Tag Archives: hiking

Gaw Yan Gyi island part II ( the myth of the island )

 

In my previous blog, I have mentioned about the location, how to go and where to stay in Gaw Yan Gyi island.

Now I am going to write about the most mysterious part about this blog, which are legends and stories passed from one generation to another about the island . Some people said they don’t believe it. Some people also told me about  the facts which are their first hand experience about the island.

Gaw Yan Gyi island is situated 25 miles south of Chaung Tha and Nway Saung beach of Ayeyawaddy division, Pathein Township in Myanmar. The original island is only 3 miles long and 1.5 miles in width and 300 feet high.  An author from another blog described it as a peninsula for now, but it was an island surrounded totally by water a half century ago.  The Eastern part of the island used to have forests before and now it is left with only some trees due to excessive  logging.

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Eastern part of island

 

The Western part of islands has a lot of cliffs , rocks and caves dwelling lots of bats and pythons.

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This place is so windy and nice to sit

 

I asked two elderly men who lived near the island for 60 years. Both of them said that there used to be jackals, wild cats, deer, monkeys and cobras. Both of them said there used to be a large tiger who roam the island once a month. People called him “ the island roaming tiger”. It was very gigantic and mysterious because it only came at the time of full moon. One day, a hunter shot the deer and saw very bright eyes nearby. He randomly hit the eyes and heard the roar. Then a few weeks after that, they found out the skeleton of the tiger in the cave. Usually, Burmese don’t kill the tigers as tigers are regarded connected to Nat ( supernatural well being ).

Around 45 years ago, the island was isolated and not connected to the mainland. ( Note: all the hotels are situated in the mainland called Kway Chaing and not on the island ) Between the island and the mainland, there was a deep and torrential strait which allowed international cruises and vessels to pass through. Then one day, a person who looked like a lunatic arrived the island and predicted that one day, the island would become connected to the mainland so that people from all over the world would come and visit it. His name is Mann Shwe La Yaung and later people regarded him as a prophet . His prediction came true only after 5-6 years. The strait has been replaced by a new formed beach which is 500 meters long.

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Newly formed beach which replaced the area of strait.

Now there is a village on that beach and the soil is very fertile. The farmers grow crops and paddy field and they think the fruits and rice from that area is more delicious than crops from other areas.  Long before Shwe La Yaung came, the hunter who transformed into a hermit decided to build a pagoda on the island. It was a difficult time for any construction on the island as people needed to use boat to go there. However, the hermit managed to build the pagoda with only white color stones. He chose white color because white symbolize purity. He also didn’t accept donation from people who earn illegal money.  The villagers carried the pebbles and stones in their sarong and built the pagoda slowly. At first, the monks did not like the hermit as he used to be a hunter. So the monks boycotted the pagoda and only hermit had to do opening ceremony himself. The pagoda is 18 feet tall and later someone came and built the statue of a dragon. People also believe the hermit created the pagoda with the help of dragon queen.

The pagoda has 420 steps and you can see the panorama view of the island from pagoda.

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Panorama view of island from top of the hill where the pagoda exists
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the beginning of the stairs . The pagoda is called Mya-Wa-Di pagoda

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the statue of the hermit who built the pagoda

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The view from the pagoda ( Eastern part of island )

 

The stories are like that. The first residence of the island was a couple who  started banana plantation on the island. They noticed poisonous snakes on the island. The wife stepped on one of the snakes and the husband also touched a snake with his hand  by accident.  But the snakes didn’t bite them. I have read this information near the pagoda. The Narrative described the snakes as cobras. But when I saw them and took photos and matched from photos of internet, it turned out they are yellow lipped krait which is 20 times more poisonous than other snakes. Once they bite, people can die instantly. But I didn’t hear any mortality related to snake bites in that island. People regard the snakes as holy and don’t dare to kill or harm them. Residents as well as visitors have strange dreams in which the holy person wearing white color dress came and cured their illnesses such as chronic back pain and knee pain. The villagers also noticed if they can’t control the temper of their domestic animals such as oxen and roosters which fight with others, they send those wild animals to the islands and the animals became tame and more approachable. More than that, a long time ago,  farmers mixed rice with poison and tried to feed crows as the crows came and  destroyed the crops, but it was not successful as the crows were unharmed after ingesting the poisonous rice. Similarly, the fishermen injected strong insecticide inside the fish and fed the jackals as the jackals stole the dried fishes. However, the jackals could withstand the poisons. Since then, the farmers and fishermen have not poisoned any animals and instead pray that their crops and fish cannot be stolen by the animals.  I didn’t see any jackals nor crows on the island when I arrived there because the place is more like a tourist site more than the fishing place now.

