. After leaving the island we headed back to Mataram with Martin & Annie where we booked the Pelni ferry from Lombok to Flores - a 27hour journey. We boarded the ship in the port of Lembar, Lombok and immediately found a few extra inhabitants in the cabin that the four of us were sharing. A frantic half hour of cockroach murder got rid of the majority of residents and we headed to the restaurant for our first meal which was surprisingly good. We then headed up onto deck to watch the sunset before retiring back to the cabin for an evening cards session. The next day was just as pleasant as we sailed past volcanoes and islands in the sunshine. We stopped briefly at the port of Bima where people were fighting to get on first and either sell their goods to the passengers or claim one of the few remaining pieces of floor space in 'ekonomi kelas'. Lots of the Indonesian passengers took the opportunity to practise their English on us and we responded by speaking the little bits of Indonesian we had picked up. Eventually we landed at Labuanbajo at around 7pm at night where we fought through the crowds, headed for a beer (the Pelni ship was dry!!) and then found a small friendly place to stay - Losmen Matahari. After a day relaxing and looking around we chartered a boat for the day between the 9 westerners that we had managed to round up in the village. We set off at 6am and sailed 4hours to the island of Rinca which is in the Komodo National Park. This is the only area in the world where you can see the famous Komodo Dragons and we saw lots of them - some of them up to 2metres long
. We also saw Water Buffalo, Monkeys & Sea Eagles as we trekked around the island for 2 hours in the baking sun. On the way back we stopped at a little island with a gorgeous beach where we snorkelled and relaxed for an hour - it was a great day. The next two days we returned to Komodo National Park with Reefseekers diving centre where Paul & Annie did their PADI Advanced Diving Course. This entailed five speciality dives over two days - Naturalistic, Navigation, Deep Dive, Drift Dive & finally a Night Dive. At the same time Mandy & Martin were doing fun dives in some of the same areas. This is definitely one of the Worlds best diving spots - we saw lots of beautiful coral and also Lion Fish, Moray Eels, White-tipped Sharks, Porcelain Crabs, Cleaner Shrimps, Nudibranches and the highlight - three huge Manta Rays which were about 2 metres wide !!! We were also really lucky as the Instructor/Dive Master (Cissi) is a Marine Biologist so she pointed out lots of things we would otherwise have missed. We had a great time in Labuanbajo and the harbour was really pretty at sunrise. We hope we can find somewhere just as good to celebrate Xmas in a few days time !!
We left Ubud and spent a day on public transport.. three bemo rides to the harbour of Padangbai, then a 5hour ferry across to Lombok and then a short bus ride to the city of Mataram. In Mataram we stayed overnight at the friendly Oka Homestay before continuing by bemo the following day to Bangsal harbour from where you can catch boats to the threee beautiful 'Gili islands'. We took a boat to Gili Trawangan which is a lovely little island with quiet beaches and great views of Mt Rinjani (the huge volcano on Lombok). We stayed at Nusa Tiga Bungalows which is on the North of the island and very quiet and isolated. Normally Gili Trawangan is a party island but because of the recent troubles in Indonesia it was really quiet and much more laid-back than usual. We met up here with our Canadian friends Martin and Annie who by chance had arrived the same day!! The next couple of days were very stormy with lots of rain and so although we didn't get chance to go snorkelling it was still good to have a couple of days relaxing and eating the delicious seafood