Who's stirring the Cauldron?

Trip Start Oct 03, 2012
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Trip End Nov 28, 2013


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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Friday, August 23, 2013

WOW! So we arrived in Labuan Bajo, Flores yesterday after something like 27 hours continuous travel from Lombok across Sumbawa and then to Flores. Our bus stopped yesterday at 1:30am for dinner somewhere on Sumbawa and dropped us off a 2 hours ride from the port at around 4:30am. For some reason the coaches won't go the last bit to the port of Sape, instead you then have to get into a smaller local Bus in a place called Bima which completes the 2 hour journey to the ferry port at Sape. The 8 hour ferry ride from Sape, Sumbawa to Labuan Bajo, Flores got us in around 5:30pm and not wanting a repeat of the Kuta Lombok experience we checked into the first budget place (Hotel Kharisma) we could lay our hands as we were one of the first off of the ferry. Dumping our stuff and getting straight out to the dive shops to investigate prices for dives and other better/nicer accommodation we eventually stumbled upon the Flores Diving Centre.

The Flores Diving Centre pretty much was the answer to our prayers. This place was young, lively and offered us a great diving package encompassing our Advanced Open Water course and amazing accommodation too, which beat the hell out of Kharisma Hotel (which didn't live up to its name in many ways). Also, call for prayers from the mosque tanoi system at 4:30am might as well have originated from inside the room - the guy went on for about 30 minutes!!! Not good but it did get us up nice and early for our first dive in Komodo - woohoooooooo!

To be honest it felt like the only dive centre that 'wanted' our business - lot's of divers migrate through Labuan Bajo and the place is pretty much a conglomeration of businesses serving the diving community. Other than that Labuan Bajo would be a sleepy fishing village.

So - After arriving at Labuan Bajo yesterday evening we were on a diving boat early in the morning out to our first dive site next to Komodo Island called 'The Cauldron'. I've been excited about diving The Cauldron since reading lots about it - the site has it all the wildlife big and small (Manta's for Kirst) and also the technical side of extreme currents. The Cauldron lives up to it's name both above and below the surface. Its where 2 seas meet - the Flores Sea and Sumba Strait, which causes the water to look literally like a bubbling swirling cauldron. The meeting of warm and cold currents causes some very strong currents from every direction - up, down and sideways and is also notoriously unpredictable. It pays to have a bit of experience to dive this site if only for the reason of conserving air and maintaining buoyancy, which thankfully we had built up.

The Cauldron was a crazy exciting dive and the currents meant that you were shooting like a rocket in stages, or hanging onto to rocks for a peak at the marine life or floating in a piece still water to catch our breath.

Our second dive was the stunning Crystal Rock just off of Komodo. Again a dive site with strong currents we entered from a distance into the deep blue and swum against a stiff current to the rock. The array of marine life and coral is too lengthy to list but it is safe to say that this was on a level with if not exceeding our experiences at Sipidan - simply jaw dropping stuff and reasonably knackering at the same time. The 2 and half hour journey back to Labuan Bajo was a sleepy one.

You build up an appetite after diving and we found just the place to help us fill it almost opposite the Hotel Kharisma. 'The Corner' restaurant did a really cheap and tasty veggie sub with chips - and the chips were amazing (a rare thing whilst in Indo!).

One more fun dive of the Advanced Open Water course tomorrow at Tantawa Kecil and then an afternoon with the Komodo Dragons !!!!
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