Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Komodo Island dive trip - 12-17 August

Our long awaited Komodo trip has finally come...and gone!

We arrived in Bali late on Wednesday night, 12 August after our Air Asia flight was rescheduled from 5:30pm to 9pm. After an additional 1 hour delay, we finally departed Jakarta at approx 10pm. It worked out well in the end though, as the hotel we were booked into, Puri Dibia was not exactly booked for "leisure", but rather as a "transit" hotel. We got to the hotel after midnight and checked out again around 9am on Thursday, 13 August.

After breakfast, we were introduced to the people in our group that we were going to spend the next 5 days with. We proceeded to the airport for our 11am flight to Labuan Bajo. We flew pt. Indonesia Air Transport on a Fokker propeller plane, which was an experience in itself.

Our luggage was checked in by our organiser, Chika earlier, so all we had to do was weigh in (with our hand luggage), pay the airport tax and wait for our boarding call, which to our surprise was on time ;-).

Very excited, we boarded our flight for the 1 hour, 40min flight to Labuan Bajo, West Flores.

We arrived in Labuan Bajo at around 12:45pm, at the smallest airport I've ever been to. The luggage is carried into the airport building and shoved across the floor (no baggage conveyor belt).

We took a taxi to the harbour.

While our luggage made it's way, on the roof of a different taxi. LOL ;-0!

We arrived at the harbour at Labuan Bajo at around 1:30pm.

After a short ride on a zodiac, we boarded the "mother ship".

Unfortunately we didn't board and sail off, as we imagined. There was a slight delay in the itinerary when there was a problem getting clearance from the Marine National Park Authorities; something about the photo copier being out of order and the boss being away. NOTE: If you are planning to do this trip, it would be a good idea to email scanned copies of your passports through to your organiser, prior to the trip.

In the meantime, we unpacked our dive gear into plastic crates, which we left on the lower deck where we kitted up for dives.

We were shown to our very comfortable cabin "Talang-Talang", with AC and hot water.

Lunch was served at around 2:30pm.

After which we sailed to the spot where we we were suppose to do a late afternoon "check" dive. We kitted up, got on board the zodiacs, but due to the time delay and our skipper not getting the correct information as to which dive site to go to, we ended up "aborting" the dive when it appeared that it might turn into a night dive, which we all decided was perhaps not a good idea on the 1st day.

We returned to the boat and started sailing to the site where we where going to be moored for the night.

The time delay in our schedule also meant that we took part in what I can only call "Adventure eating" that night. The sea was a little rough and it was quite a task ensuring that our 3 course meal ended up in our stomach's and not on the floor like all the cutlery did minutes earlier.

We moored around 9pm and soon after we decided to retire to our cabin. If the "adventure eating" was anything to go by I should have guessed it might also mean "adventure sleeping". Grrrrrr! Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep on the first night as I just couldn't get used to the rocking motion. Thankfully the next 3 nights the sea was calmer though and I slept like a log.

We were up at 6am the next morning (every morning), enjoyed a cup of coffee on the upper deck taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding islands around the Komodo National Park.

At 7:30ish (never managed to be in the water at the exact scheduled dive time) we did the first dive, followed by breakfast.

At 11ish, the second dive followed by lunch and at around 3ish we did the third dive, followed by a late afternoon snack.
At around 6:30ish, a night dive followed by dinner. (Below are more pictures of the 3 days, diving around the Komodo Island).

I brought home a little souvenir (above my right eye) - I actually had to sit the 2nd dive out. I learned first hand that the rocking can inflict injuries. The rocking of the boat and the fact that I was still trying to find my "sea legs" caused me to bash my eye open on the cupboard door. It was luckily only a small cut, but it still hurt. It is actually still a bit sensitive.

I did my first night dive. I enjoyed the experience, but have decided that I prefer diving in the day time, though.
In between diving, over the next couple of days we enjoyed the amazing surroundings. Now, this is the life!
Stunning sunsets and sunrises, blue seas, cool sea breeze.
Relax and unwind.

Taking in the early morning and late afternoon rays on the upper deck.
The inviting, beautiful, clear, blue ocean.
Like one tends to do on a dive trip, it feels like you just eat, sleep and dive, eat sleep and dive..

