Labuanbajo or the Komodo National Park

At the airport in Labuanbajo they perform a welcome dance and everything looks like you are already in the Komodo National Park. It is a very small airport so you get your luggage rather quickly and also get out fast.

I took a cab to my accommodation – the Happy Komodo Hostel. I checked into one of the two eight-bed- dorms and then walked around the city to check out various dive centers. I more or less decided for the Komodo Dive Center. There was also a Blue Marlin Dive, where I would get 10% off since I dove with them before, but even with that they were more expensive and that only because they have a fast boat. Since I enjoy being on the water that was no reason for me to pay more.They have a nice bar with a great view. IMAG2585 (FILEminimizer) My ears were still hurting so I didn´t book anything yet. In the evening I went to the fish market with a few people from the hostel. It was super yummy! After we went to Paradise Bar.IMG_4171 (FILEminimizer) The so called owner of the hostel  Rendi (he said he would be the owner, but after all that has happened I don´t believe him) offered me to give me a lift back later since I was super tired. Back at the hostel there was no one there and he tried to kiss me and touch me inappropriately. I really had to fight him off and was not amused. Finally he took off and went back to the bar and I went to have a shower and to bed after. The next morning I looked for the free breakfast. It´s just toast with jam and tea/coffee and you don´t even have a place to sit down and eat it. There is nothing like a common room or so. The beds are quite comfortable and the lower bunks have curtains for some privacy, there is air con and it is right on the main road close to all the dive shops and in walking distance to the fish market. It is also cheap (80K per night), but otherwise this place is not exactly great. The bathrooms are pretty dirty, outside the dorms it looks rather like a building site, nothing to sit and relax, many things are broken,… Not to speak off the “owner” who seems to forget his professionalism with solo traveling woman. I was pretty pissed about last night and decided to look for some other place to stay. Pissed me off to have to go through that hassle plus probably pay more and having to walk further, but I packed my stuff, left it there and took off. Walked around Labuanbajo for quite a while but didn´t really find a good alternative. Had to decide between two options in the end which where both not ideal. When I got back to the hostel a Spanish girl asked me to help her since she had problems booking a flight. I tried to help her and it took very long. During that time Rendi came back. Damn! Well, I was not really happy with the other options, we had a long discussion and he is a good talker. He said sorry, offered me an even cheaper price and somehow convinced me to stay. I thought I might as well try another night. I didn´t have too much time left in Labuanbajo if I wanted to see the rest of Flores as well, so my ears had to get well quick. I got some other stuff in the pharmacy and went to Komodo dive to book a dive trip for the day after tomorrow. Then we wanted to go to the beach, but when we just took off on a scooter it started to rain and we ended up at Dragon Dive for shelter. IMAG2591 (FILEminimizer)There I started playing cards with a Dutch girl and an US American guy and got stuck until sunset. We went to sunset point for that.

Later I and some people from the hostel went to Pirates Bar for a few drinks. IMAG2592 (FILEminimizer).jpgThe next day Randi had promised to take me and another guest to the water fall. In the end it was just the two of us. I wasn´t too happy about that. Instead of the waterfall Rendi took me to a beach. It was low tide and there was no chance to swim or snorkel.

Then we went to another beach – I think Waecicu – where we met some other people. I finally went for a swim. It´s a nice place but right in front of a resort and drinks or food are rather expensive. I wanted to leave since I finally wanted to get to the waterfall, but Rendi was going on about how it would soon start to rain again and it is too far and blablabla. It would have been a surprise if he would have kept his word for once. I made him go at least to the caves Batu Cermin that where not so far away before returning to the hostel. The caves are nice and you can go exploring a bit if you wear a helmet and have a torch.

During this trip he tried several times again to kiss me and more. I really had enough of this. So when we returned I just got my laptop and took off to the bar of Blue Merlin. I stayed there until sunset and got a few things done and it felt really great that I didn´t have to be wary and on alert constantly since Rendi wouldn´t show up there.

When I was lying in bed this night, Rendi came into the room, just pulled the curtains away and lied down next to me. I had a hard time kicking him out. This guy is just insane! This was a dorm and there were other people as well! I had to get up early since it was finally time for diving. I still felt my ear a bit, but it was a lot better already. I was a bit nervous since I really wanted to dive the Komodo National Park and was not 100% sure if I would be able to. After all diving here was one of the main reasons why I came here. We met at 7 am at the dive shop and walked to the marina together were we boarded the boat. We were 8 people on the boat plus the crew. They do groups with max 4 people per guide, fewer for less experienced divers. The boat is nice and comfortable and you get a breakfast, lots of water, tea and coffee, lunch and snacks after every dive. I really enjoyed being on and under the water again and while being on the boat I realized how tense I had been all the time with Rendi around. At the first dive at Chrystal Rock my ears were playing up a little bit, but it went quite well. I was so happy! It is beautiful! There are so many fish, colorful healthy corals and star fish in all colors.

Adrian – our dive master – told me I should rinse my ears with warm freshwater after each dive. I did it and didn´t have the slightest problem anymore after. Will do that always in the future from now on. I couldn´t be happier! Next dive was at Castle Rock. We had a really strong current there; I never experienced something like that before. We even had to use reef hooks to be able to stay in one spot to watch the sharks hunt in the current. It was amazing and a completely new diving experience for me.

