I went to Indonesia with the idea of a road trip to Bali only. Yet, this is how the magic starts within a journey: when you let enough space for surprise and spontaneous adventures! I finally discovered much more of Indonesia with a visit to Komodo and Flores islands.
The balance between Organization and Spontaneity
People often stare at my organization when I’m travelling: Travel Notebook, shared agendas & documents, enriched maps, organized notes collection. But, actually, the secret to organize fantastic getaway is to find the perfect balance between organization and spontaneity, a way to always adapt to the situation and make some changes in your plans without stress. Here are some things to do, ideally before your trip little by little from home or allow yourself some time and relaxed place to make research during your trip:
- Make researches about the destination you want to discover : Guide books, Travel forums and blog, Hospitality networks… and save what you like in your notebooks or Notes application (Evernote for me)
- Study well the geography of the place : islands, seas, borders, mountain… all are constraints you have to take into account but also an opportunity for adventure… I can actually spend hours on Google maps
- Know the different options for travelling : bus, car, ferry, speed boat, plane… and how long do they and how much do they cost… Best source of information is actually Wikitravel so far.
- Travel with a laptop or smart phone : Best tool ever to make last minutes bookings online, it’s so easy to find free Wifi everywhere now even in very remote places (experience from Guatemala, Cambodia & Indonesia)
- Give a reasonable amount of time for each place you want to discover, 3 days being a minimum if you want to really experience the place, meet people and take opportunity to follow them on any new adventure
Finally, the best information you will get is once on field, don’t try to plan a Marathonian touristy itinerary otherwise you can miss fantastic opportunities all along the way.
Then you have all the elements in mind, place them in your agenda for the period of time you have for your trip, make them slide when necessary and then making choices will be easier and you won’t hesitate to take opportunities for new adventures…(Easier with agenda application such as Google agenda)
The most important thing: don’t feel stressed by the touristy pressure and its “must see” list… It’s ok not to see everything! Just imagine the fantastic memories you will bring back with you just because you took time to experience a place! So if necessary skip some places on your list…
My journey to Labuan Bajo, Flores
This is exactly what happened during my trip in Indonesia…My guidebook recommended after Bali and Lombok to go to East Java? I went to Flores instead!
Before my trip I spotted places I found interesting: 10 cities & villages in Bali,5 in Lombok and 3 in Java. Considering I had 4 weeks, I made blocks of 3 to 5 days for areas. I finally went to 4 areas in Bali, 1 Island in Lombok and visited Komodo from Flores Island without a single regret.
All along the way it was so nice to hear stories from other travellers and favourite spots of Indonesian people, that I naturally made slide my plans on my online agenda, extending my stay when necessary like in Ubud or Gili Trawagan, sometimes I even took one day just to re plan the following days in a very relaxing environment.
Of all the stories and the tips I heard, one was coming back all the time, from the first emails exchanged before departure to the last shared drinks in Gili islands… “You have to go diving in Komodo!”… At the beginning of my trip, I wasn’t so keen on because of time and budget issues, but, after 3 weeks as I was already very happy with my trip in Bali and Lombok, time left allowed it, my bank account allowed it, flight ticket was still available for a reasonable price… ok let’s go!!! After one day of comparing options in Sanur over lunch on the beach, I just booked an internal return flight Denpasar- Labuan Bajo with Lion air for the next morning!
Landing in Labuan Bajo is already an adventure as the plane is small and the airport in the hills… The atmosphere of this port feels like something like the end of the world but also the door of amazing adventures. Labuan Bajo is on the East cost of Flores Island. It’s one of the least touristy island of Indonesia but it is also the ideal port of departure to discover Komodo National Park. This is usually where most of scuba diving liveaboard for Indonesian best scuba spots starts but it’s also possible to go for scuba diving day trips while still enjoying and discovering Flores people and culture.
This is the option I took, 3 days for 6 dives in one of the most beautiful places I’ve been diving to. It just need to be ready at 8am to take the boat for a journey of 2 hours before reaching Komodo dive spots (Perfect duration to take a good nap).
Water is a bit colder than in Bali and Lombok (25/26°C instead of30°C, I know it’s still really warm for those like us who dive in Europe) so a full suit 5 mm is recommended, after that’s up to you of course… Don’t expect to go very deep, the interesting part is between 5m and 20m, a 12 litre tank of air will be perfectly fine as we are just doing 2 dives per day. Yet, expect strong current, so some experience and good fins will be definitely an advantage to feel comfortable, and honestly I discovered the limits of my fins on these dives.
The advantage is also to be able to visit the land part of the National park to meet the famous Komodo dragons and all wild life such as buffalos and macaques in wonderful landscape of hills and jungles (the advantage of the rainy season is that everything was green).
What about the underwater world then? Simply fantastic!
The nature here has been well protected; the coral is so diverse and colourful, it covers the entire reef. I think all my descriptions won’t be enough, just have a look at the pictures. Diversity applies also the fauna: bumphead / napoleon fish, angel fish, turtles, mimetic octopus, cuttlefish, peacock manta shrimp, lobster, clown fish, black tip sharks,… and most of all Mantas! First time we saw a manta in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt it was already magical for us, but here being surrounded by a dozen of manta rays and playing with them for an hour is just priceless and a memory of a lifetime.
Watch my video “Dance with manta rays in Komodo, Indonesia“.
“This is why I stay here” said the divemaster and I can understand that having this kind of action underwater on a daily basis is addictive. In a nutshell, with this experience I can never be more sure than being flexible in your plans while still being organized and listening to inspiration around you can just lead you to magical experiences… so like people told me before I went there…
“Go to Komodo!!!”
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