Welcome to my paradise
Where the sky so blue
Where the sunshine so bright
Welcome to my paradise
Where you can be free
Where the party never ends
My dear followers!!! Greeting from Bali!!!
We have just arrived today to Bali and are waiting for the other 3 to join us in our amazing house that we rented. But more about the house and Bali adventures next week, now I still owe you last 10 days’ stories…
We have done Flores!!!!! Wooooow!!!!! I mean 5 months of beauties around SE Asia and thencomes this!!!! Beautiful island which forms part of Nusa Tenggara islands. I knew Indonesia is beautiful but Flores caught me by surprise with its amazing nature, food and people. It’s hard to describe with words what we saw and experienced, but I will try.
I will try to describe in the best possible way 650 km of curvy roads, nights on the boats, trekking to volcano and everything what happened on the way. The journey started in Labuan Bajo (point A – 4 h flight from Padang – Sumatra through Bali) and continued in Komodo natural park islands Rinca (point B – 2 h boat trip from Labuan Bajo), Komodo and Kanawa (point C – 1 h boat ride from Rinca). After amazing 5 night on paradise islands our journey took us to Ende (point D – 12 h bus drive from Labun Bajo) where we just stayed for the night to reach Moni and nearby volcano Kelimuto the following morning (point E – 2 h bus drive from Ende). Exploration of Flores finished in Maumere (point F – 3 h bus drive from Moni) from where we took a flight to Bali for our last 10 days of Indonesia “Into the wild” experience.
Tucked into Flores’ west coast and blessed with surrealist sunsets, Labuan Bajo is a romantically little harbour town, that isn’t so little anymore. According to state reports, Labuan Bajo is the fastest growing regency in Indonesia. Within the last three years, the harbour has doubled in size while the population has exploded. More than ever, international visitors bound for the spectacular Komodo National Park, check into a growing number of homey guesthouses etched into the rugged hills – or one of the new tower hotels down the coast.
We stayed in Labuan Bajo 2 nights. One night before departing to Komodo Natural Park and one after we returned, before departing to Ende. We stayed in Matahari guest house and I can recommend this place just for the price and nothing else. Nobody speaks english and the rooms are in pretty bad condition but just to crash and save some money it will do the trick. The town itself is still missing its identity. It can’t decide either to be a touristic place or an industrial port. The fact is that tourist come here only for two reasons – to sign for diving in one of numerous diving centres or to sign for a boat trip to Komodo national park. If you’re here definitely stop by the Blue Corner local restaurant for the best mie goreng (fried noodles) we’ve tried in Asia. Ask also for home-made Sambal sauce (fresh garlic, tomato and chilli sauce), amazing!!
As I said, we came to Labuan Bajo for booking an 1 night – 2 day boat trip to Komodo Nation Park. We wanted to see famous Komodo dragon, Manta rays, to sleep on a boat with local captain and try his food and be dropped on Kanawa island, where we wanted to stay 3 night.
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Nestled between Sumbawa and Flores, the islands of Komodo and Rinca, their jagged hills carpeted with savannah and fringed with mangroves, are home to the legendary Komodo dragon. The world’s largest lizard, known locally as ora which can reach over 3m in length and weigh up to 100 kg. It hunts alone and feeds on animals as large as deer and buffalo, both of which are found here. These isolated islands are surrounded by some of the most tempestuous waters in Indonesia. The convergence of warm and cold currents breeds nutritious thermal climes, rip tides and whirlpools that attract large schools of pelagic, from dolphins and sharks to manta rays and blue whales. The coral here is mostly pristine. Add it all up and you have some of the best diving in the world.
As I said we took a 1 night – 2 days boat trip fro Labuan Bajo to see Rinca and Komodo and finally to be dropped at Kanawa. At first our boat looked a bit sketchy but it turned out to be a very nice ride. We shared the boat with 4 french travellers and a nice captain, ate good food cooked onboard, saw amazing views of the archipelago, did great snorkeling, had dolphins accompany our boat for part of the ride, drank some cold beer and had a nice boat sleep. All together a perfect combination to experience the Komodo National Park.
