Published: January 20th 2011January 20th 2011
Travelling by yourself can definitely be fun but there is something great about having someone to laugh at all the craziness with. And as it was Andy was a great travelling buddy, he flew out from London and spent 3 weeks getting me around Indonesia without being run over or traded for bracelets. Plus it was great to be able to get through a day without being proposed to! (after a while it stops being flattering)
Our original plans of volcano climbing through Java had to be abandoned (apparently it was getting a little too toasty up there) so we met in Bali; and then immediately flew to Lombok where we chilled out in Seggigi for two days. Sorry, did I say chilled? I meant to say sweated - how we didn’t shrivel up like prunes I will never know. Senggigi is an ok strip of a seaside town, you can pass a couple of days here but expect to get hassled by every person you pass (‘you buy, you buy?’), eaten alive by mosquitos and encounter spiders bigger than Muhammad Ali’s fist. Kudos to Andy on the latter, very manly hitting with a shoe - if it had just
been me you’d have seen a sophie sized hole in the wall.
We decided that the only thing cooler than volcano exploring was dragon hunting, you know if George could do it why couldn’t we? So we boarded a bus across Lombok to join a four day boat down to Komodo Island. It was pretty awesome - the bus ride itself was a experience, it stopped every two mile to pick up various ingredients. We had sacks of rice, pineapples, papayas, hundreds of eggs, bananas and even two live chickens. Interesting…
The trip was great fun, I think a lot of that was down to the group we had. There was a mix of ages from 25 (yes, after months of 19year old gap yearers I was back to being the baby) to I think 63 was the oldest. The ‘Oldies’ were two French couples, another French/Hawaiian guy (more on him later) and a travelling Dutch man. Us young ones were me and Andy, Tom the wannabe action man, Nikla the Saffa, Judith the Swiss badminton player and a German whose name was actually Max Wolfe. If I ever have children I’m going to make sure they also have
The inside of the boat
I did say it was basic...
super hero names. On the whole it was a great muddle of stories and languages.
The boat was basic, to put it nicely. There was a deck, a below deck (bag/chicken storage), and an above the steering room sleeping bit (see how well my boat lingo is coming on? I could almost join the navy!). So we all slept next to each other, which was cosy… Thank be for the cooling sea breeze. And it probably was best not to think about how many other people had sweated onto the bed mats…
We had a lovely few days sailing down the Flores striate; jumping off the front of the boat to go snorkelling, soaking up the sun and kicking everyone’s butts at poker (shame no one would play for money…). We brought back nap time, introduce Bintang (beer) time and generally became very relaxed.
On the third day we reached Komodo Island, we’d been warned that the dragons could sometimes be elusive so not to expect too much (this after 3 days of sailing to get there). Luckily someone had told them I was coming and they were out in force. Now, we were very brave -
one bite from these little naughties can kill. And apparently they can move at great speeds (faster than I can run at least) so we were taken out by a local guide who had a large stick for protection. Why we didn’t all get a stick I don’t know, maybe it requires months of training? As it was they were all very placid - them having the sense not to move around in the 35degree mid day heat. Though one guide did show us scars from where one had nearly bitten off his leg. A little part of me wonders if he’d drawn the short straw in the ‘make the tourists believe they’re dangerous’ plan… Any hoo, it was fantastic to see them and as Andy pointed out it beats all the ‘one time, in Ko Pan Yan’ stories you often get from travellers. (Travellers are a mightily competitive bunch when it comes to travel stories)
At the end of the trip we arrived in Labuanbajo. Lonely Planet describes Labuanbajo as ‘a delightful seaside town’, maybe there’s two Labuanbajo’s…