Loading Map...

Gili Banta to Komodo Island

Written on: Saturday July 12th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

We awoke to calm seas, a beautiful sunny morning and pineapple pancakes. The worst of the sailing was done and with a relatively short distance to cover between Gili Banta and Labuan Bajo on Flores we could afford to relax at several places along the way. After breakfast our day began with a swim to the island of Gili Banta and a half hour climb to the top of its mount to sample the magnificent views and panorama out over Flores and its numerous islands. We continued on to Red Beach, so called as the sands are supposed to look red, they looked rather yellow to me. However the snorkelling there was first rate. Unlike the Gili Islands on the north-west coast of Lombok, the coral here was lush and plentiful supporting an array of colourful marine life. We relaxed either snorkelling or sunbathing on the boat for most of the day before visiting what was the highlight of the trip, the legendary island of Komodo. Komodo is one of only four places in the world that is home to the Komodo Dragon, the largest lizard on the planet, some of which grow in excess of three metres. As the name 'dragon' suggests they don't really come under the label of domestic pets as if they can get close enough to you it'll slice you with its tail, give you a nasty bite that'll gradually get more and more infected, then tear you apart to eat your insides. All this while you're still alive, how pleasant a death to succumb to. The island was a lot bigger than I expected and sadly we only had an hour on it, taken around by a guide. Because it is currently mating season in dragon world there's not a huge amount of them rearing their ugly heads so after about 45 minutes walking I'd begun to think that while being a nice break from sitting on the boat this we weren't going to actually see any dragons. That was until I saw Greke sprinting back around the corner shrieking to where I was taking my time at the back of the group. Ahead of the rest of the group waddling menacingly up the path towards us was a huge Komodo dragon. He was maybe two and a half metres in length and looked capable of eating all of us in one go. He continued strutting up to us until he was about two metres away and then paused, raising his head as if to pose for our camera shots, and then diverted off in to the bush. We followed him for about 20 minutes and were able to get some great shots of him making the visit well worth it after all. Later that afternoon a few of us tried a spot of fishing. Yoyo said that we would we be able to do some day fishing from our first evening on the boat. Two days on and there still wasn't a rod in sight. We were all expecting huge, strong, professional fishing rods, what we got was a plastic water bottle cut in two, with a thin line thread through it, a hook on one end and a bit of one of our chickens which had already met its maker. I approached Vadim laughing, who was throwing out the line, deep in concentration at his task ahead. In his sharp Russian accent he turned to me chuckling away and remarked, "Do not be laughing, this is your dinner I am trying to catch!" Despite the billions of fish around we succeeded in catching absolutely diddly squat.  Turning our attention to more interesting fare we went ahead with our game of poker that night. Ten of us played in the end with the Chris, one of the Canadians taking home the winnings at the end of the night. Although reasonably late though I was restless, I was disappointed to have been taken out by the other Canadian, Chris's girlfriend, Becky and so was in the mood for mischief. The Swedes were up for another game, but I suggested we raise the stakes a little. The other boat was anchored maybe 600 metres in front of us and being at sea for so long the pirate in me had taken over so I put it to the others that we take the small wooden rowing boat at the front of our boat and paddle over to the others who we could hear were still up and enjoying themselves. I reckoned we could get maybe six of us at a push in to the boat, but the problem was we couldn't find the paddles. We settled for the scoops that are used to flush the toilet with and myself, one of the Swedes, Fredrik and Jurgen the German who had much trouble pronouncing his r's volunteered for the challenge. We went to the front of the boat and as gently and quietly as possible so as not to wake the crew, lowered the rowing boat in to the water. Jurgen climbed in first, followed by Fredrik all without any problems. I clung to the edge of our vessel and prepared to lower myself in to the small boat. I touched my feet down and sunk to my knees as the boat rocked uncontrollably back and forth allowing water to stream in as it rocked to and fro. Jurgen begun yelling 'Balwance, balwance' as which point I lost control even more in fits of hysterics. Within seconds the boat had completely filled with water, upturned and sent us splashing in to the dark seas. I wasn't bothered about the boat any more, I was more worried about the bottles of Bintang we had put in to the boat to take with us that were now very speedily sinking to the bottom of the ocean. The three of us remained treading water in the sea for some time debating what our next move would be, while the others still on board the Sea Adventurer (the name of our big boat) fell about in fits of laughter. Eventually we managed to roll the smaller boat over and began the long process of chucking out all the water with two toilet scoopers. Jurgen climbed back in first, but we decided that if Fred and I were to climb back in the boat would overturn again, so instead using the light of the moon to guide our way, Fred and I swum all the way to the other people towing Jurgen happily drying off comfortably in the rowing boat. We did our best to creep up on the other boat, but their captain was alert to us and fired his cannons. We let out an 'Ah ah ah', thought better of capturing the ship, tossing the men over board and raping the women, and instead asked for permission to board and join their party. All their boat was still awake, sipping on Bintang and arak and having a great time, which duly we were invited to join. Being on the bus with all these guys at the beginning of this trip proved very fortunate, as it allowed me to get to know both boat's passengers really well and enable me to mingle freely and welcomingly between both. They were only too happy and kind to bestow Bintangs on us after our tiresome swim across the sea at whatever insane hour it was and to continue the party.