It was bang on 2am when the engines, as promised the previous night, fired up. I can sleep through noise as long as it’s constant. Even constant-ish, like traffic or music or radio chatter. The engines weren’t an issue, but fuck my life the sea was rough. Thanks to the tablets I was chucking into my trap every eight hours I wasn’t about to spread yesterdays rice and vegetables over my shipmates but the boat was rolling from side to side in a pretty dramatic oh-my-fucking-god-we’re-going-to-die fashion. Tarrant told me that it was listing so much that all you could see was the sea through the window as it rolled to one side, then the horizon shot past and all you could see was the sky as it rolled the other.
I didn’t notice any of this, you can’t see anything when your eyes are clenched shut and you’re sorting through every deity you’ve ever heard of in your head and trying to decide which one would be most forgiving of your sins. I made mental preparations for our imminent capsizing as everyone’s mat slid from port to starboard and back again. We hadn’t been told where the life jackets were. We didn’t even know if we even fucking had lifejackets. And to cap it all off it was near impossible to fight the rocking and get to the toilet for my nightly nana wee.
Somehow I managed to snatch bits of sleep in between wondering what in purgatory made us think that a multi day fucking boat trip could be classed as a good idea, and by the time I was ready to haul myself out of my pit and start the day the sea had calmed right down and last night’s tsunamis were but a memory. I joined the Japanese guy at the front of the boat, the sun had barely cleared the horizon as we puttered towards it, our star slowly rising as we continued our journey east. There you go. That’s why it’s a good idea. Moments like this. Moments where you don’t think you’re going to die a horrible, watery death in the middle of bastard nowhere.
As more people started milling around and we’d anchored, breakfast was served and breakfast was a single banana pancake each which was roughly the consistency of a tennis ball. Yes, I get it, we’re on a boat, food will be basic and I should enjoy what I’m given. I don’t think it helped that most of the places we’d stayed recently involved banana pancakes for breakfast. I was about ready to suffocate the next person to give me a banana pancake in the batter mix. On land you could go in search of a nasi goreng or something more likely to fill you up for longer than twenty minutes but here this was your life.
So where we’d moored we were going to go for a little walk. Footwear and all non-waterproof items were put in plastic boxes and loaded into the small boat to be taken ashore and we jumped in and swam the short distance across. So this little excursion was referred to by our guide as a trek but I wouldn’t call it a trek. A trek implies boots and hills and crying a lot whilst you drain the fluid from your blisters. This is more of a gentle woodland stroll you can do quite easily in your swimwear and flip flops, really rather pleasant, and it finished at one of most incredible waterfalls I’ve ever seen. No, it’s not thunderous and awesome in the correct sense of the word like Iguazu or Niagera. It’s not even big. It’s just utterly beautiful. Water cascades down rock formations which are stunning in their own right, and into small pools you can bathe in, and further into the main plunge pool before the water carries on down river.
The group, lead by the guide, traversed the waterfall and started to climb it, grabbing onto a knotted rope as they went. Hmmm… nooooo… little bit out of my comfort zone, that one. Even if I managed to climb up the stupidly steep hill I’m not sure how I’d get down again given my laughable balancing skills and the fact I’m roughly as sure-footed as a badger on ketamine. I’d be stuck up there forever. Tourists would have to bring me tea and cake. I’d be included in the itinerary. So me and two other girls stayed put and just chilled and I’ll admit that the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was very very strong but the FOSABAFL (Fear Of Slipping And Breaking A Fucking Limb) was far greater. I was quite happy relaxing in my little infinity pool in this gorgeous waterfall in this peaceful little pocket of Fuck Knows Where, Indonesia.
There was time to get a bit of snorkelling in before we had to head off, it was pretty decent, lots of little fishes, blue sea stars and coral, and I saw a lion fish. I do love lion fish though. I know they can be a pest in some parts and I know they’re not a creature you can hug and get out of it alive, but they’re so flamboyant aren’t they? With their stripy scales and elaborate fins and spines. You could almost imagine them on stage lip synching to show tunes. Once we were back on board we were given these deceptively addictive sugary crackers to munch on. The kind of crackers where you have to try to be mindful of the fact that 18 other humans might want a cracker too and you’re not permitted to hoard them all in a corner, shovelling them all into your facehole and hissing at anyone who gets too close. I think they may have been lightly dusted with crack.
It was an uneventful two hour drive (or whatever it is boats do. Rapid float? I’ve no idea) to our next stop which was to be a super easy stroll to a salt water lake. No shoes even required. We snorkelled over to Satonda Island, dripped our way along a concrete path to the lake itself and once we’d all retrieved our jaws from the floor we slid in for a swim. It was warm! I mean, we’re not talking thermal springs or anything but it made the sea seem chilly by comparison. We’d been given no background information on the lake or how it was formed so we made up our own theories involving volcanic calderas and ancient eruptions as we bobbed around in the breathtaking setting. I could have stayed here a while but I also wanted to snorkel a bit and food had to happen soon or I’d start munching on slow moving marine life when no one was looking.
What you don’t think about when you book this trip is that Lombok is a fucking long way away from Flores. Like, stupid far. The four day boat trip is definitely one of the most fun ways of doing the distance but to do it in just four days is going to involve a lot of gruelling travel time, either like last night when we started sailing at 2am, or this afternoon straight after lunch when we began a long, bumpy ride that’d continue on until morning, breaking only for dinner. The sea was rough, we couldn’t really relax on deck. I popped my scheduled travel sickness tablet and read a book for a while on my mat on the sleeping deck as we bounced along.
By the time dinner rolled around a lot of people were starting to feel ill. Even those who aren’t prone to sea sickness were feeling the toll a rolling ocean can take on you. I’m prone to it, I remember once being so fucking ill on a boat in Australia, as I vomited uncontrollably over the side someone told me that my brain thought I’d been poisoned and that’s why I was sick. Fuck you, brain. You’re supposed to be clever. On the plus side it attracted lots of beautiful tropical fish to look at as I offloaded my stomach contents into the sea.
One bloke stood at the front and stared hard at the horizon as if he was willing his dinner to stay where he left it. Another girl sat with her head in her hands, she couldn’t even eat. Even Tarrant was starting to feel a bit sick. I think most of us went to bed early that night either because they felt fucking awful or simply because of the fact the boat was too unsteady to do anything. Tonight it was treating us to a back and forth rocking motion as opposed to last night’s side to side which somehow comforted me a bit more, I was much less convince we’d capsize, though I was still kicking myself for not locating a life jacket to double as fashionable nightwear for the discerning seafarer.
Lombok to Flores, Indonesia
With: Wanua Adventure