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Dino Lopez: A Guide to Flores

Maumere, Indonesia

While in Ubud we had to make a familiar but often difficult decision for any traveller, where do we go next? Considering that we had 19 days left on our visa we chose to fly two hours eastwards to Maumere, which is the principal town on the magnificent and less touristic island of Flores. The flight was quite an experience, they gave me full responsibility for the emergency exit and we were the only plane at the two tiny airports where we landed but it actually went much better than we thought. Safe and sound at the other side we met two more of the very few westerners on the plane, a French couple who like us were between luggage reclaim and taxi. A taxi is never easy when landing as a backpacker at an Asian airport and we were soon surrounded with shouts of "Hello meeesta!". To our Surprise one man was ushered our way and in exceptionally good English we started to chat, his name was Dino Lopez.

The Dino Lopez who became our guide for the next 10/11 memorable days! On the first night and after some strange goings on we settled down and started to consider his proposition to take us across the island as a group of four. Thanks to a little internet research, an evening meal, a prior passenger from New Zealand who was hanging out at his place and finally his experience of living in Amsterdam for more than three years - we said yes! The next few entries will take you through our adventure, the people, places and events that made Flores very very memorable. We also promise to put lots of photos to make you jealous - especially near the end! ;)

Apres Ubud, nous ne savions pas vraiment ou aller et avons decide au dernier moment de nous laisser tenter par l'ile de Flores, beaucoup moins touristique! Des que nous avons atteri a Maumere, nous avons fait la connaissance d'un couple de francais qui comme nous, ne savaient pas trop ce qu'ils allaient faire sur cette ile. Et c'est la que Dino Lopez est apparu, telle la providence!

Apres mure reflexion, Dino est devenu notre guide touristique/ chauffeur durant ce memorable periple de 9 jours de Maumere a Labuan Bajo.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 14, 2010 from Maumere, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Indonesia, Flores and DinoLopez

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The Nature of Tradition

Ende, Indonesia

The trip got started immediately as within a an hour we had arrived at a Gypsy fishing village outside Maumere. Here the Bugis [a community from Sulawesi island] build there boats and the Bajo build the houses, the result is that together they live in a wooden craftsman's paradise. They are a poor community but their richness is certainly in the strength of their community which only established itself in this particular place around 15 years ago. The children where everywhere, showing us how to walk the stilt-raised platforms which connected the village. The sight of the craftsmen at work, the smell of the seafish and the sound of "Hello meeeesstaa!" intensifying around each corner contributed to the experience greatly.

Le voyage a Flores a debute par la visite d'un village de gitans/pecheurs pas tres loin de Maumere. Ils se deplacent de region en region en fonction de la peche. Ils sont installes ici depuis 15 ans mais viennent de l'ile de Sulawesi. 2 communautes vivent ensemble: les Bugis qui construisent les bateaux et les Bajos, les maisons. Vu que chacune a besoin de l'autre, les gens vivent en harmonie. Le tsunami a aussi devastes ce village sur piloti. Pour leur venir en aide, les hollandais leur ont construit des habitations plus haut dans la montagne. Mais c'etait sans comprendre l'ame des gitans qui ont construit de nouveau le village sur l'eau (ces maisons sont encore vides aujourd'hui!).

Within a short time we found ourselves in the midst of another traditional village called Sikka. This time their traditions were very much land-based, more specifically they were Ikat weavers and true practitioners of an art passed down the generations. The ladies soon heard that we were in the village and just as the rain started they gathered us into a small hut and gave us some coffee while delicately displaying their work and goods. The funniest moment was when the head-lady snapped at the others to keep back and save the selling until after we had seen the process, as Dino told us anyway! It was really nice sitting there surrounded by these ladies, they were really friendly and transformed our environment completely.

Ensuite, direction Sikka un village bien connu pour la qualite de son artisanat "Ikat" qui se transmet de generation en generation par les femmes. Elles font principalement des habits (echarpes, jupes, etoles...). Nous avons ete bien recu: abris pour la pluie, chaises, cafe... sur les ordres de la chef du groupe (qui ne rigolait pas!). Brian s'est essaye a battre le coton pour le rendre plus doux, elle a dit qu'il etait nul car pas assez de force dans le geste! Ahahah

The rain cleared and we went outside where they proceeded to demonstrate some of the tedious and incredibly numerous stages of the process. It was very interesting to see the work they put into just one item over weeks and more often, months. The animals and children passed around us and eventually the sales part could begin - i have a magnificent souvenir of looking at each lady's work and enjoying the banter about colour, style and of course, price! One quiet lady had something attractive enough to part us with 50,000Rph and a great afternoon was had.

