Norman and I had some time to kill in Labuan Bajo because the ferry back to Sumbawa had be cancelled indefinitely, so we decided to go on a trip to Komodo Island. We had seen komodo dragons before on Rinca Island, but we heard they were bigger on Komodo. So Norman organised a man named Captain to take us to Komodo Island on his rickety boat. The whole package would include meals, one nights accommodation in his house in Komodo Village, snorkelling at Pink Beach and Manta Point, seeing the Flying Foxes fly home in masses at dusk, and if we were lucky, a komodo dragon in the wild around the village.
It was very cheap as the man was just a local with a fishing boat, and the food provided was local food that his brother and wife cooked for us. I wasn’t convinced we would be fed sufficiently so I stocked up on a variety of health bars to keep us fuelled if the food was on the dodgy side. The trip turned out to be amazing! I need not have worried about the food because it was delicious and plentiful.
The trip to the island took long, about 7 hours in total, but the scenery was spectacular. The swell was quite rough so we had to take a round about route which took much longer. At times it was so scary that I lay on the bottom of the boat and covered my head because I could not handle seeing the massive swell that surged towards us and smacked against the side of the boat.
On the way we stopped at both Manta Point and Pink Beach to snorkel. We didn’t see any mantas, but we did see other types of rays, and turtles too. It was so scary because it is not off a beach but rather in the middle of the ocean, and it is extremely deep. Pink Beach wasn’t as pink as it sometimes can be, but a faint hue of pink was visible. The snorkelling there is apparently great but the day we there is was average due to the bad visibility. I think it was so bad because of the unusually big swell. As night was falling we took the boat just a bit away from the village and watched the Flying Foxes fly overhead. They are basically like bats. Their squeaking filled the night and it was rather overwhelming.
We slept in the village that night, and it was such a unique experience. My description will never be able to do it justice. Captain has 6 children so his house was full of people all the time. But it was spotless! All the children helped one another, as well as their parents, and there was just the most lovely atmosphere in the house. We sat transfixed as neighbours and family members came and went, each making themselves completely at home and treating the children as their own. No one spoke English very well so we couldn’t communicate with them, but it didn’t matter. It was obviously a very rural experience, but it was so special. We were so used to roughing it at that stage that noting much bothered us. I slept in the same clothes I wore that day, and then just wore them the next day too. I cringe when I think of it now.
The next morning we went on a walk about the village and felt so welcomed! Everyone wanted us to take photos of them, it was hilarious! Then we searched for a komodo and found one on the beach. I also stole a baby turtle that some kids had in a plastic container and set it free in the ocean.
We tried our luck at Manta Point again on the way home and didn’t see any mantas, but we had the best snorkelling experience of our lives! Like I already said, it is not off a beach so the reef is surrounded by the deep blue. It was so scary because our boat drifted far away from us and we could easily have gotten lost from it in the endless blue ocean. Also, the reef tapered off so steeply that sometimes I looked down and couldn’t see the bottom. But it was incredible! We must have seen at least 6 turtles, many massive fish, untouched coral and sting rays. We were completely isolated, floating alone in the Indonesian ocean and it was actually so surreal. We would hold our breathes and dive down to get close to the marine life, taking turns to try and capture just a morsel of the amazingness on the GoPro. The videos turned out to show almost no colour so I would rather not even show them to people because they do it no justice.
We got back to Labuan Bajo (our base in Flores) late that afternoon, burnt and exhausted, but filled with awe at this country that just never ceases to amaze us.