From the heart of the Jungle, Borneo, our journey led us to the land of the sea - Indonesia. After our short detour to Derawan Islands, we continued our route via Plane to Makassar on Sulawesi. While we initially wanted to stay longer on Sulawesi, we had to adapt to our journey to our low budget and time, so that, after three days in Makassar (not a very pretty city), we finally boarded a Pelni ferry.
What? A Pelni ferry? Are you crazy?
Stories of sinking ferries and "That was the worst journey in my life. We had to sleep on the deck of the boat because everything was full, right next to the garbage bags.", we decided that this was just what we needed! Let's immerse ourselves completely into the life here. Let's meet people that we otherwise wouldn't. So we boarded the Pelni ferry in Makassar, at around 12 at noon.
Prepared as we were, we boarded the Pelni ferry as one of the first people and found enough empty rows of beds. However, the ferry quickly filled with people and at the end of the day, there was maybe a few locals staying outside on the deck. During our 20 hour ride from Makassar to Labuan Bajo (Flores, Komodo), we were laying next to some young indonesian teenagers. Especially Natalia loved it, because she soon became their "best friend" and took hundreds of selfies with them, with their relatively old style flip phone. Man, those girls were incredibly excited and happy to be next to us foreigners!
Labuan Bajo is on the Island of Flores and the nearby Komodo National Park is one of the best dive sites in the world. Here, everything is about diving - when you walk up and down the small streets, you find one Dive Center next to the other, full of foreign adventurers ready to explore the incredible underwater world. After arriving in Labuan Bajo with our ferry at 6am, we soon found us at the lovely Somer Dive Center. A few days before we arrived we already contacted Luca, the manager, and he organized everything for us! He got us the cheapest room in town and was so excited about diving, that we felt at home from the very first minute. Luca and his time are incredible. All in the team know the Komod National park perfectly and have been diving for centuries. Luca loves to talk and even underwater, he can't stop but writing fish names and other instructions on his small writing pad. Patrice, a local dive instructor, is super friendly and makes the best dive briefing drawings!
And most of all we have to say thank you to Samira and Sylvain, who were welcoming from the very first minute. Going on dives with you has been so great. While we have dived with good instructors before, you raised the level to a complete new standard. We felt save and comfortable at all times and you kept improving and teaching us how to better maneouver through the water. It was such a pleasure. And above all that, your excitement about what you do is really inspiring.
But let's look at some of the natural wonders of the Komodo National Park - Voila!
Sadly Natalia had some issues with her Sinuses and she had incredible pain around her teeth, so she couldn't go to one of the best dives I have been on. Experiencing one Manta Ray is already amazing, but a bunch of them circling around you? WOW! These creatures are incredibly social and are curious about you - even want to play with the bubbles that you send towards the surface as you breath. So here it is - a short video to convince you to go diving!
Besides diving, you can also explore some of Flores. Unfortunately, we didn't continue too far east, but were told that Flores is really nice - especially if you go to some more remote areas with less tourists. Nevertheless, one day we went to the nearby Rangko cave. It is only accessible by boat from a small fishing village around 20km away from Labuan Bajo. You simply bargain with some local boat drivers and they will take you there. In the afternoon, the sun is in a perfect position to shine into the cave, in which you can also swim in the crystal clear water and even boulder to the top! We were by ourselves here and enjoyed this epic scenery!
After one relaxing and fascinating week in Labuan Bajo, we continued with yet another Pelni ferry towards Bali. But that's a completely new story...