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My Journey

 

I went to Gaw Yan Gyi with a friend and we didn’t know whether we would like the island or not in the beginning. But in the end, we fell in love with the place. The journey was tiring as the roads are not developed yet. I felt sick on my way back.

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The road towards Gaw Yan Gyi island

The thing I vividly remember is once we arrived near Nga Yoke Kaung before entering into the mountain ranges, the driver stopped the car and all the crew got off the bus. I thought they were going for toilet, but they were praying at the big tree, lighting candles and scented sticks. It was around 1 am. I think this is how bus drivers usually do so that the bus will be safe in traditional way.

After we arrived at Nga Yoke Kaung Town around 5 am, we sat at the café at the bus stand and had a cup of coffee. We had to wait as the boats are not available till 6 am.

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the cafe at Nga Yoke Kaung

Then we went to the jetty at 6 am. The bike men sent us to Nant Thar Pu jetty and it was a total mistake. It’s because after we crossed the river,  we had to hire the motor bike to go to our hotel.  I realized the other side jetty was too far from our hotel. The journey was spine chilling as the roads are very narrow and sometimes need to slide down the hills very often. I often thought I was going to break my arms or legs if I fall from the bicycle. But the bikers managed very well. The ride was almost 30 minutes and they charged us only 4000 kyats per person. I can say that it is a fair price, but it would be much easier if we chose different jetty which has boats for kway Chaing.  Then the  motor bike takes only 5 minutes to go to hotel from the jetty.

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Sun rise at the jetty

 

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lol, our tired faces

After we crossed the river, we had an uneventful motor bike ride. I could not concentrate much on scenery as I was struggling not to fall off from motor bike. However I would recommend you to ride motor bike at the beach front. It was  phenomenal. I just loveeeeeed that.

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The view along the ride. People used to live on farming and fishing before it became tourist destination

We stayed at the Adventure resort on the first night. The staff are friendly and they even cooked us very delicious prawns and crabs.

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Prawns and crab curries

The bungalow is clean and spacious enough for two people.  No air con in all hotels as there is no electricity supply in the village.

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My refuge from heat

 

The problem of Adventure resort is the bungalows face towards the coconut  trees and not towards the sea. As it is summer, at night, we felt very hot. We couldn’t also open the windows as we are not supplied with mosquito nets. We cannot use the fan as they give us electricity from 6 pm to 12 midnight only. So I sat outside in the armchair and cooled myself. I even thought of sleeping outside, but the tile were to cold to lie without any mattress .   I walked to the beach and lay down on the sand. The wetness of the sand made me feel so much better. I looked at the starry sky. I usually kiss the sand and talk to the rocks as if I was a lunatic. But unfortunately, my friend was near by standing and watching the every inch of increment in tide. She kept on saying “ I will see the water and once the water arrives this line, you need to get up. “. I think she was overly concerned as she rarely go to beach. Sometimes, I just need to be worry free.

 

The next day we hired the boat and went to  “ Late Chaing”, it was named for the stone which looks like a tortoise.

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Lake Chaing

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The sand at Lake Chaing

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The peculiar thing about Late Chaing is the beach is like two steps and forming like miniature waterfall.

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When the tide came up, it brought lots of fish and they can be trapped under the rocks once the water level went down. We found a dead fish trapped under the stone.

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The area is quite rocky and not a good place to swim, but it’s relaxing to watch the tides and mini aquarium inside the rocks where there are lots of trapped fish.

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crabs under the rock

 

 

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People showed me the rock where they regard it as the place belonged to supernatural well being. They believe that area has lots of bowls, plates and pots like 100 years ago. These bowls and plates can be borrowed from the place as long as you return them. Some people said they heard the noises came out from the rock around 2004. They said it was not the sound of waves and different sounds of cutlery and bowls rubbing against each other.

The interesting part is finding snakes. I know it sounds dangerous to try to find snakes. But I really wanted to see them, not to disturb them, but simply curious how they looked like. The next day, we went there again from the pagoda. It took 45 minutes to walk along coastal line. You need to climb 100 steps of the stairs towards pagoda and then got off the stairs towards the trekking.

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our trekking began like that
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it was hot and the scene can be barren as it was summer

 

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bright red fruits , Thu said you can feel itchy forever once you touch it

We started our trekking at 3.30 pm so it was still quite hot and the leaves were dry. I was supposed to go with our guides who were also our taxi drivers. These two gentle men suggested accompanying us as the trekking may be tough for us who are apparently couch potatoes. I really enjoyed the walk  and saw some interesting trees which intertwined with each other.

