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The Lesser Sunda Islands III

Komodo Archipelago

View The Lesser Sunda Islands on Lingering's travel map.

Sunday [23/12/2018] - Today, I would be going for the 3 days liveaboard with Yudith only as Teddy has some personal stuff to take care of. So after having breakfast at the hotel, Renyold and Yudith came to pick us up at 8am. On the way to the harbour, we stopped at Blue Ocean hotel first so that I could leave my luggage there since we will be checking in on 25th December. After that, we went to rent snorkeling gear before going to the harbor to find our private cabin bedroom boat. It took us quite a while to find it as there were many cabin boats but finally we did. After saying goodbye to Renyold and Uwi who wanted to walk around the town before heading back to the hotel, we went on the boat and started sailing.


The boat has 2 decks where the lower deck is the living quarter where there are 2 cabins, 2 toilets, an open air kitchen at the back, eating area in the front and the captain's driving cabin where he also sleeps while the upper deck consist of bean bags and cushions for people to relax and sleep. There is the captain and his 2 crews where 1 of them is in charge of cooking the meals and the other one is helping both the captain and in the kitchen. The boat was pretty comfortable and stable. It was a relaxing cruise with the cool wind blowing even though it was a very sunny day.


Our first stop is at Kelor island where we were given time to hike up the hill and go snorkeling. There were already a lot of boats docking on that island and people who were not snorkeling, climbed up the hill. We were sent to the island using a small motor boat and we arranged to be picked up within an hour. We decided not do do any hiking up any hill since we did not wear our sport shoes so we just stayed in the water and tried out snorkeling. The sand was white and the water was very blue. We didn't stay too long in the water as there was nothing much to see near to the shore and we did not dare to go further out into the sea since there were not many people snorkeling around. After a while walking on the shore, the small boat came and picked us up.


Then we head to Manjarite island. This time, the water was deeper than Kelor island but nevertheless, still blue and very clear. There were a lot of people snorkeling here compared to the previous island as the water around the jetty was calmer. After having enough of snorkeling, i walked towards the island on the bridge only to find out that there is a signboard saying "Private property. No tresspassing". So I walked back to the jetty and after a short while, the small boat came and picked us up. On board, lunch was served. Even though it was cooked for 2 of us, the food could actually feed up to at least 5 person. Although the food was simple, it was delicious but also probably because we were hungry. We told the captain not to cook a lot of food for us but he told us, that is the standard portion they cook every time so the rest of the food that couldn't be finished, we always tell him and his crews to finish it for us.


Our next destination and the one which I was looking forward to is to see the famous komodo dragons on Rinca island. There were a lot of boats there so we had to wait for our turn to go to the jetty. Other than the komodo dragons, there were also other wildlife such as mud crabs, monkeys, buffaloes, deers and birds. As we reached to the ranger camp, we saw people walking in groups with a ranger holding a stick. After buying the tickets and getting a ranger, we head off to see the komodos. There were quite a lot of komodos just resting around the ranger camp area. We were told that the komodos have already eating so they were not hungry to chase after people but we still have to take precautions. We were not allowed to go very close to the komodos and get fooled by their close proximity to humans as its one of their tactic to get our guards down.


The ranger told us that there are currently 1500 komodos marked on this island with a ratio of 3 males to 1 female. The number of komodos here are higher than those on the Komodo island and the mating season is between July to August. The female can lay up to 36 eggs once a year in September but the hatching rate is only about 40-45%. The eggs are buried in either the hillside nests, ground nests or mound nests initially built by the orange-footed scrub fowls. The eggs will take 9 months to hatch but the female komodo will only guard the nesting site for 6 months. Once the young komodos hatch, they will run away and climb up trees to avoid being eaten by their mother or other komodos. Unlike the adult komodos which feed on carcasses and animals, the young ones feed on small lizards, insects, snakes and birds. When they are 4 years old or have reach 20kg in weight, they will come down and live on the ground. The feeling of finally seeing the komodo dragons up close and personal is so unreal as I never thought I would be able to do so.


The last thing to do for the day is to set sail to Kalong island. On the way to that island, the crew had fried banana fritters topped with chocolate syrup and cheese shredding for us but we were still full so we only had a few and had to ask them to finish off the rest, We reached there before 5.30pm and found a spot to dock our boat like all the other boats who were doing the same thing. While waiting for the flying foxes to come out, I saw that most boat crews were already starting to prepare the ingredients for dinner. The bats didn't come out until an hour later but once they came out, they came out continuously. The sight was so amazing with the sunset and the bats flying. As we started sailing again to find a place to dock for the night, the bats were still coming out from that island. There were probably few hundreds of them dwelling on the mangrove island.


