenary on the way until we got to Senaru. We passed my driver's family and I gave them a wave as we went up the hill to the HQ of Senaru Trekkers. It was a nice spot where I believe you could stay if you wanted to and the landscape was pretty amazing even from this level.

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Out the back of the HQ you could see paddie fields and the Rinjani Peak.

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As I sat down to wait, the other guys who would be trekking with me turned up as they had stayed at the HQ. Antoine and Bertrand were two French guys who were traveling together and Raphael was a Singaporean who had met up with them in Gili Islands. We had some chats about travels and we met our guide Herman as well and it wasn't long before the porters were packing up equipment to get ready to go. I occupied my time in between taking a few photos and found this little guy.

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The porters gear was true to many mountain trekking experiences where they used natural resources to carry it all. These guys had a strong length of bamboo with two baskets on either side and as they walked they would swing them from shoulder to shoulder. Bearing in mind these weighed at least 20 kilos it was pretty impressive! But all in days work for them.

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We got to the entrance for the park and it was pretty basic but sufficient in terms of comparing it to Kinabalu, but the main difference was they gave each trekker a blessing performed by a local lady. She would murmur a few words in the local dialect and smudge a bit of paste on your forehead and you obliged by giving a few rupiah as a thank you. It might have been a bit of a facade but it was a nice touch.

We left the park entrance having signed into the books and I got my mandatory start photo.

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I think I was quite lucky in hindsight because the dynamic we had in our group was quite good. Four guys in pretty similar shape and height so that we could all walk at the same pace. It meant that no-one was really left behind or trying to push people on, so we got to the positions along the trek in good time, possibly beating the guideline timings that is advertised.

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There wasn't much to take photos of and so I rarely stopped to be able to portray what the trek was like but for most part in was a open track amongst the jungle and we stopped at post II for lunch. It was a chance to catch a break however we had to huddle all under one roof to get out of the rain, which we would find to be a constant battle as the rolling hills seemed to hug the rain clouds.

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As we approached the crater rim we began to feel the burn from all the walking we had done and the altitude was definitely making the air thinner to add to the mix. I was impressed with Antoine as he was coping with Asthma, which I know plenty about having struggled with it as a kid. The rewards we got for scaling the steep hills to our first campsite on the crater rim were pretty good but not spectacular as the clouds had decided to hide the vast crater and its surrounding landscape. But every so often the clouds would move and we would get a glimpse of what was about to come.

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We had walked so well that our porters were still gathering wood and had yet to set up camp, we would have been foolish to think that we had beaten them. We then rested and were cooked our dinner and served Nasi Goreng, a dish which we would see frequently on this trek. It was pretty damn good after that first steep hill to the crater I can tell you! As we hung out I noticed that there were chalk engravings on the rock which looked like locals had enscribed.

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It was reasonably early bedtime as we told that sunrise would be at 6:00am. The tents we had were sufficient and we had some really warm sleeping bags as the temperature had dropped considerably. Raphael told me in the morning that the night sky was incredible early in the morning having gone outside to use the toilet so I was a bit gutted I didn't take a look.

In the morning I made up for it as we caught the rising sun and basked in the beauty of the crater rim. On a good day you could see the Gili Islands and as far as Bali.

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After a hearty breakfast of banana pancakes we bagged up and left for the crater lake. It was during this time that Hermon had joked about Bertrand looking like Valentino Rossi and he was suggesting that he could tell his mates who were guides and they would believe him. It was quite funny as he would continually call Bertrand 'Rossi' and laugh a lot which was we all enjoyed having a laugh about.

The walk down the crater lake was stunning as the sun was out and the clouds cleared so we got to see the volcano that has formed inside the crater. We were told by Herman that this crater had originally been an 8000 odd metre volcano which had exploded and created this lake and the peak that is Mount Rinjani. The volcano within called Gunung Baru meaning 'New Mountain' was named so because it is continually growing so it is continually a new mountain.

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It took us about two hours to get to the lake and we decided we would pass on the swim in it as it was pretty cold. Herman told us that the lake was 300m deep!!! The water was very fresh and the locals would fish for all their meals regularly. Walking round to the site where we would have lunch we had to cross a stream and unfortunately for Antoine his balance was a bit off.