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Although we planned to go on our own, two boys who were the grand children of pagoda’s guard offered to go with us. They are very familiar with the place and said they like trekking. SO I allowed two of them, the elder one is around 8 years old and younger one is 5 years old. Elder one is Thu and his younger brother is Zwe. They are adorable, Thu is a chatter box and occasionally gives command to his younger brother. Out of the blue, one black dog also followed us and it became a crowd with four adults, two kids and a dog. What a marvelous team! I asked the kids whether the dog is theirs, but the kids said “ Mal Lone” aka Blackie is a dog who will accompany anyone going that trek. The boys know the dog very well although he is a stray. Blackie is apparently a very good guide dog as he usually runs in front of us. When we were left behind too far, he seemed concerned and waited for us patiently. He made sure we use smooth lane. He really is a happy dog because once we reached  the Lake Chaing at the area of Bay, Blcakie rolled on the ground , wiggling his tail. He was apparently on cloud nine.

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our great trekking team
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the path may be tough, but I will not give up

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When we reached “ Lake Chaing” , Blackie left us alone. He didn’t want to follow us to the area  of snakes, I guess. We crossed the sea water and climbed on the big rock to find the snakes. It was hot and I guess snakes do not usually come out during day time. So We squatted down  and searched the snakes under the rock and stones. Thu told me that he found a very big snake with the size of a tree when he was fishing. He had to leave his fishing rod and run.  Then our guide called us to show us the snake. The snake was sliding under the stone leisurely. When we tried to take photo, it did not run away and just kept on moving towards us., I think that phenomenon is a bit strange because snakes will usually run away when people approach them. But that snake, as if it was a celebrity, did not bother flashes form our camera. I left it alone and stood at the edge of the rock , looking at the scenery. Then another guide called us to show many snakes knotted into each other. I gasped and said “ may be they are mating”. Then my little guide “ Thu” said “ no aunty, you can’t say that. She is a mother and she is looking after her children”. I had to try to hide my giggles.

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Amazingly, 5 year old boy Zwe was quite tough and could climb and hop on rocks and puddles efficiently. Sometimes, I was concerned he might fall. When I praised  Zwe, Thu said “ Do you know why he is tough? It’s all because of my training. I trained him which fruit is bad and which is good, which way he should go and which way he shouldn’t. I also forced him to walk as much as he can”. Thu behaved as if he was the General ordering his little brother along the way.  Then we saw people throwing pebbles at the rock and picking up sea snails or clams ( I have no idea how you call that ) . I asked them what they were doing. Thu said people were opening the clams and eating the flesh inside. Some were picking up clams to sell back.  I asked them “ is it tasty ?” and both kids started to nag me to try one.  One of the guys overheard our conversation and offered me flesh to eat raw. I was not sure whether I should because I am asthmatic and didn’t want to have drama of bronchospasm in the middle of nowhere. But I was also tempted as they said it was such a delicacy. Finally, I ate one and it was salty and tasty , not as fishy as I thought. Suddenly, I remembered the notice displayed at the pagoda not to kill any living thing near the pagoda. I felt guilty , but comforted by Thu that the clams would not suffer any kind of pain as it was the lowest form of the planet. What an insight from an 8 year old boy?

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we opened these clams studded to the stones to eat the flesh inside.

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Then we had to go back and it was a pleasant walk because the sun was beginning to set. We could view the beautiful sunset with tides and a stretch of cliffs. At one point, I saw the rock at the bay which exactly looked like a broken bridge.  It made me wonder whether the island was an emerged ancient town which was built thousands of years ago.

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I thought the two long rocks behind me look like a broken bridge
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Can you recognize the broken bridge?

My thoughts are like that. May  be the island was a bustling town with lots of archaeological value thousands of years ago. Then it was covered with water a long time until it emerged again. I had to tell this because I found lots of rocks are quite strange. Some of them looked like a chair and others looked like doors. Some rocks looked like elephant statues. I have never seen that kind of rocks even though I have been to lots of beaches all over the world.

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17352013_1676300609063497_7402481628573184695_n.jpgI felt I was connected to the place as if I was there in my last life. I just knew I was there. Well, before the readers think I am out of my mind, I am going to show you the photos of the beach.

