Thursday, January 5, 2012

Komodo: The Journey and the Liveaboard Boat

Happy New Year (or Selamat Tahun Baru as they say here)!

Mr. Tim, Mr. Ben, Erin and I decided to splurge and take a major trip to celebrate the New Year: Komodo!
View from the plane as we arrived in Labuan Bajo, Flores (near Komodo).
Our trip to the Komodo area was mostly uneventful (flight from Jakarta to Bali, overnight in Bali, early morning flight to Labuan Bajo (a fishing town/liveaboard jump-off point on the island of Flores, which is east of Bali and Java, formerly colonized by the Portuguese).  Only at the end of the trip did we encounter one issue... while waiting for our luggage in the Labuan Bajo airport, the crew discovered that 6 life vests were missing from the plane we had just deboarded.  As a result, they decided that they would hold all of the passengers hostage in one of the two unairconditioned rooms in the airport, searching hand luggage in the most disorganized fashion on earth (in no particular order, not checking off the names of the passengers that had already been checked).  Eventually they decided it was ok to give us our checked luggage, we queued up, and they searched our checked luggage on the way out.  I don't know if they ever found the lifevests, as we hightailed it out of there ASAP, sick of sweating it out in that little room for over an hour.

Mr. Ben and his isteri on the runway at the Labuan Bajo airport, before being subjected to anal cavity search.
Tiny airport, big mountains.
Famed for its fierce dragons, the Komodo area is also home to a ton of world-class SCUBA diving sites.  The reefs are relatively unscathed (apparently dynamite fishing is an issue in Indonesia- a disturbing practice whereby fishermen literally blow up the reef and scoop up the dead fish that surface after the explosion) and draw lots of marine life because of the cold water and strong currents. There are a ton of tiny islands near Komodo (mostly un- or sparsley-inhabited), and they all look very different from the lush/wet/rainforesty landscape of Java or Bali.  They're very dry and scrubby, with very few trees.  But the whole landscape was amazing- so many islands, so much sea.  Beautiful.
Port city of Labuan Bajo.
One of the many dry islands we passed on the boat...

Amazing sunset over the Komodo-area islands.
 The best way to dive Komodo is by liveaboard boat, which is how we decided to roll.  We ended up choosing the Mangguana almost by default (due to timing and availability), but our choice ended up being really spot on... 
The Mangguana at port in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia.

Guests and crew aboard the Mangguana.
The boat has sleeping cabins that are on the main deck (and therefore have windows, eliminating some claustrophobia) that are air conditioned and have private bathrooms (well, more like private shower/toilet pods) and the food, crew, and divemaster are all great.  I was worried about sleeping on the boat and getting seasick, but it ended up being fine.  I think I felt more seasick when I got off the boat and hadn't regained my land legs... a little bit dizzying.

Lounging on the upper deck.
Perfect spot for a nap.

I call top bunk.
Shower/toilet pod in our cabin.
I have so many more stories about all the dives we did (ten of them, each with its own crazy story), the trip to see the Komodo dragons, a beautiful hike, and many other shenanigans.  Coming soon!


  1. Can't wait to hear about the dives!


  2. I've got the write-ups done on our dives but I am waiting for my fellow divers to send me underwater photo and video!


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