Seeing real life dragons

One of the main reasons we came to Labuan Bajo was to go to the Komodo National Park and see the Komodo dragons. They only exist here and are very old as a species and seem to be gifted with the genes for survival. They can swim, but not far, which is why they only exist on the islands in the National Park. They can be fast, if they want to, have a poisonous bite (killing their prey slowly), young ones can climb trees, smell each other, trace blood from kilometres away and they just look impressive. They can’t fly however, but that might be just a matter of a few thousands of years.

We went on a combo snorkelling and trek tour to see the dragons on Rinca Island where there are the most dragons and you have the best chance of seeing them. We were lucky enough to see all age ranges, male and female, with a bit of action from one of the older male dragons wanting to claim his spot next to a female. I got it all on video and let me tell you, once you see them make even the smallest move, you’ll happily stay behind your local guide who is equipped only with a forked stick.

Not sure how effective the guide and the stick would be, if a dragon would decide to launch towards you. Overheard someone saying that there is no warning and they could be happily dozing away (or seemingly so) and start and attack.

Mating season just finished more or less and females have now hoarded loads of eggs in one hole with multiple decoy holes kindly dug by some kind of bird which used it during their hatching season before. The females eat some of their own eggs for a couple of months, so in the end, if I understood correctly, about only 10% hatch. The young ones then climb trees and eat their smaller kind, lizards for breakfast, lunch and dinner. How lovely!

Check out the video below. It has a few bits in from the days before we went to see the dragons as well.

Driving aimlessly and jumping off a rock

What a whirlwind of a few days it has been. We’re now on day 5, but spent two of those getting to this incredible place. The plan was to be in Lombok right now and get over the initial shock realisation that we’re actually doing this. Instead, because of the earthquakes, we changed things around and arrived in Labuan Bajo on Flores. The beach/read/relax bit is coming up tomorrow, but husband is feeling poorly (too much sun already), so we’ll see how that goes.

Labuan Bajo is a small town, mainly living off tourists coming here to see the Komodo dragons, dive or snorkel. There are a few bits inland to see, but the islands, underwater beauty and the Komodo National Park is kinda it, and don’t get me wrong, enough of a reason to come here.

Labuan Bajo Harbour

Labuan Bajo Harbour

Because this town mainly lives off tourists going on boat trips, the harbour is full of boats, sometimes even ferries. It also is a place where most of the plastic gets dumped unfortunately. On the bright side, they are trying to keep the National Park clean, doing some education for the locals and tourists on the impact plastic has and an organisation started an initiative to have less individual plastic bottles around for single uses. Like most people, we bought a gallon of water and reuse the same bottles we got on day one.

Before I go into what we’ve been up to, I just have to mention the Roti. I am still not entirely sure what’s in it, but the closest thing I can think of is a sweet milk bun with a crust of coffee paste on top. Sometimes they have a filling, but not sure what that is. Anyhow, it’s delicious. Also, shoutout to instant noodles. They saved us in Surabaya, cause everything was meat and we didn’t want to risk starting off our trip getting stuck on a toilet.

Another tangent, sorry, we craved vegetables already on the first day of being here. I think travelling for two-ish days didn’t help the feeling that we needed something other than rice and noodles. So we treated ourselves at Bajo Taco to some guacamole and a vegetable burrito. Since then, it seems, I am cured and also, we found local food that doesn’t just consist of chicken and rice, so all good now.

Labuan Bajo

Happy, tired and sweaty after eating some veggies

Cunca Wulang Waterfall

Day outside of Labuan Bajo on Flores

I highly recommend renting a scooter. It was IDR 75,000 for the day for one scooter. Helmets are included, though sizing was a big generic I think, cause mine was a bit too big and had to adjust it every time we hit a bump, which was basically every 30 seconds. But that was alright with me cause it was amazing to drive aimlessly towards inland on the one and only road. With no real plan, bathing stuff and a full tank, we just started driving. I knew there was a waterfall somewhere, but didn’t know how to get there. On the map the road just cuts off. Turns out there are two waterfalls, Cunca Wulang and Cunca Rami.

Day outside of Labuan Bajo on Flores

The closer we got, the more white people we saw and figured we had to go, if that many made an effort. At this point we were joined by two other couples and we teamed up to get a group price for the waterfall and guide. It ended up being slightly cheaper than had we gone just by ourselves. It does seem to be a bit of an arbitrary bargaining.

What we didn’t prepare for was that our sandals would be a bit of a challenge getting us through the “jungle”. I slid and fell, lost my sunglasses, realised I lost them only after we’d been swimming and found them again on the spot I fell.

Cunca Wulang waterfall on Flores

To get to the waterfall you have to cross a wooden bridge that looks questionable. I mean, the planks where only held by two nails each in the middle and some of them stood out. But not thrill enough, you have to jump off a rock to see the waterfall. Technically, you don’t have to. You can also climb in and then swim, but where’s the fun in that. I say that now, but I’ve never jumped from that high before (husband said it was 5-6m), so yes, I had butterflies and nervous tingles and my adult self saying “just climb down”. I know many might be saying “that’s not high at all”, but 5-6m is a long way down. Enough to think about what you’d just done on the way down. To think that “shit, I’m going under really far” or realising that you close your eyes too soon cause there is still a bit to go, or “hope my contact lenses make it through”.

But let me tell you, once you’re down, it’s gorgeous. Rocks formation carved from the turquoise coloured water. you have to swim a bit to get to the actual waterfall that comes through a circular opening, but it’s worth the price we had to pay and the jump I did.


