Travel Indonesia | Dragons, Islands and Active Volcanoes

Back in 2017, Steve and I traveled through South East Asia, and one of our favorite stops was Indonesia. My favorite thing about traveling in this part of the world is that everything still feels like an adventure, a little more off the beaten path compared to Europe for example. For this trip, we didn’t do a ton of planning, we kind of just winged most of it, mostly because Steve’s already been there twice before we met. 

DID YOU KNOW?

There are 6 “official” religions in Indonesia: Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. However, Islam is one of the major religions of Indonesia with more than 90 percent of the people being Muslim. In fact, Indonesia is believed to be the largest Muslim country in the world. 

One of the most popular, well-known spots is the island of Bali which is the home of spiritual enlightenment, Land of the Gods, and just absolutely gorgeous. The natural beauty of the region, with mountains and green everywhere, makes it such a paradise, and it’s really popular with tourists and surfers. We got settled in and headed to the beach to take in the gorgeous sunset. It was my kind of beach vibe….colorful bean bags with plastic chairs and tables made for a very cozy and chill ambiance ... oh! and massages! It was funny that on this whole trip, each country we visited, folks there thought I was a local. This was no different. Staff and shopkeepers spoke to me in Balinese, thinking I was from there, and I think it piqued their curiosity about my ethnicity when I told them I speak English. Every restaurant we went to, the waiters looked at me like “How did this local girl hook up with this white boy?” Then I opened my mouth! LOL. 



We stayed there for a few nights to take in the city and decided to take a ferry to one very well known island, Nusa Penida. As soon as we arrived, we jumped into a taxi and went on one of the bumpiest and most dangerous rides of my life! Our driver took us to several famous points on the island that included Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong - which I bet you’ll recognize from Instagram, as influencers swarmed the country after the movie Eat, Pray, Love was released. Our last stop on this tour was Crystal Beach. There were swimmers in the water who got caught in rip tides and were flailing their arms and screaming for help. Thank goodness they were rescued and were safe. I didn’t dare, plus I was tired from taking Dramamine for my motion sickness but heard their calls in the water as I was dozing off. 

After several days of hanging on the beach and enjoying the pool at our hotel, we decided it was time to move on. Steve was itching for a day dive, so we flew into a town that he’s familiar with, Labuan Bajo, West Flores. While he dove, I stayed in and toured the town and practiced my photography skills. I went to seek out unique bites but wasn’t lucky enough to find any. Generally, I love the food in Asia, but Indonesians apparently don’t like the food as hot as I do. At one restaurant, I asked for some extra spice so they brought out a bowl of thai chili peppers for me...which I devoured! 

While there, we also took in a half-day tour of Rinca Island and Komodo Island, which you might have guessed gets its name from the Komodo dragons that live there, and they really are like living dinosaurs! Add to that, it’s a national park, so without any buildings, it felt like something straight out of Jurassic Park. Interestingly enough, we saw more dragons on Rinca island than Komodo. While on Rinca, we decided to break out our drone we named “Dravko” for aerial footage of the beautiful island.

 Dragons just woke up!
 Drone footage on Rinca Island

DID YOU KNOW?

The Komodo dragon has 60 curved, serrated teeth that pack a punch. Baby Komodo dragons are vulnerable to cannibalism by adults, which comprises 10 percent of its diet from consuming its species' young ones. As a result, juveniles spend the beginning of their lives living in trees.

Our last stop was Seraya, which if Steve and I weren’t in love before we visited, we definitely were by the end! The island is remote, with amazing beaches and resort villas and bungalows- definitely the kind of place people honeymoon! We stayed in a cute little cabana and our front yard was the beach! Such a dream.

We decided to do a day tour to different islands and famous spots for Manta Rays rightly named Manta Point. It was really expensive, so obviously we thought the boat was going to be kinda spectacular. Then we saw the boat that picked us up...we looked at each other like, No way! That can’t be our boat! Nevertheless, we got into the little tinker, and then ended up stranded! The engine stopped and the only other people on the boat were the Captain, the teenage skipper, our tour guide. Things started getting bad, it was so hot and I was starting to feel seasick. But the captain totally made up for it by providing a pretty awesome experience for us. Fearless Steve jumped in as soon as he spotted a Manta, and found 6 swimming in circles! I had my snorkel mask on, but during this excitement, I forgot to place it properly on my face. Needless to say, my eyes stung a bit when I jumped in. But totally worth it! I thought seeing the dragons would be the highlight of this trip...NO! These manta rays were gorgeous! Their vibrant colors sparkled in the ocean like kaleidoscopes. Unfortunately, as soon as I saw one that eyed me with its alien-like oculars, I freaked out and jumped back in our boat!

DID YOU KNOW?

Manta Rays don’t represent a significant threat to humans and usually avoid contact, but may attack if disturbed. They have the largest brain of all fish. They often visit sites called “cleaning stations” where some fish species are responsible for removing parasites from their skin.

Another awesome place is Pink Beach, which is one of those Instagram perfect places that look too beautiful to possibly be real. But it is, and it’s amazing. The pink color comes from the dead pipe corals from the reef that also make scuba diving so popular there too. I’m not big on swimming but I did snorkel during this stop. I went out far enough to see the beautiful, colorful fish but got pretty squirmy when I heard boat engines all around me. After 15 minutes, I had to get out of there! We brought Dravko out again and it gave us some really amazing aerial views of the sandbars on our way back to Seraya.

At the end of our trip, we encountered the only hiccup in our travels, when one of the many volcanoes erupted! Mount Agung erupted five times the month we were there, and thousands of people were evacuated and air travel was a mess. In order to re-route our flights, the only way to get wi-fi was to climb up the hill behind our bungalow IN THE RAIN to get service. We ended up having to fly out of Jakarta instead of Bali, but compared to the thousands that had to evacuate their homes, changing our departure was a minor issue all things considered! 

Despite scary exploding mountains, I’d go back in a heartbeat- there was so much more left to see and do. I’d live there half the year if I could, it’s that beautiful. That trip to Indonesia might actually be the place that made me decide that I have to find a way to somehow coordinate my businesses to let me live away 6 months out of the year, bouncing between my favorite spots around the globe. But if we do go back, I’ll definitely take my own hot sauce!

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xoxo,

Tina






 




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