September 13th continued: Once we were all settled we had anchor schnapps on Kiwi Blue. We went into the beach with Peter & Heidi and left their duck outside the Hotel – La Prima. Very nice setting with an infinity pool overlooking the bay. We had dinner which was OK, we are a bit over the Indonesian food at this stage and looking forward to those Italian restaurants!
September 14th: It’s a beautiful calm anchorage, we slept really well. We went into town with Peter & Heidi, leaving their duck on the beach in front of the Hotel again. Oh my, this beautiful golden sandy beach and it is COVERED in plastic. It breaks my heart. I hate to think how many fish, turtles, dolphins and other beautiful sea creatures and birds are dying a slow death from ingesting plastic. I want to show them all the utube video from my Facebook. We walked into town and it was good to find a supermarket that had cheese, this was a major excitement. They also had wine but at around $38 to $50 per bottle we will give it a miss. We found a lovely Italian café and they served really nice, real coffee. It was a gorgeous view over the harbour. We then found the Italian restaurant called Mediterraneo so decided to make that a lunch stop later. We walked to the end of the town and found the market. By this time it was around lunch time, very hot and the smell factor was very high. Definitely need to do the markets early in the morning. We headed back to the restaurant and had the most delicious pizzas, real Italian style a light crisply base and minimal toppings but very tasty. Yum. We then walked down to Roxy’s the supermarket and did our shopping. I have to say that it is not a supermarket by our normal standard – mostly packaged foods, not much fresh produce, perhaps some apples and oranges and eggs, other than that its packets. They did also sell Bintang, the local beer for 27,000 rupiah or $27 which is quite cheap. We caught a Bemo back to the Hotel. These are basically minivans which can be quite elaborate with glitzy stickers all over the windscreens, Front and back! How they see out of the windows of some of them, just amaze me. Back to the boats with our provisions and relax time, we watched a movie and into bed early.
September 15th: Robbie dropped us ladies (Elizabeth x 2 from Oda and Elonnissa and myself) into the markets to buy our fresh produce. It’s a mission, very narrow stalls on very uneven, slippery paths with lots of people. There was an undercover area which had all fish stalls, this actually had a tiled floor which was incredibly muddy, dirty and slippery. I would not be game to purchase fish, but some people do, without any problem. I got some mangoes, watermelon, a small pumpkin, chillies, beans, carrots, tomatoes and onions. It was all nice and fresh and once I get it back to the boat I do the bleach soak solution to kill any nasties. We had a quick coffee and Oda picked us up to go into town for the rest of the shopping. We left the duck on the beach outside the La Palma Hotel and then walk into town, it’s not far. We walked through the town and had another real coffee in the Italian café and then Per had a haircut, wow this cost 15,000 rupiah which is $1.50!!!! Makes me think it wasn’t worth while us buying the hair clippers. (Especially when I compare the job I did on Robbie’s hair, to the barbers!) Elizabeth & I went into a little boutique next to the Italian restaurant Mediterraneo, and I brought a lovely dress, and a beach dress and a Komodo Dragon T-Shirt for Robbie. Elizabeth brought a beach dress also. Really lovely and they were very cheap 180,000 rupiah or$18. We had to have lunch again at Mediterraneo and again we ordered the Pizzas, they are so good! We also ordered 3 take-a-way so we can freeze them. There are a few more Yachties arrived now and they all came for lunch so that was nice. We ducked into Roxy’s the little supermarket and grabbed some eggs and then back to the boat to offload, then back to the Hotel for a massage. Robbie and I were first a one hour full body massage for 150,000 rupiah each, or $15. It was so good. (No happy endings offered either!!) Per and Elizabeth were straight after us and loved it too. We had a swim in the Hotel pool which was lovely, and stayed for sundowners and dinner which was stunning watching the sun go down over the pool, and the ocean. Dinner was hilarious, the power kept going off, we ordered a bottle of red wine and the waiter brought it out with 4 beer handles for glasses, and then tried to open the bottle of wine with a beer bottle opener. It was really funny, but – he was just learning.