By the time the ship was docked, it was already very dark but we saw that we were near to some island inhibited by people as there was a bright spotlight shining. I thought we had docked somewhere near Padar island since we were supposed to go up there tomorrow but the captain told us that we had gone back to Rinca island and docked there because the water was calm. Dinner was served at 7.30pm. Since there was nothing much to do after dinner, we went into our cabin which has a double bed double decker and went to bed. The power for the air conditioner was switched on for the night so that we could sleep comfortably. I have never slept on a boat overnight before but I have to say, it is very peaceful.


Monday [24/12/2018] - I woke up automatically at 5.30am just to see how sunrise look like at sea. Unfortunately, the sun hasn't come out yet but I could see how calm the water was. The other boats which had also docked for the night were still there but the crew were getting ready to start the day. We were supposed to sail to Padar island today but due to the sunken boat incident that happened around 5am yesterday, all boats were not allowed to go to Padar area at the moment as they were still trying to find the missing bodies and also the waves were pretty rough at the moment. So we had to cancel Padar island and after discussion with the captain, he suggested that we go to Komodo island and then to the village instead.


When we started sailing towards Komodo island before 7am, breakfast was served which consist of french toast and fried egg. We reached to Komodo island around 8.30am and there were some boats there already. There were kiosks selling things unlike on Padar island but we went to check out the komodos first before checking out the kiosks. After buying the tickets and getting a ranger, we started our walk. Komodo island is very different from Rinca island because we did not see any komodo resting around the ranger camp nor were there any wild animals. The komodos here are also difficult to see because they are wilder and due to shortage of food, they have to go further to hunt for food. Since the komodos here are hungry, we had to be extra alert as they could attack people anytime. We were also told that there are only 1377 komodos recorded here.


As we walked along the trail, the ranger from another group told our ranger that they spotted 2 komodo dragons on a particular spot so we headed there and sure enough, there were 2 adult komodo dragons and 1 small one. The small komodo was afraid of people so it went away very fast. As for the other 2 adult komodos, one was sleeping while the other one was pretty active. There were groups of tourists around and their rangers were helping them to take photos with the komodo. Suddenly, the active one seemed to sense blood around while one of the female tourist was getting her photo taken so the ranger asked if any of us were on our period and we said no. After having my photo taken with the sleepy komodo, we walked back to the ranger camp since we did not come across anymore komodos and thanked our ranger. Then we walked to the kiosk and I bought a few komodo souvenirs as well as a face mask made from jackfruit wood. Since it was still early, we decided to have fresh coconut before heading back to the jetty at 10.30am.


Once we were picked up from the jetty, the boat sailed to Komodo village which was not very far from the komodo park. Komodo village is small and when we were walking towards the village, I could see a lot of rubbish in the water. An elderly man chatted with Yudith and offered to guide us around for a fee so we agreed. Basically, we walked through a small path where there were houses on both sides. I could see people in this village still help each other out and kids were playing around barefooted. There wasn't much to see but I managed to find komodo postcards which I have not come across so far, in one of the small home store selling souvenir. After the short tour, we decided to get back to the boat since it was getting very hot already and then head on to pink beach.


There were not many boats at pink beach so we docked there and had lunch first. We rested until 2pm before we went to the shore to check this beach. It is called pink beach because there were supposed to be a lot of broken red corals on the shore that results in the pink colour. There were a lot of broken white corals instead and nothing much to see unless we snorkel far out into the sea. After staying for a while there, we decided to head back to the boat and discussed with captain what else could we do since it was still early. He told us that it would be better that we head towards Manta point for docking. On the way, we passed by Taka Makassar island and saw some people walking on the shore.


By the time we arrived at the docking area in the middle of the sea, there was already a diving boat docked already. It was a lucky thing we arrived there early because the captain told us that only few boats could dock there and if the dock is full, other boats have to find somewhere else to dock. By then, the sky had already become dark and the waves were getting rougher. Then came the rain, thunder and lightning. Good thing the rain did not continue for long so we had dinner before going to sleep.


Tuesday [25/12/2018] - Today I automatically woke up before 6 am just in time to see the lovely view of sunrise. After the storm, the water was so calm and clear that you can even see your own reflection in the water from the boat. It was low tide so we could see a lot of islands which was not present yesterday. The boats that had docked around us had either gone off early or drifted away from our boat. While I was taking a shower, Yudith told me that I had missed seeing a manta ray flying out of the water. After breakfast we head back towards Taka Makassar where we had passed by yesterday.


The water was so low that a lot of corals were exposed on and around Taka Makassar island. The small boat could only take us to a certain part since the water was so shallow that we had to walk in the water until we reached to the sandy area. The sand on this island was white and very hot actually since it seems to reflect off the heat of the sun. The captain and 1 of the crew went walking around the island with us to check out all the different types of animals and corals that were stranded in puddles of water due to the low tide.


