Monday, 6 February 2012

Indonesia: The beginning, the storm, the accident, the Perama Tour and the recovery

Looking back to my Indonesian vacations, I realised that it was one of the best vacations so far: from ups and downs, from the air, sea or road, within the rich and poor.
There are daily direct flights from Sydney to Denpasar hence going to Indonesia is not so difficult, what does matter is the price of the ticket, but fortunately every so often there are Jetstar promotions! Here is just a bit of my Indonesian Vacations.

The beginning
The whole Indonesian experience was great. The first days it was just Angela, Garry and I, which eventually meant meeting Garry's relatives from different towns and villages, among them I do recommend a very friendly place, Hostel Sao Asih, owned by Garry's aunt, Josephine. If you want to do some hiking into Mt. Ebulobo, I suggest you to stay there, Phone : +62 81 339 474 289, in the Boawae Village(Nagekeo Area). I enjoyed so much the stay there that in the coming days I will create a small website for her. :-)

The Storm
Afterwords it was time to meet Garry's Indonesian friends at Lab Bajo, Flores: Brian, Victor, Martino, Togi, Jou, Adrian and Jonathan. Did you know it was the Portuguese to give the name "Flores"? It basically means "flowers"... I guess they were impressed by the flowers of the region :-P
Eventually the whole gang decided to do visit the famous Komodo dragon in the national park and then snorkelling next to some islands close to it. The snorkelling itself was great, we took a lot of underwater pics, saw hundreds of fish and a lot of coral (some of which Garry managed to break!), the problem was the hugeeee storm that caught us of guard...
... 5 of us (including me) were still in the water swimming to get into the boat when a strong wind, huge waves and massive rain started to fall on us! The boat was locked onto a small log which was laying at the beach shore however eventually it became no match against the Mighty Storm! Victor jumped and grabbed the rope, which was still locked with the log but this one was not in sand any more but floating "happily" between the waves... myself, Brian, Jonathan managed to caught the rope as well but poor Joe was not fast enough and had to swim back to the island and be a spectator of the following events... So let's picture this, 4 boys were at sea grabbing into a rope in a middle of a storm with massive rain falling, huge waves slapping their bodies and wind so hard that the captain had to cut the main sail so that the boat could be safe, it was only in that moment that by brain said to me, "this is serious". "Hold on!" I could hear someone saying... on a corner of my eye I saw Angela on the boat looking at me... "this is madness" I thought, and then I heard Jonathan scream "Life-vest!!! Life-vest!!! Life-ves...blurblur.. vest!!!" The waves were so strong that Jonathan started to swallow sea water and needed help... Rinus (our car driver was with us in the boat) ran to grab the life-vest and surprise surprise... there was only one!
Rinus with the life-vest in his hands looked at us wondering how to give it (remember: huge waves, strong wind and rain)... I, in a heroic or stupid moment decided to swim next to the ship so that Rinus could drop the life-vest into the water... swimming like I've never swam before I grabbed it and gave it to Jonathan (4th position in the rope). Still with adrenaline in my veins I decided to swim again next to the ship so that I could climb-in... but there was a problem... there was no ladders...
The crew in the boat ran to put the stairs close to the water so that we could climb. In the meantime Victor (1st position in the rope) was hanging like a monkey almost not touching the water (he tried to climb through the rope but he couldn't...), I (previous position 2 in the rope) was trying to float+swimming next to the ship waiting for the ladder, Brian (3rd position in the rope) was wondering if the captain was going to sail to the port with us in the water "like real men", Jonathan (4th position) was just happy with his new life-vest, Jou was still on the island which was moving further and further away from us!
The rest of the gang dropped the ladder, holding it tightly so we could climb... eventually we all (except Jou) came on board while trying not to go to water again... suddenly a pair of dolphins appeared, swimming a couple of times next to us to disappear among the the waves... we all thought that nature was giving us a present.
And Jou?... well poor Jou tried to swim to our ship but he was intercepted by another boat that took him to town however he only had a pair of swimming shorts so when he put his feet in land everyone looked at him like a strange Robinson Crusoe! With everyone reunited in a coffee-house next to the harbour, all of us started to laugh 'cause in the end we all were fine and we all had survived our first major sea storm!