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Once we dropped our stuff off we got changed into swim gear and walked up stream and round a small hill face down to the hot springs and the reward was a pool of waters that was so refreshing and warm that we basked in the sun and nursed our half sore legs.

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I decided to go and have a swim in the crater lake just to say I had done it and it was a lot cooler but still refreshing. After lunch we set off on the next leg and it was then that we hit the worse weather to have whilst trekking.....the sodding rain!! It bucketed it down the whole way and we got drenched. It was another tough climb as the hill face seemed ever so steep once again. When we got to the top I was relieved to say the least.
The porters were not at the site as they were looking for fire wood which wasn't helpful but again understandable considering all the wood would be wet.

Once camp was set up we dried off and decided to play some cards in one of the tents. Raphael introduced us all to Kobo which was a cool game where memory is very important. I won't try to explain the game but it entertained us well enough to pass the time before our Nasi Goreng dinner and then as we watched the clouds part over the crater lake the daylight faded.

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It was a cold night again and Herman told us the plan for the next morning would be to wake up a 3am to start walking up to the peak. So we got into bed at sunset around 6:30/7pm and we were off to bed pretty quick having had a tough enough climb.

Waking up for 3am was not too hard, I think maybe my brain knew what was going to happen and woke me up. I had to use Sarah's sleeping bag liner as a scarf as it was so cold and also wear her joggers as my shorts were still wet from the day before.

Getting started we ventured past the other campsites and then some large trees that were on the hill face and even then there were some big steps and it did get harder and harder as we went it further up. As it was pitch black we obviously couldn't see much and every so often you could swing your head round and see far into the distance the street lights of the main cities. Having done Kinabalu I was prepared for a tough ascent but this had elements that were much harder mainly because the volcanic rock would break up easier as you walked on it. We had a good steady pace up to the top before breaking 1 hour from the top. Herman told us the last ascent was the toughest and took 1 hour but to descend would only take 10 mins. Again because of the volcanic rock as soon as you made the wrong step you would go back two which was very frustrating. I did my utmost to stay close behind the guide and walk in his steps which much later we learned was the trick to it.

Getting to the top was such a buzz and the views were so worth it even with a bit of cloud cover. I really enjoy this mountaineering lark, I hope that I can do some other challenges in the future.

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Going down we realised why it was so easy because you can literally slalom down the sand like rock, and go quite fast. Descending back to camp was really pleasant and at some points I was on my own just enjoying the view and taking in the fresh mountain air. As the the Welshy's would say, "it was bloody lush!"

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The long walk back was pretty uneventful although we headed in a different direction to Sembalun through a beautiful valley. Saying goodbye to the macaque monkeys that prowled the campsite for food we walked for 7-8 hours mainly down hill. I lost my jumper on the way and Bertrand managed to pose with some local Lombok people as they believed our guide who said he was Valentino Rossi's brother. It was a great trek and I would recommend it to anyone.

A big thank you to Antoine, Bertrand, Rafael and Herman for making the trek a good laugh. And of course a big thank you to the porters that made it possible.

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Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 18:59 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Making the most of it...

We had 9 days left in Indonesia before our planned flight out to Singapore from Bali. What should we do?

Knowing most of the Indonesian airlines were banned to fly to the EU due to safety standards (or lack of them) and the recent crash of the Lion Air flight in Bali and of course budget, we had already decided not to take internal flights in Indonesia (although it was pointed out that now might be the best time to fly as they would extra careful). This meant we were dependant on bus and ferries to travel which would eat into our time so we needed to decide how best to utilise the days we had left.

Dan was keen to climb Mt Rinjani, a volcano in Lombok with spectacular crater lakes. Despite his attempts to persuade me I had decided I had done enough trekking on this trip after my experience on Kinabalu. Not wanting him to miss out on the experience I insisted that he should do it without me. I would make my way back to Bali and meet him there a few days later, there was a painting I hadn't stopped thinking about since we left Ubud so maybe I could go and get that, do some yoga etc...

We started the journey back west together with an early start to get the 7 hour ferry back to Sape, Sambawa. After Dan nearly had a whole pot of tea spilt on him at breakfast we were wide awake, got our ticket and were on board. We really didn't want to leave Flores and if we had the money would quite happily have spent longer diving and exploring here.