Nous avons pu voir le processus de fabrication, manuel bien sur et aussi que pour les pigments, ces femmes savent se servir des richesses de la nature qui les entoure. On ne se rend plus compte de tout ca de nos jours! Ni de la minutie et du temps que la fabrication peut prendre!

If this wasn't enough for one day we stopped for something to eat at Paga Beach [probably one of the most impressive beaches i have ever been to] and this man cooked us a delightful Mie Goreng. The force of the waves and the fact that nobody was there made it all the more forceful. I would love to go back there! By the end of the day, we made it to Moni, settled in for the night and began our introduction to the local Indonesian wildlife!

Nous nous sommes arretes manger dans un endroit magnifique, Paga beach qui est une plage deserte ou cet homme nous a cuisine un mie goreng. Brian en a profite pour se baigner, il avait la mer pour lui tout seul et a bien apprecie!

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 15, 2010 from Ende, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Indonesia, Flores, DinoLopez, GypsyVillage, IkatWeaving and PagaBeach

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Kelimutu to Riung

Riung, Indonesia

The second day started much the same way as the first but with an earlier wake-up call. At 7am we were on our way up to the three lakes of Kelimutu to see the most famous natural phenomena on Flores. Steeped in legend, it is a spiritual home for the people where sacrifices have long been madein honour of the dead. The lakes are not only three different colours but they have also each changed colour over the years.

Despite scientists attempting to relate this phenomenon with the surrounding volcanic activity local people believe that each is a resting place for the souls of those who have died; young, elderly and everybody inbetween! What we appreciated more than anything else before the rain appeared was the absence of large numbers of tourists [just a handful were present] and there were no hard-sell locals with batteries or chains etc either. For this reason we could really feel the spiritual element to this place and that made it more enjoyable. In case it interests you, the lakes are highly acidic and anything including people that fall in will certainly not be recovered as proved through the years!

2eme jour: le leve du soleil n'aura pas ete pour cette fois non plus a cause des nuages sur le mont Kelimutu! Mais cela reste un site exceptionnel avec ses 3 lacs acides et ses legendes! Ces lacs sont bien connus pour avoir ete blanc, rouge et noir. Aujourd'hui, ils sont vert clair, vert et bleu/noir. Leur couleur changent au fil du temps sans reelle explication scientifique alors les locaux ont cree leurs legendes.

L'ame des personnes decedees de la region irait dans un lac en fonction de l'age (un pour les jeunes, un pour les moins jeunes...). Afin d'assurer leur repos, il y a regulierement des offrandes et des sacrifices (encore aujourd'hui). On ressent quelque chose de particulier en etant la-haut, d'autant plus qu'il n'y avait aucun commerce lie au tourisme sur ce site (ce qui est extremement rare en Asie).

After a late late breakfast we hit the road and the road hit us! We travelled to Riung on the North coast and encountered not only the magnificent inner beauty of Flores island but also a long stretch of road that could not be passed at speeds above 25km/ hour. I managed to break Dino's passenger window along the route too. If this wasn't enough we also stopped at a beach where the blue stones turn green in the water and the locals work very hard to collect them and sellthem to Japanese who turn them into ceramic bathroom tiles.

Finally we reached our destination where we were welcomed by all animals that live in jungle bungalows [more to come on that one though!] Dinner was killed in front of our own eyes, made into both duck soup and grilled duck before finally we got some shut-eye in the safety of a mosquito net!

Ensuite il etait temps de partir pour Riung, une ville au nord de l'ile. Cela n'a pas ete une partie de plaisir car la route est completement defoncee! (30 km/h max). Il n'y a qu'une route qui traverse l'ile et elle n'est pas vraiment entretenue. On a eu le temps admirer la beaute des paysages! L'indonesie est une vraie force de la nature et lorsqu'on traverse le pays, on a l'impression que tout est intact depuis l'apparition de ces paysages. Et on a qu'une peur c'est que le tourisme de masse debarque un jour sur cette ile (comme avec l'ile de Bali par exemple).
En chemin, nous nous sommes arretes sur une plage de galets bleus, qui ont la particularite de devenir verts au contact de l'eau. Apparemment les japonais les achetent pour le carrelage de leurs salle de bain.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 16, 2010 from Riung, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Indonesia, Flores, DinoLopez and Kelimutu

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Never to be Forgotten!

