Pirate Maz travels the flores seas

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June 2nd 2015
Published: June 2nd 2015
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Day 1 - the old school travel style begins

I leave my mini holiday and say goodbye to the friends I made along the way. I was sad to leave but excited and intrepid about the adventure ahead. Backpacks on I had to board a local boat to Lombok. Well me, a load of other people and all the local goods. I waited for the waves to calm and then ran for the boat only getting water to the shins - success.

Once in Lombok I met my boat family for the next 4 days. Lots of Germans, a few French, a couple of Swedish and Slovakians, Italians and Spaniards, a group from Java, the crew and myself. Sunny - our main guide talks us through the plan and then we're of sailing East. It's backpackers budget so the boat is basic. A toilet with a water bucket to flush and no shower. We would sleep on the deck with a tarpolen roof for shelter.

First stop - of the coast of Lombok for some swimming and a wee bit of snorkelling. The waters are calm and clear with colourful fish kicking about. Back on board and lunch is served. We lay out a rug and sat on the deck to eat. After lunch we where treated to a Manta Ray showcasing his moves by launching out of the ocean near to the boat - he was a beauty! The afternoon was then spent sailing and just chilling on the boat taking in the scenery. Post dinner we where treated to Sunny playing the guitar and a wee singalong.

Then we sat at the front of the deck admiring the dense dark sky and the most incredible amount of stars I've ever seen - we where even able to see the Milky Way. Bedtime, lights out and day one complete. Now I feel like an old explorer - the boat is cool but I know it will be tough ahead.

Day 2 - the seas bites back

I survived my first night. As we travelled through the open ocean I swayed back and forth on my gym mat bed, with once waking up as I fell out onto an adjoining bed and to my horror had feet in my face - yuck! I wake to see we've arrived at a beautiful island called Sumbawa and facing us is a inviting fairytale of an opening into a thick topical forest and river. We jump into the ocean and swim to shore - we where met by lots of moving shells - the hermit crabs. We take a small trek to a beautiful waterfall and here I was able to take my first shower since I began my trip. Not so Peter Andre style but think more Edwina Curry in the celebrity jungle programme. We then used the tree roots next to the waterfall to climb to the top. We where rewarded with natures very own plunge pool. And a swing made of twisted trees.

Back towards the beach Sunny our guide took us to a magical salt water lake. Formed after a volcano and in the crevasse a salty lake surrounded by lush greenery. After the few brave jumped in I went for it. It was as warm as a bath but finally I could float and swim (always wanted to be able to do that in a bath). Apparently no one has been able to verify how deep it is but I suspected Nessy could actually be hiding here all this time.

Post lake we headed for snorkelling - I stayed longer in the salt lake than the others so it meant I was snorkelling on my own by the time I got there. I headed out past the coral and beautiful fishes and star fish of all colours. The water is warm and clear right to the bottom. As I got to the edge of the coral and the ocean became very deep and colder I veered left to swim back towards the boat. Here I saw massive fish and one that caught my eye was one with big teeth. I was later to find out it was a trigger fish and can be very aggressive if you enter an area around him that he considers his. I continued to swim in the direction of the boat and so did he. He stopped at a coral reef and I kept my pace. Suddenly he takes a turn and starts swimming towards me. Thankfully I had a head start but unfortunately no flippers. I tried kicking my feet to make myself look bigger but still he came. I started swimming as hard as I could towards the boat and looked back to see he was still heading straight for me. I panicked, swam harder and tried swimming closer to land but towards the boat. I took in the salty water through my panicked actions. I tried to keep calm but I was fast running out of options. I took off my mouth piece and yelled for help. A nearby boat ramped its engine on and Martin who was on the big boat I was aiming for jumped in and swam to me. I kept trying to move but I'm struggling and exhausted, Martin gets me and we look into the water as the boat arrives - no fish. I catch my breath, jump onto the boat and once onboard our big boat I was able to share the story to my fellow boat family through the massive embarrassment of being rescued. It was here I learnt it was a trigger fish and he could have seen me as a threat and therefore likely to be defending his territory and I could have been bitten. Phew - that was close. A cup of tea and a cracker helped put my mind at rest. Not an experience I'll forget in a hurry but for now it goes to the back of my mind while I enjoy the rest of this trip.

Boat life for me has consisted of sea breezes, stunning night skies and sunsets. I've also learned a card game '500' and gotten to know my fellow boat family. Food has been pretty descent - rice, veg and often tofu. Fresh fruit like papaya, pineapple and bananas for dessert. Dinner tonight was tough as we are smashing through the waves of the ocean. The food dishes travelled across the deck and so did my stomach trying not to be sick from the motion. Lights out shortly after and as I write this, I'm sat by the front of the boat in the dark contemplating if I'll sleep. We're 6hrs into a 20hr straight boat trip and I hope in this time I find my boat legs again - I think I may have left them in the ice box next to the Bintang!


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