Boats, Dragons and Bintang, Oh My!

Trip Start Sep 17, 2011
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Trip End Oct 07, 2011


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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Monday, September 26, 2011

Here we are again, in a cafe sitting on bean bag chairs. Nice that there is free Wi-Fi. That is going to change tomorrow when we head out on our 3 night overland adventure. Meanwhile, thought I'd resume where I left off last night. Our new German friend, whose name is Carsen, happened to show up here (at the cafe) and we sat around talking about this and that and watched the sun set over the harbor; Carson left shortly thereafter. We made the mistake of leaving after it was completely dark out. Bill asked one of the proprietors the best way back to our room up on the hill. He pointed in the opposite direction we had walked in from, so that's the way we headed. It was a long, at times slightly scary journey. We walked on the main drag, doing out best not to get hit by passing motorists. The roadway just kept going straight which made us wonder where exactly we were going (we needed to get up the hill). We finally found a dirt road off the main drag, no street lights - just the occasional lights from a passing motorist.  We somehow managed to make it up to the cross street past piles of construction debris (piles of rocks).  Left at the top, down about 100 yards of scooters zooming past, and we were "home."  Both of us were drenched with sweat, which called for immediate stripping of clothes and a decompression period in the air conditioned bedroom.  Once we adjusted to reality, it was about time for bed. 

This morning, after Flores instant coffee and banana pancakes served in our room, we were picked up by the tour operator for our day trip to Rinca island. We boarded a small boat and were off--enveloped in the perfume of exhaust fumes and the ear-splitting, teeth chattering machine gun sound of the engine. Total duration to the Komodo Nat'l Park was 2.5 hours. We were very happy to get off the boat, after sitting on hard wooden benches and periodically getting completely drenched with plumes of salty water from the rough sea. We were met by our guide, named "Mansur." He was a little man, about 4'9" with a huge lower lip. His English wasn't all that great, but we got the gist of what we were seeing, 

 Our first sighting of a dragon was about 10 steps from the entrance. We saw 5 more hanging out around the camp kitchen. Several of them were sleeping, but others were on alert with heads extended, tongues flickering, staring at the tasty tourists. Yesterday Carsen told us he'd read that the komodo dragon's gingiva grows down over their teeth, and everytime they bite something, their gums bleed, which deposits their bacteria-laden fluids into their victim. Ick!

We decided to take the hour-long guided walk to see nature. All of the guides carry a simple forked stick, although it's hard to imagine how it would do anything against a full grown dragon. We followed our guide on a path which wound around and through forests and sandy plains, up to a viewpoint and then back down to the office. It was stinking hot. It was also a bit difficult to understand what the guide was telling us. At one point, Bill asked a question about the dragon's feeding habits while swimming in the sea. He asked, "Do they eat fish?" The guide's response:  "They are pregnant for nine months." This was sort of a typical exchange, and he obviously has a list of canned responses, regardless of the questions.We did see a young Komodo during our walk, also a snake, 4 monkeys, a water buffalo and a deer. There were huge piles of buffalo poop on the trail. We took lots of pictures. Soon enough, we were back on the boat for the return trip to Labuan Bajo. Along the way, we stopped at an island for some snorkeling, but the wind was whipping the water, and that activity was aborted. We were expecting to eat lunch on the island, but for some reason the boat operators didn't give us our meal, so that made the stay on the mostly deserted island a little miserable. Plus there was no shade, and we had no towels. 

We got back to town early due to the lack of snorkeling, and got a ride up to our room from the tour operator. After quick showers, out the door we went back to town to an ATM and another stop at the tour operator to arrange the overland portion of our trip. We were disappointed to find out that they expected the entire amount of money (3 million Rp which is about $320 USD in cash, up front. Because the ATMs around here only allow 2 million Rp to be withdrawn in a 24-hour period, we have had to scramble to come up with the big payment. Sure wish they took credit cards!. I should mention that when we left the room to head into town, we took a shortcut which consisted of haphazardly built and crumbling stairs, ramps,and gullies, all covered in trash.
 
As this was being written, the power went out in the restaurant. It still remained comfortable, given the flickering candles and lack of disco music. We left in pitch black conditions and headed back up to the room, using the shortcut. Fortunately we'd remembered our flashlight which made it a little less treacherous. Tomorrow we leave on our 4 day adventure across the island. First stop, Ruteng! Wish us luck!
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Comments

Brian Reeves on

Hey watch your step. Sooo kimodo dragons, aren't they the closest living relative to the dinosaur? In fact couldn't you make the argument that such a primitive and ancient reptile is a dinosaur? Sorry had to chuckle about the boatride. Incidently the grittyness of your locations is coming through on your (excellent) blogs.

lisabraz
lisabraz on

Hey Brian, we somehow have Internet coverage in our room so we were able to post this last entry.I really don't know much about the dragons other than they are not something I'd want to reach out and pet. They have long, curved claws and look like they could sprint really fast. I was checking out possible trees to climb in the event of an emergency, but then the guide said they can climb, as well as swim, and run really fast. We never saw a full grown one. Those in the picture were young. We're getting picked up in a half hour so I have to go, but thanks for your comments and will hope to see more in the days to come! Love, Lisa

Deborah on

I don't know - that last blog entry started to make the idea of STAYCATIONS quite appealing. You know, when you stay home for vacation.

Judy Brazell on

Ooh! What's a Komodo, and dragons? Is that really their name, that reptile? They do look like dragons, from the small pictture. You're roughing it, but handling it like "The Amazing Race." Love, Mom/Judy

jgabrielli
jgabrielli on

Well, this is a far cry from your luxurious accomodations in Ubud, massages on the open air deck and meals served in your "dining room." Do I feel sorry for you? Hmmmmm?

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