Dragons, family and diving… welcome to Komodo!
After a stunning 10 day stay at Pulau Jailamu, one of the more remote and wildly beautiful islands we have stopped at, we sailed onwards on our trek across Indonesia. A country I had not imagined to be so big.
So spread out.
So varied and so beautiful.
Our destination this time was the Komodo area and the main town of Labuan Bajo on the expansive island of Flores.
Labuan Bajo was an assault on our civilization starved eyes.
A never-ending roundabout of bemos and ojaks, running the circular wheel of the ring road of the town. Their noise and dust adding to the commotion and outback feel of the place.
A juxtaposition of new and old, with local warungs (eating houses) and food trolleys roaming the streets, to a new Starbucks that opened while we were there. Big moves for a small town, showing just how much tourism is growing in this tiny place.
Dusty, hot and filled with smiling friendly people, we took it all in, absorbing the day to day of a new city. Shopping with the locals and enjoying moments of touristy delight.
Western style restaurants, massages and drinks by pools.
Things that have been foreign to us for the last, well, as long as I can remember…Fiji maybe??
It was a shock to the system, although a delightful shock.
We settled into a casual routine here. Getting to know the local spots for shopping and fresh produce, practicing our Bahasa as we go about our daily lives in town.
Repair men were met, along with a lovely family who did our laundry while the generator was out of commission. My veggie shop lady I found, who seemed to stock all the things I had missed – broccoli, mint, lettuce, dragon fruit and mangos by the bucketful.
The produce here was phenomenal. Locally grown and often shipped to Jakarta for the hotels and restaurants there, Flores is plentiful and delightful, with a climate that is cool and refreshing to us.
Sheets and blankets are brought out from under the beds and re assigned to be used at night times. Our blood has thinned from our year in the tropics.
Islands that could be the Hauraki Gulf in a dry summer make me miss home for the first few days there.
Not a palm tree in sight, the landscape was so different from what I had expected, so foreign from the last year of our travel.
No lush jungle covered hills with beaches dripping in coconut palms here. These are dry and scrubby looking islands, with visibly pink to dusky sandy colour beaches.
The underwater life here is all that we expected of it and more. A plethora of idyllic looking fish and creatures, gliding along on the extreme currents we find here. Some places between islands getting up to 6 or more knots. Fierce and somewhat terrifying.
It is slightly inaccessible at most places, both due to the strong currents and the lack of mooring balls we can tie to.
Anchoring in the park limits is not permitted under 35m. Which is too deep for our small boat. We don’t carry enough chain for those type of depths and it is hard on the windlass (the amazing machine that pulls up the anchor and chain for us, which we would be lost without!)
Both Chae and I dive here with a dive company. The currents are too strong and unpredictable for us to do them on our own. Local knowledge is a necessity.
The dives are phenomenal. Schools of GTs, sharks, rays, tunas, snappers and other fish we have never seen before.
Incredible coral bombies and walls jam packed with colorful critters and creatures. Octopus, striking nudibranchs, tiny exotic shrimps and the kids favourite, shy little Gobies, weaving in and out of their hidey holes.
We saw soft corals waving in the currents, their extreme colors like a violent explosion underwater.
A whole ecosystem, fed by the currents that rush through here. It truly was exceptional.
Emelia learnt to dive here with good friends off another boat, Lukim Yu. Actually, not just good friends, great friends and Dive Masters at that. They are the people who train the dive instructors, that most people would learn with! She was super lucky to be able to learn from Denise and Jamie, two of the most responsible and accomplished divers we have met yet! Practicing skills in one of the premier dive locations of the world has to be top of the amazing experiences our kids get to have, being on this adventure!
They truly don’t know how lucky they are!
It is Komodo where my parents join us again for a long overdue visit.
Favorite places we have found over our 3 week stay here are re visited and new locations are explored with them.
We see the ancient and drooling dragons, active in the cool of the early morning when we visit, loitering around the entrance to the National Park. Water buffalos and deer scattering our walk and monkeys and fossils are spotted on the way down from the high viewpoint of Rinca island.
We walk to the top of Padar Island while the sun sets on another perfect day. Climbing the stairs as the earth rotates, turning the skies a dusky pink to match one of the exotic coloured beaches we gaze on down below.
Snorkeling is a treat, with the kids enjoying showing off their newfound knowledge to their grandparents. Educating them on the underwater world that has become a second home to them, showing them their favourite creatures and fish and the oldies marveling at their water skills. They watch in awe as all 3 of their grandchildren dive down on one breath to the blue depths below.
Family time is spent, beers and cocktails are enjoyed and meals are shared together again. We enjoy the small time we get to be with each other again before, all too soon, time has flown and they are off again, unsure when we will see each other again. Wishing, as always, that the time together was longer.
Their plane leaves on another hot and sunny day. We wave as they wing their way to their next destination and we go back to re stock the empty fridges (several cases of beer were drunk!) on our suddenly quiet boat.
With the visa renewal process due again, we take care of formalities here, where we at least know what to expect from this office, before our next eagerly awaited family visit starts and our time in Komodo will come to an end.