Here are the photos of the places I have taken everywhere in Kway Chaing. The area near the red bungalow is called “ Palin Chaing” and the red bungalows are owned by  “ the Log”,  the most expensive motel in Kway Chaing.  I saw a school of fish were trapped in the rock , restless and swimming to and fro. I wish the tide would come at night and send them back to sea otherwise, they might die.

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The next day, we climbed up the hill near our inn and saw lots of small birds. The birds are called “ Ziwazoe “ in Burmese and the birds make their nest of vomit’s. A lot of people want to drink that for good health. Poor little birdies.

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the view from the small hill
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our hike

I thought I felt tired after the hike and slept under the shade of the stone. It was a nice sunny day. I felt good about everything and dozed off.

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interesting insect under the rock

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IMG20170317083643.jpgThen I sat in shallow water , but I was unable to sit quietly as the waves hit me violently and dragged me back towards the shore. Finally I went towards deeper water and sat peacefully.

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Then, my friend started to nag to get back to shallow water as both of us couldn’t swim. So I thought this is the time to preach her. I told her the stories of people died inside their own house while sleeping as the plane crushed into their houses. And I also told her another story of two girls hit by a car in the shopping mall as a teenager tried to drive the new car which was displayed for sale . The moral is “ People might die any time how cautious you are. But we only live once”. With that, she became quiet and let me do whatever I want.

 

I came back to my inn, showered and indulged myself on the hammock, reading a book called “ Wild”.  When my eyes get tired, I look at the coconut fringed sea shore. What a life !  I just loved every minute of it.

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Overall, I would  rate the island as one of the best islands so far. People now call it as “ Burma’s Maldives”. Well, I would not say that because the sand quality is still not as good as one from Maldives. But you have to go there to see the rocks and to hear the legends of Gaw Yan Gyi especially if you can endure horrible roads and lack of electricity.

Note: I know you come to Burma to enjoy and you might need to save money for other trips.  However, please be kind to locals and at least offer a few tips to those who are honest and hardworking.  Last, please don’t leave behind the rubbish. I gave credit to Haymar Aung for her amazing photographs. You can search her facebook to see her photographs about Burma.

 

 

Thanks for reading

 

Hninn

 

 

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Padar and Komodo island, Flores, Indonesia

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First of all, I am very grateful to my Indonesian girlfriend Dea Sihotang for inviting me to join her trip in Indonesia, East Nusa Tenggara. Dea did extensive backpacking trip for five months in East Nusa Tenggara for her new book.

At first, it was my idea to spend my birthday at  a beautiful place and my idea was confirmed by Dea as she also needed her days off writing because she became so overwhelmed by a lot of information and extensive travelling. Some of my friends discouraged me not to go there as komodos are top predators and very unpredictable. They can run at 12 km per hour, can swim and also can climb the trees especially young komodos. They can be very fierce and can even eat their own babies. Baby komodos need to climb the trees to be away from big ones as they can eaten by adult komodos.

Secondly, komodo island is very far from civilization and you need to hire a boat to go there. Usually, the boat men are very skilful and know how to sail very well. But on the other hand, boats can be poorly equipped and there has been cases of shipwrecks when the sea become turbulent.

Thirdly, everything regarding komodo island is very pricey. The price for the one day trip for boat is 100- 200 us Dollars per day and it can be more expensive if you go alone . It is better to go with a group as the price will be lower if you can share the cost with other travellers. Anyway, it’s a worthwhile trip and you would never regret it.

Indonesia has 17,000 islands and komodo is one of the island of Indonesia. Komodo national park consists of three main islands called Komodo, Rinca , Padar island and numerous other small islands ,making it as total surface area of more than 1800 km. Komodos only exist in komodo and Rinca island and already extinct in Padar most probably because of lackof food there. Komodos eat deers, wild boars and buffalos. At the time being , some people said goats were killed and given to them to keep them satiete so that they will not harm to visitors. There are around 2300 komodos in komodo island alone. Dedinitely, its expensive to maintain the park.

Komodo islandEast Nusa Tanggara

http://www.komodonationalpark.org/

To go to Komodo island, you have to reach a small town called Labuan Bajo. It was once a fishing village before komodo island became a tourist attraction. Nowadays, Labuan Bajo is a touristy place with a lot of Italian restaurants and divers who come from all over the world as Komodo island is also famous for its rich marine biodiversity. Komodo island was established in 1980 and declared as the world heritage list in 1991. As it is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites, Komodo island belongs to all the people of the world and everybody is responsible to maintain the uniqueness of the island.

I am not a travelling journalist and here, I am merely mentioning things I have seen and done in Komodo island. My aim is for the readers to have a glimpse of  komodo island and you can jot down your comments in case if you point out any mistake in this article.

