Sailing the waves around Lombok and Komodo

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June 20th 2015
Published: June 20th 2015
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Sat here at Kuala Lumpur airport waiting for the plane to the next country, I reflect on the last week with a smile knowing that I had an amazing week doing things I never thought I'd do, meeting some wonderful people and seeing views that were out of this world.

Leaving Gili Trawangan after 6 days was an easy decision for the hostel bed I survived on was littered with bed bugs and no matter how many times I told the management it was a daily occurrence to wake up to new bites, but I can't take away the fact that the time I spent there on the island was amazing, even my last blog gushed about the place after writing it with a couple of Bintang in my stomach. So where to next, and after talking to several people it was off to Lombok and head toward Kuta. Although its namesake on Bali is the most touristy place in Indonesia, this Kuta was a quiet, chilled place where a lot of surfer 'dudes' head for to do their stuff on the waves. The hostel was run by a Belgium couple and it was idyllic in the sense it was peaceful, clean, lots of plants, chill out areas and the dorm was built for backpackers. My aim for the 2 days that I had planned on staying was to do nothing. My feet had been infected so much that it was getting sore to walk on and I needed to keep them clean and off the ground. I know I had said this in Gili Trawangan but I spent so much time walking around everywhere while 'resting' that I didn't really get a chance to get them sorted. So thats what I did, I did nothing but sunbathe and hobbled twice a day over to the nearest restaurant for meals. The people staying at the hostel were a really nice bunch, in fact for the 2 nights we were there, we all went out as a group for dinner which I hadn't really done since China. Sure I've been out for meals with 1 or 2 people while staying at different places but this was as a group and everyone got on well with each other and it was a nice time. It was nice to hear peoples adventures of places that I was going to visit and get recommendations and I was a little bit silly that I went on to a beach party on the second night with the gang, but I sat down most of the night with my feet up and beer in my hand!

One of the plans in my head was to go and see the Komodo Dragons somehow, and with only a week left on my Indonesian Visa I knew I had to organise something as they were still a fair distance away from where I was. My answer came in the shape of a tour seller on the hostel grounds. He listened to what I was after and he sold it to me as "4 days/4 nights on a boat on the sea and you will see Komodo Dragons at the end, along with lots of other stuff". I didn't really know what the other stuff was but hey, I'm adventurous lets do it. I left the hostel after the 3rd night first thing in the morning and got a small minibus heading to Mataram to meet up with the rest of the passengers that I'd be sharing the next 4 days with. Two Germans lads introduced themselves as Michael and Timo and came straight out with how much beer do you think we will need for 4 days. I knew straightaway that it was going to be a little bit fun. Everyone else introduced themselves and there was 9 of us in total. Jumping straight onto another minibus we drove up to the other side of the island to the boat and it was I knew everyone was thinking the same thing when they saw it. "What the hell?" "Is that going to make it out the harbour?" After loading all our bags on board and into the bottom of the boat we waited for the Captain to turn up as none of the crew spoke English and everyone sort of stared at each other for about half an hour wondering if we were in the right place, if we were going to survive. The boat was basic and I mean basic, there was no showers or sinks, just a toilet. The kitchen was an area behind the crew sleeping area and sleeping area was above the crews sleeping area which there was a small ladder to get up and crawl in. Thin mattresses littered the area and we all chose where we were sleeping and it was basic. The captain arrived and thank god he spoke English. He gave us a very short tour of the boat and introduced the crew and then set sail. At that time of sailing I was not sure of what to expect or if we as a group would get on, or what we were going to do. Nine Europeans on an ocean expecting the unexpected but I say this with my hand on my heart, it was an amazing experience and I know I have said the word amazing so many times during my trip but this is a trip that will stay in my memories for a very long time. The people sharing the trip all gelled within hours, in fact after the first couple of hours unpacking our essentials and adjusting to life on the seas, someone came up with a game of 'Guess Who?' sticking names onto our foreheads and opening the first of many beers while playing. It broke the ice and everyone talked and chatted and drank. I could go on and on about the 4 days and I promise you that if I did it would take about a week to write and I would use lots of worlds like awesome, brilliant, excellent and amazing but I will give highlights. We snorkelled in some waters where there were thousands of fish and I found Nemo, we swam with mantra rays, well we swam while watching them at the bottom of the sea but watching them glide through the sea was amazing to see and there were loads of them in the area where we were dropped off, we saw dolphins swimming in the wild, the waters around Lombok and Flores are so clear that you can see so much. We trekked on Islands going to the highest point and saw views that were jaw droppingly stunning. We chilled out on beaches that would not look out of place with millionaires and chilled. We followed Komodo Dragons going along their own business with 2 rangers ready to stop them if they attacked, but admittedly they all looked a little bit on the lazy side but I'm not going to argue with the guides just in case the dragons did come out and attacked us. We ate authentic Indonesian food on board the boat, crossed legged on the floor, and although it was basic rice with something that the 'chef' had made it was tasty and filling. The crew caught a tuna fish on the second day and we had that for dinner that night, delicious. They also had on board a live chicken which was killed on the 3rd day so fresh cooked chicken was had. There was a lot of time in-between places where we sailed along stunning landscape where we as a group all sat back in our own thoughts and took it all in and totally chilled out. However there was a lot of partying on a night time and sitting on the ocean with a beer in your hand talking to lovely people with the stars in the sky is an experience. Except for the 3rd night when we had upset a Spanish guy on a neighbouring boat who we assume we kept awake with our noisy antics who threatened to kill us after throwing an empty bottle at our vessel and because we were all a bit tipsy we sort of laughed and then went to bed. Sleeping arrangements was basic but everyone slept in their own little cramped area with no problems apart from snoring from me on night 3, but it was taken in good jest, thank god! So many quotes were used over the 4 days, like Aye Corumba, Godzilla, Gareth and shiezer. So many games were played from cards, dice and miming games (wrestling is still scratched into my memory).

It's travel experiences like this boat trip that makes me want to continue, to meet new people, to see new countries, to experience new things and it definitely gave me my travel mojo back. It was emotional as we docked into the harbour at Labuan Bajo and although we all had an option of staying on the boat for one more night for free (or as part of our payment), I had decided that a shower and a decent bed was needed for my last night in Indonesia, with the welsh couple of Harry and Nat agreeing although they went to a hotel instead of a cheap hostel like me. We all (minus Harry and Nat) went straight for a pizza and our first meal without rice, and after I had booked into the hostel and had a awesome shower, met up at a local bar (minus Harry, Nat and Timo) where for the last time we sat around in our group talking nonsense and enjoying each other company. After an emotional farewell I went back to the hostel and slept like a baby, without the swaying of the boat which I sort of missed , and waking the next day it was time to go.

My time in Indonesia had started off badly in Jakarta and as i got further away from the capital going south, the more I loved the place. The country is not the well developed as I thought it be, but it still has the charm on the islands to make up for it. I will miss the people I've met and if I did get the chance to come back again, I would have missed out Java all together and head straight for Gili Islands, Lombok and the rest of the islands in the area, but as I said the visa runs out today and I'm now in an airport with hours to kill. My next journey was to be Philippines but I think I've seen enough beaches and sea over the last 3 weeks, so think its time for exploring cities. Japan it is!


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