Monday, December 25, 2017

Komodo Dragon | Komodo National Park in Flores, Indonesia

Night Fury.

Those that know me well would know that I love dragon (not that I have own one, or seen one), but who wouldn’t right? I mean, have you seen How to train your dragon? Super cute right? Makes you wanna own one yourself. Or perhaps migrate to Norway in the hope that will fly offer itself to be your truly beloved pet (dragon).

I did not get carry away with this dragon thingy, I actually went to Slovenia as they said there are a dragon bridge there. Betul, tak tipu! Google lah.

So here I am, in Flores, hoping to catch a glimpse of an actual dragon. Yah yah yah… I know this so called Komodo dragon is basically a biawak or monitor lizard, and not those green coloured dragon that fly and breath fire (Owwww man… kinda disappointing kan) . Oh well, a monitor lizard a.k.a Komodo DRAGON is still better than nothing kan. So I say to console myself.

From day 1 itself or probably upon me confirming my trip, I have all this imagination of a Komodo dragon and how the picture, blog and social media entries be light. You can’t blame me right, it’s like a dream come true. I am actually going to be on Komodo Island seeing a K.O.M.O.D.O. Opkos lah excited giler… sampai jetty terloncat-loncat cam orang sewel.

Arriving at the jetty was already a spellbinding experience, when reaching the Komodo Island entrance with the word Komodo Island terpampang tuh…. Aish….. rasa nak ambek 30juta gambar kat situ ajer. As we walk to the ranger quarters, located approximately 30m from the arch, cutting across dried and dead leaves coupled with savanna-like vegetation, wah…. I feel like Indiana-Jones cum Lara Croft cum Steven Irwin all in one gitew. Strutting my way to the ranger hut for briefing (poyo tak hengat donia, macam lah orang kisah pun, Komodo dragon tuh pandang pun tak. If dragon tuh pandang pun atas sebab lapar bukan because my strut tuh sexy kea pa [read : perasan]).

This is what I gather - Komodo Dragon Fun Facts :
1. The largest lizard on Earth, Komodo Dragon is named after the island.
2. Komodo Island natives named them “ora," which means “land #crocodile”.
3. Lieutenant Steyn van Hensbroek, an official of the Dutch Colonial Administration in #Flores, planned a trip to Komodo Island to search for the giant lizard upon hearing from sailors.
4. The giant lizard was named Varanus Komodoensis. Realizing its significance as an endangered species, the Dutch government issued a regulation on the protection of the lizards on Komodo Island in 1915.
5. Komodo Dragon is the largest living species of lizard, it can grow to a maximum length of 3m and weighing up to approximately 70kg.
6. The lizard has venomous bite; there are two glands in the lower jaw which secrete several toxic proteins.
7. Females Komodo Dragon can reproduce without having sex. The female lizard practices “parthenogenesis”; meaning in lieu of sperm, egg cells can fertilize each other.
8. They are protected under #Indonesian law, and a #nationalpark, Komodo National #Park, was founded to aid protection efforts.
9. Komodo Island has been included into the New 7 Wonders of Nature list since November 11, 2011.
10. Komodo dragon tak boleh terbang and tak breath fire (point yang ni pepandai add sebab nak cukup kan 10)

But I have to share you the fun (kinda) part, we dare not make noise when nearing the dragon, worried that it might trigger and excites it resulting to him jumping and striking us. We actually (like seriously) tip-toed behind it (with 2 rangers on standby to control the situation and to take our photos [obviously]). Jangan kata bercakap, bernapas pun takut. Giler besar Komodo dragon ni. Like really huge. And the best thing is, we don’t even know how our photos look like (clear ke, blur ke, buruk ke, herot ke….), we all just redho jer at that point of time. No one wants to die on a trip and got killed by a Komodo dragon. Confirm viral tak hengat donia. Rugi lah…. pemes tapi dah mati. Hahhahaaa….

There are 3 trekking path that the ranger can take you departing from Loh Liang ranger station, looking at the time and weather (it was about to rain), the ranger was against it and we all agreed.
  • Short trek - Half hour, 1km
  • Medium trek - One and half hours, 3km
  • Long trek - Two and a half hours, 4.5km
  • Adventure trek – Four hours

For you nature lover and outdoor enthusiasts, I highly recommend you experience one of the track with a ranger of course!

This trip is in collaboration with Ayuh Pelesiran and Be Borneo Tour. #AyoPelesiranXBeBorneo

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park – DONE
Achievement unlocked! (First UNESCO site visit for 2018)

Photos taken by Komodo National Park Ranger and @raninovariany

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Pink Beach of Komodo Island

We moored at Gili Lawa Darat bay as the water is calmer and well protected from current and waves, on the other hand, no strong waves to rock us to sleep (and get us seasick). Aside being the best spot for boats to anchor away for a night, Gili Lawa Island is often chosen for sunset trekking from 5 to 6 pm, and perhaps sunrise too.

