Travelogue Bali 2006

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Other Reports: Bali, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores

English Dietrich Lerche
German Sonja Stoisser
English Stephan+Klaudia

Pool at Bali Agung Village

Pool at Bali Agung Village

The way to Bali

The travel agency Yakee kindly informed me, after Garuda was already booked and paid, that Singapore Airlines had a cheaper offer, even with two nights accomodation already included.

Due to the unusual flying time (22:30 starting from Frankfurt) I arrived late in the evening in Bali. So there was not much of a queue at the immigration counters. I did not have a success with the ATMs in the airport. When I tried to get 2,5 millions they said after a while "your transaction has timed out". My Rupiahs from last year and the change of the visa paid in euro were enough for a taxi to Seminyak.

The Bali Agung Village was actually too luxurious for me. The television, AC and pool remained unused.

On the first day in Bali I went along the beach from Seminyak to Tuban, visited my old favourite places and forgot my sun hat in one of five taverns.

Padang Bai from the east

Padang Bai from the east

Padang Bai

On the next day I drove with Perama to Padang Bai, where I chose again a two-story bamboo house at the Kerti Beach Inn. What happened in the following two weeks matches my previous reports so far that I don't want to write it down again. The Blue Lagoon got an easier access via stairs and terraces.

There is a big change coming in Padang Bai. All houses on the beach along Jalan Silayukti were recognized as illegal and have to disappear. That applies to Pak Pica's Warung Kasandra, various restaurants and the reggae bars at the end of the beach. Compensatory buildings were built on the Chinese cemetery, which was relocated to a smaller field on the other roadside and is now next to and no longer opposite to the restaurant Omang omang.

Blue Lagoon from the west

Blue Lagoon from the west

Hunting Komodo by Camera

After two weeks (only after two weeks Padang Bai!) I found, I could start something different and decided for the tour to Komodo described in the Perama timetable.

At an ATM in Sanur (Lippo Bank in the complex Sanur Raya, thus next to Markus Niesen, if he still works in the same office) I made my usual test to determine the maximum amount: "other amount", 4 Mio. But instead of telling me things like: "1.25 million maximum", the machine disbursed the desired 4 millions to a favorable rate and only with the usual fee of 4.50 euros.

So it was no problem for me to pay the additional Rp.750,000 for a cabin. I booked the ferry to Lombok, where the Komodo tour starts, also with Perama. Although it was a loop way I stayed overnight in Senggigi, because the place allegedly has more to offer for tourists than the urban Mataram.

Dolphins and flying fish could be seen from the ferry from Bali to Lombok. We saw many flying fish later from the Perama boat - unfortunately no more dolphins. But before going to sea we crossed Lombok by bus.

Lombok pottery

Lombok pottery

Day 1 (Feb 28): Lombok

The First stop was a shopping mall in Mataram. Then a pottery. Do you book a tour to the dragons to be shown pottery? Next stop was a dance performance.

They made a fuss of escorting us from the bus to the dance floor. The gamelan orchestra was less ornamental than on Bali. One part of the performance was not actually a dance but a fight of two young men with bamboo sticks. Finally each spectator had to dance a while with the local girls. The television was also there, and they told us how important these performances would be for the perpetuation of the Sasak culture and that the dances in this way were only shown since four weeks. That's why all children of the village were magnetised by the happening.

Later on day we reached the east coast of Lombok. After a lunch in a Buginese village on stakes we mounted the Perama boat. Going east we were 14 passengers, 5 of us with cabins. On the return trip only 2 of the 10 passengers did not have a cabin.

in Perama resort

Coral resettlement

Perama Resort

The boat drove just a bit and anchored at the Perama island. Like often in the following days we had the choice between a boat for the beach or swimming. I prepared a bag which was brought to the beach, and went in the water with mask and fins. The underwater world was not better than in Padang Bai but different. Perama collects broken but still living coral pieces in the surf zone and attaches them to concrete posts in order to settle them in proper parts of the reef. We guests used the opportunity to take actively part in the project. In the evening there was a campfire and grilled fish. Songs were sung to the guitar and the amazingly numerous Perama staff demonstrated the Perama dance. One more thing that not completely matches my expectations of a Komodo journey.

The sea voyage

Still in the same evening we cast off towards the island Satonda.

Triaenodon obesus, Padang Bai

White tip reef shark

It was getting rough. I grabbed firmly hold of the bed not to fall out and hardly slept. In the morning I appeared in nevertheless best mood at deck to see how the deck passengers were feeling. Only one had become seasick. Others had slept rather uncomfortably, because there weren't enough mattresses for everyone.

A table was dropped from the ceiling for the breakfast buffet. All meals were served that way. The food was better tasting and more diversified than you would expect on a sea voyage for backpackers. Being a cab passenger I got a daily basket with water, coke, beer and chips.

Even with tail wind the sails were never set.

Day 2 (March 1): Satonda, Sumbawa

Anemone and fish

Anemone and fish

On the island Satonda there is a volcanic crater, which had been filled with seawater by a tsunami hundreds of years ago. Only few animals could settle this unusual habitat. Apart from the scientific characteristics our guide also explained legends and superstition. Despite the allegedly rejuvenating effect I abstained from a bath in the crater lake. It was slightly drizzling, and drying clothes became more and more problematic.