First of all, I flew to Bali from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Then I took the domestic flight by using the company caled Nusatrip. http://www.nusatrip.com/id

The flight is around 1.2 hours and you can check out various airlines. ( please take note that some airline only give you 10kg luggage and some airlines gives you up to 30 kg, for example Wings Air does not give you any food in flight and only gives you 10 kg while Garuda airline can offer you up to 20 kg luggage plus meal). I found out the domestic flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo is more costly than my international flight from KL to Bali. ( it is partly because I got the discount from KL to Bali with Air Asia. If you book earlier , you might get cheaper price for domestic flight. For me, I paid over 1.6 millions Indonesian Rupees , 130 US D for return domestic flights )

Labuan Bajo is a beautiful town , but it is too touristy and some beaches are polluted. I am very sad to say that and I blame this mostly on the tourists. My friend said the local does not make it better as well.

For transport in Labuan Bajo, there are plenty of Ojeks ( motor bikes ) and public coaches which are cheap. The Ojek drivers are very skilful and can drive smoothly at uneven lanes. You can pay them 5,000 -20,000 IDR for the ojak. Taxi prices are fixed and written on the board at airport based on the distance of your hotel to airport. ( tips: you can bargain it too. it’s because it was written 90,000 IDR to Gardena hotel, but I got the taxi with 60,000 IDR, strange, right?)

I spent three nights at the hotel called Gardena hotel because the hotel is not expensive and you can have the lovely view . I paid 200,000 IDR per night for two people . If you have a friend to share, it will cost you only 30 RM ( less than 10 us D ) per night.

http://www.gardenaflores.com/

The Gardena hotel is a budget hotel and if you don’t mind spending more money, you can also rent the rooms with air con . I advise you to bring a lot of cool clothes , sunglasses and sunscreen as Labuan Bajo is famous for its heat and humidity. I went there in March which is the winter season,, however, I found the town extremely hot and I kept on sweating and it was impossible to sleep without air fans. The temperature that time was 31 C and it was quite similar to Malaysian temperature, but I found out the heat was unbearable most probably because of lack of wind.  At night, there are lots of geckos making noises and  their noises are quite fascinating.

Here are the views of Gardena hotel. The stairs are pretty tiring especially if you have to climb up with your luggage. However, the staff are  very friendly and the breakfast, pancakes are delicious. You can sit at the table with a cup of coffee, overlooking the sea.

 

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The view from Gardena hotel
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view of Gardena, constructions are irritatingly disturbing the view. Hope town councillors will project not to build tall building at the port.
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Gardena hotel

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There is a restaurant called Chit Ma Bon near the Gardena hotel . My advice : Please don’t eat there, the food is terrible. ( sorry , hope they will improve the taste of food in the future )

If you stay at Gardena, you have a wide range of food choices as it’s near to the market and a lot of restaurants. It is also near to Money changer, stores, bakery and a lot of travel agencies where you can inquire about your boat trips and trips to other parts of East Nusa Tenggara. My personal experience is I do not really like the food from Labuan Bajo. It is also because I didn’t try a lot of restaurants there. Some said sea food is very fresh and delicious. ( unfortunately, I am not a fan of sea food, so I did not try any sea food , may be you can try as there are rows of shops selling fresh fish barbecue near the market ).

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rows of shops which sell food at night near market

However, I really enjoy fruits there. They import fresh and juicy fruits from other towns  especially avocado. A lot of restaurants are modified to cater the taste of Italian people.

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a famous restaurant called  Mediteranneo at Labuan Bajo

Regarding money changer, the rate at Labuan Bajo is much lower compared to Bali. So it’s advisable to change your money at bigger cities rather than in Labuan Bajo although there are a lot of ATMs and money changers there.

Another hotel we stayed in Labuan Bajo is Sylvia hotel. It has private beach and the rooms are well maintained. The beach is beautiful and they give free kayaking boats which you can use to go to the nearby beautiful island. The hotel charges 550,000 IDR per night ( which is around 180 RM). But the good thing about hotel is they give free shuttle bus service to and fro from airport. We stayed there on our last day so that we can get free transport service to airport. In case if you want to spend time at their private beach, you have to pay hotel 100,000 IDR ( 10 us D) per head or spend the same amount per head for your meal at the hote’s restaurant. Some of my friends stayed at cheaper hotel and did that.

http://www.sylviaresortkomodo.com/

 

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the beach at Sylvia hotel. The water there has a lot of rubbish like other parts of the island although staff try to keep the beach clean. This is the photo of Dea who is trying to remove the rubbish from the sea.
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the island you can go with kayaking from Sylvia hotel. It is a very short distance.

