Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Rinca and Flores, Indonesia

After spending a week in Kuta, Lombok we left to get on a boat to sail to Flores. I feel like I get bored if I stay in one spot for too long. Kuta is a small town so after about two days everyone knows you.I t was funny because we would walk down the streets and the locals would yell “Hi Marina! Hi Rachel!” It’s definitely the kind of place where everyone knows who you are, where you’re from, where you’re staying… Poor Rachel got really sick with a fever and didn’t get out of bed for an entire day. She slept almost 24 hours straight. Nora, the German girl we met on the bus, went out with me while Rachel was stuck in bed. We had a great time with the South Africans we met and spent several days hanging out with them. They have bought property in Lombok and are building a sustainable farm and a cafe/bar. The even bought their own beach! We went with them to check out the construction going on at the farm. The whole setup is really beautiful, everything is bamboo structures with great views of the farm and the ocean. I really enjoyed Kuta because it was such a mellow town and I felt very comfortable there. We had some rainy days where we just chilled in the hammock and drank some bintangs.

But after about 5 days I was definitely ready to move along so we booked a ticked with a travel agency for a 4 day boat tour. It cost us about $180 but everything was included. Rachel was barely over her sickness so I was really worried that it might be difficult… Nora had done a similar tour a few years ago and said it was one of the best experiences of her life but she also warned us that it was definitely going to be an adventure… Well, it really was an adventure! The first day we were transferred from car, to bus, to car, to bus, and finally after about 9 hours we arrived on the harbor. The boat was exactly how Nora had described it so we weren’t surprised that the toilet was pretty bad, no shower, no water to wash your hands, and only tiny little mats on the floor with one large upper deck for all of us to sleep on. As soon as we got on board all the other passengers started freaking out about the conditions… like, what did they expect a fucking yacht? The other travelers were all couples from Europe: 2 from France, 2 from Germany, 4 from Czech Republic, 2 from Spain and one couple was from Australia. I was hoping that we would all socialize and have a good time but everyone really stayed to themselves and it felt really segregated. Rachel and I just laughed as they sat looking miserable and pissed off about the most trivial things. Since we had gotten a late start the first day we didn’t get off the boat until the following morning. We arrived in Sumbawa and walked through the jungle to a waterfall where we swam around and spent some time. The boat stayed close to shore the entire trip so we saw the whole northern coastline of Sumbawa. We stopped at several tiny islands for snorkeling along the way. By late afternoon the wind picked up and the waves were HUGE! It was a full moon so you had a great view of the water and you could see the boat just rocking back and forth so hard. Once the rain started we were all huddled in the center of the deck getting rained on and splashed by waves, it actually got very scary. I had taken dramamine and had acupuncture wristbands that help with sea sickness so I was ok but very uncomfortable. Even Rachel who never gets sea-sick thought she was going to throw up. A couple of people on the boat did get sick. That night we traveled nonstop for 15 hours throughout the night so it was really difficult to sleep over the sound of the engine and the rocking of the boat. The next morning I was so relieved to wake up to sunshine and a calm ocean. We went to komodo island and hiked for a few hours to see the dragons. Komodo island is part of a huge Indonesian national park so it is very clean and only one small village is on the island. We saw quite a few dragons but most of them were babies. Komodos are cannibals so the baby dragons climb the trees to avoid being eaten! The female dragons are incubating their eggs during this time of year so we only saw males and babies. The island was so dry and hilly, it actually reminded me of California in the summertime. After that we went to some fantastic snorkeling spots and saw so many beautiful coral reefs and tropical fish. We stayed the night docked at one of the many tiny islands (Indonesia has over 3,000 islands). This was our last night on the boat and it was the first time people actually started talking to one another. We drank Bintangs and played cards then ended up dancing on the deck under the full moon. The last day of the boat trip we went to Rinca island which is also part of the national park and there we saw tons of dragons. Way more than Komodo. We did a pretty serious hike through the jungle and hills where we saw wild water buffalo and many dragons. I loved seeing this place because I have seen it many times before on nature documentaries. I remember seeing one where one dragon was able to kill a water buffalo which was crazy because the buffalos are HUGE! It was really incredible to be in such a remote place and I am so grateful for the experience. After the hike we got back on the boat and went to the most incredible little island. It was so small you could walk around the whole thing in about 10 minutes. We were the only ones there and the water was crystal clear turquoise with a reef surrounding it. After the day of hiking and swimming and not showering for 4 days we were so excited to get off the boat and get onto dry land! Then we arrived in Labuan Bajo-Flores…

I was really looking forward to Flores because I have heard stories about how beautiful this island is… well Labuan Bajo is probably the worst city we have been to yet. We were so hot, tired, dirty and carrying all our bags through the dirt streets looking for hotels and everyone we looked as was filthy and overpriced. There is no reliable transportation so someone offered to drive us to a hotel and we got in, he drove us about 800ft then told us we owed him 100,000 rupiah (the price for a night in a hotel room) Then we had to argue with him saying that he was fucking crazy for asking that much money and finally after bargaining we paid him 30,000 which is still a ridiculous price to pay for that drive. We looked at several different hotels, NOBODY speaks any English here and everyone tried to rip us off and charge us way too much money. It was the first time Rachel and I got really pissed off and fed up with the people in Indonesia. We finally got a room, still had to overpay, and the power goes in and out every five minutes and you are lucky if the water is on when you want to use it. The locals were unfriendly, harass you when you walk down the street and the town is disgusting. There is trash everywhere, the beaches are so disgusting. There is trash floating in the water and littering the beach. They also burn their trash every morning so the town smells of burning plastic and smoke. We both decided we wanted to get out of here asap. So we booked a ticket to get back to the gili islands: 7 hour ferry to Sumbawa, 20 hour bus ride across Sumbawa, then another ferry to Lombok, 5 hour bus ride to the harbor, then another boat to get to the gili islands. I have not been looking forward to this much bus/boat/ferry travel but I need to get out of this town to go somewhere quiet and relaxing. So we were supposed to get on the ferry at 7 am this morning, only to find out that the ferry is late and won’t be leaving until 5pm tonight. Which means we will get to Sumbawa around 1am and we were promised there will be a bus waiting for us but the transportation in Indonesia is very unreliable so I am skeptical and a bit worried… Hopefully it will go as planned and there will be a bus! So now Rachel and I are just waiting in a cafe for 6 more hours until we can board the ferry. I am looking forward to being in the Gilis so much…

All my love,

Marina xoxo


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