The next stop was a beach (Donggo Beach?), where we snorkeled again. Or was Donggo Beach the next beach where we arrived in the pouring rain? We did not even think of snorkeling there, because a strongly boosted brook distributed yellowish mud all over the place. Just in order to get firm ground under my feet, I took the boat to the beach.

View from Komodo

View from Komodo

Day 3 (March 2): Komodo

In the evening, after waking the captain, we hoisted anchor towards Komodo, where we arrived after a calm night. Just at the ranger station we saw our first Komodo dragon. That was typical: out of about ten dragons we saw during the journey only one was in the wilderness and not close to the houses. Thus the guided tour across Komodo did not have any highlights except the tropical vegetation and the screaming cockatoos. Of course only few of the several thousand monitor lizards are actually living at the houses, but the others are difficult to find.

Another beach was visited later: Red Beach. Red Coral dust in the sand gives the beach its remarkable reddish colour. The water was exceptionally cold, but that might have been a part of a general cooling of the weather rather than a local anomaly.

Premnas biaculeatus, Komodo

Maroon Clownfish

Labuan Bajo

In the early afternoon we anchored at Labuan Bajo on Flores and had spare time until 7 pm. Indecisively I walked the harbour street with Constance and Patricia, until a tour guide lowered his price far enough for us to accept an excursion to the bat cave. Then it began to rain again. Constance gave up when she saw how difficult the path was. First there was a bit climbing. Then the ground became slippery and sticky at the same time. I had to wind the sandals laboriously out of the mud with each step in order not to tear the belts off. In the weak light of the lamps and candles we could recognize some bats and a large spider. Sometimes the tunnel became lower than a meter. The guide showed us something that vaguely reminded of a petrified turtle and a clearly recognizable petrified fish.

When we came back to the boat the new guests were already on board, which clears up the discrepancy that the second part of the tour includes day four and five but begins already on day three. Some of the travelers who did not go directly back to Lombok nevertheless participated in the farewell and welcome party, where the Perama dance was extensively practiced again.

Varanus komodoensis, Rinca

Varanus komodoensis

Day 4 (March 3): Rinca

Interestingly enough the smaller island Rinca has more Komodo dragons than Komodo itself. Those were resting at the jetty, where they wait for fish waste, and at the Ranger kitchen. So much on the flexible truth that the monitor lizards are no longer fed in the national park. During the walk over the green hills we saw just one more dragon but also deer and a wild pig. It is easy to imagine that the meadows with those weird sheetless palm trunks dry up in the dry season, but now they were surprisingly swampy even on the hill tops. Then again we were lucky with the weather on our island hikes. Before we could safely get back on the boat a dragon had to be driven away from the jetty.

In the afternoon we went snorkeling at Gili Laba. Most noticeable were shining blue shells with only the openings visible and the bodies completely embedded in the coral stone.

Jetty in Rinca

Jetty in Rinca

Day 5 (March 4): Moyo

After a walk through fields and fruit plantations we came to a waterfall, which dropped into a natural pool. We could jump from the edge or swing at a rope over the water or swim into a cave under the waterfall.

On the way back to the boat many children showed up who had somehow been given 50 euro cent coins. Unfortunately those coins are worthless if they do not find anybody to exchange them into Rupiah. I had only 5000 Rupiah in small banknotes and so could only help one of them.

Amphiprion perideraion

Pink Anemonefish

Return

The last snorkeling beach was the small island Keramat. Afterwards we drove to Labuan Lombok, where we arrived in the dark and mastered a difficult passage to the Perama quay next to the port quite slowly and carefully. This time the bus crossed Lombok without a stop. It was Saturday night and the roads were crowded. Having no television or discotheque the people promenade at the roadside and enjoy themselves at food stalls.

I stayed again in the hotel Ray next to the Perama station in Senggigi. It rained so strongly at night that I had to take my shoes off in the morning not to drench them on the few steps to the bus station.

The ferry departed punctually this time and passed another ferry close to Bali, but then stopped for two hours to let the other ferry and one more ferry precede. Because of the cold weather (25 C) I could carry my luggage to Kerti without sweating.

On the next morning I was the only one bathing at the white sand beach. Then it rained the rest of the day. During ten stays in Bali I had never needed my rain jacket, but now it appeared useful to me for the first time.

Kuta (Bali)

In the temple Tanjung Sari

In the temple Tanjung Sari

On the seventh of March I went to Kuta to attend the Baliforum.com meeting in the evening. I left the event soon after the expensive dinner because the band was too loud for having a conversation.

I had considered to stay at Masa Inn but the price offer of 150.000 Rupiah made me ask for a cheaper possibility, and I was sent to Homestay Diana just on the other site of the street. The room price did not include breakfast but around the corner at Bali Jegeg the continental brakfast consisting of toast, fruit, juice and coffee was just 6000 Rupiah.

I used the last days of my vacation for shopping: Barong mask, CDs and DVDs, and from the Gelael supermarket: salak, coffee, cloves, coco-cookies and durian-sweets.

On the way from the supermarket to bemo corner there is a bridge, and I saw a large water monitor (looks like a small Komodo dragon) on the drifting waste.

Flight home

During the stay in the Singapur airport I visited the roof garden. You can spend your waiting time outside of the air-conditioned building between sunflowers.

We arrived at Frankfurt 45 minutes early. Only this way I could catch the last train to Hamburg, where I was welcomed by twenty centimeters of snow.

 

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