There is also a spot near Sylvia hotel where you can take photos of amazing view.

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A spot from a walking distance from Sylvia hotel
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amazing view of Labuan Bajo with toddy plants near Sylvia Hotel

Regarding the boat trips,please do the survey properly before you commit to one travel agency. They can say different kind of price depending on the number of tourists. We were supposed to go for two days one night boat trip with 1.2 million IDR per person ( around 100 us D per head ). However, the travel agent cancelled the trip at last minute as the other tourists who were supposed to join got sick and cancelled the trip. It was quite frustrating as we had already booked our flight back to Bali and finally , we decided to go just for one day trip. If you can, please arrange the trip as soon as you arrive at Labuan Bajo and find the agent which can offer you the best price. Usually one day trip is 50 us D to 70 us D depending on how you bargain. For example, we got the one day trip with 650,000 IDR while our travel partner had to pay 900,000 IDR for the same trip. Also, please make sure you know their itinerary. Some people prefer to go to either Rinca or Komodo as it’s practically the same and komodos exist in both islands. We have not been to Rinca but we are told by other tourists that trekking in Rinca is better than in Komodo island. Most tourists don’t know how beautiful is the Padar island. For me, it is so far the most beautiful place I have ever   been . It is the farthest island and you need at least three hours to go there. Apart from that, hiking takes time to reach the summit. So it’s the best to start journey around 5 am.

Let me tell you my experience. We were told by our tour agent that we needed to wait at 5.30 am in front of our hotel. But he didn’t turn up and we needed to call him. Then after we arrived at port ( just near Gardena hotel), we were quite confused because we didn’t know which boat was ours. There was a lot of discussion ( argument ) between our agent and the boatmen and finally we could start journey only around 7 am. ( I have to say that we are lucky because our boatmen are very skilful and helpful )

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Labuan Bajo harbour port at early morning
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beautiful sunrise
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our skillful and helpful boat mean

The name of senior boat man on the left is Bapak Jailani. His phone number is +62812-3838-4079. He can only speak Bahasa Indonesia.

His partner kept on laughing at me because I was doing some funny things inside the boat to cheer myself.

Well, I know how extremely lucky I am to be on that trip. But mind you, there are following reasons I was also scared to be in boat.

  1. I do not know how to swim at all. And it is the rainy season and the boat is small. Luckily, they borrowed the life jackets for us only after I reminded them ” where are our life jackets?”, hahaha. SO please make sure you ask about life jacket and also check them whether they are ok or not before you start the trip.
  2.  I had already known women cannot go to komodo island when they have period or menstruation. Well, I know my period would coincide with the trip. So I took some pills before I flew to Bali. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the pill for 12 hours and instead of postponing my period, I induced my menstruation stupidly just the day prior to the boat trip. When you have blood, komodos can sense it and can prey you . So I was feeling very vulnerable and praying on the boat that I would not be chased by komodo. In case if they chase, I know I would not have any chance as I can run only 5 km per hour and they can run 12 km per hour although we weigh more or less the same. 😛
  3. I didn’t expect the trekking to be difficult. But when the travel agent saw my Hushpuppy heels, he gasped and said ” Hey, you can’t go to island with that kind of shoes. Either you go with better shoes or go with bare feet. It is not hot there “. And I am telling you that it was a total lie. You can hike there with bare feet only if you have experience of walking in the fire with bare feet. The padar island is extremely hot and the lane has many small stones which can make you slippery and fall down. I quickly went to local store and purchase the slippers only with 5 RM ( yes, these slippers are not good enough to hike padar as it caused me almost fell down a few times.) My advise is ” please get the good trekking shoes if you want to hike Padar island”
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me, doing stupid things on the boat, the boatman were totally entertained by me
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it is so fun to lie on the boat ( hope mom will not see this )
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me and my girl friend Dea ( my travel advisor and Guru, haha )

The view on the way to Komodo island is very beautiful. There are many islands, most of them do not have many trees, but very green because of thick grass. Dea saw a dolphin and when I tried to see it, it disappeared into the sea with a splash. According to the boatmen, it is very common to see dolphins and some islands have salt water crocodiles and nobody dares to go that island.

viewthe view 2

The trip to Padar itself took three hours and both of us fell asleep during the journey as we needed to wake up very early. Luckily, there was only a short rain and the weather was quite favorable.

