Posts Tagged With: animals

In Search of the Great Komodo Dragon: Part I

I’ve always loved lizards. In fact, I currently have a bearded dragon, named Roxy, and two leopard geckos: Mac & Cheese. I have always been fascinated by Komodo Dragons- giant, massive lizards that are bigger than dogs. If there are two animals that I want to have the pleasure of seeing in the wild it is the Manatee and of course, the Komodo Dragon. Hands down, one of the coolest animals ever. That’s why, when Andrew mentioned that he was going to be heading to Indonesia for work and that perhaps we could spend some time traveling in Bali, I immediately started to my plans into action. You see, Komodo Dragons are only known to live in the wild [and thrive] on some of these small/tiny islands of Indonesia. They are protected by law. I HAD TO SEE THEM! So, after lots of planning and hoping that we weren’t getting ourselves into a messy situation where someone would run off with our money, we packed our bags and headed out of Ubud for Denpasar. We had scheduled a flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo, Flores… an island a few to the east of Bali. Setting up the flight Flores was rather random to say the least. I had read on a few sites about two airlines that fly there once or more times per day depending on the season. After an email to an airline “TransNusa”, we received a response letting us know that there were two seats available and a price total for the seats. I knew I wanted to go and see these dragons, so I held my breath and told Andrew, I was paying. We received an email stating that our seats were confirmed.

I had also researched a number of tours and trips that groups offered once in Flores to go see the Komodo Dragons. Many of them offered week-long excursions or more. I was looking for a simple 2 day, 1 night deal. This limited my options, but I was able to find a tour group that I had read a bunch about claiming that it was a reputable group and that the guy in charge was fantastic. I emailed him and let him know we had flights and asked for his availability. He confirmed and that was that. We took off from Denpasar in a tiny plain, excited for the next adventure. We arrived in Labuan Bajo, Flores in the late morning. The landing strip [yes just one] was rocky and muddy. We disembarked and walked into a one-room airport waiting room. Our luggage was handed over and we went outside to wait. The airport was indeed a single small building with a dirt parking lot immediately next to it. No security here— cars and trucks drive up, drop off, park, hang out, etc. We waited for an hour or so, turning down many people who were offering tours, and then called the number for the contact group. Andrew spoke with the man who told us that the driver was on the way. We waited again for about an hour or so until an SUV pulled up and out hops a guy, no boy, who is about 14 [maybe?]. He introduces himself and lets us know that he will be our guide for the trip. We’re wondering where our guide is [the man who we’ve been talking to all along], but we don’t ask questions.

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The driver as it turns out is Jeffrey Buana’s brother [Jeffrey is the tour group’s main contact and owner– Putri Komodo Tours]. Anyway, we drive in the car for a bit before our guide lets us know that we’ll first go by a limestone cave for a tour and that the cost is $2 a person or something equally low. We nod and ride along thinking that wasn’t part of the outline, what are we doing and what are we getting ourselves into? At the caves, we met a boy who was perhaps 12. He gave us hard hats and flash lights and took us on a short hike and into a giant limestone cave. I have to admit, the cave was pretty awesome. We saw all sorts of fossils and a cave spider [nasty], and other cool sights…. including some crawling. We learned that the boy who was our guide was going to tourism school and that they learned English and how to give tours, as well as other business skills. Pretty cool.

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After the cave tour, our guide took us by a grocery story to buy beer and then to a snorkel shop to pick up snorkel gear. Finally, we arrived down by the docks and saw our home away from home for the night- a tiny boat that looked pretty awesome. We hopped on board and they showed us to our cabin- one of two on the ship that had a set of bunk beds. They showed us the restroom and then encouraged us to sit and relax. I think were 5 of us in total on the boat- Andrew and I, our guide, and then our captain and cook. They served us fresh fruit and snacks and gave us juice and water. We took off into the water– headed for Rinca Island… home of Komodo Dragon National Park. The trip to the island was awesome. The water was GORGEOUS. We were even allowed to climb up the mast and sit on the top “deck” of the boat. It was perfect and lacking security and so so perfect :0).

