I woke up and caught a taxi for 60000 rp to the airport. And soon enough I was flying to Labuan Bajo via Ende.
I arrived into the brand new airport. I had been in Labuan Bajo 6 years and wow has it changed. The airport used to be a 2 part room with windows. Now it's a modern airport with escalators and the like. The taxi into town was even more shocking. The entire village on stilts was gone, replaced by hotels, travel agents, restaurants and dive shops. The transformation was incredible. I'll see if I can get any before and after photos.
I got to the dive shop, set things up, got a SIM card (I forgot how gloriously cheap Indonesian cell phone plans are). For about $5 you can get Internet and enough credit for a moderate user for a month.
Afterwards I chilled out at a Mediterranean restaurant (where I'm writing this now).
I wandered back to my hotel via the boardwalk along the ocean - what used to a fishing village on stilts that stretched out but is now demolished.
walked to the end where a river blocked my path and then up to the Main Street. I walked a bit further along that but it was more or less the same as 6 years ago so I headed back to the hotel for dinner and later sleep.
My hotel room was full of mosquitos and had windows high up such that everyone could see in clearly with no way for me to block.
July 22nd - Diving Komodo
I checked out of my hotel and went to the Wicked Diving shop. I met the fellow divers and the freelancer dive instructor.
He walked us to the wharf where they were still loading the Bali Prima. It was a small boat with a small deck at the front. A sleeping cabin going down with 7 single mattresses laid out side by side. Up top was the main area with a table and movable bean bags for sitting. Further back was the captain’s cockpit, small bathroom with a shower and a toilet with a manual pump and a kitchen area. There was also a dinghy later pulled along.
2 divemasters, captain, cook/boat hand, and 3 other boat hands.
The 5 other divers hailed from Turkey (2), Denmark (2), and Canada (1).
After some introductions and briefings the boat departed sailing to Sabolon Kecil for our first dive.
All dives were done in 2 groups with the Turkish couple and me as one group and the other 3 as another each with a divemaster. Entry was either by giant stride off the main boat or back roll entry by the dinghy. Temperatures were about 27 or 28 oC with the higher current dives with a bit of a chill. Komodo is famous for strong currents but every dive we had was relatively low current or none.
Commonly seen life (on 3 or more dives)
Giant trevally, Titan triggerfish, sweetlips, batfish, banner fish, moray eels, garden eels, blue spotted sting rays, bump head parrotfish, Napoleon wrasse, white-tipped reef sharks, green turtles, hawksbill turtles
Dive 1 - Sabalon Kecil
Sloping reef. 30m. No current.
School of batfish, school of barracuda, green turtle
At the very end of the dive after most were out on the boat or heads above water, a 3m manta ray glided under the boat and swam away.
After the dive we headed to Rinca Island, got off, paid the park and guide fees and took a medium trek (~45min). There were 5 komodo lizards in and around the ranger station, including one juvenile. The trek itself saw nothing; in fact it was more designed for the viewpoint than the dragons.
There were a few water buffalo, deer and monkeys around.
Afterwards we headed back to Labuan Bajo, where we parted ways.
I ended up signing up for a trip also with Wicked Diving to do a 6d/5n one way trip to Maumere on the eastern end of Flores Island where I would stay for a few days and then catch a flight to Bali and onwards to Canada.
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