It was very fascinating to see all the living creatures because there are some which I have never seen before like the blue starfish whose body is soft, long worm like creature and corals of different shapes and sizes. If we went there in the afternoon, we would not be able to see all these creatures up close and personal. After an hour, we head back to the boat since it was getting so hot by then.


Then we went to the manta point, hoping to see the manta rays. I am not a strong swimmer nor have I ever tried jumping from a boat into the sea before but the captain told us that the water was only 10m deep. When the captain saw manta ray swimming by our boat, we had no choice but to follow one of the crew and jumped into the water right away. It was scary yet exciting and we did see a manta ray swimming by us. It was so fast that even though we tried to catch up with it, we couldn't and in the end, it left for somewhere else. Since It was not the manta ray season, we were not able to see anymore swimming around but hey, at least we saw one which is better than none. After no more manta ray passed by us, we went up the boat and then head on slowly towards Labuan Bajo direction.


Our last stop is at Kanawa island which took 2 hours to reach from the manta point. At one point near to this island, the waves were so strong that the boat was rocking left and right until that the bench we were seating on near the front deck almost threw us off. It was a good thing that it didn't last forever and I was glad I didn't get seasick like when we were heading to Karakatau in December 2017. After that rough patch, the waves were calmer all the way until Kanawa island. There were few bungalows and a restaurant on this island but since we were not interested in checking them out or doing any hiking in the hot sun, we straight away went snorkeling. There were a lot of corals and marines fishes near to the jetty and the water was very clear. While snorkeling I could feel the hot and cold current mixing together in the water. I spent 30 minutes snorkeling in the water before I went up the jetty to see the fishes near to the steps. Unfortunately, the crew thought we wanted to go back to the boat already s they came and picked us up before I had the opportunity to snorkel near to the steps.


After taking a shower, we had our late lunch and then slowly sail towards Labuan bajo. We reached Labuan Bajo port at 3.30pm and with our stuffs, we walked by foot to return the snorkeling equipment first and then to Blue Ocean Hotel so that I can check in. Uwe had already checked in earlier and his room was next to mine. After saying goodbye to Yudith, I sorted out my clothes to be sent to the laundry and took a bath again because it was so hot in Labuan Bajo. I talked to Uwe and we decided to just stay in our room until late afternoon when it is not so hot, then we will take a walk to find somewhere to have dinner. By the time it was slightly cooler, we decided to head upwards away from the harbour towards Luwansa beach resort direction to check out the post office. There were a lot of small local shops and tour operators offering liveaboard but other than that, there was nothing much to do. So in the end, we decided to try out an Italian restaurant where both of us ordered a pizza each for dinner which was not bad. This restaurant was pretty crowded and people seemed to know it from reviews given by people who had eaten in this restaurant before. By 8.30pm, I was already feeling sleepy so we head back to our hotel and call it a night.


Wednesday [26/12/2018] – Today is a free and easy day and we did not have any specific plan since Uwi refused to go on a boat or ride a motorbike and there was no car taxi waiting for passenger so we could not even visit other places outside of Labuan Bajo. The only thing we could do is just to walk around Labuan Bajo so I woke up around 8am. Then we went to the rooftop to have breakfast by 9am while enjoying the view of the harbour. I already miss the liveaboard and the best thing about it is that we still get mobile signal everywhere we went to. It was a very hot day and the hot breeze did not help much either. After breakfast, we went back to our room and decided to go out later since Uwi said he had walked around the whole town while I was living on the boat and there wasn't much to see and do. So I used the time to write a few postcards in my room since the post office is open today.


We started walking at 10,30am and the weather was even hotter than earlier in the morning. We went to the post office first to send off the postcards before going towards the harbour. Labuan Bajo is actually a very small sleepy town as there was nothing much to do if you are not going out to the sea. We went and checked out the fish market which was dirty and smelly and then went on walking to the back of the street which leads back to the main road in front of Blue Ocean hotel. Since breakfast was just 2 slices of bread and omelette which is not filling and doesn't last until lunch time and Uwi didn't want to have lunch because he was still full from breakfast, I decided to stop at a small cafe called Catur'z Kopi Club to snack on something and also to get out of the hot sun since it was already noon time. I ordered fruit juice and what we called in Brunei and Malaysia, kuih lenggang which is basically pandan pancake with shredded coconut cooked with gula melaka syrup. After spending some time cooling off in that cafe, we slowly walk back to our hotel to cool off in our room and I started to packing my things since we were going to leave Labuan Bajo tomorrow.