The last dive site was  at Golden Passage, a relaxing drift dive.

Since all those dive sites are in the north of the Komodo national park and quite far away from Labuanbajo we only returned at around 6:30 pm. It was so worth it and I came back in a really good mood.

I returned to the hostel and bumped straight into Rendi. I got very direct and unfriendly since the clear and friendly version obviously didn´t work with him. He still wouldn´t want to accept a no and wanted to discuss for ages. He even put his foot in the door to the bathroom when I wanted to take a shower so that I couldn´t close the door and continue talking to him. It was way too late to look for another place and I also had to get up early again for another day of diving. After about 2 hours of useless discussions and him trying to hug me and stuff all the time, I finally got rid of him, took a shower and went out for dinner. He completely destroyed this great day and I needed to treat myself with something to lift my spirits. So I went to Mediterrano and had a great but super expensive pizza. I met an American girl and 2 Germans there and we had a great long conversation. It got a lot later than I had intended and so I went straight to bed after. Another early morning for another great diving day. This time two dives and trekking on Rinca Island to see the Komodo dragons. Juvens, who works for Komodo Dive, had managed to organize another trip with the Rinca trekking out of schedule for me. This time the boat was pretty full and it got crowded with like 14 people plus crew. Mark – the English guy I had met in Senggigi had arrived in Labuanbajo the night before and was on the tour as well. He even was my dive buddy. We had two beautiful dives. The Komodo national park is just beautiful!

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Then some of us went for a third dive while the other part left the boat on Rinca Island for the trekking. We only did the short trail (30 minutes). But anyway most of the dragons were at the beginning and we hardly saw any for the rest of the trek. Those animals are really impressive. They are huge and look pretty rough. We saw one hunting a mouse. They are very fast, you wouldn´t expect that when you see them lying around!

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When we were back I went to La Cucina with Mark, Boris and Mayumi (the people I was diving with that day) for dinner. This is another Italian restaurant with very good food, but less expensive than Mediterrano. We agreed on going to the waterfall together the next day. I went back to the hostel where I wanted to take a shower, relax and then get ready to go to Paradise bar with Juvens and some other people from the dive shop. Rendi had said the night before that he would leave for a tour the next day and wouldn´t be here anymore when I return. I was hoping for that, but judging by the amount of truth coming out of his mouth I feared he would still be there. And of course he was. He started the discussion again, cornered me alone in the dorm, pinning me to the wall and such; I really didn´t feel safe anymore, but didn´t show him my fear. He basically kicked me out after a while. He said I could stay the night given the time (he was basically concerned what people would think if I would leave the hostel in the middle of the night), but I had to be gone the next morning before he returns. I just wanted to get away asap but it was already 10 pm. I messaged Mark and also Juvens about my problem here while Rendi talked at me. Mark was staying in a quite expensive hostel, but he asked the owner if they had a free bed and if I could still come. Given the time that was basically my only option. So as soon as I could get around Rendi I started to pack and was out. Mark said there would still be a shuttle up to the Ciao hostel which would leave in front of the Mediterrano at 11 pm. So I went there with all my stuff. Juvens was super worried about me and came with his scooter to pick me up. When we arrived at the Ciao hostel the shuttle was still standing there and at reception I saw that the last one actually left at 10 not 11. I would have waited there the whole night without Juvens´ help. Obviously I was pretty agitated, so I went to the roof terrace with Juvens where we sat, had a beer and talked. It got pretty late until I finally went to bed and I had to get up early since we had agreed to meet at 8 am for the waterfall trip.

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the view from the restaurant at Ciao Hostel

Another friend of Mark had arrived, so we were five and decided to share a car. It took about 1.5 to 2 hours to get there. The car couldn´t drive all the way to the village since there was a destroyed bridge. We just walked from there. In the village you have to sign in and you get a guide.

Of course you have to pay for it,but it was not too much. From the car to the waterfall Cunca Wulang we walked about 1.5 hours. It was a nice track. The waterfall itself was not too spectacular since you could hardly see it. But you could jump from a cliff into the water. It was too high for me, but the others jumped.

When we just wanted to go back it started to rain really heavily. They have a tiny kind of warung there. Basically a tarp with a bench and table under it, where they sell tea, coffee, water and stuff and you can also get instant noodle soups. We sat there for about one hour until the rain finally got less and stopped and then started our way back. Mid way it started raining again though and we got pretty soaked. In the evening we went with a few other people from the hostel to the fish market again and had another lovely meal there with red snapper and squid.

Before that I passed by at the Komodo Dive Shop since Juvens had helped me to find people to share a car with for an island road trip. I didn´t imagine it so hard to find someone and I was really happy to get some help. He had found two guys who wanted to do a similar route, but in less time and only until Ende. In order to get some details and more information I went to the shop. At the hostel they show a movie every night on a big screen. When I had finished packing for the tour I joined that for a while and later met Juvens again for a beer. Next morning at 7 am I got picked up by Alberth (the driver), Clint and Andreev (both from Mumbai, India) for our road trip on Flores. Finally time to leave Labuanbajo! It is a pity that it left such a sour taste for me, basically only because of one person. Otherwise it is a lovely little town and the Komodo National Park is just amazing!!!

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