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Saturday March 3, 2018
We arrived at Denpassar Airport in plenty of time for our flight and waited for the check in desk to open. At 12:15 pm I handed over my ticket to be told that our 2:10 pm flight had already gone. Huh? Apparently they couldn’t contact me since I don’t have a local number. I booked it online with an email address but, whatever, so she sent us to the ticketing office to get another flight. We left and re-entered the terminal twice more, both times having to go through security and asked several people where it was. They kept sending me to check in. I finally learned to say “No, I need TICKETING!”. Finally upon speaking to a young man who again explained their inability to reach us, we were issued a new ticket with a different airline and went to check in again. Through security again we got to our gate to find staff trying to clean up a massive septic back up. What an odour! A last minute gate change and we were finally off.
I’d sent a couple of messages to our guesthouse and wondered if they’d be there to pick us up and sure enough, there was a man with a sign. Bonus! After settling in to World BNB, we took the shuttle to town to settle up on our boat trip with Le Pirate and have dinner.
The next few days we spent exploring the area. There were a couple of trips we considered. One was a hike to a waterfall of about an hour and anther involved an overnight trip to a village with a 4 hour trek up hill. We decided it was just too hot! With the humidex it felt like close to 40 degrees. It didn’t take much exertion to make me sweat.
One night we tried the fish market. Stalls start opening around 5 pm when they fire up barbecues (with wood) and set the fish out on ice. We’d been for a walk earlier and saw women bagging water and wondered what it was for. Then we say the fish on the bags of solid ice. Aha! Sue and I chose a snapper and a squid and the man barbecued it for us. It was served with rice, Balinese veggies, some cabbage and cucumber and a glass of water. Delicious!
Online research didn’t help us find any beaches nearby for snorkeling. There are waterfalls and caves to visit but all involve trekking and it’s just too hot for that. I kept asking around thinking there HAS to be a beach ON Flores that doesn’t require a boat. Finally a young man visiting someone at the guest house suggested Waecicu Beach. The driver took us there and dropped us off at Sylvia Hotel where we paid 100,000 rupiah (less that $10) to spend the day. If we spent that much at the restaurant it was free. Bonus! Waecicu is a really nice beach in a small cove and a nice selection of coral right in front. We liked it so much we went back the next day.
March 7-10 Komodo National Park
We set off on Le Pirate’s Explorer 1 with 4 other ladies and 3 crew shortly after 10 am. Perfectly calm seas and wonderful views of the many islands off the coast of Flores were on the agenda today. First stop was Rinca Island, one of two islands inhabited by the prehistoric komodo dragon. It’s the largest monitor lizard in the world and it’s saliva carries lethal bacteria. They’re prey are buffalo, deer and monkeys and sometimes each other.
After the trek we were hot and sweaty so stopped far away from the croc infested island to jump off the boat and cool off.
A couple hours later we landed at Padar island were we jumped off again for a bit of a snorkel before trekking the hill. I have no idea how many steps but it was hot and a good hike UP. Parts of the steps were either not finished, or had broken and the gravel path was slippery. The magnificent views at the top were well worth the hot climb.
By the time we got in the dingy to get back to the boat it was nearing dark and we were treated to a lightning show off in the distance.
Dinner of charlie fish, cabbage with beans and rice was served when we got back to the boat. Then the fire flies came out and the lightning show continued After that, Pharell even set up a movie to watch. We got about half way through Shutter Island when the battery died. Part two tomorrow.
Day 2 included a few snorkelling stops. After an amazing breakfast with way too much food, we went snorkelling at the pink beach. The water was cold but the coral was beautiful. While on our way again the rain came. It poured! It’s not cold but gets quite painful when pelting you while moving. We stopped to wait it out at Takamakasa island where I saw what I thought were sharks and pointed them out to Farrell. Mantas!! Cool. We motored further to a better current and the found a lot of mantas thrashing about. The boat left us up current and we pretty much floated down to meet the mantas. They are HUGE and there were way too many to count. Rico picked us up and I asked to go again. Everyone agreed so off we went. I could have swum with the gentle giants all day but apparently it was lunch time. They like to feed us.
We stopped again at Takamakasa island, ate, rested a bit and headed out again. Because I’m a pain in the ass, I asked to see the mantas again. Sue and I were the only ones to go in that time. They missed out as the mantas seemed to be playing with us, circling round and round and flipping wings at us.
Since there were other things on the agenda, we had to stop.
For our sunset walk we trekked up Gilli Lawau. The last bit is really steep and and I made it part way before I sat down and gave up. Dripping with sweat, I decided the view from there was good enough. Climbing up is fine. Going DOWN the loose gravel on a steep grade terrifies me.
Farrell assured me it wasn’t going to rain so I left all the flaps open in our room and slept with a wonderfully refreshing ocean breeze.
Day 3 dawned with not a cloud in the sky. We visited several snorkeling sights and I’ve given up on remembering the names of all the islands. In the evening we watched as the flying foxes left a mangrove forest en masse. Thousands fly out every night in search of fruit and return before sunrise to sleep in the mangrove trees.
On Day 4 awakened to an amazing sunrise and a flying fox bat hanging on the line tied to the buoy. After breakfast, we had to cast off so Farrell gently got the bat to cling to a broom handle and moved him to the side of the boat where it hung for the rest of the day. He and Rico fed it bananas. Camille put a towel over him for shade. Apparently the bat had fallen in the water and swum for the first thing it could cling to. Lucky bat picked a Le Pirate boat so was treated well.
We spent the rest of the day snorkelling and lazing about on the boat. Back in Labuan Bajo, we said goodbye to everyone (including the bat), enjoyed a refreshing glass of ginger tea at the Le Pirate restaurant and headed back to the World BNB.
The next day we went back to WaeCicu beach and spent a day relaxing and doing some more snorkeling.
If I were to do it again, I’d spend far less time in Labuan Bajo. I highly recommend Le Pirate and World BNB. Both were excellent!
There’s really not much to see that doesn’t involve 10 hours of driving somewhere. I’d looked at tours that start in Maumere and wished now I’d done it that way. Yes, it’s a lot of driving as you don’t get anywhere quickly in Indonesia, but you’d REALLY see Flores. You could fly into Maumere and out of the Labuan Bajo for not much more than a return flight to either.