Riung, Indonesia

In the morning as we woke up, Lenaic alerted me to the second of two large spiders that we had seen the night before. I acted swiftly to remove the danger with a flip-flop and we could breathe again, Lenaic has a phobia of spiders and "small beasts" you see. Drama over, we walked to the small jetty and boarded the boat that was taking us on an excursion to see some small islands, eat lunch on the beach and do some snorkeling. As you can see from the pictures both the journey out and the village were very picturesque. Lenaic discovered snorkeling and Brian got sunburn spending way too much time with the fish. Lunch was a marvelous seafood barbecue prepared by Itan , one of Dino's friends in Riung. We relaxed for a while but just as it was time to move on the rain made its usual appearance and we made our way back in some memorable torrential conditions.

Le matin dans notre bungalow en plein milieu de la jungle, qui je precise a un immense espace entre les murs et le toit, je retrouve les 2 araignees vues la veille. Je precise aussi que je n'ai aucune attirance pour les araignees et les petites betes de la jungle voire une phobie. Brian apaise la situation a l'aide de sa tong. Fin de l'histoire, nous partons pour une des fameuses 17 iles du parc de Riung faire du snorkelling. Pendant que je balbutiais dans l'eau a faire mes premiers essais de respiration avec un tuba, Brian nageait comme un poisson dans l'eau a tel point qu'il a attrape un bon coup de soleil dans le dos. Barbecue de poisson et bananes grillees sur la plage preparees par Itan, un ami de Dino. Fantastique. Alors qu'on s'appretait a partir decouvrir une autre ile, une pluie torrentielle s'est abbatue sur nous et avons du retourner tristement a nos bungalows. On a pas fait grand chose du coup cette apres-midi la.

On our return, Lena wondered if she had been hallucinating when she saw [in a glance] a spider of considerable size. We went for dinner and Brian tried the Betel-nut mixture; Betel nut, Lime powder and lots of chewing. The result is that your mouth goes very red and you get a short-lasting natural high, it is also the reason why you see 80% of old Indonesian ladies with maroon coloured bottom lips! The men smoke, the women chew Betel nut!

Avant de partir diner, je vois au plafond une enorme araignee et detourne le regard une seconde en me disant que ca commencait a devenir un cauchemar pour moi ici. Une seconde plus tard, plus rien. Je commence a douter et a me demander si j'ai pas eu une hallucination tellement qu'il parait impossible de disparaitre d'un plafond en une fraction de seconde. Bon. On mange tous ensemble et Brian s'essaie meme a la coutume locale qui est de macher la noix de Betel avec de la poudre de citron vert pour l'effet qui pique. D'ou la langue rouge!! Apparemment il a bien aime. Ce produit est suppose rendre legerement stone un court moment, sauf que Brian a trop force sur la poudre de citron, ce qui a eu pour seul effet de lui bruler legerement la langue. Haha Experience. Ici a Flores c'est incroyable le nombre de femmes que l'on voit avec la bouche noire/rouge. Elles ont mache ca toute leur vie et semblent un peu accro! En gros les hommes fument et les femmes machent.

Back to the bungalow, where on entry, Brian discovered that the spider of a considerable size did exist and that he also had a friend! As they were on the cieling, we called for back-up and Dino appeared with a magic brush to help move them on and out of the gap between cieling and walls [a jungle bungalow don't forget!]. After the second drama of the day we made sure that all of our bags were closed and the door locked from the inside before tightly closing the mosquito net and heading to sleep!

...well until approximately 4am when Brian rather strangely and unusually turned to Lenaic and said "pass me the torch". As she did so, an air of uneasiness filled the room and as the torch was turned towards to the mosquito net we discovered that it was wide open [not a little bit, it was wide open!]. The fear that rushed through us was like being in a very scary film, worse still we shone the torch towards the door and it was wide open too! Our water bottle resting nicely against a wall and not on the bed as we always keep it. Lenaic's trousers on the floor where she never keeps them in fear of spiders getting inside. This was an insane and confusing experience that has not and will not be explained! In fear of either a thief or someone still being inside the room, Brian got up and had a look around - nothing was stolen and nothing/nobody was found - except the key in the front of the door. As the title says; 'never to be forgotten, January 17th 2010'.