We went to Padar island first and the water around the island is transparent and clean although there were lots of rubbish , brought by tides towards the island. I was very sad to see that. I hope tourists will behave in the future not to destroy the beautiful island.

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look at the amount of plastic collected near the island.

It was the narrow lane and the hike is not as difficult as the descent. The only problem is the island has not many big trees and it can be extremely hot unless you arrive there very early. The sweat oozes from every pores of my body and my lips became extremely dry. I had not been hiking for many years and if Dea was not there telling me ” you can do it , you can do it’, I might have stopped at midway. haha. Anyhow, the view is beautiful even at the bottom.

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me, stupidly walking with a pair of slippers, I came back with a blister at my sole. Ouch!
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just near the beginning of the hike
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may be I was thinking whether I should continue or not, haha
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it was like three lakes surrounding the island
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every drop of water is super delicious there

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This is the area I sat down as the heat became unbearable and I became very dizzy. It was partly because of my period and excessive sweating making me dehydrated. So I sat near the big stone and took the above photo. Later, when I closely looked at the area, I found out I was sitting near the hole which might belongs to an animal like snake. So I prayed ” please let me sit here, don’t come out from your hole”, haha.But it was a very nice rest and I could feel the breeze from there.

When I descended , it was more difficult than the climb as I could not get the grip with my slippers and I ended up stepping on small stones. Luckily, my boat man came to rescue me and helped me to go down . It was surprising that he didn’t even wear the shoes under that scorching sun.

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The lane with the slippery stones

I found a guy fell down there and some people who came after us were asking each other ” Are you sure you want to hike this?” Basically, I am proud of myself that I made it. Once I arrived back at our boat, our travel partner from France was very surprised to found out I finally made it till the top . He raised his eyebrows and said ” Did you really make it?”. His face was so funny. But even before I made the answer ” yes” , I became very sick and threw up three times. It was embarrassing to be sick and it was even more embarrassing to throw up into the beautiful flawless water. I think it was because of heat and too much water ( I should have brought some soft drink ).

My nausea disappeared and my stomach felt better. But I felt so weak that I needed to lie down on the boat, in curling position. My lips were dry and my skin was hot. I kept on thinking about cold coca cola, cold lemon juice, cold vanilla shake, cold fruits, hahaha. How strange is it! We yearn to be away from civilization to be near to nature and when we are with nature, we yearn to have things from cities. I tried to close my eyes, and imagine the touch of cold tin with sweet, delicious juice on my lips.I could even imagine the water drops forming on the tins.  I was very tired, but I was also content and happy. Yes, in fact, I was extremely happy because it was my birthday and I was at the most beautiful place of the world. Thank you, thank you and thank you.

After the Padar island, we went to the komodo island. I found out a village near the komodo island has lots of goats and they use the goats to feed komodos. There was a mosque and children were playing on the bridge. They look content and joyful. I am sure all of them can swim well.

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My wish was granted when we arrived the village because my friend Dea bought coca cola for me. It was the best coca cola I have ever had in my life . 🙂

Finally we were at komodo park. They charge 75,000 IDR for Indonesian citizen and 230,000 IDR ( 3 times of citizen ) for foreigners. Even my tour agent told me to keep my mouth shut as I just look like an Indonesian. But I had no desire to provoke komodo as I was having a period and I also don’t want other people to be chased by komodos because of me. SO my plan was just to sit in the boat. My tour agent assured me komodo cannot climb inside the boat. But it was very sunny and finally I decided to sit under the shade at the entrance.

Alas, as soon as we arrived, we spotted two komodos from far. They are young komodos and not as big as others. ( A komodo can weigh up to 300 lbs) They were lazing under the sun and my friend saw a komodo hissed fiercely once it was approached by another komodo. I found them very bossy and solidatory . It seemed like they don’t want to friend with each other. And all of them looked like they were domesticated and they are so much used to the sight of humans. There were events that komodos attacked and killed an 8 year old boy and devoured the foot of a ranger as he fell asleep with the smelly socks. But komodos are like other animals and they will not harm you unless you provoke them. So far, I just saw komodos are more disturbed by humans than they disturb humans. They have aura and it was written that they have saliva with 50 strains of virulent bacteria which can cause septic shock to the victim. Their jaws are also powerful and can crunch the bones of buffaloes into pieces. I asked the guide who was sitting at the entrance what happened when komodo died and he said ” Nobody eat them here, their friends eat them when they die”. His answer made me have goose bumps especially two komodos was just near my sight. I kept on pleading the guide “please don’t go far and stay near me” because I was very scared as my friend and boat men went inside the park to see more komodos.

