Adventures

I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Labuan Bajo

I lied. Unintentionally, of course, but you can never know exactly where you are going until you get there. This is particularly true of Asia. I know I told you we were going to Komodo when in fact we have not gone -- yet. But we're close.

We arrived in Labuan Bajo a few days ago, which is on the west coast of Flores island. In the past few years it has become a touristy little town lined with dive shops, souvenir shops, western style restaurants and bars. I can't say I wasn't happy about this. LBJ (as it is affectionately called) is the first touristy place we have been to since we left Australia, and while I was almost offended when none of the locals wanted to take my picture, they made up for it by serving me delicious cheeseburgers, eggs benedict, pizza and lots and lots of cold Bintangs.

We ate a lot in LBJ. Not that we were starved along the way, but with so much comfort food at hand it was hard to pass it up. The Swiss bakery and the Italian gelato shop were particularly well visited. When we arrived our first day we were all a bit wide-eyed. You know the feeling when you have been camping for a week and you come back into civilization, bewildered by how fast cars move and how bright the lights are? It was a bit like that. Wi-fi in every bar? Bars themselves?! Amazing. Kyle and I spend our entire first day drinking and playing pool. It was great.

By day two the charm of LBJ (and the slight hangover of too many Bintangs) was wearing a little thin. We both just wanted to get in the water. There is no surf on Flores but there is some of the most spectacular diving in the world, so I bit the bullet and signed up for a dive trip. These days paying $100 US for a 3 dive day trip is a bit steep, but really, it is a bargain.

The next morning the dive boat picked us up from the boat and we headed out to the Komodo national park islands. There are over 20 islands and hundreds of dive sites in the surrounding area, but our guides took us to Sebayur Kecil, Castle Rock and The Cauldron. All of the dives were awesome and different. The first dive at Sebayur had amazing, weird, colorful coral - not the most pristine I have seen but super cool just the same. On that dive we also saw meter long humphead parrot fish and giant travalli.

The second dive was on a pinnacle in the middle of nowhere. We dropped in and swam against the current down to 105 feet, then hung out and watched reef sharks and tuna circle each other. It seemed that the fish know they live in a marine sanctuary and are protected, and have no fear of humans. I swam with a huge Napoleon wrasse for a while and watched a titan trigger fish dig through coral. Our third dive was a current dive in which I hit 10 knots flying through an underwater canyon. It was nuts. Apparently current diving is a big thing around here, and while I went way too fast to see much, it was thrilling to go that fast underwater.

Diving was definitely a highlight of being in Labuan Bajo (at least near LBJ). Another highlight was having Sam, one of the organizers for Sail Indonesia, over for dinner. He kept us entertained all night with stories of growing up on an isolated island off Java, somehow getting a copy of Kon-Tiki and having the dream of sailing ever since. When Dad asked him how he got into sailing in the first place, Sam replied, "I guess I got the wrong book."

Sam also lived in New York for many years. Dad asked him if he ever experienced any prejudice being a Muslim living in America. "That's the good thing about New York," Sam said, "They treat everybody the same. Like shit." What a sharp sense of humor. He kept us in stitches all night.

Last night was (yet another) Gala Dinner for Sail Indonesia. Fortunately, by this time most of the boats of Sail Indonesia had joined up together so the pressure was off us as individuals to get up and dance and eat lots of food and not drink too much. The dancing was very cultural and the food was... Well, the beer was cold and cheap. I think the locals might have enjoyed it more than the Sail Indo participants, but it was all good.

Today we left Labuan Bajo and sailed (motored, actually) to Rinca island. Rinca is right next to Komodo and there are Komodo dragons on this island too. In fact, there are monkeys and crocodiles too. This afternoon we went ashore and met the park rangers who told us never to walk around without one of them. And they all carry big sticks. Tomorrow they are taking us on a hike to see the dragons in action. Unfortunately we just missed mating season but I am hoping to see one take down a water buffalo or a deer or do something other than sleep. As we walked back to the dinghy this evening there were monkeys on the docks. I'm not sure if they were looking for a ride out to a boat or food, but we didn't give them either. Cute little buggers but they are a little too mischievous for my liking.

Forecast for tomorrow: Dragons.
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At 9/8/2013 1:09 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 08°30.42'S 119°52.39'E

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