Temps de rentrer. L'angoisse monte et je demande a Brian de verifier si notre bungalow est habite ou pas. Reponse, oui et par 2 araignees cette fois. C'etait bien celle que j'avais vu... Brian n'etait pas a l'aise du tout cette fois-ci et la simple tong ne semblait pas suffire! Dino vient nous aider avec son balai magique qui les a chasse a l'exterieur. Sachant qu'elles pouvaient revenir, nous fermons tous les sacs et sautons vite dans la moustiquaire en nous assurant qu'elle est bien fermee. Une bonne nuit de sommeil en perspective pour se remettre de toutes ces emotions!

...Jusqu'au moment ou vers 4h du matin, on se reveille legerement... Intuitivement, brian me demande la lampe torche comme si il avait ressenti quelque chose. Il fait une breve inspection et me dit soudainement d'un ton pas rassure du tout que la moustiquaire etait grande ouverte derriere moi. oh la la qu'est ce qu'il se passe. L'angoisse monte d'un cran (je pense surtout aux araignees qui pourraient etre partout dans le lit, tandis que lui pense que quelqu'un est entre et qu'il a pu nous voler des affaires). Alors qu'on balaie la chambre avec notre lampe torche, on remarque terrifies que la porte est grande ouverte, puis que la bouteille d'eau et mon pantalon qui etaient avec nous dans la moustiquaire sont maintenant sur le sol a un metre. Digne d'un film d'horreur, hors de question de bouger tellement que je suis pas rassuree et reste immobile dans le lit avec la lampe torche allumee le temps que le jour se leve. Cette histoire nous marquera pour longtemps, d'autant plus qu'elle n'a ni sens ni d'explication, que la cle etait sur la porte et que rien n'a ete vole... C'etait le 17 Janvier 2010.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 17, 2010 from Riung, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Indonesia, DinoLopez and Riung

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Hot Spring to Bajawa

Bajawa, Indonesia

After the eventful night in Riung the sun finally came up and we set off for Bajawa with no real explanation for what happened except 'spirts'. Driving to Bajawagave us the chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the magnificent mountainous greenery around every twist and turn in the road. This scene animated by the children and animals playing dangerously close to the side of road. Just before arriving in Bajawa we stopped at a very hot and unoccupied natural Spring. Dino had a shave, everyone slowly got in and Brian sat on the side because his sunburn from the snorkeling was in the painful stage.

Apres la folle nuit de Riung, qui est reste sans explication sauf Celle des esprits qui seraient venus nous saluer (ils sont animistes dans cette region), nous sommes partis pour Bajawa. Ouf, fini la jungle. Nous avons retrouve notre route chaotique preferee et apprecie de nouveau les paysages. Nous nous sommes arretes sur un site naturel ou l'eau jaillit a 40 degres. Nous etions les seuls! Les indonesiens utilisent ces bains pour faire leur toilette vu que l'eau n'est pas stagnante et part vers une riviere. Pendant que nous faisions trempette, Dino faisait sa toilette et s'est rase! Malheuseusement Brian n'a pas pu entrer dans cette eau qui etait trop chaude pour ses coups de soleil.

After the Spring, we made it to Bajawa where we had a look around the market and had lunch. Nothing exceptional to add apart from the presence of the clouds passing through the streets and accidentally leaving our bag at the restaurant for all of a few minutes while we crossed the road.

A Bajawa, rien de special a part le marche qui etait bien sympa et le fait qu'on ait oublie notre sac dans un restaurant avant de realiser quelques minutes plus tard qu'on l'avait oublie...

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 18, 2010 from Bajawa, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged HotSpring, Indonesia, DinoLopez and Bajawa

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The Return of The GitGit

Bajawa, Indonesia

Bajawa was fairly cold and the wind on the first night literally shook everything that stood. In the morning we drove thirty minutes to a small village where a local guide took us on a three-hour trek to Inielika, a volcano that last erupted in 2001. We arrived at the site to see that one side of the volcano had actually fallen away with the eruption.

Just as we finished taking a few photos, we started to carefully walk [one by one] along a ridge to a lone tree. As we did this Lenaic felt something happen very quickly, then she realised that she had been stung and that the thing that had stung her was coming back again! Panic set in and before you know it me and the guide took a hit too! We had strayed too close to a wasp nest but it was no ordinary wasp, it was a GitGit and the guide showed us clearrly that even he was in fear of these beast of the sky! See the photos for evidence, honestly you don't want to be stung by one of these! Praise for Toufik though as he beat one that was trying to eat my jumper. It was time to head back early!

