Once we run down Kawah Iljen and returned to the parking lot by 8.30 am, it already felt like a good days work has been done. But the day has just started. We still had to catch a bus, cross to Bali on one of the infamous Indonesian ferries and then ride to the 'capital' city of the island, Denpasar. On paper all looked doable and I hoped that we can still enjoy the afternoon in the city. Wrong! We got to our desired accommodation no sooner than 6pm, tired and dirty after 3 days of travelling, hiking and waking in the middle of the night. We planned to take off the next day, but we needed a relaxed 'nothing-day' before we took a flight to Flores.
Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores is the gateway port for Komodo Island. Also a national park and home to the largest lizards on Earth, Komodo dragons. ...and not least a supposedly fantastic diving spot. But how would I know that. I got cold the first night so there wasn't any diving for me! What we did is we have met 2 fun girls from Slovenia on the airport and we have spent some time together on Flores. Lucky me, right?! Spending time with 3 girls is not the worst nightmare I have ever had. Majka and myself shared a ride with Kata and Tinca from the airport to the town of Labuan Bajo, found accommodation in the same guesthouse and shared the cost for a trip to Komodo Islands the next day. All in all it worked out pretty well. After all, what could go wrong with three crazy girls? We were about to find out next morning at 5.45, when our trip to the island with deadly dragons was to start. And so it did. From the port to the Komodo National Park and Marine Reserve it took almost 3 hours on a small boat. The cold morning turned to a hot day in few moments and the fresh sea breeze was a real saver. When we have finally arrived to the island we took the lead of our ranger and went for a light trek in hope to spot one of the dragons. And soon we came across first a relaxed juvenile, then an inquisitive adult, later a vicious couple and at last a lazy giant snoozing in the shadow. Quite fascinating to see lizards in such scale. They definitely earned my respect, specially as I've read up on them on Wiki the day before. There is a story going around that a Swiss tourist has disappeared without a trace in sixties. Since Komodos eat and digest everything, even bones, it is not too hard to believe the story. In fact our respect for the animals was so great that when the Slovenian girls played a joke on us, even our ranger got his pants dirty. But I must admit the stunt was timed and executed perfectly.
For the rest of the day we set out to see the Pink Beach. There is only 7 of these altogether so we were excited to set foot on this rare beach. The colour is given by a mixture of white sand and volcanic red sand. The mixture of two makes the beach appear to be pink. The bay also made for excellent snorkelling. Next I know we adhere heading north along the coast of Komodo island to a so called Manta point. A point where manta rays come to feed in the morning. The waters were choppy and it was windy too with strong currents in the water , but once we have spotted the mantas from the boat there was not much that could have stopped me to jump overboard. Got quite scary at times, mainly not because of the giant mantas and their respectful 4-5 meter wingspan, more so because of the water conditions and the erratic style of our boats men. But it was worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. One of the most exciting experiences ever... Due to that mentioned cold I've managed to catch in thirty the degrees of humid heat there was no diving for me, however I was really looking forward to return to manta point for a dive. Next time, perhaps. This time round we have spent the day zigzagging the town annoying the locals.
On our way back to Bali I've decided that we should give Denpasar a chance and so on our return we were heading back to the Balinese capital with intentions to explore and find some hidden gems...