Komodo: it’s happening!

I went to Kuta Beach yesterday from Ubud to be closer to my flight this morning. I ran into “Yoda” again and he remembered me! I guess I’m really a Jedi Knight now!!!

Kuta is still busy and a bit crazy. I love the people watching and forgot how much walking was involved in getting around. First, I got checked into my hotel, The Kuta Inn. Prices have gone up, the room was fine, the AC lovely in the humidity of Kuta!

Next, stopped at the place with the sign out front, Amino Restaurant, for the “Best Coffee In Town”. I walked directly to the espresso machine, watched the barista finish steaming some milk and pour it into a cup, and knew it would be tasty. I ordered a cappuccino and it was great! I asked the barista, Adi, a couple questions about the coffee blend. He turned to the table behind me with two young ladies sitting there. They are sisters working at running the restaurant for their father that started it!

We talked espresso, milk, web sites, latte art, etc. They had another cappuccino delivered to me while we talked. They are very intent on having a great restaurant with great coffee and asked me a ton of questions. I appreciate their passion and enthusiasm for what they are doing. Then, they asked me why I didn’t have my own coffee shop. Well….er……because…..

I went back this morning for a cappuccino before heading to the airport and it was great!

After the coffee yesterday, I found the gang (a side street off Poppies II) and headed to TJ’s Mexican restaurant this time without my friend Rori! I had the lovely salad we got last time, it was great having a juicy vegetable salad which is seldom available over here! Really terrific!

I found the “Gong Corner” which is a local warung, authentic food, inexpensive and very friendly. This is the place I found the dadar gulung last time, the coconut cooked in palm sugar and tumeric, rolled in a rice flour crepe, drizzled with chocolate sauce and then I added fresh orange from one slice to the top. WOW!

This morning, I had an adventure ride to the airport. Since I’m traveling with my light pack, car’s wanted $80,000 rupiah and a motor bike driver showed up, I decided to take the motor bike. The driver was mostly cautious, only occasionally forgetting he had a tall, wide rider on the back with a backpack, and overshot the domestic airport. It was a short walk back which helped calm my nerves. Well, they really didn’t need much calming. It was a nice ride!

As my plane landed at Labuan Bajo, I realized this is the least information I’ve had on a place for any location I visited. Normally, I hear something about transport from the airport or places to stay or something of that sort. This time, I knew nothing about how to get from the airport, had the name for one hotel and the name for an island I wanted to visit.

The first driver I talked with offered me “normal” price of $50,000 into town. He had a man guide me to his car while he went back to look for other passengers to share the cost with. No one showed, we headed off to Labuan Bajo. On the way, he talked to me about trips he organized, how much they cost, etc. He really wanted a customer and offered me a free lunch if I went with him “now”. Since I don’t like rushing into things when it feels like “rushing”, I was dropped at my hotel.

They had a room and then started talking to me about trips they had available which would cost me $1,700,000 for a one day trip to Komodo and Rinca Islands with a drop at Seraya Island on the way back. Hmm, sounded like a lot so I checked in and went wandering.

Before I reached the bottom of the steps, I was approached by another man who had two people signed up for tomorrow. His is a two day, one night trip including hikes on both Komodo and Rinca, overnight on the boat, all meals, coffee, tea, water included, and we only pay extra for the park admission pass that included guided hikes with the rangers. His price: $800,000 rupiah.

I went looking for a store, checked out some restaurants, bought some groceries and went back to the hotel. As I entered the restaurant, three people were talking and greeted me. I met more people from the US then than I’ve met my entire trip. All were from Seattle, Don and Brit are traveling together and just met Julie who has been traveling for 7 months.

After they had eaten, we went down to talk with Figo who had offered the overnight trip earlier. He explained the options and cost, all three decided to go, now the trip is costing $600,000 which is much more reasonable. I’m looking forward to it!

We stop for snorkeling several times, sleep on top of the boat (weather permitting) on pads he’s bringing, will hike both Komodo and Rinca, maybe see Manta Ray’s on the way back and return no later then 5:30 the next day.

I remember seeing photo’s of the Komodo Dragons in the encyclopedia ages ago. Now, I’m about to witness them first hand!

The morning after I return, I’ll be on the little boat to Seraya Island for a few days. I’m realizing I won’t have the time to go overland to Lombok, the water has been so bad they have shut the ferries down in recent days, so I’ll probably book a flight back to Bali and spend the rest of my time there. I know I’ll be back in Bali in the future so it looks like I’ll save the Gili Island experience for a future adventure!

Needless to say, I’ll be out of commission for several days without internet connection. Once I get back with a refreshed tan, I’ll be able to let you know about the experience!

The Borneo Adventure overview