La nuit a Bajawa a ete agitee a cause d'un vent exceptionnellement fort, a tel point qu'on etait pas sur de pouvoir faire l'excursion du jour: l'ascension du volcan Inielika. Ce volcan est entre en eruption en 2001 et son explosion a litteralement fait sauter tout un pan du cone. La vegetation n'a toujours pas repousse, reste des crateres remplis d'eau orange (a cause du mercure) mais nous ne les avons pas vu de cette couleur (trop de pluie???).

Une fois au sommet et apres la prise de quelques photos, le guide local qui nous accompagnait decide de nous faire redescendre du cote du cratere quand soudain je sens qu'un "truc" me fonce dessus a toute allure et realise qu'il m'a pique/mordu sur la joue!! Aie! Alors que Brian et le guide venait voir ce qu'il m'arrivait, Brian sent une vive douleur derriere sa tete, ainsi que le guide vers son oeil. Soudain realisant qu'il s'agit d'une attaque de guepes (Git-Git), le guide crie "Git-Git Run!". Et la, c'est la panique! quelles vacances! Brian laisse tomber sa veste par terre car il y avait deja 2 autres guepes dessus. Toufik prend courageusement un baton, tue les guepes et ramasse la veste. Merci Toufik. On quitte la zone du nid le plus vite possible. Je courrais et apres quelques metres j'entends qu'une guepe continue de me poursuivre. Je cours, je crie, je m'assois avec mon manteau de pluie sur la tete, elle est encore la, je cours, je crie, je panique (de nouveau). Et plus je crie, plus elle me suit! L'horreur. Brian me dit "Cours et arrete de crier!" lol, ce qui a marche. S'en est suivi 3 jours de gonflements et de legeres douleurs pour nous deux.

Nursing our injuries we went to Bena village which is a relatively preserved traditional mountain village. Despite tourism obviously passing through, the village has maintained its traditional appearance and customs. Due to tradition, people who marry are required to stay in the original village households and for this reason it is causing a modern-day problem. The attraction of modern commodities and living standards is proving a threat, especially to the young population. There are not actually that many houses either but each descends from a family line and either has origins from a female or male ancestor as can be seen from a small spiritual representation on top of the house. If a household or family wish to either rebuild or in rare cases construct a new house they must provide enough food by sacrifice to feed the village as an offering and in return for their help in the construction. This is evident today by the number of pig-jaws or cow skulls that are displayed on the front of each house.

L'apres midi nous avons visite un village traditionnel relativement preserve malgre le tourisme, Bena. Toute personne qui se marie avec un des villageois doit rester vivre dans le village. Ils fonctionnent selon le principe de communaute. Du coup, les jeunes d'aujourdhui ne veulent plus vivre ainsi, loin de tout ce qui commence a poser quelques problemes. Du coup une certaine tolerance s'installe et les couples doivent seulement revenir pour les fetes importantes, les celebrations. Sur le toit des maisons, apparait une statuette indiquant si le local vivant dans cette maison est un homme ou une femme. Des qu'un couple emmenage dans une maison, le rituel est de sacrifier un sacre nombre d'animaux pour nourrir toute la communaute lors de la ceremonie. Ensuite ils affichent fierement les ossements des tetes sur le devant de la maison. Plus il y en a, mieux c'est.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 19, 2010 from Bajawa, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Trek, Indonesia, DinoLopez, Bajawa, Inielika, Stung and Bena

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Drink Arak! Speak English!

Ruteng, Indonesia

This was probably the quietest day of the trip as we left Bajawa and headed overland to Ruteng. The journey was once more very impressive and we started to enter rice Field territory which you can see from these pictures. We also got to know more about Amandine and Toufik, the French couple that we were travelling on this trip with. They were a really nice couple who had been living in Australia for a while and have the intention of going to Canada, right now they were making the most of Indonesia though, just like us!

De Bajawa nous sommes alles en direction de Ruteng. Nous avons fait principalement de la route ce jour la. Heureusement qu'on s'entendait bien avec Amandine et Toufik, le couple de francais tres sympa qui voyageait avec nous. Ils ont vecu quelques mois en Australie et ont maintenant l'intention de s'expatrier au Canada apres ce voyage.