More photos from our time in Indonesia

A few days in Brighton before our big trip

Oh man, I had no idea it was going to take me this long to get the video on Brighton edited and uploaded. It always takes about 5 times longer than you think!

But I did it! Yay/applause/pat on the back and thank you to lovely husband for making lunch.

Last summer, we’ve been to Brighton for a weekend and it was a lot colder than it is now. It is currently gloriously blue and sunny outside and it’s been amazing getting to know this city a little more.

Of course we had to go back to our favourite food places, explore some new ones and got a bit of a sunburn (who would’ve thought).

It was definitely the perfect few days before jumping on a plane to Indonesia tomorrow morning. Husband called it the calm before the storm. Let’s hope that this figure of speech isn’t becoming reality after all the horror show posts of boats capsizing and all I’ve read.

On that cheery note, enjoy the video. Again, bloody pain to get that together on an iPad but totally worth it. Maybe next time I’ll figure out how to get different background music on there besides the standard 6 theme tunes available in iMovie.

Everything is in a box in a box in a box

Today we moved everything into a box.

Which means we’ve now officially switched over to camping-and-living-out-of-our-backpacks mode. I don’t think I’ve properly realised what is happening. For about a month, my focus has been to get everything organised, packed and ready to go and I am very good at compartmentalising, i.e. keeping the eye on the prize in a rational and logical way. Emotions usually hit after I’ve achieved what needed to be done.

So here I sit in our local pub, a baked camembert and a half fish and chips later (didn’t eat all day, see compartmentalising), and start to feel all the feels. It is slowly sinking in that I may not people watch from this corner of the pub anymore, or that our flat is so not cosy enough for this grey and rainy weather. (Reason why we’re in a pub and it at home).

There is still a bit of processing time left; we’re going to Brighton for a few days to switch off and prepare ourselves mentally for what’s to come next. Weather isn’t playing ball so I’ll be wearing everything I’ve packed enjoying the British sea side.

Slight tangent, “our” cat has been in and out these past days exploring boxes and rooms. I wonder, if she knows we’re leaving.

House Renovation – Floors everywhere and a new entry door

Floors and entry door

Since the last time I posted about our house renovation project, there have been a few things my parents progressed with. We have now floors on all levels! (insert clapping and sounds of cheers here)

Living room

Foundation in the Living room

It’s been a long time coming, as it’s a lot of work and needed a lot of coordination such as not to suddenly find yourself having to rip it all up again cause the concrete foundation for the new separation wall hadn’t been laid or new beams needed adding below the floor for the structural integrity of the house.

Terrace

I’ve seen partly how a floor can change the feeling of a room. It’s been all open for such a long time and it is very odd to see how the house might actually look like when you can’t see the roof anymore from the cellar. So seeing photos of the final floor, where the living room will be, is such a motivation. I am sure more for my parents, than for me. It also means they can soon start with the roof… No pressure.

Living room

Living room

Aside from the wonderful wooden planks to be walked on without fear of ending up one level lower, we also now have a new entry door. The new hole for it hasn’t been built yet, but we’ve got a door to go wherever it needs to. It also cost us a lot less than what we’ve looked into, which I am so happy about. It is definitely worth looking into summer sales, if the quality matches what you’re looking for. With this door, we do need to add our own handles and door knocker, in fact, I can’t wait to browse around to find some nice unique, maybe even antique ones.

Entry door

For the past few days, my mum has also been working on finishing the last bit of the wall, which, on your own, is quite the task. Each stone weighs 8 kilos times however many you need and you have to obviously get them from A to B. Then you need to mix 35kg bags of mortar every 6 brick stones or so (a lot of it ends up in a slurping move between said stones and existing wall). And then try that in 35°C plus heat.

Terrace

New wall at the terrace

Also some kudos to Hagen, who carried all the mortar bags from way below to the upper deck where they were needed. I sometimes think they have secret powers, or eat way too much spinach.

Hagen carrying mortar

More stones and mortal at the terrace

Experimenting with a new way of drawing animals

A couple of weeks ago, amongst all the travel preparations and house renovation organisation, I took a break and spent almost the entire day trying out drawing with ink and bamboo pens.

The bamboo pens were hand carved by Kate Moby from bamboo grown by herself and came in three different sizes. I first came across her about 4 years ago and fell in love with her owl and her style and have since purchased many other animals to give them a home. Though I never really thought about trying to draw with bamboo pens and ink myself.

Carrots

Watermelon

After evolving my own style last year, I wanted to try something new to break out of the minimalist shell, so I thought, why not this, with even more colour and unconventional combinations. I didn’t quite know what the effect would be drawing with bamboo pens, instead of let’s say brushes and ink, or how easy/difficult it would be to draw since the pens only hold so much ink at a time. I’d like to think that I got into my own style quite quickly (only took me a load of watermelons and different types of paper) but I’d like to try out different ways of using ink, either less diluted or even more diluted.

‘I’iwi / scarlet honeycreeper

I am not quite sure what my fascination with birds is, but for some reason I keep coming back to them. I guess I like how versatile they can be in terms of expressions and characters they can take on in a drawing or photo.
I am chuffed with how the ‘I’iwi (Scarlet Honeycreeper from Hawai’i) turned out.

Camel

The camel was a bit more of a challenge. I drew a camel before, but I think it was lacking character. I am happier with these two and also the colour combinations I tried out, though this one is a cheeky, tricky animal that needs a bit more practice capturing.

Camel