Indonesia Chapter 4: Komodo Dragons, Lombok and the Gilis

Forgetting the journey to the springs and getting back to reality we realised that it was quite a trek to get back to Bajawa. With no idea if there was any more transport or if it was even possible to get back to the town that day the road had to be hit. Commence walking. Hoping for a ride from someone, it was getting dark and cold; we stopped two guys on motorbikes and negotiated for a price back to the town. They had to drop some things off to their home before they could take us. Not two minutes later a ‘trek,’ truck with planks of wood in the back for seats, passed by heading to the town for an eighth of the price of a motorbike. Some things are just meant to be.

Hiking across Rinca
Descending into Labuan Bajo at sunset, west Flores, on the next day you could see islands scattered across the bay. The light reflecting from the water accenting their silhouette. It was absolutely beautiful and instantly I forgot about the long, and loud, 8 hour bus ride it took to arrive. Labuan Bajo is famed for its world class diving (and snorkeling) and close proximity to the Komodo Islands National Parks which includes Rinca Island. Heading out to the islands you can instantly see the change in landscape. A bizarre thing really when they are so close in proximity, but have obviously been separated for many, many years. On Rinca the scenery is savannah, a dramatic contrast to the tropical rainforests and volcanoes of Flores. Hiking across the island you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. Komodo dragons prowl the land, some as big as 4 meters. It reminds me of a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. It’s important to keep your distance though as a bit from one will become severely infected due to the bacteria in the dragons’ mouth. For sure, you cannot survive such an encounter. The Komodo can smell food and blood from kilometers away so for this reason the kitchen is strategically built up on stilts. It’s also said that menstruating women should stay off the island for safety.

Indonesia Chapter 3: Westbound, Flores and the Simple Things

Landing in Maumere in Flores, much closer to Australia but still miles away from home, the choice of which direction to travel in was much simpler. Options were east or west. But with visa limitations and consideration of an exit strategy the only viable option was to head west, exit stage Singapore.

The first thing I notice about changing locations in Indonesia is the 'vibe' of the place and the people. This is largely influenced by the location (beachside vs. jungle) and more-so by the religion. The general initial feeling about Maumere, where there is substantially more Catholic influence, was that the people were a little colder, perhaps guarded. This didn’t last long once you busted out a swift set of pearly whites and threw in a ‘selemat pagi’ or ‘siang.’ Also, the feeling of villages by the beach is, as you would expect, a lot more relaxed. As you will notice everywhere in Asia, but perhaps more so by the beach, people spend the days lazing about sleeping and, well really.. just doing nothing. ‘Ojek [motorcycle taxis]’ and ‘bemo [public minibuses]’ drivers in Indonesia are especially good at this.