Kelimutu Tri-coulored Lakes, Flores Island in Indonesia
August 24, 2017 – Hello from Indonesia!
We have left Alor to visit the famous Komodo dragons, the greatest and most dangerous of monitor lizards. Along the way, we sailed over the northern side of Flores and anchored at Wodong Bay on beach-lined Maumere Coast where we took a day tour to visit the tri-coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu and to see the inland rice terraced agriculture.
We had the most incredible tour across Flores Island two days ago to see Kelimutu: the tricoloured lakes. In a van/bus for 14 people, 13 of us from the Sail Indonesia Rally traveled 4 hours up up up on solidly paved roads to the volcano craters. Gorgeous sites. Evidently, the crater pools change colours during the seasons and they were steaming – so must have been hot. The liquid looked viscous and thick like paint. The sides of the craters were so steep, there was no safe way to hike down to test the temperature.
After leaving the Maumere coastline yesterday morning, we anchored around 4:00 pm in a lovely and wonderfully calm bay, Batu Boga East, last night on our way to Labuanbajo of the Western tip of Flores to try and witness some Flying Fox bats. No fox bats appeared in Boga but we got a chance to swim in unpolluted waters, take showers and get a great night’s sleep on glass as if we were docked in a marina. The surrounding countryside reminded us of California’s rolling hills or the Channel Islands like Santa Cruz or Anacapa, dry scrub. Civilisation felt very far away as there were only three minuscule fishing boats floating about and not one person around until we left this morning and saw those three fishing boats trailing lines or nets.
It’s very warm out on the ocean – full sun from crystal clear blue skies. No wind – motor sailing on flat seas. Been having a little trouble with terrible noises howling from our engine room blower. Eric confirmed this morning that it wasn’t the water pump thank goodness. We will have to replace the blower sooner than later – maybe in Bali.
The locals have been extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Full of smiles. Apparently, Indonesia has the most muslims of any country. The outlying islands are 80% Christian, but as we approach closer and closer to Java, Bali and Sumatra, the muslim population will become more concentrated. Women and young women muslims wear scarves over their heads. The girls in Kupang, but especially in Alor were enamored with Bryce and Trent. They surrounded BnT constantly asking to take pictures. After the first hour, the boys lost their enthusiasm for it, but graciously continued to pose with them every time they were ashore.
Alor is considered the 4th most popular dive spot in Indonesia after Bali, Lombok, and Labuan Bajo. The four of us experienced the most marvellously scenic coral diving ever during two dives. The underwater flora was brilliantly coloured and enormously diverse due to the fast cool currents. There were no pelagic fish to be seen, yet the wall dive was swarming with small multicoloured specimins of the usual tropical suspects including banner fish, clownfish, moorish idols, etc.
We were in Kalabachi Bay, Alor when Indonesia celebrated their Independence Day on August 16th. Early at 7:00 am, an organised group reenacted the battles fought after WWII to become independent from Dutch colonisation…a five year bloody war. The spectacle was impressive.
The day after was truly incredible. We cruisers of the rally were treated to a beautiful opening rally ceremony complete dance troupe and special indigenous foods. And later that afternoon we were asked to walk in their Alor Regency parade. It was a parade of all the peoples in costume, young peoples’ music bands, some cars but no floats. Pretty much everyone, even those from outlying neighbor islands and their small children under the Alor Regent seemed to be in the parade. It went on and on until dark…yet it was so very interesting as they all wore costumes from their region. We loved it.Then that night, we were invited to dine with the Regent of Alor and neighbouring islands…his position is similar to a Governor of a US state. The organisers of the rally dressed 7 of us cruisers up in their local costumes and we paraded into the dining hall as if in a fashion show. Eric and I actually sat at the Regent’s table, and while we couldn’t communicate directly, a translator stood nearby and helped the conversation along. A cappella, I sang “Quando m’en vo” from La Boheme as a surprise. The acoustics were perfect and there was even a stage. The Indonesians were quite astonished as were our fellow yachties! The food was spicy, many choices of meats and vegetables – lots of breaded and fried options. Instead of potato or taro chips, they serve deep fried shrimp chips and popcorn with peanuts. Tasty! No alcohol served. The prayers were Christian and ended in ‘Jesus Christ.’
