Life inside an unsurpassable fantasy novel!
Trip Start Jun 26, 2008
103Trip End Jun 2009
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The idyllic flight, over turquoise sea fringing dotted islands, ended abruptly when we banked over a cliff on Flores and the pilot crashed us into the runway. Still shaking we met Igor and headed to the dive shop to try on rental gear before heading to the jetty and our speedboat out to the Mona Lisa.
With sapphire blue seas and unique emerald and arid islands in every direction we drank it all in
Already on the boat was a group of man-hating feminist adrenaline junkies and Nic, the dive director. The girls were: Miss Yoga (she owned female-only tarot cards and like showing off by doing headstands for 30 mins at a time), Miss Hardcore (a human rights lawyer from Souf London trying to keep up with her new boyfriend who was a technical diver) and Mademoiselle Bump -the-reef who was covered in sores from where she had slammed into fire coral.
They went to dive the Cauldron and left us and Igor in peace to our amazing lunch. Over the next few days we would eat the best food of our entire trip. And despite having three 3-course meals and morning and afternoon teas (with cakes and fresh juice) every day we would all lose weight. Why will become clear. Igor took us on our sunset orientation dive. Kingsley had bought a new non-magnifying mask and spent the entire dive behaving (and apparently feeling like) a drunk man. A squadron of Pygmy devil rays (like miniature Manta rays) kept circling us. Our first taste of the wonder of Komodo.
The next day our second dive (at Castle Rock) was our introduction to Komodo's deadly currents. I still cannot figure out why the people at the dive shop in Sanur did not sell us a reef hook when we told them where we were going, or why they don’t provide them on the boat. To stay at our safety stop and not get pulled away we had to form a chain with Igor hooked onto a rock, Kings gripping his shoulder, me hanging on to Kings and Rich clasping me. Over the next few dives we quickly learnt to stay close to the reef, to rest in sheltered inlets and caves and to sometimes stick close to the bottom and fly! Nothing quite beats flying around a corner to see a Manta ray above you (sorry Rich and Kings…. Too slow!)
Only in Komodo would you see a choppy river surging through the sea. This river was rushing past Batu Bolong (a huge rock our crop) the first time we dived it and we carefully hung in a narrow band of shelter and worked our way to the surface. On the second dive there Nic timed it perfectly for slack current and we managed to circle the whole rock and appreciate what an amazing site it truly was. The combination of crystal sea, colourful reef, sponges and anemones and a soup of every fish species with the drop-offs and canyons made this the ultimate fantasy land.
Igor had been a wonderfully patient DM helping us get used to the currents and very entertaining with his Aussie impersonation but he and the girls had to go and Leo (a Dutch man) joined us in their place. A break from diving was provided with a day-trip to Rinca. This is one of the islands were the Komodo dragons live. We passed the cheeky Macaques that catch crabs by sticking their tails down the crab holes, and walked across a stark plain to the ranger station where we were shown the blood stains on the walls of the ranger station where a ranger was attacked by a dragon (he was lucky and survived). There were a lot of dragons lounging underneath the rangers’ kitchen (attracted by the smell of food). We then did a forest walk. We managed to spot and green tree snake and some birds but no dragons in the forest.
The final fantasy world that we visited was on a night muck dive near one of the islands. In this sandy bottom we saw lots of creatures too weird to imagine. The highlight was two big sea horses. There were decorator crabs, which disguise themselves by sticking things like anemones to themselves, sea cucumbers that produce long arms to feed themselves, snake eels, sea spiders and lots of lovely shrimps.
Combined with all the adventure we enjoyed sunning ourselves on the deck, chatting to Nic and Leo and dozing and a speedboat ride to take pictures of our beloved boat. Nic had been fascinating conversation and a fun host and Leo a great addition to our gang. We left enchanted and planning on returning.... again and again.