We were lucky to have such a great group of people on board. We enjoyed our breakfasts, lunch and dinners with interesting people from all walks of life, most of them living in Jakarta. Marc especially enjoyed meeting Pascale, a real life treasure hunter. After many a long discussions about lost and found ancient treasure, Marc is dreaming of perhaps on day joining a team in search of such sunken treasures. Check out Pascale's website: http://www.oceantreasures.org/

We had 3 birthdays during our 5 day trip. Marie-Louise (the wife of one of the birthday boys) arranged a surprise party on Friday, 14 August. Complete with balloons, hats and birthday cake.
Thanks to me and my trusty ipod and shox (speakers), even dancing. Well, not so trusty; as it seems to be giving up the ghost but we at least managed to get it to play until about 11pm. Which was a good time to go to bed anyway, considering that we had to be up early again, to dive.
Returning to the Tambora after yet another great dive:
At around 2:30 on Sunday the 16th we visited Loh Buaya on Rinca island, part of the Komodo National Park.

Komodo dragons basking in the sun.

We returned to the boat at around 5pm and the girls decided to pack a cooler box and have sundowners on a small island, which we dubbed, Bintang, after we consumed quite a few.
We returned to the boat where we followed in the boys footsteps and jumped off the side of the boat.
We had a great sushi dinner and thanks again, to my trusty backup, ipod shuffle we were able to connect to the sound system in the dining room and enjoy a fun farewell party. We maybe had a couple of Bintangs, to many. The problem with "free flow"....
"Bintang" smiles!

On Monday, 17 August we sadly had to say goodbye to the Tambora crew when we made our way to the airport at around 10:30am. We got back to Bali at about 1:30pm where we bid our fellow divers farewell, until next time.

Marc and I booked the 9pm Air Asia flight to Jakarta, to avoid missing our flight in case of delays from Jabuan Bajo.

We had a couple of hours to kill and decided to go for lunch at our favourite Greek restaurant, Mykonos in Semiyak.

We ended our trip with a full 1.5 hour massage at Amora's Spa.

We finally arrived home at around 11:30pm from this once in a life time trip. It was truly a fantastic experiance. We could definetly reccommend this 5 Days of fun in the sun on the Tambora, liveaboard.
Below are a couple of underwater shots. NOTE: The diving in Komodo is spectacular. Great 15-30 meter visability, amazing fish life and vibrant colourfull coral.

We booked the trip through Kristal Klear Dive who has scheduled tours around Indonesia, througout the year.
Kristal Klear Dive@ Hotel Kristal
Terogong Raya, Cilandak Barat, Jakarta Selatan, 12430. Indonesia

Ph. (6221) 7507050 x 674
Ph/Fax (6221) 75818025

Price includes:
  • Return air tickets Denpasar-Labuan Bajo
  • 4-night fullboard, twin-sharing accommodation onboard the Tambora
  • Unlimited diving (max. 4 dives per day)
  • Overnight twin-sharing accommodation with breakfast in Denpasar (Tuban area)
  • Marine national park entrance fee guided tour in Rinca to see the Komodo Dragons
Price excludes:
  • Flights from Jakarta to Bali
  • Tip for boat crew & dive guides (Rp.50 per person, per day)
  • Alcoholic drinks - Bintang beer was included. Take your own wine and spirits.
The Tambora liveaboard is brand new, we were actaully the first group on board. Which had it's pro's and con's. Though it meant that everything was new and clean, it also meant that there were some minor teething problems. Mostly on the "diving" side, which I don't really want to complain about as I was happy over all with the boat, their staff and the service they offer. The little problems we experienced with delayed dive times, getting in and out of the zodiac's, gear etc. seemed to have worked it self out by day 3 of the trip.
I have confidence that after a couple of groups have come through there, both the boat crew and dive guides will make the Tambora one of the "top end" liveaboards in the area.
Overall the food was good and we never went hungry. The fridge was always stocked with cold drinks and Bintang and the staff was very accommodating. They went above and behond to make our experience a memorable one, which it truly was.
Thank you, Tambora!