Gili Lawa Darat
Located 4 hours away from Labuan Bajo, this uninhabited island; Gili Lawa or Gili Laba is popular amongst divers and water sports enthusiasts, aside from this, one can also trek to the top of the hill as it offers magnificent view. Having said that, uphill climb is not for those lazy bums like me (ahaks). It is a steel trail of 70 degrees which takes approximately 45 minutes trek. However, the view on top is to die for, all the sweat and panting disappear upon seeing the postcard perfect scenery.

When visiting Flores during year end, you'll get this savannah type of vegetation and after the rainy season, it will turn into green-boulder-like-hills scenery. Due to this very same reason, you guys will notice that most of the post on Flores is dry-brown-savannah-ish type of feel.

Hence, I kept telling them, it’s a tally tubbies hill…. Or perhaps, more like (fat) belly tummies hill. Hhahahhahaa…. Get it? Get it?

Pink Beach
The famous Pink Beach of Komodo Island.
Yeah! It is not as pink as what we all saw on the internet, I guess they might have enhanced the colour a tad too much. As we docked, I honestly thought we need to walk over to another beach as it was barely pink but Indra of Be Borneo Tour told us, this is the one. The one and only – Pink Beach of Komodo Island.

The Pink Beach is located near the Komodo Island entry point called Loh Liang; where the ranger station is located. I will share more on Komodo Island and its dragon in the next post. Also on how they said I can’t own one, let alone train them. I guess my dream of having a Toothless/Black Fury end on that day.

Back to the pink beach…. It is said that the "pink" sandy beach is one of only seven in the world. The sand appears pink due to the mixture of white sand and red sand, formed from pieces of Foraminifera (obviously I googled this lah kan, macam lah I tau awat warna pink).

Oh yah! This is the only island that I decide to climb for whatever reason… konon nak ambek gambar dari atas, kot-kot Nampak lebih pink. TET! Tak pun. Gue tertipu. Having said that, it was a good trek experience (for me lah since I trek much [read : at all]) and definitely a good vibe when you sit at that vantage point embracing the Lesser Sunda Islands with wind brushing over your face, and your sun kissed tan finally settling in. My feel exactly. Try it.

This trip is in collaboration with Ayuh Pelesiran and Be Borneo Tour. #AyoPelesiranXBeBorneo 
Pink coral.

Next entry will be on Komodo dragon… my favourite!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Kanawa Island and Taka Makassar | Where Time Stood Still

I was told that during this LOB trip, we will be visiting a few islands around Flores and that there will snorkeling and trekking, aside from eating, sleeping and ‘bahan’-ing. Keh keh keh…

This is what I come to realized during this trip,  as most of the islands are not fully develop thus the beach and sea condition are amazing - clean with crystal clear water. Of course we sound some stray rubbish by the beach, but what I was made to understand that depending on the wind blow ie west/east as well as monsoon, rubbish from other bigger islands will be washed to these little islands.

Kanawa Island
Out first stop was at Kanawa Island. I have to say that never have I seen so many quaint and serene islands before in my life until I visit Flores (well, except Komodo Island because there are dragons there kan). Kanawa Island represents tranquility with its white sandy beach, crystal clear water and let's not forget the panoramic view.

Located slightly an hour from Labuan Bajo, you can actually take a speed boat and do a day trip to Kanawa, but for us, we engaged with Be Borneo Tour for our 3d2n LOB trip that covers a few major and significant islands.

Most travelers either come hear for snorkeling or diving enroute to Rinca or/and Komodo Island, the other activities that are rather popular for travelers are trekking and catching the sunset.

#TravelTips for Kanawa Island :
Travel Tips 1 : The best period to visit is from April to December.
Travel Tips 2 : Rainy season is from January to March.
Travel Tips 3 : Suitable for snorkeling as the water is very calm.

Travel Tips 4 : The boat ride takes approximately 1.5 hour from Labuan Bajo if you are not doing LOB that is.
Travel Tips 5 : Kanawa Island is a cash-only island so do bring enough to pay for accommodation, food, and etc.
Travel Tips 6 : There are minimal/no internet or phone connectivity.

Makassar Reef
Our next stop was at Makassar Reef or in local language Karang Makassar/Taka Makassar whereby it is also known as Manta Point (well, it is very near Manta Point), as you've guessed it, this is where you can see mantas gliding away gracefully and peacefully, reason being as the reef is situated between the islands of Komodo and Tatawa, the strong currents that rush through a narrow strait attracts the mantas.

I guess the question would be whether did we see any mantas?
And the answer is yes, we saw them… from the boat. You can snorkel and swim with them if you are lucky enough. It is also said that if you are super duper lucky (note the emphasis on ‘super duper’), you might get to experience swiming with more than 10 mantas. Kalau nasib baik lah kan. Kalau…

So, what is Karang Makassar?
Well, Karang Makassar itself is a sandbed island and you can easily swim around this island as it is rather shallow (jangan lah gi swim di tengah lautan pulak).

