Four days, four nights sailing from Lombok to Flores, Indonesia
I took my first "live aboard" a few weeks ago (though not a dive live aboard) and was that ever worth the money! In reality it was pennies, but when traveling on a tight budget, it was more than I would have normally spent in that amount of time (4 days 4 nights), but worth every moment. I had taken half a week to relax and visit with some local friends in Mataram, Lombok when a friend of a guy running the guesthouse where I was staying (a young guy whom I had befriended a day or so earlier) approached me with the idea of going from Lombok to Flores over water instead of land. After perusing through the brochure and mulling it over for a day or so, the idea struck me as a fine one, and a fun adventure I hoped lay ahead.
I got really lucky as there were only seven other travelers on board, even though the wooden boat could hold a maximum of 18-20 passengers (which would have been cramped, I realized, once I saw how small the open-air boat was). The boat trip leaves twice a week from Labuan Lombok, on the east side
Simple and slim pickins, but at least we had food!
of the island, and I had been told the week prior there were 28 people for the Monday departure (meaning two boats had to sail to accommodate everyone) and Thursday the boat sailed with 13 people on board. On my "sailing" we had a quiet older French couple, nice enough but spoke very little English (or French, for that matter!) so they kept to themselves mostly. There was a young brother and sister team and a guy friend of theirs (all from England), and three of us from the states (pretty amazing, really, since I rarely meet anyone from the states in Indonesia). One guy from the sates and I got along really well and became traveling partners for the week after the boat docked in Flores. We talked endless travel stories, which countries to visit, where to avoid, best eats, cheapest guesthouses, etc.
We all snorkeled, swam and motored by day, we took hikes up to overlooks with the most amazing of views of all the islands dotting the deep dark blue Flores Sea and we fished with just a line and a hook (no rod and reel needed). At sundown one night we witnessed the talkative flying
Pretty cool place to stop for a bit....snorkeled in the gorgeous bay and hiked to the top of the hill for this vista
fox (fruit bats) living upside down on the mangrove trees lining the shores of one of the islands where we had docked. We saw over a dozen Komodo dragons on both Komodo and Rinca Islands, took rides in the boat's small wooden canoe in the sheltered bays of some fairly inaccessible and uninhabited islands, and stargazed the Southern Hemisphere at night. I swam/snorkeled around one island, following our boat captain, also a skilled spear fisherman, who on this particular trip caught about a dozen colorful fish as well as a lobster. Once caught, he pulled the pinchers off the lobster and since the other guy swimming with us towed the fish on a string, it was up to me to bring the lobster back to the boat. It was all I could do to keep up with the others. It took me two hours to snorkel around this island, nearly half that time was with the use of only one hand/arm, since I had to carry the little crustacean in my other hand, pinching it's back as I half-swam. Needless to say it was a feast for dinner that night with some of the most succulent, flavorful and colorful fish
Dark Waters, incredible vistas
It really is truly this gorgeous here....
I have ever had -- and it couldn't have been more fresh!
We took one early morning hike on an uninhabited island where I only saw a few local fisherman who had pulled their boats to the shore to do their laundry in the fresh water stream. We hiked about 15 minutes into the thick jungle away from the shoreline and came upon a fairly sizable waterfall. Our guide from the boat assured us it was safe to scale and even though I was only one of two gals on the boat (not counting the older French lady who didn't go on the hike), I climbed the sucker with the other guys in the group. There were a few perilous moments where one wrong move could send a person plummeting, but it all turned out well and I wasn't too shaky. At the top of the falls was a reward -- a lovely deep pool of fresh water, in which we all jumped and splashed like children. Climbing down was a bit more nerve wracking with water spray from the falls irritating in my eyes and a near vertical rocky face. (I am shuttering at the memory...)
the passengers got along really well, and we spent endless hours talking, sharing travel stories and whiling away the long afternoons watching the coastlines of the islands of Nusa Tenggara slowly fade past. The trip concluded in Labuanbajo on the west end of the island of Flores. I have to say, it was definitely a memorable four days and even though I missed traveling the mountainous and very green island of Sumbawa by road (travelers generally don't go to that island anyway; precisely the main reason why I wanted to go in the first place), I realize there are plenty of other places in this archipelago to explore. In this country of over 17,000 islands, I have thus far been to...........eight. I have a long way to go.
Next up.....Cops and Robbers! Stay tuned!
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