Rinca is slightly smaller than Komodo, close to Labuanbajo and easily done in a day trip. Boat takes 2 h from Labuan Bajo and arrives at the sheltered dock of Loh Kima, from where it’s a five-minute walk through the mangroves, to the PHKA station camp at Loh Buaya.
There are supposedly no set dragon-feeding places on Rinca, but there are often a half-dozen massive beasts near the camp kitchen at Loh Buaya, so you do the math. As a result, finding dragons in the bush is not so easy, but the guides know spots where Komodo dragons sun themselves, and they’ll show you dragon nests.
Besides Dragons, Rinca offers also small trekking options through savanna hills, with beautiful views on neighbour islands. The visit of the island got a bit expensive after Indonesian government raised prices (actually the prices went up for all national parks in Indonesia), but it’s still definitely worth a visit.
After seeing Rinca we headed for Komodo island bay, where we saw dolphins following our boat, had great dinner exchanged some stories with our french friends while sipping Bintang and had a peaceful night on the boat. Next morning we headed to Komodo.
Komodo is part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands and forms part of the Komodo National Park. In addition, the island is a popular destination for diving. The Komodo dragon takes its name from the island. Javan deer also inhabit the island, though they are not native. Other fauna include buffalo, cockatoo and macaques. Komodo contains a beach with pink sand, one of only seven in the world. The sand appears pink because it is a mixture of white sand and red sand, formed from pieces of Foraminifera.
My personal opinion is that RInca is nicer but it looks like I am comparing a beautiful blond hair girl with beautiful black hair girl 🙂 if you have time, do both and judge it by yourself otherwise doing just Rinca you will be just fine.
After seeing Komodo we headed for Manta Ray point where we snorkel and swim with this huge, beautiful and graceful animal – hope you have a chance to swim with them one day – it’s an amazing experience. At the end of the day we were dropped at Kanawa island where we wanted to stay 3 nights.
We heard about Kanawa Island from our Finish friend Johanna – supposed to be an amazing paradise island with incredible beaches and sunsets. The problem was there was just one hotel on the island and supposingly fully booked for the whole summer. Well that can’t stop “into the wild” connection and we decided to try our luck anyway. And man we were lucky. Just when I was asking receptionist about availability somebody called and canceled the reservation and we could get a bale (bamboo house) for 3 nights!!!! OLEEEEE
Kanawa Island is a small beautiful tropical island, fully surrounded by white sandy beaches and coral reefs. At the border of Komodo National Park, just one hour away from Labuan Bajo, it is a perfect destination for relaxing, snorkeling, diving and exploring the park.
The island has just one place to stay – Kanawa Beach Bungalows. The northern part of the Island is left completely untouched to preserve the island’s flora and fauna. A hill in the middle of the island gives refuge to a variety of birds and animals, including eagles and wild goats. The surrounding coral reefs are home to mantas, dolphins, turtles and many different types of tropical fish – so it offers an amazing snorkelling. The resort has 18 bungalows, 10 bales and a camping area.
Reasonable prices, good sleep, good food, great snorkelling, beautiful beaches, amazing sunsets, amazing views from the top of the island (don’t go there with flip-flops 🙂 ) and bon fires for good night are all the things that should convince you to stay there at least a few nights.
After Kanawa we stayed one night in Labuan Bajo (washed our clothes, got the cheapest hair cut ever, ate some more mie goreng). and took a morning 12 h bus ride to Ende. Ende was for us just a stop on the way to volcano Kelimutu and the village that it’s located beneath it – Moni.
MONI & KELIMUTU VOLCANO
Moni is a picturesque village sprinkled with upcountry rice fields, ringed by soaring volcanic peaks and blessed with distant sea views. It’s a slow-paced, easy-going, cool breeze of a town that serves as a gateway to Kelimutu. On clear, dark moon nights, you’ll walk the silent streets beneath a black dome universe.
