I booked some more days diving in Komodo National Park including a trip to Rinca Island where the Komodo dragons live, this is the only place in the world to see the dinosaur like creatures apart from Komodo Island itself.
The diving started off with some great sights, turtles, black tipped reef sharks, white tipped reef sharks, a fantastic octopus which changed colour and shape many times within a second or two, hundreds of brightly coloured smaller fish and lots of corals. A particular favourite of mine are Moray eels, they always look so menaceing showing their teeth and sticking out of their hideaways but i think they are just watching you go by. We went back to Manta Point again in the hope of seeing some mantas and as there was a bit of current it was going to be my first drift dive. Theres not too much you can do in a drift dive other than go with the flow so to speak, the current takes you along and theres really no point fighting it as you just wear yourself out. You have to travel at whatever speed the current takes you which feels strange to begin with as you aren’t propelling yourself along. We were about two thirds of the way through the dive when i thought that our hopes of seeing a manta ray had gone. We travelled over the bottom of the sea which was littered with broken coral then just as we came over another ridge there was a big manta ray hovering in the current. They come to the so called cleaning stations where small fish clean the parasites from them, you are supposed to drop to the bottom and just watch the manta ray in all its glory. All was going well until another diver from another boat appeared with a camera and rushed up to the manta ray, obviously it got spooked and went on its way. I thought it was a big one but apparantly at only 8-10ft wing span it was a ‘baby’, they can get to 12-15ft wide !! It was an impressive sight, it kind of reminded me of the Starship Enterprise hovering in space, i couldn’t wait to see another. Photo shamelessly stolen from the internet, it looked something like this –
Komodo Dragon, about 20 years old –
A short walk to the top of the hill revealed the view out from Rinca island to the Komodo national park –
I flew east across to Labuan Bajo Flores via Bali, no direct flight unfortunately but both flights were only just over an hour each. Garuda Indonesia was the chosen airline, not so good a few years ago but now they had vastly improved their fleet, maintenance and safety records, and staff. One thing that kept me guessing for the whole of the journey was this observation – the accomodation was 4 seats wide, two on the left and two on the right of the central aisle. The two seats on the left were called seats A and C, the two seats on the right were called seats K and H, all along the aircraft from the first row to the last. This baffled me for the whole flight and I couldn’t come up with one feasable answer why they were not labelled A,B,C and D. The flight went quickly.
First plane of the day with troublesome seat labelling –
The second plane was a propellor type plane which took off very quickly and gained height rapidly, i was surprised but i guess its smaller and lighter than the jets. Sitting in a seat near to the propellors i watched out of the window as the blades started spinning, i did of course wonder what would happen if a blade came off and came through the window but there was something far more important to concern myself with. This plane had not only the same problem with the labelling of the seats but i noticed i was sitting in row 26, only half a dozen rows from the front of the plane behind the cockit. The row numbering started at row number 20 !! What an earth are they doing, NOTHING made any logical sense. I refused to try and think of anymore explanations as to why the numbering seemed so odd and brought my mind back to the spinning blades outside my window. The flight passed without incident and even on an hour flight the cabin crew managed to serve a snack meal and teas and coffees.
The prop plane landing at the not quite ready Labuan Bajo airport –
Labuan Bajo was growing fast last year when i was here, some new restaurants and bars were opening and new dive operators were starting up. When i was here last it was part of the Sail Indonesia Rally, and as the President was turning up there was a lot of money being spent on the town including a new promenade. The promenade had been completed but now already looked 20 years old, vegetation and weeds had taken hold, small kiosks that were built to be shops were empty, and nobody seemed to be caring for it. These things seem so common in Asia, things get a budget to be built, they are built and then left, or don’t quite get finished as somebody dissapeared with the remaining cash before completion.
Also they had reclaimed about an acre of land in front of the promenade so basically well, it was no longer a promenade !! It seemed to be becoming a bit of a container port with a few ships turning up and off loading a load of containers before picking up some more.
I was watching them finish the roofing on these little huts only a year ago, now empty and unused, reclaimed land in the background –
Labuan Bajo from my 20 dollar a night bungalow –
Sunset at Labuan Bajo Flores –
I returned to the dive center Wicked Diving where i had completed my open water dive course and to my surprise was standing my dive instructor Carl. We had a chat and i booked my first dive which was to happen in a couple of days.
The boat travelled for about an hour and into Komodo National Park, protected since about 1990 i think. The scenary is fantastic with lots of islands with sandy beaches, islands too difficult to get to because of shallow coral or landscape too rugged to climb.
Dive sites around here are known as some of the best, lots of different corals, lots of different fish, the locals have been taught not to fish, litter, but to protect the environment, quite rare in this part of the world. The first two dives were around a slopeing reef which ran from the beach downwards, it was just how i remembered it with colourful fish and coral everywhere. The third dive was to be at Manta Point, somewhere i had not gone previously. If you are lucky you can see Manta Rays here and at this particular point they can be seen hovering in the current scooping up the plancton and also being cleaned by the smaller fish. Sadly i didn’t get to see any on this dive but some people that went in a little later than me saw some so they were definatly around. I was a little disapointed not to see any but knew that there were more oppourtunities to come.