I’ve finally gotten round to processing my photos from my recent trip around Indonesia so I thought I’d share some with my lovely readers!
Once I had finished my work trade in Hawaii (see more photos from my Hawaii trip here and here and read about my work trade here) I flew from Honolulu to Denpasar in Bali. I met my boyfriend to go backpacking for 3 weeks before I was due to start a pranayama course with Iain Grysak in Ubud.
Here’s a little map that shows the places we visited on our travels and below you’ll find lots of photos and travel tips for each destination. I hope you like them!
Flores & the Komodo Islands
Last year I visited the Flores and the Komodo Islands alone but I only had a few days to explore and knew I wanted to take my boyfriend back there. I fell head over heels in love with the place, it’s impossible not to! People say that once you have been you will be spoiled forever because there’s nowhere else on earth with such beautiful, diverse and unspoilt marine life and scenery.
From Denpasar we flew to a town called Labuan Bajo in Flores – the tiny harbour town used by travellers as a base to explore the Komodo Islands. This is definitely the best way to do it in my opinion as the flight only costs about £35 each way and you get to fly over a chain of islands, which is an amazing sight in itself! The alternative is to spend 4 days on a boat trip from Bali and I’d heard far too many horror stories about those boats to even consider it.
Along the main road in Labuan Bajo there are tour companies stationed every ten metres ready to sell you various tour packages for visiting the islands in the surrounding area. There are restaurants, cafés and hotels in the area too, but don’t expect Bali standards of food and drink as the island of Flores is still fairly underdeveloped! Our favourite places to eat were Cafe In Hit for breakfast (one of the very few places you can find espresso-style coffees) and Meditterano Italian restaurant for dinner (great pizzas and the most amazing sunset views over the harbour).
If you follow me on social media you may remember the constant barrage of photos of THIS VIEW at the harbour, I’m completely obsessed (sorry!).
There’s a great hostel called Le Pirate located on the main road – definitely my favourite accommodation there, although it’s pricier than most options and very westernised so I guess it depends what you’re after. They have a little rooftop pool and bar, which is another great sunset location. There are dorm options if you’re on a budget or larger rooms (for 2 or 4 people) with porch hammocks (!) and views over the harbour.
For the first few days we were doing our diving certification with Uber Scuba. Or rather, Ade was – I freaked out on our first submersion and had to stick to snorkelling instead!! On day 3 of the course we got to go out on a boat for a full day into the Komodo Island National Park and luckily all the marine life we saw came to see me at the surface. We swam with turtles, manta rays and too many beautiful fishies to count.
Komodo Islands National Park
We decided to do another big boat trip out to visit all the most famous points in the National Park, including Komodo Island (to see the dragons!), Pink Beach, Padar Island and Manta Point. This involved a 5am wake-up call to make the 4 hour boat ride so we would arrive at the first destination before the sun got too hot. The first stop was Padar Island where you can hike to the top of a hill to witness these incredible views.
Alas, it was already way too hot. You can’t see it from these photos but Ade got such bad heatstroke he could hardly walk back down the hill!!!! I was actually so worried, I hate it when he gets poorly because a) who will look after me if he’s sick??? and b) I love him and hate to see him in pain (but mostly a). So anyway I took in the view as quickly as poss and helped him slowly down the hill (love you Ade).
Thankfully Ade perked up a tiny bit after a lie down and a coke! The sun was unbearable by the time we arrived on Komodo Island that we decided to just do the short walk in the shade. We were so lucky that two dragons were roaming around waiting for us. It’s actually so scary when you get up close to them, you really don’t realise just how huge they are.
There was a very sad story in the news recently about a tourist who died after being attacked by one of the dragons because he ignored the guide’s instructions and got too close. Let me tell you this is an absolute lie – the guides actually encourage you to get closer and closer because they want to make sure you’re super happy with your photos so they receive bigger tips. Ade and I refused to get any closer than in this picture but the guide was still egging us on!
Did you know that because they have such a keen sense of smell, you’re advised against roaming around on the island if you have an open wound? The guides even ask women to tell them if they are menstruating (!!) as the dragons associate the smell of blood with food and can become aggressive. If it does happen to be that time of the month, they don’t stop you from coming onto the island, they just take care not to get too close and keep an extra close eye on them. The dragons that is, not the menstruating females.
After this we set sail for the famous Pink Beach, which I loved so much! It’s only a tiny spit of sand on a random island in the middle of nowhere but it felt so magical to be there and know there’s nothing around you for miles and miles. The sand is pink because of the red coral near the shore, which washes up onto the beach in tiny fragments. The ocean in this little bay is crystal clear, with vibrant coral and fish waiting to be discovered beneath the surface. Obviously I stopped for some yoga pics 😀
The final stop on the boat was at Manta Point, which is the mantas’ cleaning ground. There’s hardly any need to search for them – as soon as you’re in the general area you will spot hundreds of them gliding at the surface of the water and you can just jump out of the boat and snorkel with them in the current!
More from Flores
Unfortunately we ended up stuck in Flores for an extra week because poor old Ade had damaged his ears whilst scuba diving and wasn’t allowed to fly (he’s fully healed now thankfully!) We hired a private driver and did a 5 day road trip across the island, which was a bit of a mixed bag. The scenery is unbelievable – lush greenery as far as the eyes can see, making for a spectacularly scenic drive! But there’s not yet much tourism still on the island meaning it took us between 4-7 hours to travel between each destination. We did have some interesting stops for coffees with locals thanks to our guide who seemed to know every family along the way.
The highlight was probably going up to see the sunrise from Mount Kelimutu where there are three volcanic crater lakes that change colour from week to week depending on the levels of certain elements in the water. How cool is that!! It was a little more touristy than we were expecting but we still had a great time doing our photography thang on top of the mountain.
We visited the island of Java briefly (aka about 16 hours) to climb Mount Ijen and see the famous blue glow of the lava. It glows blue because of the sulphuric acid emerging from cracks in the crater floor at very high temperatures.
You can only really see it in the dark so this involves waking up at 1:30am to reach it before the sun rises. We hadn’t slept as it was unbearably hot in our homestay, so on the hike up to the top I was saying things along the lines of “This is literally the worst day of my life so far” and generally being a full time BRAT (poor Ade). And just to top it off, when we arrived at the point where you can usually descend into the crater to get up close to the blue fire, they declared it closed off because the volcano had been unusually active and it wasn’t safe. We could still see the blue glow from the rim but it was SO COLD once we stopped hiking, so we didn’t spend long there.
But as the sun began to rise the views from up there were out of this world. Such magical colours lighting up the sky and brightening the blue lake below…you can see in the photos I started to smile a bit at this point.
After a few more road trips on the island of Bali (including snorkelling in the National Park, some beautiful waterfalls and a few temples), Ade’s holiday time was up and he set back off for the UK whilst I did my pranayama course in Ubud. Here are a few final snaps!
So it’s safe to say it wasn’t the most smooth-running of trips what with multiple injuries and just a bit of bad luck. But it was great to be reunited with Ade after so long apart and we certainly had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences! (Love you Ade, sorry for being a brat)
Thanks so much for reading as always! Hope there’s some useful and interesting stuff up there for you friends ^_^!
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