Komodo Diving 2008
It was a great holiday but too, too short. It started on Thursday afternoon when the 14 of us assembled at LCCT for the start of The Great Komodo Adventure! I thought I forgot my camera! I only discovered I had it when already in Bali, where we stayed a night at Sidoi Hotel, before going onwards to Labuan Bajo Island. At least I did not lug the underwater casing for my humble Canon Ixus for nothing!
Ah, but the domestic airlines decided after we checked in, that the plane was too heavy, and conveniently (for them) left behind my dive bag along with two other’s (Dato and Simon’s) dive bags at Bali. So with no equipment (but at least I had my clothes!) we set off. Again there was change of plans… our group was split up into two ‘floating hotels’ with a common dive boat, instead of staying all together on one boat … what a bummer!
At last we are on the boats, and off we go for the first dive… I didn’t get my own gear till the next day (Gan organized rentals for Simon and I, as we were not about to miss a days’ diving if we could help it!) I felt like Cinderella’s ugly sister trying on the fins at the airport to get my size. We split up into the different boats at the jetty which was a shame but I was raring to go dive…. it had been exactly five years since my last dive!!! I was dying to breathe compressed air.
The Mari was absolutely beautiful…. a huge boat of brown highly lacquered hard wood. The other divers were on the smaller Ananda but we were all diving off Sanbo. Three boats in all for our safari!!
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The dives were just spectacular… strong currents meant big sea fans and many big fish. We had a school of baby manta rays feeding off the plankton that were attracted to the light from the Mari by night, too. The night dives were just amazing and yes…. there were white tip sharks, turtles, loads of humphead wrasse, schools of sweetlips and anthias, absolutely gigantic Giant Trevally, a mimic octopus and sightings of dolphins (no photos though as we could hear them during the dive in the water but only saw them on the surface). I was in heaven on earth!
On the third day at the dive site, Lagoon, we went through a “washing machine”, the strong current pulled us down, then up and then we got spat out through a crevice in the underwater rocks…. whooopee! But I surfaced away from the group and while struggling to get my diver marker sausage, I dropped my camera…sigh. It was at the end of the dive and the underwater current was too strong for me to even think of looking for it, I said a sad farewell to a faithful friend as I pulled myself into the dingy. I hope my camera is happy in it’s watery grave.
The next day was one last dive and then off to see the Komodo Dragons in Loh Buaya, Rinca Island! We split up the group, some stayed to do the twelfth dive but I opted to see the throwback of the Jurassic Age. Komodos were not as big as a Kancil (so said my Dad) but they were big, and mean, and running free. We only had two Rangers with a forked stick each to ward them off if they decided to sample Malaysian flesh, but I reckoned it was safe enough, so off we went through the arid land in the searing heat.
We trekked through the unrelentless heat to the nests! Yep, there was someone home but the Ranger said it was safe, so we went on after taking the mandatory pictures. The Ranger asked if we wanted to go to the hunting grounds! What! But he assured us that the Dragons were content and sleepy in the heat as they (25 of them!) had just ‘berpesta’ the day before as they had killed and fed on a buffalo yesterday. After a quick discussion we decided to carry on to the water hole where the kill was.
When we got to the water hole which really was just three miserable mud spots, there were buffalos standing stationary in them chewing their cud!! I couldn’t help but think it gave me a new definition to the adage “stupid buffalo” as the buffalo were surrounded by Komodos…. but then there I was, not so clever either, standing in awe after an hour’s trek, also standing in the Komodos midst! No fences, electrified or otherwise, like in Jurassic Park (the movie) So who’s the stupid one, do you think?
What a holiday ….Dragons and Diving! I can’t wait for my next trip. We’re planning Lembeh Straits during the Chinese New Year Holidays…. yahoo!!! Got to replace my camera before then though… :cry:Â
Note: Credits for the photographs are to Zainal, Yusof and my (now permanently underwater) camera.