Lombok began with a 5 hour slow ferry eastward from Bali. The ferry seemed alright at first and it was refreshing to be the only westerners on board after being inundated with Aussies in Kuta Bali. However, as night fell the swarms of cockroaches that make the boat home came out in full force and they were everywhere. We aren’t squeamish but it was fairly unpleasant, they were in our bags and clothes and people who managed to sleep fell prey to them crawling on their faces and up their trouser legs. Needless to say dry land was a welcome relief and we then travelled north by taxi to Sengigi, the port where we had arranged to meet Maya’s friend Vicki and her boyfriend Josh. The hostel was difficult to find in the dark but after stumbling through gardens and tripping over some chickens in the longest, darkest alleyway in Indonesia we managed to find it. After a relaxing sleep we woke up to Josh and Vicki’s arrival and their new friend Ali who was coming along as well having met them on Gili Trawangan. We taxied to Kuta Lombok (same name different island) which was the polar opposite of its Bali counterpart; all deserted white sand beaches and understated local restaurants. We found a place to stay and hired mopeds, the thing to do in Indonesia. We headed east first and found some of the most incredible beaches, postcard style, with no one else in sight. The sea was a mesmerising turquoise but our revelry was dampened slightly when Vicki got stung by a jellyfish. It was quite a nasty sting but she took it like a champ and was out on the beers the same evening, despite subtle fears that she might die, having heard of phantom deadly jellyfish in Australia.
We ragged the mopeds around and did some racing in a dirt field we found before heading back to get some food and chill out. The next day was a similar plan although we were going West. We jumped on the mopeds once again and headed for tranquility, although this time we were stymied by a recurring puncture on our moped. The first tyre shop failed to fix it after two attempts, even after we paid the exorbitant sum of £15. It was too late to go back though as we had crossed a mountain by then and even so we didn’t feel too bad as we had a fun hour playing with the tyre owners many children who outclassed Tom in football, they were adept dribblers. We eventually got it fixed and arrived at a world class beach a little later than expected. We had some good games of volleyball and rented a surfboard designed for people with a thousand times more experience than us, Tom and Josh gave it a good go but met with little success. Tom also sustained what looked convincingly like a broken toe during an intense point of volleyball, having given Josh a hard but accidental booting. After that we went back towards home, stopping for some delicious fish on sticks, enormous grilled mackerel for 30p each, deal of the century.
After Kuta we headed back north to Mataram where we waited all day for a bus to take us to the port to leave on a MUCH anticipated four day tour of Komodo National Park. The boat was somewhat smaller than we expected, given that 26 people including crew were spending 4 days on it, but there was an upper deck with 20 tiny mattresses so we picked our beds and dumped our bags in the hold. We left Lombok at 4pm and motored until 9 as we had a lot of sea to cover in 3 days. Along the way we had fish stew, cooked by the 6 live aboard crew who were fantastic cooks. Every meal on the boat was delicious, with curries, stews and huge bowls of rice and vegetables to feed 20 hungry travellers. We stopped at 9pm to take in an Indonesian sunset and catch some sleep. However, we were rudely awoken at 2am when the boat started motoring again. Thereafter there was little possibility for sleep as the boat was tossing and turning and on the upper deck we were rolling all over the place. We stopped again at 7am for breakfast and swam ashore for a short trek to a waterfall, where Josh disappeared and climbed all the way to the top. We stopped again for some pristine reef snorkelling and a walk to a freshwater lake which made for some eerie snorkelling, before beginning an epic 16 hour motor in the early afternoon. During this leg a lot of people began to feel seasick, luckily though Josh spotted some dolphins in front of the boat which boosted morale significantly!
That night was a little better for sleeping but not much, we stopped at 7am for breakfast and climbed a small mountain (big hill?) for a view of Komodo island. There was more snorkelling and then we arrived at Komodo island, the entrance to which is a bit like Jurassic Park and definitely ups the excitement. We met our guide and began the long trek across and round the island. Incredibly, after only 10 minutes of walking we came across our first Komodo dragon, a female relaxing under a tree. She was enormous and everybody was suitably impressed, little did we know the males would be twice the size! As we neared the end of the trek we saw a whole group of lazy dragons chilling out near the local kitchens, one of which, a 10ft male, was hanging out in the toilet. They are incredible beasts. That evening we moored in a quiet bay, drank some beers and did some fishing before enjoying a nice sleep with no sea spray and no rolling around.
The final day we headed for Rinca, the second of the three islands where Komodos are found. We were lucky enough to see 2 in the wild, including a baby which dropped out of a tree and scared our guide. We saw more lazy dragons hanging out by the local houses as well. That afternoon we stopped and did some front flips off the boat as well as snorkelling and beach volleyball. We then reached our final destination in Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. We decided to stay in a hotel rather than another night on the boat as there was no more food, the hotel turned out to be disgusting (our immediate neighbours were covered in bedbug bites but we narrowly escaped them) but we went to Paradise Bar and had a few drinks with all the people from our boat and reminisced about Komodos.