It took us 24 days to get to Darwin, Australia. It would have taken 20 days, but we were getting so beat-up by the waves along the way, that we stopped and anchored at Coconut Island in the middle of the Torres Strait. After 13 days at sea, Bryce couldn’t stand staying on the boat, so he swam to the island not knowing that he was breaking the law. When he got to land, everybody said that he was really lucky that he survived because there are a lot of sharks and huge crocodiles swimming around there.I finished reading “The Golden Compass” series by Philip Pullman. I loved the books – They are now my second favorite series after the “I Am Number Four” series by Pittacus Lore.
When we finally got to the Cullen Bay pontoon at Darwin on Friday morning, July 21st, I really wanted to go to land, but I had to wait for quarantine and that took an hour or so. Once cleared by biohazard, customs, immigration and two sniffing dogs, we went looking for lunch. We found a great burger place called Lola’s.
It had a ton of cool vintage stuff and colorful hanging decorations almost like going to the fairgrounds or Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. After lunch, I wanted to stay on land, so Bryce and I walked to the city to find a city tourist map, a McDonald’s, a skate park and the movie theater to find out the movies playing and their times. It was an hour walk both ways. It felt good to walk, but it was hot.
Later that evening, it was decided that we’d all take a bus back into town even though dad hadn’t slept for 24 hours. Bryce and I wanted to watch Spiderman, but it was very expensive, so just Bryce and I stayed to watch it. Mom and dad left to explore the city without us because we had already done that. The movie was great. We all took a cab home.
The next morning, we motored over to Tipperary Marina Waters where we had a dock slip waiting for us. Before leaving, we filled up our diesel tanks with a hose. That was one of the easiest diesel refills ever…no jugs, no filters – diesel pumped straight into the tanks without worries of poor quality, dirt or water! It took us an hour to motor over to the marina, and since they have an 18-foot tide in Darwin, the marina had a lock. It was really cool entering into the lock, having the solid doors close behind us, and then rising up to the level of the marina water. We entered the lock at the closest time to slack tide to make the levels as equal as possible.
We washed down the outside of the boat and cockpit. Then, I took a long hot shower. It was very nice. A little later we got dressed-up and left for the ‘Sail Indonesia Rally’ Welcome BBQ held at the Darwin Sailing Yacht Club to meet all the other people sailing in the rally. The Bali dancers and the food were great, but the event got boring once we ate, so I played rugby with some little kids on the grass.
Uncle Curtis arrived the next day on Sunday, but before he arrived we had to do boat work like cleaning the back lazarette and anchor locker, dry the gennaker, new measurements for staysail halyard, washing and scrubbing the deck twice, fixing toilets, etc. Dad had a huge list that we worked on all week. Once Curtis arrived, we all ate together at the local Frying Nemo snack bar and then Bryce and I got to go with Uncle Curtis to sleep at his specially reserved hotel room. It was really nice with air-conditioning, a living room and separate bedroom, a small kitchen with fridge, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, dishes, a balcony, hyper fast wifi, a pool, a small washing machine for laundry, and most importantly, hot showers whenever we wanted with fancy towels!
Monday morning, we had an amazing tasting breakfast at the hotel buffet with Curtis before we had to return to the boat to get to work. Mom washed our massive 24-day collection of laundry at the marina coin operated laundromat, and we worked on cleaning the bottom of the boat. Dad had to replace the heat exchanger and repair the engine with a marine mechanic specialist. Curtis picked up some chicken for lunch, which was a tasty break. We worked a bit more on boat projects, then skateboarded to Curtis’ hotel for the night. Mom prepared dinner from the rest of the wahoo fish that Bryce had caught in the Torres Strait and we taught Curtis how to play Carcasson, our favorite board game that Curtis had actually given us before we left. We also enjoyed the speedy wifi!
The next day, Tuesday, mom and dad came to the hotel and ate breakfast with us because we said it was so good the day before. And it was great again! Bryce and I skateboarded back to the boat for more work projects. We finished at 2:00 pm. Without mom since she was working at the hotel on our website, the four of us drove to the mall. We ate at Pizza King and I had a double chocolate muffin. I also bought a really nice metallic figit that was Aus$30 and got a cool plastic one for free – or two for the price of one. Bryce bought a high quality JBL speaker that’s supposedly waterproof. When we got back to the hotel, Bryce and I worked out at the hotel gym and then went swimming in the modern looking pool.
