So we finally got the heck out of Bali. We made one quick foray into Kuta, the premier and crazy tourist beach. It basically is just a beach with redundant shops and more shops, restaurants, shops......general tourist stuff.
This area, Komodo National Park, is gorgeous. The islands remind us of California and the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara. Green, rumpled hills, valleys dotted with trees, waving grasses in the sea breeze and Timor deer, wild pigs, beautiful birds and dragons. Yep, dragons. Fishermen double as shopkeepers in this area and we were visited by several boats wanting to sell us carved dragons, pearl necklaces, t-shirts, you know the drill. Before I knew it the boat was crawling with dragons.
We stopped off at Loh Liang to visit one of the park stations and saw one large dragon by the watering hole, another fat dragon relaxing after getting fed from the kitchen at the park station and a smaller dragon wishfully eyeing the deer who were oblivious of the dragons which would almost certainly kill them and eat them once they were hungry. Our guides delighted in telling us stories about those unfortunate tourists and villagers who had been eaten by dragons. They also let us know that the dragon can move at 18km per hour, much faster than us, so I was looking for a tree I could climb as we continued our trek. Pretty much decided that if a dragon was going to select me for dinner, I was toast. Or, would that be roast? This is our guide, Yona. He was very well trained and pointed out cockatoos and wild fruit trees along the way.
As usual, exit through the gift shop!!
Before leaving the anchorage, we were visited by young boys out fishing in their dugout canoes. I usually hand out a few small penny candies. One boy asked for a pencil, so I gave them each an exercise book, pen and a pencil. The two boys told me the middle boy did not go to school as his mother could not afford it (the kids here have to pay for school after 6th grade) and he had no papa. Oh boy, that tugged at my heartstriings. That was not their intention, they were just being matter of fact. Anyway, I popped back out with a small bag of rice, a bag of sugar, some spaghetti noodles and a bar of soap to take home to his mother.
Cruiser Notes: Anchorage at Koh Liang, Komodo (08 34.23S; 119 30.05E) Park ranger charged us each 20,000 rph for park fee, 50,000 for guide, 50,000 for anchoring and another 50,000 fee for something ???. All legit, we got tickets. He also wanted to charge us 50,000 for snorkelling but I told him we would go snorkel for free elsewhere. He was o.k. with that. Keep your tickets, they are good for 3 days.
We anchored for one night on a reef which is noted for attracting manta rays. When Jim and I snorkelled we saw a lot of flattened coral, a sign of blast fishing, but a few nice bombies. You had to be really careful about the currents here as you could end up miles from your boat before you knew what was happening, so we dragged the dinghy along with us and started up current from the boat. Only after getting out of the water (it was actually cold here, due to the swift current) later in the day did we see that our boat was surrounded by manta rays. I just didn't have enough time to get my gear back out and jump in so had to enjoy watching them from the boat.
Cruiser Notes: Anchorage at Batu Batong (reef) (08 39.9S; 119 35.8E)
Our next stop was at Loh Buaya, another park station. This time an official greeted us and informed us he was from the harbormaster's office at Labuhanbajo. Unbeknownst to us they extend their coverage to the park islands so we didn't have our documents with us when we went ashore. A guide translated between us and the official seemed to be pretty nice and let us go into the park for our trek. Before that, though, he whipped out paperwork and stamps and cleared us out of Labuhanbajo for Ternate. Now we had 2 port clearances for Ternate!!!
So enough of dragons. They aren't cute or cuddly. I like orangutans exponentially better.
Cruiser notes: Anchorage at Loh Buaya Rinca (08 39.45S; 119 43.05E) Park ranger charged us 50,000 for the guide and another 50,000 each for government fee of some sort. Legit....we got tickets.
We meandered over to Labuhanbajo and anchored behind an island just off of town so we could be away from all the tour boats and local fishing boats. We no sooner were dropping the anchor when we were visited by Jackie and his father who offered to help us with just about anything we would need. The big thing was fuel. Fuel in Indonesia is government subsidized so we cannot just march up to a pump with our jerry jugs and fill them up. We might get away with filling up two, but that would be the limit. These guys can go to the pump and get much more, however, even they are limited to a few jugs at a time as the line behind them gets impatient if they are taking too long. It is also illegal for them to do this but it is commonly done. We would have to get a permit, order a barrel and deal with it that way. Since we do not have enough tankage for a barrel's worth of fuel, this is not a viable option for us or very many cruisers unless traveling in groups. Jackie and his father couldn't even take our jerry jugs as they were too conspicuous (clean and new) so they cobbled together a bunch of their old ones, some from friends, and the few large detergent containers we had got for extra fuel to be carried on deck.