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We were the only people to sit in the top deck this time and spent most of the journey dozing in the shade. All the excitement and diving of the last couple of days had caught up with us. That was until it started to chuck it down!!

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We had no problems getting the smaller bus from Sape to Bima. Once there we had an hour to wait for the bigger bus so decided to grab some food outside the bus station. As we sat down for some bakso (meatballs) and noodles I noticed a group of giggling school girls had come in after us. We could tell they were talking about us and as we were leaving a couple of them ran out and asked to talk to us to practice their English. They were very sweet asking if we liked the meatballs, what our names were, where we were from etc... We found out it was one of the girls birthdays and they were delighted if not a bit surprised when we both burst into song doing our best rendition of Happy Birthday. Knowing that the story of their chat with us would be the talk of the playground the next day we had a spring in our step as we made our way back to the bus.

To our surprise it left a bit early which is unheard of! Although within a few seconds we realised that another couple who we had seen put their bags on the bus weren't there! Dan jumped up to let the driver know as we pulled out of the bus station, who said "dont worry, we come back". We didn't get back for near an hour as we had gone to pick up a big group of students. Despite the bus disappearing for so long with their bags the couple were calm when they got onboard and said that it was an opportunity for them to learn to trust other people. I think I might have handled it a little differently...by freaking out!

The rest of the journey back was much like before bombing it through the dark whilst holding on for dear life, only this time we had the addition of bombing local dance music that apparently is appropriate the play on a night bus to help sooth customers to sleep. It added a bit more intensity to the ride!

Its fair to say we were shattered when we arrived in Mataram, Lombok the next morning and crashed out in our hotel room.

We organised tickets for the Rinjani trek and worked out how I would get back to Ubud. Dans trek would be 3 days long and we planned for us to meet up in Sanur Bali on 19th May. Dan would need to leave for his trip at 5am so we didn't do much in Mataram, although I don't think there is much there other than the mall.

I have a vague memory of Dan leaving in the morning but didn't really wake up. My pick up was at 11am to go back to Lambur harbour to get on one of the large ferries to Bali. The ferry left at midday and took about 5 hours (apparently one leaves every hour). It was an wasy trip and just taking in the views from the deck and reading. I was in the middle of an adventure with Sherlock Holmes when I heard gasps and the sound of splashing from the other side of the deck. Everyone ran to see what the commotion dreading that someone had fallen overboard...but was met with the oddest view of a huge fish flapping around on deck that a man had caught off the side of the ferry! Someone was going to have a good dinner that night!

Arriving at the harbour in Bali a shared car was waiting to take tourists to Ubud. I met a girl from Sweden who was travelling on her own. We had a great chat in the car and I said she could come with me and maybe Wena would have another room for her. Unfortunately Wena was fully booked as he had a group of volunteers staying and I had the last room. We went our separate ways but somehow forgot to get contact details. Woops!

It was great to be back in Ubud and to be somewhere so familiar that I didnt mind being on my own. I settled in for a Bintang at Bar Luna and some good music.

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For the next 3 days I settled back into the routine of yoga in the morning at Radiantly alive, walking around Ubud and catching up on the blog.

One morning I was woken up by Wena knocking at the door. He said I had to get out of the room as the government was coming round the fumigate the rooms, if I was asleep I would breath in too much poison and potentially die! Turns out there had been several cases of malaria and so they were determined to get rid of all the mosquitoes.

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It sounded like there was a helicopter coming but it was a guy with what looked like a leaf blower, but instead of air it was poison being pumped out. We gathered out of the way and covered our faces as he went from room to room. In no time you could see all the insects that live in the thatched roofs trying to escape. Most didn't get away and dead ants, mosquitoes and cockroaches were raining down on us!

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Distracted by the deluge of bugs I almost missed the morning yoga class. The fumigation followed there too and halfway through class the studio filled with the poisonous smoke. Not your normal lesson!

Whilst back in Ubud I was also reunited with Aron from BAWA and we had a fun time catching up and meeting his friend Komang.

