East toward Komodo - Underwater Heaven

Trip Start Jan 17, 2009
1
34
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Jaya - Teak Sailing Boat

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, August 5, 2009



We
checked out of Merati guest house all smiles and thank yous but
secretly we knew they were happy to see the back off us. The reason I
say this is a few days after we checked in the guy realized there
were people coming through the door every day desperate for a room
and he could make a lot more money from them. He came up to us one
day and said his 'friends' were coming from Lombok and we had to get
out. He then came up the next day and pronounced 'you pay more'.
Needless to say he was told in no uncertain terms what he would be
paid – the agreed rate!

That
afternoon we had to be at the Irish bar on the island to meet for the
komodo diving trip. We were met by an English guy called Eddie who
was a divemaster and was doing his first trip for Jon, the skipper,
in the hope of getting more work. He was stressing out that two
Italians hadn't shown up and two Spanish girls hadn't had lunch and
the smaller boat transferring us to the 'Jaya' was nowhere to be seen
but eventually it all worked out and we were pulling up to the 'Jaya'
with twelve other people (2 English, 2 Spanish, 3 French, 1 Israel, 2
Swedish & 2 Italians) a couple of hours later. Jon, the owner and
skipper has been between Indonesia and Thailand for over a decade
running these trips and he had Eddie as one divemaster and a friend
called Dave helping with the snorkeling as well as 4 Indonesian guys
crewing the boat. After a few last checks and a welcome beer but
motored right back to where we'd just come from so we could pick up
some equipment that was forgotten then we set off east towards the
island of Moyo and eventually Komodo.

The
briefing on the first night consisted of a quick tour of the boat,
sorting out the cabins and to let us know that over the next 5 days
when the bell rang it meant we were either diving or eating.

As
I'm writing this over a month after actually doing it (been slack I
know) the next few days have kinda merged into one overall great
memory. We dived in crystal clear waters, in black sand that was
bubbling from underwater volcano's, in snow white sand bottoms, in
and around some of the most amazing coral formations and colours
we've ever seen, in currents that literally chewed us up and spat us
out then grabbed hold of us again and done the same. We watched two
octopus mating, we were face to face with logger head turtles, we saw
barracuda, travelley, tunas, scorpion fish, parrot fish, surgeon
fish..... – some days we would come up and it would be a case of
what fish we DIDN'T see and not what we'd seen. One dive we were
clinging on to a rock in such strong current and we were being
circled by 7/8 reef sharks. Another day a reef shark was actually
following on behind the back of our group checking us out. We were
anchored in a quiet bay one day having lunch when someone spotted a
stingray. A few people jumped in and I guess the ray got frightened
off but I hung around in the water for a while and he came back to
within 10m of me and I was able to swim along with him for a while.
When that bell rang during those 5 days, every time we thought ' jees
I hope its not lunchtime'.

In
total we done 13 dives over 5 days on the water, I think 9 of which
we inside the boundaries of Komodo national park. In between that we
had time to get off at Rinca Island which is one of the few places
that the Komodo dragon can be found and another stop was to climb up
to the top of a hill to look over the park. The whole place is such
unspoilt beauty its hard to describe it and still do it justice. Jon,
the skipper, has run trips from the west coast of Thailand for years
too but he said that this place had a unique undiscovered ruggedness
to it that nowhere else did. I was just a tiny bit skeptical about
how good the diving could actually be before we went (every dive shop
in the world professes to have great/world class diving) but if I
never went underwater again I'd be happy knowing I've been diving in
Komodo.

The
icing on the cake was the people of course – Jon & his crew
were so chilled out and knowledgeable and the other people of the
trip were all up for a laugh. We left the trip when we got to Lubuan
Bajo instead of returning to Gili T which most people were doing. The
only reason for this was the cost – we had pushed it as far as we
could so far and had loved it but it had to stop sometime. This is
the town that most live-aboards leave from I think but there isn't
that much to say about it.

While
we were on Gili T thinking about booking the trip the big thing for
us was getting a flight back to Bali, first of all to meet some
friends there but also to catch our flight out of Indonesia in time.
Long story short – the agent messed us around, took money from us
and didn't book any flights. The best we could get was the following
day which by luck was available. That day we managed to get the agent
on the phone and I lost it with him. In fairness he did return the
money but if there are any aspiring arsonists out there and thinking
of going to Bali/Gili T, I know a lovely little office that needs a
makeover. Overall though, not even a minor stroke could have ruined
that trip. The day after we were on a 50-ish seater propeller plane
back to Bali knowing we'd put another place on the 'Go Back To' list.

Jon's
website for anyone thats interested is www.explore-komodo.com.
He does trips to Sulawesi also I think at different times of the year
and prices are far more affordable than some other luxury options out
there.



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