At 3pm, we walked out again this time to Bajo Bakery since I was getting hungry. I ordered a savoury quiche, meat pie, danish pastry, chocolate banana muffin and tuna wrap to share with Uwi. We sat at the window area overlooking the harbour just to pass time while eating the pastries. We came back to hotel around 5.30pm to check on my laundry but it hasn't arrive yet. So after taking a shower, we head out to Le Pirate restaurant for a light dinner. They have interesting interior design and food was alright. We stayed there until 9pm before heading back to the hotel to pack our luggage since my laundry has finally arrived. At 10pm, I received an email from Garuda informing that our flight tomorrow morning had been changed to evening due to technical problem with the plane and we will only reach to Bali after 9pm. For me there is no problem arriving late since I fly back to Brunei on 28th December 2019 but it was such a big deal for Uwi since he stubbornly booked his flight back to Berlin that evening also without taking into consideration that flights can be delayed. So in the end, we had no choice but to throw away our Garuda ticket and purchase new tickets from another airline that has morning flights. I told him that the other airlines are not safe and they also have delays but he rather take the risk and said that he didn't trust Garuda at all. So after searching, the only earliest flight available in the morning is Wings Air which was not what I wanted because Wings Air is famous for its poor air safety records due to numerous accidents. However, Uwi didn't care at all because he rather not miss his business class flight instead of being concern about the safety inside the plane. So fine, I let him have his way but after all the things have happened in Flores, this will be the last and only time I will ever travel with him so we went ahead and purchased the tickets.


Thursday [27/12/2018] – We checked out of Blue Ocean Hotel at 8.30am without having breakfast since Uwi wanted to go to the airport as early as possible and told me that we can have breakfast at the airport. Komodo airport is still pretty new and has limited amenities. Since Wings Air only give 10kg free check in baggage and I couldn't even purchase additional pre-paid baggage through their website, the ground staff let me off the hook for checking in 3kg excess while I have to carry the rest of my stuff in my hand carry bag. This is also another reason why I refused to buy Wings Air ticket at first even though it is cheap unlike Garuda where you get 20kg free check in baggage. Then we went to check the gate where we were supposed to wait and there were a lot of people also waiting to board their flight. Since it was still early, I walked around to see what was available. There were a few souvenir kiosk, a book shop and 3 kiosk which is supposed to be selling snacks and drinks but only 1 of them had food for breakfast but they had limited number of beef pastry left. So everyone who was hoping to get breakfast at the airport could only order the beef pastry and after it had run out, people could only order drinks. So much for Uwi's idea of having breakfast at the airport. Our flight eventually departed at 9.55am instead of 9.35am and we arrived at Bali 30 minutes later than the expected time. Wings Air live up to their status of never been on time and not being safe at all since I saw cracks on the ceiling of the plane. No meal was served on board as no one purchased any food. Uwi on the other hand did not say anything but after the flight, he posted on his Facebook saying that Wings Air is the unsafest plane he had been on. I already told him about it but he refused to listen since his business class ticket was more important than safety at that time.


After landing at Bali and getting our luggage, I looked for Gusti as I have arranged with him to pick us up. Since Uwi's flight was only in the evening, I told him that we could go around Denpasar for a while and we will send him back to the airport but he refused because he didn't want to miss his flight so I just let him be. Gusti took me to a restaurant for lunch and after that, we went to Krisna to and then to Lotte supermarket to look for some souvenir before checking in to Tanaya Bed and Breakfast. In the evening, I made arrangement with Gusti to have dinner together at Mama's German restaurant which is not far from Tanaya Bed and Breakfast so before that time, I walked along the streets of Legian just to see what shops and restaurants are around. At Mama's German restaurant which serves German food, we ordered their famous pork knuckle which the waitress told us that it's at least 500g. We didn't expect it to be huge when it was served so I couldn't even finish half of it and also it was very greasy unlike the one I tasted in Prague. After saying good night to Gusti, I went back to my room, packed all my stuff and went to bed early since my flight is at 7.10am the next day.


Friday [28/12/2018] – I woke up at 3.30am because Gusti was going to pick me up by 4am to go to the airport. There was no traffic along Legian street as the bars and pubs have closed already unlike late last night where the traffic couldn't even move at all. There weren't many people in the airport so everything was pretty quiet and I am glad that Royal Brunei Airlines left exactly on time so that I could catch up with some sleep on the way back. This trip has been long and I have learnt a lot of things about both Lombok and Flores as well as how it is like to travel with Uwi. Honestly speaking, without Rinjani, Lombok does not have anything much interesting to see or do unless you head out to the Gili islands and it is still a long way from being developed like Bali. Flores on the other hand is pretty much surprising to me as they have similar food culture and Malay language like Brunei. The places are still unspoiled by tourists and not commercialised yet since most tourists just tend to go to Labuan Bajo in order to get to the komodo islands or at most they will travel to see Kelimutu lake and Wae Rebo village rather than going around different cities of Flores. I love to go back to Flores again one day to climb Mount Inerie and do liveaboard again as I enjoyed it so much and hoping to go to the top of the hills of Padar island to take the lovely view of the island.


Posted by Lingering 08:27 Archived in Indonesia

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I see you had a good time! Good for you!

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