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One night I was waiting to meet Aron in Dewa, a local warung with great food. I started chatting with a local man, also called Dewa (not THE Dewa, but they are close firends).He was interested to find out what I was doing in Bali. He told me that we had a lot more independence to travel. I initially thought that this was because we were financially more able to do so but the reason he gave had nothing to do with finances but was because of the strong sense of community. He said that he could never be more than a month away from his community and would even feel uncomfortable after a couple of weeks. Everyone is so involved in each others lives, and there is a great sense of responsibility for each other. As an elder, people often sought his advice. It was great to get some more insights into how people live here.

I was glad I had been able to come back to Ubud, oh and I managed to get my painting but forgot to take a photo so you ll just have to see it when its eventually up on a wall back in the UK :)

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 21:45 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

DRAGONS!!!

Rinca Island, Komodo Marine Park

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Now we'd already seen some big lizards on our trip (but considering the most 'lizard like' thing we'd ever seen in the wild in the UK is a small pond newt anything is big) from foot long geckos that look like they've been on steroids compared to their more common smaller brothers, to a 2m monitor lizard that we met on the path to our hostel in the Gili Islands.

However we were now in dragon territory and would be actively seeking a face to face encounter with the king of lizards, The Komodo Dragon, which can get up to 3m. With the powerful stance of a pit bull, long claws, a tail that can be used as a whip and a bite that is full of poisonous bacteria, you might question our sanity at choosing to do this, but we were super excited!!

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We were up early to beat the crowds and jumped into the small boat to make our way to Rinca island (pronounced Rinja). There are 2000 dragons on Rinca and a further 2000 on Komodo itself. You aren't allowed to walk on the island without guides and ours were great. They both carried a long stick just incase the dragons got too close and one would lead whilst the other would be at the back of the group to make sure none of the stragglers were picked off!

It wasn't long before we came across this guy! Just chillin in the sun...

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...WOWZERS!!

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He seemed quite docile just lying there in the sun with an almost amused expression on his face, which I guess is why they are such good ambush predators, lulling passersby into a false sense of security. As we moved on I turned back and saw that he had got up and started to move. We could now appreciate just how big and powerful he was as he swaggered along. If a bouncer was a lizard it would be one of these!

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Some Komodo dragon facts from our guides:

  • A dragon waits in ambush for its prey, biting the leg. The animal will then slowly die over 2-3 weeks from the bacteria in the dragons saliva! All the dragon needs to do is be patient and then its dinner time.
  • Use their tail as a weapon, if you see them curling it round get out of the way as they can break bones with it when they whip it back round.
  • There are 3 males to every female, which means there's a lot of fighting in mating season.
  • Mating season is June/July so would be the time to get dragon fight photos!
  • Dragons fight standing on their back legs and grappling with each other using their front legs. Their powerful tail acts as a prop to help them stay upright. We saw one male dragon which had broken both his front legs in the previous mating season, so they are tough!
  • Last year 3 rangers and 1 local were attacked! Including one of our guides! More on that in a bit...
  • Average life span is 25 years but they can live up to 50.
  • When they are younger they can replace teeth but lose this ability as they get older. As they lose teeth in fights once they are all gone they can no longer feed themselves and die.
  • They can swim!! One dragon became a problem so they moved him to another island only to have him swim back. TWICE!
  • They hold their breath whilst they run, so even though can reach speeds of 18km/hr they can only run for short bursts.
  • If you hear a hissing sound, that's a warning!
  • Credit for discovering the dragons was given to a Dutch guy, although of course the local people knew about them for ages its just he was the first person to be able to write it down!

This is a beautiful lady dragon, although dont be fooled by her coy smile.

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She was much more alert and lively than the big males we had seen lounging around. Turns out she had picked up the scent of the monkeys that were behind us, which they sometimes eat

So we soon jumped out the way when she decided to investigate....and so did the monkeys!

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We had an hour on the island to trek around and see the dragons.

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Despite being early it was already really hot but we were rewarded for trekking in the heat by some great views and a lord of the rings type landscape.

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We even spotted our liveaboard boat in the distance.

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Surely this image below is every parents nightmare. Your kid sitting above a bunch of Komodos!

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If you look closely you can see that they have boarded up the entrance at the top of the steps to the building. This is because the dragons can climb stairs!

One of the stories we were told was that one dragon went up to one of the ranger buildings and started tapping on the door with its long claws...this reminded me of the claw tapping in Jurassic Park!

