Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dragon Tales

After our paradise in Ubud, we explored the island of Lombok and visited the highly touristed Gili Islands...we definitely had some amazing snorkeling and diving know...more sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, beautiful coral...same old, same old..:) But then we were off to a much awaited destination.
Besides the Galapagos, the only other place Tarak has been talking my ear off about, is Komodo Island…why you ask….well the Komodo dragon of course…so, we set off from the island of Lombok on a painful nearly 24 hour bus journey to the port city of Sape, off the coast of Sumbawa. Once we arrived we had a SLIGHT problem. The next ferry, which was supposed to leave daily was “scheduled” to leave three days later. We knew if we wanted to see the dragons and some of the countryside of Flores this called for desperate measures. We chartered our own private boat….and let me tell you that this ain’t no love was a dingy, musty, tiny and overall quite sketchy fishing..yes fishing boat, to take us around the islands for a couple of days. So, anyway, after avoiding eye contact with all of the freaks in the harbor who had some strange fascination with India, particularly Bollywood...and who kept asking us whether we were in the industry or then proceeded to list the names of all 20 actors/actresses they knew…we made some shady deal with the only dude that could speak English. We awoke at 3am and boarded the tiny boat in the pouring rain to join our whopping 2 man crew, neither of whom spoke English, to make the almost 6 hour journey to the islands. Man, we kept wondering if we were crazy..let’s see…small fishing boat…Indian Ocean…no lifejackets….no radio or any form of communication…rough seas, pouring rain……hmmm..yes, we pretty much had lost our minds.

It didn’t help that passages from the book Life of Pi kept whizzing through our heads. But, we made it and spent a night on Komodo island. Was it worth it?? I gotta admit that the dragons were pretty cool. Let me explain that they aren’t exactly “dragons”, but in the family of what is called, monitor lizards. How to describe them?? Well they are massive, weighing up to a 100kg, with powerful bodies that can attack and kill larger opponents like freakin’ wild buffalo or horses and apparently can swallow a goal WHOLE (that's just sick). Not to mention their saliva harbors bacteria which can be as deadly as poison. This of course, was exceedingly cool to Tarak…and the fact that there had also been some tourist fatalities, just added to his excitement. Regardless it was pretty amazing to be standing just a few feet from them watching them in awe (and terror quite frankly). We also went snorkeling in Red Beach and saw some incredibly preserved colorful coral and tons of fish but we got attacked by a freakin’ army of crazy jellyfish.

After 2 days of sea adventure, we made it to the island of Flores on the coastal city of Labuanbajo and enjoyed a beautiful sunset and the famous local avocado milkshake (sounds gross huh? But very good). Well, we then set off for a 5 day trip deeper into the island to get a glimpse and a feel of the traditional villages and culture. We went through the cities of Rutung, Bajawa and Moni. Here we got to see the local processing of “arak” (palm) wine, the traditional Ngada people and their customs, and some beautiful lush scenery. We got a chance to walk into these traditional villages where although the religion is primarily Christianity, there is more of a fusion of animism and Christianity which includes many symbolic structures and sacrificial ceremonies. Deep in the island of Flores, lies the spectacular Kelimutu lakes..which are these 3 lakes admist volcanic craters and are believed by the locals to be inhabited by spirits of those who die. The crazy thing is that they are 3 different colors and they keep changing with time. We saw the lakes at sunrise and it was definitely a stunning sight.

Finally, after more near misses, and flight cancellations, we somehow made it back to Bali to spend 1 final night in Ubud before we set off for Bangkok.


At 3:25 AM, Blogger Chick Pea said...

wow... what pictures.. glad you're safe.. bangkok? have safe travels.. when do you guys head back home?

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 10:29 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

Hey guys! Sorry we didn't get to hang out in beijing. It's really okay, the people over there are crazy. I'm on my way home from japan in a few hours. Glad we got to be in the same timezone for awhile. See you both soon.


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