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and on to part II…

 

Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exploring Bedugul by Scooter

After a wonderful sleep, we woke up to the sun shining and a gorgeous view of the farm from bed through a wall-sized window. Just gorgeous. We got dressed and headed to the kitchen for breakfast; by the way, if you stay at Village Above the Clouds, I highly recommend that you get to breakfast before the other folks staying there– if you do, you get to sit at the sole table that is outdoors and has a wonderful view over the farm! Breakfast was filled with coffee, fruit, and coconut crepes for Andrew and Mie Goreng with an egg for me. After breakfast, we spoke to one of the employees and in about 10 minutes, we had hopped onto our scooters and we were ready to go. It was about a 25 minute ride back into the town of Bedugul– up and down mountains and around turns and although the scooters seem really easy- it took us a bit to get the swing of things. Luckily, it seemed up in the mountains of this area, traffic wasn’t as bad as in other places [thankfully, since I ended up on the wrong side of the road several times]. After the day of scootering around, we decided that next time we come to Bali, we’re going to ride scooters everywhere- they are awesome! Anyway ,back to the day…

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We first road up to the land of the monkeys- up the mountain on the other side of the valley- there they were. Just hanging out and wanting snacks from people. There was one really really fat monkey [I dubbed him fatboy] that would tug on people’s pants to try and get a snack. Most of the monkeys were pretty mild, but some of them had personality to say the least. If you go after the monkeys, just a warning- don’t get too close and don’t try to tick them off :).

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After checking out the monkeys, we headed back down the mountain into the valley with at least three purposes still for the day: 1] eat something with strawberries because this region is known for their strawberry growing, 2] check out the Ulu Danu Water Temple [one of the more famous temples], and 3] check out the open air market on the way back to our cottage. On our way back down the mountain however, I quickly became distracted by a tiny little stand next to the road that had two GIGANTIC bright orange iguanas sitting outside and sunning themselves. Naturally, I had to stop. We pulled over and it turned out to be some really weird touch zoo… at least that’s the best way I can describe it. The deal is you pay to have a picture with the animals. Before we could decide what to do– the guy working there took out a mongoose and promptly put him on Andrew’s shoulder. I’m not going to lie– I was kind of in love with that mongoose and he really seemed to like Andrew. Andrew’s picture day ended there and I jumped in. First, I got a picture with one of those orange iguanas I was talking about… then I got a picture with a giant bat hanging onto my belt loops. Next up was a boa constrictor– to be honest, I had no real desire to have the boa on me but I didn’t really have a choice- the guy just put him on me. My last animal was a little hedgehog… it was awesome. Naturally, it was bad that these poor animals are here and so tame when they could be in the wild and what not… but I still liked holding them :0) What can you do?

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After we played with the animals for a while, we were hungry…. so we went off in search of a strawberry place. We ended up at a small hotel/restaurant called Strawberry Hill where we promptly ordered strawberry pancakes and a strawberry milkshake– both delicious and fresh and just yum. After our snack, we went off in search of Ulu Danu Water Temple. This is one of the more famous water temples in Bali so we knew it would be crowded…and it was. It’s located on Lake Bratan. We read about some sunrise trips you can take on the lake that give you great views of the temple- didn’t get to them this time, but perhaps next time :). Anyway, the temple was positively gorgeous and the detail and designs were so intricate. The views were amazing and even though it was crowded, the temple area is large enough that you don’t really feel all that crowded unless you are in the “big picture” areas. Even still, we got a number of photos and were very happy with our visit to the temple. Bonus– the painting that Andrew had been talked into purchasing in Lovina… it was of Ulu Danu Water Temple! So it all worked out in the end- we got a painting of place we had visited…that really could have turned out worse :).

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After the temple, we made one more stop on our way back to Village Above the Clouds– the outdoor market. I have a real love of seeing different markets in different places in the world… [read about this historical market in Fremantle, Australia… I also need to post about an amazing Sunday Asian Market in London that we visited in 2012, as well as our hometown markets…]. Anyway, this was a small open market on the side of the road that was touristy but so cool. They sold all sorts of things from garden plants to masks to kites to spices to fresh fruits and vegetables to jewelry. While we ended up only purchasing some fruits [ok, a lot of fruit], we did also snap a few cool pictures of the various wares… afterwards, we bought a hot corn on the cob [they sell them a lot around here– it’s a bit on the tough side but still tasty] and then headed back to Village Above the Clouds for our dinner.

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Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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