Sometime around midday we stopped at a roadside where there were plenty of Palm trees and as always people living/working along the road. These people must be quite popular though as they produce the local alcoholic drink 'Arak'. The government lets them produce on a small scale as the land is not good enough to farm and the sea not blessed with enough fish. Anyway, we got a little insight into the very simple production process and then we moved on again. As the others know well now - the locals would often encourage Toufik to 'Drink Arak' and 'speak English!' ..he did too! haha!

Le long de la route, nous avons vu plein de gens travailler dans les champs de palmiers, recuperant la seve afin de produire l'Arak. C'est le seul alcool autorise par le gouvernement car c'est la seule ressource de la region permettant de faire vivre ses habitants. Nous nous sommes arretes afin d'observer la production de cette boisson que l'on connaissait deja bien. Hein Toufik!! Toufik etait regulierement encourage par les locaux pour boire de l'Arak. Cela ameliorait considerablement son niveau d'anglais! Il nous a bien fait rire.

After the previous night in a simple accommodation with lacking bathroom facilities we were treated to a night of luxury - in a convent! Brilliant! Dino gave us the chance to discover 'Martabak' and 'Keju' when we arrived in Ruteng and it was much appreciated. I'm not sure how to explain it other than 'delicious'. A look up at at the stars and then it was time for bed.

La particularite de cette journee etait surtout qu'apres avoir dormi dans des endroits peu confortables et pas vraiment propres, nous avons dormi.... dans un couvent! Parfaitement tenu... avec une douche chaude, le luxe! On ne peut apprecier ce qu'on a au quotidien a sa juste valeur si on n'experiemente pas l'inconfort de temps en temps. ca c'est fait. Brian a profite de sa soiree pour regarder les etoiles....jusqu'au moment ou les nonnes lui ont demande de rentrer car le couvent fermait ses portes.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 20, 2010 from Ruteng, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Indonesia, DinoLopez, Ruteng and Arak

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Last Overland Day

Labuhanbajo, Indonesia

We were woken nice and early by the nuns and then soon made our way to a popular rice Field that has the same form as a spider's web. The reason for this is that the central part is for all of the community, then as the rice Fields spiral around the centre each so many Fields are for different family households from the community. Everybody helps each other and this means that that at any one time each set of Fields is in a different stage of the process and thus often different colours make them clearly visible. An interesting communal way of working! This particular location has the biggest Field of this type in Indonesia and is a good representation of how strong community values and working are in Flores.

Et enfin nous partons pour la derniere ville de notre parcours, Labuan Bajo. En chemin, nous nous arretons voir le champs de riz en forme de toile d'araignee dont la partie centrale est commune aux cultivateurs. Chaque famille a une parcelle, d'ou la difference de niveau de pousse qui donne ces couleurs et ce relief. Ce champs represente les valeurs et la culture sur l'ile de Flores.

By the late afternoon we climbed and cleared our last hill in Flores and arrived in the fishing port of Labuhanbajo. Due to the Komodo National Park and the famous Dragons it is quite a touristic place but unexpectedly an incredibly beautiful place too - not the town itself but the setting! We went to see our boat and captain before settling into our fantastic accommodation with a view that is unparalleled in the town. A bit of relaxation on the decking before Brian and Toufik got involved in some light graffiti [see pics]. If you are not aware of light graffiti it basically involves torches, lights and long exposure on your camera. Then it was bed before the big trip to Komodo and Rinca!

Arrive a destination, nous decouvrons Labuan Bajo qui est une ville portuaire touristique car c'est le point de depart pour visiter les iles abritant les dragons de Komodo. Du port nous voyons au loin les iles du parc naturel, ce qui nous donne un avant gout de ce qui nous attend le lendemain matin. Nous passons voir le capitaine de notre bateau pour s'assurer que tout est pret pour le lendemain matin. Nous passerons 2 jours a bord. Mais avant nous rejoignons notre chambre, qui a une belle vue sur la mer. Une fois le soleil couche (plus de panorama donc plus rien a faire), brian et toufik se sont amuses a faire des photo light graffiti (dans la penombre avec une lampe torche en mode longue exposition).