The Accident
We spent a couple of days more with the rest of the gang but eventually everyone had to leave, they all only had plan a long weekend together. So Angela and I were for the first time alone.
On the second day alone we decided to rent a motorbike and have a last day in Lab Bajo. We got an old automatic motorbike which had the tires as bald as a chicken eggs but did not realise it and that was our biggest mistake... For the people that do not know Lab Bajo roads, it is important to say that they only 80% are properly paved, the rest is just rocks, gravel and dirt.
In the early morning we decided to do a short road trip into Mirror Cave, where we saw tiny bats and huge spiders and grasshoppers! It is amazing how nature evolves without human interference!
Later that day, searching for a deserted beach the accident happened... going downhill the bike lost its grip with the "rocky road"... fortunately we were driving slowly but that did not stop us from having a few bruises and cuts... and the pavement road was just 50 meters ahead... Some locals after watching the accident gave us some water to clean our wounds and mentioned that this sort of roads can be tricky to drive, especially with old tires.
With a bit of difficulty we arrived to our hotel, returned the bike (it already had scratches, so we did not had to pay extra) and cleaned once again our wounds. With empty stomachs we walked to one of the nearest restaurants and asked for a couple of snacks and drinks however for desert the owner of the place had prepare a surprise for us... special Chinese medicine, die da yao jing, it burned like crazy but in one go all the wounds were dry. Seeing the amazing healing affect started to search for it like the Saint Graal, we only found it in a Chinese market, however the manager there was quite surprise with our search, "For what do you want the medicine? Who told you of the medicine? Ahh the owner of the restaurant... humm no wonder, his wife is Chinese... here it is then!"

Perama Tours
Not taking extra risks, Angela and I when we returned to Denpasar decided to take a 3 day tour with Perama Tours and since it was low-season, we got our own private driver, Bape which was an amazing person. I honestly recommend a Bali Country Side Tour for just $150AUD. You will see amazing scenery, towns and temples: Kamasan Vilage, Sidemen, Kertagosa, Tenganan Vilage, Taman Ujung ( Ujung Water Palace ), Tirta Gangga, Yeh Sanih, Meduwe Karang Temple, Beji Temple, Buddhist Monastery, Banjar Hot Springs, Pupuan and Tanah Lot Temple. In the end you may request that the instead of driving back to Denpasar you can be taken to Ubud where you can try the local famous Babi Guling!

The recovery
For our last 2 days, we decided to pamper ourselves and book a 5 star hotel in Nusa Dua at Ayodya Resort. It is interesting to say that to enter in Nusa Dua area in Bali all cars and motorcycles need to pass a security screening!! R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s! But after passing the gates you start to understand why, Nusa Dua is known as an enclave of large international 5-star resorts in south-eastern Bali where all the "rich and famous" hangout. Lucky for us it was low-season so the prices were more affordable and we even got an upgrade with ocean-view! Of course this was not the true Bali or Indonesia... but after so many adventures we just wanted to relax in the white sand, under a fabulous blue sky... Of course we both arrived to Sydney with a sunburn!

Things to take: the good, the bad and the interesting
- Indonesian smiles
- Honest concern/help from locals
- Cheap country from a foreigner point of view
- Food from meat to fish to vegetables to fruit. For fresh seafood and fish Dijbaran is a must
- Amazing landscapes
- Snorkelling at Flores (without storms)
- Komodo National Park
- Indonesia = country where most of the Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists live in peace together

- Being a foreigner will not help you during the bargain in the local markets or with taxi drivers
- Being a foreigner you need to re-check all the change money you got since sometimes locals do "mistakes"
- Russian/Chinese Tourists, i.e. rudeness & lack of respect
- Everyone trying to sell something to you
- Diarrhea :-)
- Kuta, too many drunk Australians
- Traffic everywhere especially with motorbikes
- Poor roads in the country-side (check your tires!)

- Locals are starting to learn Russian so they can sell their stuff to Russian tourists... but... does everyone look like a Russian now? I.e. Does Angela or myself look like Russians? ahahah
- You can get in some restaurants dog as a dish, but please don't try it in Bali... to much raibes
- The few things that Indonesians now about Portugal: 1- They came first to Indonesia and there are a few Portuguese words in their language; 2- Cristiano Ronaldo. How about East-Timor? "Ahh those guys are still shooting each other in the streets..."

So here it is... there are so many stories but hopefully you got the picture. To sum-up, if you are wondering if you should go to Indonesia you should erase those doubts and take the next plane! (Last suggestion go when it's low-season! Less tourists, cheaper prices and... less sunburns!)

Blog Editor and Owner: Luis Aparicio Fernandes (or Mikey) is a Business Expert and a Traveler based in London, UK. He is a member of The International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma due to his achievements in business. You can follow Luis on Google+, and LinkedIn.