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The ranger inside had headphones in so didn't hear the dragon and so when it managed to open the door he got quite a fright!

It was on the walk back out of the park that I found out that our guide had been attacked by a Komodo on 24th May 2012 and luckily survived! He regaled an intense tale of being ambushed by a dragon whilst walking with a tourist. They think the dragon was stalking prey that had just crossed the same path and so unwittingly now became the target. He bravely got between the tourist and the dragon trying to keep it at bay with his stick but the dragon was too strong a pushed it out of the way. Now unarmed with a dragon in hunt mode he tried to run but the dragon bit him in the foot and he fell to the ground. The dragon still had hold of his foot and was trying to twist it off but he kicked all he could to free it from the dragons jaws. Before he could move out of the way he suddenly felt the weight on the dragon on top of him and it was now trying to bite him in the head!! Trying to hold him at bay some how the guide managed to punch the dragon in the face, stunning the dragon for long enough to be able to climb up a tree until help arrived.

Phew!! Can you imagine that!!

This guy surely gets legend status!

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 23:20 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Definitely Divine Diving!

3days and 2 Nights Liveaboard trip, Komodo Marine Park

We left our main bags as Casa Selini and walked down to the Divine Diving shop to begin our liveaboard trip. It was a god send that we had small bags as it was another scorcher of a day. Upon reaching the shop we found we were the first people there but it wasn't long before we met our ship mates Rinze, Denise, Cobi and Remis who were from Holland as well as Micheal who was from Australia. Walking to the pier we made our introductions and took a small boat out to 'Weta Mola' (Beautiful Sister) which would be our home for the next 3 days. Labuan Bajo is not unlike other harbours around Indonesia with trash being prevalent, and with trash comes rats so which is why they normally anchor their liveaboard boats away from the harbour. Although despite this preventative measure Sarah had a visitor in the cabin on the last night that tried to eat her contact lenses!

Reaching the boat we were both excited by the look of it. We hopped onboard and were introduced to the crew which was made up of local fellas from Labuan Bajo and other villages in Flores. We also had Juvens and Niels who would be our Divemasters. Niels was the group leader and gave us the rules of the boat and where we would be sleeping. Our cabin reminded us of our room in Hong Kong but with port holes but it suited fine.

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On deck we had a chill out area with beds which is where we would be briefed for our dives and at the back would be where we would get kitted up. The dining area was situated in the middle of the boat where we step down to our rooms.

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Whilst we pulled up anchor and set off to the marine park Niels gave us some information on the Komodo Marine Park, which became a park area in the 80s to protect the Komodo Dragons and it wasn't until later that people realised how good it was underwater too!

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During the trip we would dive 3 times a day and cover the following dive sites: Sebyur Kecil, Bengah Kecil, Wainiol, Karang Makassar aka Manta Point, Batu Bolong, Lawadarat, Crystal Rock and Castle Rock.

Our first dive site was just outside the Marine Park called Sebuyur Kecil and would give the Divemasters a chance to assess the groups abilities before going into sites that had stronger currents. We teamed up with Micheal to dive with Niels and the Dutch guys went with Juvens. We later found out during the trip the Remis had done over 3000 dives so I think it was just a formality for him. We didn't have the camera with us as Niels wanted us to get used to diving here first and that there were better dive sites to photograph. Having said that it was still very good and the visibility was 15 metres and we saw plenty of marine life including a Peacock Mantis Shrimp which Sarah found. Because we had seen most of the common fish you find in the Asian seas in this dive there wasn't much to write home about.

Our second dive was at Bengah Kecil and was going to be our first encounter of the currents. The dive site had a large coral wall that we would descend near but the rock itself had currents whizzing past either side of the wall meaning it was important that we stayed behind our dive-master as they could read the waters and judge when we would have to turn back to avoid being swept away. As we pulled up to the site you could see the currents on the surface and they were quite choppy. But we were confident in our own abilities and couldn't wait it get underwater even when the scenery on the surface was as good as this during the day.

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The dive was good experience in terms of learning to follow close to the reef wall and we got to some nice fish in large groups with a few bat fish and even a turtle chomping at the coral.