#TravelTips for Makassar Reef :
Travel Tips 1 : It is said to be a smaller than a football field, so do take a walk.
Travel Tips 2 : There is no trees, hut or anything (smaller than football field remember!), so do prepare yourself for a few mins of nothingness and embrace the sea. Gitewww…
Travel Tips 3 : Try snorkeling around this area just don’t go to far out, it is still in the middle of the sea after all.

Travel Tips 4 : Great place for photo session due to the white sandy beach and crystal clear water (but then again, this is Flroes, almost everywhere is this beautiful).
Travel Tips 5 : We rented a few floats (flamingo, pineapple, unicorn etc from @floatsewa (instagram) for fun photo session, oh what fun we had. You can try this too *wink*.
Travel Tips 6 : Boat can’t dock here, be prepare to swim over or pray hard they have a smaller boat/kayak to take you over. Ours was kayak *cheeky smile*.

Other than that, we had tremendous fun at both the islands, each with different feel and experience, and should not be missed when visiting Flores.

Next entry will be on Gili Lawa Darat and Pink Beach.

This trip is in collaboration with Ayuh Pelesiran and Be Borneo Tour. #AyoPelesiranXBeBorneo

Monday, December 18, 2017

My journey begins - Flores, Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT)

I was in Melaka 2 weeks ago, managing a company training. As I was going into the function room, my colleague greeted me and say :

Colleague : Excuse me, the function room is locked, can you open it.
(Clearly thinking I am with the hotel)
Me : Oh really! Let me go get the hotel staff.
Colleague : Eh! Lily! I thought you were one of the hotel staff. You look so tanned that I can’t recognize you.
(Obviously! I said to myself)

Well, I guess I am abit very tan after coming back from Flores LOB trip. How in the world I get this tan?

Well, it started with Sham asking me whether would I be keen to join an LOB trip in Flores.

“Naaaak!!!!” Without hesitation. Without even a blink. I'll check my annual leave later I told myself, if need be, I’ll take unpaid leave. I mean, LOB in Flores… only idiot will say no. #Eh (over sangat lah pulak)


Sham briefed me the detail whereby our trip was made possible by Be Borneo Tour (you can check their Instagram too - @BeBorneoTour), and that I need to push it on my Social Media platform. Kamoooonnnn… a place this amazing with crystal clear water, beautiful sunset view and a dragon, I will freak out if they say I can’t post anything everything on Social Media.
I. Need. To. Show. Off.

Before I start my story telling of the dragon, the undercurrent that made our boat swiveled 360 degree, the many whirlpool that we saw, the part that I was stranded alone on the beach of a lonely island… I should first, share with you on what we learnt (took us 1.5 days to master this and yet we still stutter when asked). Here goes….

Together with my 'teachers' from Indonesia

We have been trying to learn, understand and memorise these fun facts during the whole of our trip. Alot of effort and time been put into this and I sincerely hope I got this right :

On Flores / Nusa Tenggara Timur
1. East Nusa Tenggara or Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) is the southernmost province of Indonesia and capital is Kupang.

2. NTT consists of more than 500 islands, the three largest being Flores, Sumba, and the western half of Timor (West Timor). We only visited a few islands near Flores.

3. The name Flores was given by the Portuguese ie Cabo de Flores or Cape of Flowers.

4. Labuan Bajo is the entry point for trips to Komodo Island and Rinca Island; home to the famous Komodo dragons of which am so looking forward too. Even their airport is called Komodo.

5. There are 760 islands out of 1,192 islands in NTT have not been named until now.

Interesting right!
Do you know that there are 17,504 officially listed islands in Indonesia? Giler banyak!!!

The struggle to learn on Flores is real. 

On Labuan Bajo
1. Labuan Bajo is the entry point for trips to Komodo Island and Rinca Island; home to the famous Komodo dragon.

2. Labuan Bajo has 4-6 daily flights arriving from Bali - KUL-DPS-LBJ route (flew with on Air Asia and Wings Airlines)

3. It’ll cost approximately RM450-500 p/pax p/way from KUL-DPS-LBJ and that was 2 weeks before flying date.

4. Komodo Airport is located just 2 km from the town, if larat memang boleh jalan (you can actually walk to the town if you are up to it).

5. Ojeks (motorbike taxi) and bemos (small taxi bus/van) pass every 5 minutes if you get tired of walking and it cost approximately IDR3,000-5,000 p/pax p/way.

6. The town is pretty small, you can literally walk the whole town within half a day.

7. Labuan Bajo sunset is awesome!!

That’s about it for now, stay tune for my next entry. Meanwhile, the below pictures was captured in Labuan Bajo, a day before we embark on our LOB trip.

This trip is in collaboration with Ayuh Pelesiran and Be Borneo Tour. #AyoPelesiranXBeBorneo
Teaser for the next blog entry.

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