We then set off on a 3 day boat trip
. We have our own boat and crew which is very pleasant - and a relief because its a pretty small area to be sharing with strangers. We go to Rinca and Komodo inlands, home of the 3m long Komodo dragons, which are the world's largest lizards. Its very informal: we dock the boat, meet a guide who has a wooden stick to fight off the dragons and then go for a stroll around the island. We get very close to them on both islands. The most memorable things were the drooling of bacterial saliva (they eat smaller prey whole, but sometimes bite a water buffalo and the bacteria eventually kills it) and also they way they walk -unlike 4-legged mammals, the front right and rear left legs move in unison etc, and then the tail sweeps along the ground to cover up any tracks.
We also do lots of snorkelling from the boat and see an enormous manta ray which we dive down to and follow with great effort. Diving down to get close to it, we realise that we enjoy 'free-diving' and manage to get down to about 15m, which is pathetic but still very exhilarating as you swim up to the surface running out of breath.
We are moving further east in Indonesia, and it gets less developed the further we go. We are now on the island of Flores, which is much less touristy. It has a wonderful feel to it, very unspoiled and low-rise with a handful of places to stay and only 3 restaurants that we can find. We hire a scooter for a day and try to ride to the next village but the roads are terrible and the island is very hilly so we don't get far. Almost everyone who comes here stays for a day in Labuanbajo and then does a Komodo cruise, so when we go inland, we feel as though we are the first tourists that people have ever seen. Everyone by the side of the road waves at us, every other scooter beeps their horn, we are a tourist attraction ourselves. We stop in a little village where we are mobbed by children who are bewitched by the tourist information brochure we have with pictures of their own island on it.