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komodos are disturbed on daily basis. But they seem like they are used to cameras and humans

komodo 3

Well, I have been informed that the government tried to increase the population of deers which are the main food for komodos. But I never expected I would see a lot of deers at close range. They are big and beautiful and not even scared of humans. I found their eyes mesmerizing especially when they came near to me and looked at me. I was very happy to see the deers, ( much much more than seeing komodos) although people laughed at me when I told them I was trying to avoid komodos as most tourists are eager to see komodos. While I was sitting at the entrance, the guide near me suddenly lept up and chased out the small cobra which approached me. I was even not aware of that. ( well, if you don’t say that as adventure, what experience will you call as an adventure, wink!)

On the continuation of National park, we found a strange island with lots of deers. The boat men told us that nobody dares to go there as there are lots of salt water crocodiles there. What an interesting place !

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we saw the deer from far on that island

Finally we arrived at the pink beach. There were not many pink beach in the world and FLores is one of them. The reason for pink color is because of the pink color coral which disintegrate and blend with sand. Unfortunately, its pinkness depends on the water level and as we went there at monsoon, the pink color was not that obvious. According to our boat man, he said, he even know a beach which is almost orange in color, but we could not go there because it was already late and the orange color boat is far.

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pink beach
pink beach
me and Dea at pink beach
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dead coral at pink beach

We were promised we would be sent to Kanawan island which is a very beautiful island. But it was late and we couldn’t go there anymore. On the way back, it was dark and we could see the beautiful sunset with bright pink color sky mingled with grey and blueish clouds. I never think camera is enough to capture that.

The strange thing which happened on the way back is suddenly, the boat man hurried towards the front of the boat and said ” be careful of current” and I could see very shallow water while we were very far from shore. And he also said we should be careful of fly fish which might jump up into the boat because of light inside. He said sometimes these fly fish can hurt us.

In fact, I am very thankful to our boat men for their kind service.They really looked after us and even guided me towards the beautiful coral as I cannot swim.  Later, I will include their address here as I found out tour agent took one third of money just for connecting the tourists to boat men. I was sad to know that. Out of 2.2 million IDR, tour agent took 0.8 million IDR. Isn’t it irritating to know that? But my friend said it is already good enough for boat men because if they fish, they might only earn 0.1 million IDR per day.

To sum up, here are the tips if you want to visit Komodo island

1) It is better to take your time and visit other parts of East Nusa Tenggara rather than komodo island alone as the trip is costly. You can go to a lot of interesting places in Maumere, Bajawa Wae Rebo and Kelimutu lake. 

http://www.travelfish.org/location/indonesia/east_nusa_tenggara/flores/wae_rebo

On the website, the price are more expensive, but if you go there, you can bargain on your own and can get cheaper price. However, if you want to make sure your trip is well managed and you have time constraint, it is the best to book the trip ahead. Usually, it takes 8-10 days to visit famous attractions in East Nusa Tenggara.

2) Go with a group of 4-6 people. You can get cheaper price for boat trip.

3) bring your sunglasses, sun screen, cool clothes and hat and above all, GOOD Non Slippery Trekking shoes

4) Make sure your boat is equipped with functioning life jackets

5) Make sure your snorkelling set is good . ( I could not snorkel as my snorkelling set has holes and the water kept on coming inside my mouth)

6) Make sure your itinerary includes PADAR island. Most tourists don’t know about that. Bring dehydration juices with you.

7) DO not buy things from souvenir shop at Komodo island. Things are more expensive than in airport.

8) Give some tips to boat men . They deserve it.

9) Do not litter and bring back only memory and leave only your foot prints.

10) try not to have period during your visit for women.

For more information about East Nusa Tenggara, you can follow the travel website of my friend Dea.

https://www.facebook.com/deasihotang/

Dea is an amazing journalist and she is currently writing a book about her backpacking trip in East Nusa Tenggara. She also has a travel blog called

http://www.deasihotang.com/

http://www.deasihotang.wordpress.com

I have also given the following address by the tour guide to contact if you want to know more about the price and information about various tours from Labuan Bajo.

Travel agent: Full of Friendship Trip

Email: naniaqustinus@gmail.com

Phone : +6281236046012

( note: this is the company which can help you to go other parts of East Nusa Tenggara. I did not go with that tour. But for informarion, you can ask them)

I hope these information can be useful for someone.

Hninn

 

Continue reading Padar and Komodo island, Flores, Indonesia