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After those dives we had a nice break to take in the scenery, chat and enjoy and hearty lunch made by the excellent Jefferey (they all changed their names I think from their local ones). As part of the trip we would be anchoring near a mangrove where flying foxes bats would leave to hunt for food every evening and provide us with a great show whilst the sun set.

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After the show I joined in with the crew in a sing a long of one of the local bahasa songs. It took me a while to learn the pronunciations.

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The last dive of the day was the night dive which we did near the mangrove at a site called Wainich.

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It was an ok dive with some interesting macro diving like shrimps and crabs but unfortunately Sarah had some trouble and had to surface 25 mins into the dive. Her weight belt had slipped round making her lopsided in the water, that factored in with being disorientated in the dark, coping with a current and not being able to get the attention of the group by waving her torch, meant her breathing and so her buoyancy went out the window. It meant she was exhausted and had to re-surface after I had tried to help her sort her belt out. She decided not to continue the dive and later we talked about it and learned a bit more of how to deal with that kind of situation and be more communicative as buddies rather than relying in the Divemaster.

After a nice dinner we were ready for bed as we had an exciting day ahead of us...Manta Rays and the Komodo Dragons!!

The sleeping arrangements didn't suit me, it was too hot, so I decided to sleep on the deck. This meant I woke to a fantastic tranquil sunrise over the sea and hills which was an added bonus to an already fun first day.

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With pancakes for breakfast and eggs we were ready for our walk on Rinca island to the Komodo Dragons. This was a whole blog in it self so we will fill you in separately on this. After the Komodos we went on to do our first dive of the day at MANTA POINT!! This was turning into one of the best days we have had. Sarah and I had been waiting for this moment. We had seen wonderful things on our dives and been amazed but the big stuff we had yet to fully experience. This site, also known as Kanang Makasar

We had swapped groups so we would now be diving with Rinze and Denise, and Juvens would be our dive master.

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As soon as we had the brief we were hopeful of seeing Manta Rays but you never know when diving. But as we boated out to our descending point Sarah suddenly shouted out "Mantas!" and we watched three huge rays gliding right past us and under our boat! They were as big as the boat! You can imagine the excitement that rippled through all of us as we quickly got on our equipment keen to get in the water!

Diving with Manta Rays was breath taking! These species grow up to 7metres wide and you feel like a spec in the water next to them.

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And boy did we get next to them!

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The current was strong so you had to try to grab hold of a rock or dig a pointer in seabed and really hold on to be able to hang in the current with them. They make it look so easy, gently wafting their wings up and down to stay in one point feeding in the current. We must have seen at least 10 of these gentle giants during our dive.

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I was taking a photo of Sarah doing the Manta signal when suddenly one came out of the blue behind her, amazing! They were so close to us and not phased at all by having us join them.

When we surfaced we all just exhaled with joy and couldn't stop smiling :) It had been an incredible show and we were thankful for Juvens our Divemaster to have steered us to right place in time to experience these wonderful creatures of the seas.

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For the trip we were on cloud 9. Enjoying the scenery and sun, having fun with the other guys onboard and if you can believe it even more fantastic diving culminated in both Sarah and I agreeing that this was one of the best things we could of ever done on this trip.

And here's why...

Beautiful bays...

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More sunsets...

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Songs on Guitars...

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Silly dresses...

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Sleeping on deck....

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Carved Komodos for sale from locals who joined us via their boats (I got a bargain!)...

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And so much Marine life....imagine the bustling colourful scenes from Finding Nemo and you begin to get the picture...only its so much more beautiful and amazing that photos would do it justice (well ones we could take anyway, we had a few camera issues!).

White tip sharks...sharks and more sharks!

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Baby sharks under coral...

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Schools of fish everywhere....

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Huge balls of Fussliers that whisked around you at speeds none of us could compete with...

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On one of our last dives at Castle Rock we were lucky enough to witness a huge ball of fussliers that was so big you could swim at least 5 or 6 divers into the middle and have enough space...seriously it was as tall as a house! It was like being in an episode of Blue Planet!

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Giant Napoleon Wrasses, it was ttthhhhiiiiisssss bbbiiiigggg!...

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Fighting Moray Eels...

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Smiles all round.....

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Up next is Komodo Dragons which was part of this trip...so keep on reading and thanks for staying with us.

Stay tuned for more tales..

Dan

Posted by doyledan 20:31 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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