Kelimutu National Park and the volcano remains a Nusa Tenggara must. It is spectacular even though you need to wake up at 4 in the morning to reach it and it is cold up there like hell (don’t ware short pants like I did ;)). In the crater of the volcano you can see 3 volcanic lakes. The colours are so dense that the lakes seem the thickness of paint. It’s thought that dissolving minerals (a process that can accelerate in the rainy season) account for the chameleonic colour scheme – although one of the turquoise lakes never changes, the others fluctuate to countless shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. Kelimutu is sacred to local people, and legend says that the souls of the dead migrate there: young people’s souls go to the warmth of Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Turquoise Lake), old people’s to the cold of Tiwu Ata Polo (Brown Lake) and those of the wicked to Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Black Lake). There’s a staircase up to the highest lookout, Inspiration Point, from where all three lakes are visible. It’s not advisable to scramble around the craters’ loose scree, but we did anyway to get some spectacular pictures 🙂
But to be honest the highlight of our 3 days stay in Moni (instead of 1 as initially planned) was something completely different :). It was our new friends. What do I mean by that? Well lets start from the beginning. The first day arriving to Moni we realised we needed to withdraw some money. There was no ATM in town and the one in the nearby village didn’t accept VISA so we needed to find somebody to exchange us some USD. Walking around the town looking for somebody we run into a youngster who offered us his help. He said his friend could change us the money and that he could took us to him. Arriving to his friend’s house, we saw 4 dudes sitting – either drunk or stoned and looking happy and relaxed. They said they could change the money but we had to wait a bit till they collected all the cash. While waiting, we were offered a tea and we started a typical conversation – where you from, what you do…. While chatting, I noticed they were cutting a pig next door and I asked if there was any special occasion for that. They said yes – there was going to be a ceremony at night for a wedding that was going to be held few days later. I don’t know if they meant it for real or not, but they invited us to stop by at night to drink and eat with them and share conversation. Since we are “into the wild” we don’t refuse this kind of invitations 🙂 ohhh man and what a good decision we made 🙂 We dropped by around 6-7 and immediately we were offered Arak (palm liquor), freshly cooked pig (was a bit greasy and overcooked, but hey you can’t refuse it) and a mixture of chilli and fresh pig blood to balance Arak 🙂 (yeah it sounds horrible, but it’s not as bad as you think 🙂 ). After diner they invited us to sit down with the rest of the man that gathered around while we were eating. And you know how usually people are invited for a wedding?!?!?! Well we were invited to sit down and participate in the planing of the wedding 🙂 It’s an amazing experience where man (and only man) sit down, drink Arak or coffee, smoke like chimneys and decide what each will do to contribute to wedding (they were planing for 3 weddings that were to come in following 10 days). No fighting, no raising voice, with great respect and a lot of smile the roles were designated and people left or stayed with their new friends (by that point we were adopted:) ) and drink more Arak. After 5 bottles we decided to go home, since we had to wake up next morning at 4 to go to the volcano. But before leaving they insisted that we stay more time in Moni and come next day for dinner. Well we did. And we repeated the process from the previous day. A lot of food, a lot of Arak and a lot of great conversation. Beto, Hans, Annie and their children THANK YOU very very much for the amazing time. We hope we can return hospitality one day and we hope to go back to Moni to see you again.
After 3 days in Moni, we finally decided to move and headed to Maumere from where we had a flight to Bali. We stayed in Maumere 1 night. It was supposed to have a beach just 5 minutes walk away but we couldn’t find it (just the harbor) or maybe we were too tired after Moni 🙂 Can’t say too much about Maumere and it wouldn’t be fair anyway since we stayed most of the time in the room, you’ll have to go and check it yourselves :). I think I wrote too much for today anyway 🙂
There are 10 days of Bali in front us. This time will be a bit different since we decided to rent a villa for the 5 of us. This means 10 days of no looking and bargaining for the rooms, hot shower, our own kitchen (finally I can cook something without worrying if it is beef or dog meat :)), our own fridge (cold beer always on the reach :)) and more … a little bit of luxury on the into the wild trip 🙂 Well joke aside, we will have 3 amazing friends with us and we are sure it will be amazing.
Until next time, we are sending you lots of kisses and hugs.
Maja & Andrej