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 21, 2010 from Labuhanbajo, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Indonesia, Flores, DinoLopez, Spiderfield and LightGraffiti

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Komodo and Rinca: Day 1

Komodo, Indonesia

Around 8am we met up with our captain, his three-man crew and of course our charter boat for the next two days as we sailed around Rinca and Komodo! It felt like two hours for us to reach Rinca but we were instantly absorbed by the incredible landscape that makes the Komodo National Park. It seemed like a never-ending chain of green jagged hills [even mountains] and empty golden beaches, all of this joined by such clear blue water - really the most incredible thing about the trip for us!

The boat itself was great too, Rolind captained his team of an engineer, a chef and a deck-hand but in reality all of them helped each other. This part of the trip was arranged with Dino and was all included; boat, food, park entrance, snorkel... ...everything except the biscuits and some extra drinks!

Tot le matin, nous embarquons sur le bateau et faisons la connaissance de notre equipage en direction de l'ile de Rinca. 2 heures de mer a admirer les richesses de ce parc naturel qui semble intact depuis des millions d'annees. Quel privilege d'etre la, ces 2 jours seront nos preferes sur Flores. Tout etait inclus pour nous (entrees sur les parcs, guides...) et encore mieux il y avait un cuisinier sur le bateau qui nous preparait de fantastiques repas et en-cas. Pour resumer on n'avait a se soucier de rien sauf de savoir comment on allait manger toute cette nourriture!

Rinca was a strange place with very tall and thin palm trees evenly dispersed across its landscape and dry ravines between its small rolling hills. This is where the Komodo Dragons like to rest in the afternoon and we had the opportunity to see at least five or six females keeping guard near the huge holes they had dug to lay their offspring in. The irony is that once the baby dragons are out of the hole, the mother tries to eat them before they make it to the safety of the trees! We continued to follow our guide [complete with stick] up to a spot on top of a hill where we found a big Dragon hiding between a rock and a tree. As it relaxed in the shade of the sun, it gave us the opportunity to get some good photos before making our way down to the boat. Once on board the crew made us feel instantly at home with a deliciously refreshing juice - a sign of the service to come!

L'ile de Rinca : nous avons fait une petite marche de 1h pour aller a la renconte des dragons et decouvrir le relief et la vegetation de cette ile. Nous avons vu comment les femelles font diversions en creusant plusieurs trous pour tromper l'ennemi afin de cacher leurs progenitures en devenir. Le guide nous a explique qu'a la naissance les bebes ont l'instinct de monter le plus vite possible dans un arbre pour eviter leur mere.... qui attend de les manger! Une fois devenus trop lourds pour grimper aux arbres, ils sont en mesure de se defendre. Le guide a un baton special qui en cas d'attaque permet d'immobiliser les dragons au niveau du cou. Le danger reste minime puisque la journee ils sont assomes par la chaleur. Par contre la nuit cela semble assez dangereux!! Les dragons chassent les animaux de l'ile, chevres, buffles, chevaux (2 recemment qui ont mis bas, et l'odeur du sang les a attires et ont tue les 2 chevaux) et autres. Ce n'est pas tant la "morsure" qui est dangereuse, ce sont les bacteries tres puissantes contenues dans leur salive qui tue rapidement. Apres quelques photos, il etait temps de rentrer au bateau pour savourer le jus de fruit frais qui nous attendait.

We had our first of three superb meals on the boat as we sailed from Rinca across the waters and incredibly strong currents to a snorkelling spot closer to Komodo island itself. Just as the sky became a bit cloudier it was time to jump in and discover what lay beneath. The feeling of seeing such a beautiful garden of corals and exotic fish is difficult to describe but this spot was one on the best snorkelling spots i have ever been to. Within minutes there were turtles and large shoals of fish to be seen, then rays and closer to the beach the coral gives out a red substance that makes the beach look pink and hence the name of the place, Pink Beach.

Nous avons repris la mer en direction de Komodo et avons decouvert la puissance des courants entre ces deux iles (c'est d'ailleurs a cause de la puissance des courants que ces animaux prehistoriques existent toujours. Ils n'ont pas pu quitter leurs iles et d'autres predateurs n'ont pu les atteindre). Proche des cotes, le bateau a jete l'encre pour qu'on puisse faire du snorkelling. Je ne me suis pas aventuree trop loin du bateau tandis que Brian n'a pas hesite a nager jusqu'a une plage de sable rose, admirant au passage poissons, tortues et coraux.