September 16th: What a wonderful start to the morning – 4:00am the Muslim mosque call to prayer noise, and I can only call it a noise, it sounds like something between a dying duck and a very bad singer –it starts and then 10 minutes later the other mosque starts. They broadcast this terrible sound through loudspeakers and it goes for about 20 minutes. Sometimes we (Robbie) can sleep through it, sometimes it wakes you and then you can go back to sleep or sometimes you just have to endure it! Robbie was up early and did some soldering for Steve from Almacantar, then Per came over and has set up our laptop with hundreds of iBook’s to transfer to the iPad, this is brilliant for me as I read so fast and paperback books take a lot of room on a boat. We lifted the anchor up at 9.30am heading for Komodo Island. We had a beautiful passage with flat calm seas, about 2-3 knots of current with us – we actually got up to 11 knots of speed! We saw 3 big turtles – it’s so easy to see the wildlife when it’s flat calm. Arrived at Komodo Island, Soro Lia which is the main bay, around 1.00pm ready for our next adventure! Peter and Heidi were already anchored near the wharf when we arrived. Elonnisa have anchored in the bay near Punja Island, around the corner and that looks really nice with white sandy beaches. We will head over there when we have done the Dragon thing. Peter & Heidi picked us up and we went into the Ranger Station to pay our National Park Fees and organise a walking tour. It cost us 360,000 rupiah per couple for our anchoring fee, park pass, camera fee and a 4 hour guided walking tour to the memorial of the guy who was eaten by a Komodo Dragon. It’s an early start for the walk due to the heat, we have to be on the beach by 6.40am! One of the rangers then took us for a short walk to see some of the Dragons. We saw about 6 of them, mostly asleep lying around. They hang around the kitchen building as they smell the food. They are quite large between 1.5-3+ metres long, they have big, very sharp claws and they remind me a lot of a Crocodile. There are also wild pigs and deer on the island and they were roaming around quite freely also. We got some good photos of the dragons. There is an undercover area set up with souvenirs and very persistent hawkers. I have never seen such persistent sellers! I brought a T-shirt and one big wooden Komodo Dragon and 3 baby ones. I couldn’t stand the badgering and walked off. They followed us to the café still trying to sell us their wares. We had a cold Bintang and watched the café owner and a few locals playing poker. We have finally talked Peter & Heidi into learning our favourite card game, 500 so we had them over for dinner and cards. It’s quite a difficult game to learn but they did well and are keen for another game. We had quite an early night as we have to be up early (well its early for our cruising life, but not by our normal standards) for our walk tomorrow.
September 17th: Alarm went at 5:30am and Robbie jumped out of bed turned the computer on to check emails and next thing Lynnie was on Skype. This was lovely as we had been trying to Skype for ages but for one reason or another hadn’t got there. We had a lovely chat and it was so good to see her. We had to hurry and get ready as Peter was picking us up. We headed back to the Ranger Station, met our guide and off we went. We had only walked about 10 minutes and we saw our first Komodo dragon. They just lie around and are very well camouflaged, they are hopeful to get a deer or a pig. Our guide insisted it was OK for us to stand behind the Dragon and he took photos. We were ready to run at the first sign of movement. Not that this would have done us much good really, they can run up to 30 kilometres per hour! Robbie reckoned he was OK as he can run faster than me!!! We got some good photos and set off again. The landscape is so very dry, rugged and dusty. They have not had rain since January the guide told us. We walked about an hour on flat land and then it started to get steep. I was a bit worried about how my knee would cope but luckily I had grabbed one of the ranger’s pronged sticks and that helped me a lot. It was really hot, and quite hard going and there was a stage where I said I will sit and wait here but I kept going and eventually we made it to the top, where the monument for Baron Rudolf Van Reding is. He was a Swiss tourist who disappeared on the island in 1974. They found only his sunglasses, camera and backpack. The guide told us that since his death they have closed off part of the area where he disappeared. He also told us that a 12 year old boy was killed 3 months ago by a Dragon. His mother had sent him into the bush to get some fruit off the trees and he did not see a Dragon lying at the base of the tree. The Dragon bit him on the thigh, his friends tried to pull him free but couldn’t so they ran to the village for help. Our guide was one of two who ran to help but by the time they got there, the dragon had eaten a large chunk of his stomach, his thigh bone was broken and a large chunk of meat taken and he had broken the boy’s neck. The dragon had bitten him and then bashed his body against the tree. It was very sad hearing this. We made our way back down, sliding on our bottoms some of the time. We saw some Orchids, and also some Blossom, which was rather nice in the barren landscape. We also saw a white Cockatoo, and a Drongo bird! Not quite sure what a Drongo bird is but we saw one anyway. There was a baby Dragon in the bush but he quickly ran away. Once we were quite close to the ranger station again we came across another Dragon and our guide got some really good photos of us near it. We were dying to get back to the ranger station where we knew there were cold Bintangs! I don’t think I have ever drunk a beer so fast in my life, it sure tasted good. We sat in the café area for about an hour and a half just drinking Bintang and letting our muscles relax. Per & Elizabeth and Tom from Enpointe arrived and had a beer also. We needed sleep so headed back to the boats. Peter & Heidi asked everyone over for pot luck dinner and asked us to come early so we could have another game of 500. We had a couple of hours sleep and then made a Potato bake and headed over to Stormvogel at 4:30pm. Had a few rounds of cards, Peter & Heidi are getting better each time we play, it’s a lot of fun. The others arrived and we had a beautiful meal, fresh bread and ham with a gorgeous dipping sauce of Olive Oil & a sweet Balsamic vinegar from Tom, Elizabeth & Per brought a lovely Coleslaw and for dessert some fresh Watermelon & Honeydew Melon, Peter & Heidi made their “to die for” fish patties. They had brought a whole fish from a fishermen that morning. It was a great evening with good food and even better company! Peter & Heidi also provided some beautiful Sav Blanc from Australia, which we cherished as we did not buy a lot of wine so it was really appreciated! Peter ended up falling asleep and we weren’t far behind him, our big walk had really taken its toll on us all. Per, Elizabeth & Tom have a walk booked for tomorrow so we called it quits and were back on our boat and in bed by 7.30pm