The following day, Wednesday the 26th of August, Uncle Joel was coming, but we had to work some more at the boat after all of us enjoyed another great breakfast at the hotel. We met Uncle Joel at the airport with Uncle Curtis around 1:00 pm. He dropped his stuff off at the hotel, then the four of us went to the mall again. I got an Australian straw cowboy shaped hat and Bryce got new wheels for his penny skateboard. We ate at Subway. I LOVE Subway!
Thursday, we went to Crocasaurus, a saltwater crocodile marine aquarium where they breed crocs and feed huge ones in front of the visitors. While the trainers are in a croc’s habitat to feed the beasts, they never turn their back on the massive creatures and always carry a big stick. The zoo had viewing glass tanks where you could watch the crocs up close swimming in the water. They had an area with a hundred small juvenile crocs, which we could actually feed with a bated fishing line ourselves. It was kinda like a carnival game holding the bate out to tempt the juveniles.
Plus – we had a chance to hold a baby crocodile while getting our pictures taken. The babies are already quite heavy. The massive male adults can weigh over a ton. The Crocasaurus marine park takes care of the troublemaker crocs taken out of the wild…ones that have gotten too close to humans. They breed the crocs for their expensive leather hides and good quality meat. Burgerstyle, the meat has the texture of chicken and a light flavor of fish. I liked it, but they oversalted it.That evening, we ate at a really nice restaurant where the beef steaks are known for their high quality, but are very expensive. I ordered the meat lasagna, which was so big I couldn’t finish it. Bryce split a steak with mom. Joel ordered fish. Uncle Curtis and dad both ordered the huge fancy steaks. It was all delicious. Bryce and I even got FREE ice cream. Yum!
The next day, Friday, was our last full day in Darwin. We worked a lot that day on the boat with dad while mom, Curtis and Joel went shopping to bulk up on staple western type food provisions for the next few months while traveling in southeast asia. When we finished our work, Curtis drove Bryce to the fancy skateboarding park that we located the day before, and I stayed at the hotel to do internet because I wanted to research buying a new penny board on amazon. That night we all went to Mindil Beach where food trucks and local artisans set up shop. Tons of the local people were there swarming the food trucks and cool artisan stalls. It was really festive. The food choices were incredible: Greek, Indonesia, Malaysian, Indian, baked potatoes with chili and most importantly, Australian kangaroo, croc or water buffalo burgers served with huge french fries.
There were amazing street musicians playing didgeridoos where a group of local Aborigines were inspired to get up and dance – Wow! Dad bought two didgeridoo music albums, I bought myself a cool tiger eye crystal pendant for improved concentration, Bryce bought a crocodile spine wristband, mom got a couple Indonesian looking longer length dresses in preparation for Indonesia and Uncle Curtis and Joel bought two Aborigine paintings to add to their art collection.
On Saturday, having enjoyed our last night at the hotel, we woke up early because Kandu had an appointment to exit the Tipperary marina lock at 8:00 am. Uncle Curtis and Joel were at the lock waving goodbye. We made it to the starting line on time for the rally kick-off signal. While sailing past Uncle Curtis and Joel waving goodbye on the big rally coordination boat, we blasted our horn and I waved a bubble stick up in the air. Turns out the bubble stick presents that Joel gave were more fun than I expected.
Even with all the work and shortened time window, we had a great time in Darwin especially due to being able to spend so much quality time with Uncle Curtis and Uncle Joel. I liked the area so much, I hope to travel there again someday to visit the sites we missed: Kakado National Park and Aboriginal peoples, and the Litchfield Park termites.
Fortunately, we did get to see those scary crocs. The saltwater crocs live near rivers because they have to detox from the saltwater every so often. All river outlets in the Northern Territory are extremely dangerous. Did you know that Australia’s saltwater crocodiles were endangered and have now increased in numbers from 100,000 to 200,000 adults in the wild? The population of crocodiles in Darwin is as big as the population of humans. Those statistics are great for the crocs, but there is a price. People cannot swim in the local waters for fear of attack – no kayaking, long board paddling, nor surfing in the Northern territory. Instead, fishing excursions are very popular along with boat trips into the mangroves to watch wild crocodiles jump for fish on a stick!