After Pink Beach we sailed a short while to the sheltered spot where we would lay down anchor and spend the night. Just as we arrived two dolphins made an appearance and these were followed by a mass passage of flying-foxs [bats] going from one side of the water to the other, impressive. The locals came out to sell us a wooden Komodo Dragon and we duly accepted, after all it's better to buy here than in Bali! We watched the sun go down and had another splendid meal of fresh fish thanks to one of the crew who caught a big fish en route to Rinca by trailing a fishing line of the back of the boat. A few drinks and some music between everybody and then to sleep; some put up with the heat and size of the cabin others chose the deck!

Nous avons dormi entre 2 iles dans un endroit protege des vagues. Alors que le soleil se couchait, nous avons vu 2 dauphins nager vers le bateau puis un peu plus tard, les flying fox (sorte de chauve souris) passer au dessus de nous rejoingnant Komodo. Magique! Des vendeurs sont venus a bord et nous leur avons achete un petit dragon en bois souvenir. C'est bizarre de faire ses achats en pleine mer! En route, l'equipage avait installe un filet de peche ce qui nous a permis de manger du poisson frais le soir meme. Compte tenu de l'etroitesse, de la chaleur et de quelques cafards dans la cabine, Brian et Amandine ont decide de dormir sur le pont!

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 22, 2010 from Komodo, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Boat, Indonesia, NationalPark, Beautiful, DinoLopez, Labuhanbajo, Komodo, Rinca and Dragons

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Komodo and Rinca: Day 2

Labuhanbajo, Indonesia

Our second day on the sea began with a beautiful Sunrise as you can see from the photos. Just as we were getting ready for breakfast, the captain took us on a tour around the fishing boats that surrounded the bay. As Captain Rolind bought our lunch, we got the chance to watch each fisherman on every boat working alongside his wife and child. The sea standing still and the heat starting to rise it was a fantastic place to be and won't be forgotten either.

Nous avons assiste au leve du soleil (enfin!) puis avons navigue parmi les bateaux de peche de la baie. Nous avons constate que de bon matin les pecheurs travaillent en famille avec femme et enfants sur leur bateau. La journee s'annoncait deja belle.

We arrived at Komodo island around 8am before the small cruise ship got there and although it wasn't quite as good for dragon spotting as Rinca it still made a pleasant land-break. We got to see a few big dragons walking around as the heat was more bearable for them at this time. The deer and other animals that live around the small settlement made us imagine feeding time every time they wondered close to a dragon but nothing eventful happened!

Nous sommes arrives a Komodo de bonne heure avant que les bateaux de touristes debarquent. Mais a choisir nous avons prefere l'ile de Rinca pour ses nombreux dragons et le contexte. Mais vu qu'il etait relativement tot les dragons n'etaient pas encore trop assomes par la chaleur a Komodo et nous avons vus certains se deplacer devant nous et c'etait impressionnant! Du coup entre les animaux autour des dragons (des biches) et les dragons qui se deplacent, on imagine vite qu'une attaque va se produire.... et bien non.

After Komodo we had a two hour journey along the coast to Manta point where we spent a while circling the shallow crystal waters looking for Manta rays. Although we saw several from the boat either playing on the surface or swimming in numbers below, every time we tried to catch them in the water with the snorkeling gear they were to quick. Brian did get to spend a few minutes alongside one though and it was a formidable underwater experience. Eventually we stopped the engine and spent some time just playing about in the water and lounging on the boat. A perfect afternoon! Then a last stop on Angel Island where the ladies enjoyed the beach before our return to Labuhanbajo and the end of a quite marvelous two-day trip to Komodo National Park. It wasn't the dragons that made it just the pure beauty and preservation of this magical place.

Apres komodo, nous avons navigue 2 bonnes heures pour rejoindre une zone en pleine mer qui s'appelle Manta point ou on peut admirer des raies geantes. Apres en avoir apercu du bateau Brian a saute du bateau a plusieurs reprises pour les voir avec son masque. En vain, pas assez rapide! Finalement il a pu en voir une durant quelques minutes et profite des ces moments privilegies. Nous avons pose l'encre de nouveau et fait du snorkelling dans une eau translucide (heureusement, si une raie arrive!). La fin du voyage s'est termine par une session plage sur l'ile Angel (ile de l'ange) avant de rejoindre Labuan Bajo. Plus que les dragons, c'est surtout le cadre magique du parc naturel que nous avons apprecie durant ces 2 jours.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 23, 2010 from Labuhanbajo, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Boat, Indonesia, NationalPark, Beautiful, DinoLopez, Labuhanbajo, Komodo, Rinca and Dragons

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