So it turns out that travel sickness tablets block up both ends. Who knew? I kind of just figured my colon had gone on strike in protest at the whole being on a boat thing which not many of my organs were particularly chuffed about but nope, I woke up at some god awful hour to pebble dash the boat’s lavvy with three day’s worth of rice and vegetables. Apart from that I had a pretty decent night’s sleep, what with being anchored in a nice, still bay, and I did feel much better now that I didn’t have two banana pancakes haunting my digestive system. Today though, today was the day we’d all been waiting for. After wrapping my eyeballs around another suitably sexy sunrise and chucking down breakfast we sailed to Komodo Island itself. Here there be dragons. No, really, actual dragons. Massive bastard lizards that’d chew your face off as soon as look at you.
And ladies, we’d heard that you couldn’t go on the island if Aunt Flo was in town. A mate of mine mentioned it and I did a bit of Googling and found a couple of blogs written by women that confirmed it; if you’re bleeding like a stuck pig (assuming the pig had been stuck through its minge) you couldn’t visit Komodo or Rinca Islands because the dragons would smell it and attack. You’d be putting yourself, your group and the guides at risk. I was due for a good old womb wringing right about now so I kept the crimson tide at bay with tablets, but when we got there it wasn’t mentioned. No signs up, the guides didn’t say anything, nothing to say women on the rag couldn’t set foot. I’m not going to lie, it was nice not to have to add “profuse bleeding from genitals” to my list of physical discomforts on this trip, but I’m not sure it’s worth upsetting your entire cycle for. Up to you though, but if you get there and they won’t let you in because you’re gushing blood don’t point at me and say I said you could.
We assembled for a safety briefing with our guides where they warned us not to get close to the dragons. No fucking shit. Our guides would be wielding big sticks which I hoped were sufficient protection because one bite from these buggers and you’ve had it. That’s how they kill their prey, they bite them then play the long game. Their mouths contain a shit load of bacteria, someone told me 27 different kinds. They bite their prey then just follow them around for three days whilst an infection takes hold and kills it. Sadistic bastards.
So there are a few different walks you can do, guided of course unless you have a death wish. We’d only be spending about an hour on Komodo because we were heading to Rinca afterwards, and off we went into the forest, a guide at the front one in the middle and one at the back to make sure we weren’t picked off. One of our guides was a woman too which I’d read in the anti-period blogs wasn’t a thing. Y’know, on account of their tendencies to bleed.
We were lead to a mostly dry waterhole and they told us it was man-made to provide water for the dragons and things the dragons eat. Apparently dragons can swim, they just don’t like to. Fair enough really, when you can run at about 20kph would you really bother swimming for food? That’s fast, by the way. Really fucking fast for something that can kill you, about 12.5mph. The only time I move that fast is when I hear someone open a box of cheesecake.
As we were having facts and figures thrown at us one of the guides called out; he’d found a dragon! We were lead over to gawp at it through the trees and I would have been happy with that but the guide that found him started waving a plastic bag. The dragon moved towards him, we all stepped back. What the actual fuck?! He lured it out, waving the bag, the dragon close behind him until he was right out in the open by the artificial waterhole we’d been shown where he just stood, tongue flicking, eyeing the tourists and guides alike.
Then it literally just chilled there, raising itself up on its front legs posing like it was some manner of reptilian Vogue photo shoot, as if the guide had chucked it a couple of steaks if it’d put on a show for us. The guides took photos of us in front of it, not too close, I’ll admit though, the urge to look behind us and check it wasn’t creeping up was pretty great. I felt very low down the food chain at that point. They said he was a medium dragon, around 12 years old and they can live to be over 20. Actually if I’m honest I’ve no idea if he was in fact a he, I may just have totally misgendered a Komodo dragon. The rest of the walk was uneventful until we got down to the beach where we found another, smaller dragon they said was around seven I think. I don’t fully remember, I was too busy being awed. It turns out you have to be pretty lucky to see dragons actually on Komodo with it being such a big island.
Rinca on the other hand, there were shit loads of them there. We didn’t even have to go looking, there were wooden huts which I guess are offices, or maybe even homes? No idea, I believe indigenous people do live on the islands. But anyway, the point being there were shit tonne of dragons just sprawled around these huts and if I came down for work one day and one of these were at the bottom of the steps licking its chops I’d call in sick. There was a huge male. This one was definitely male, they told us he was and as if to prove a point he started hitting on a smaller dragon, flicking her with his tongue before laboriously and somewhat lazily trying to crawl on top of her. So yeah, it’s mating season apparently.
The guides here warn you to stay even further away from the dragons, apparently they’re faster and more aggressive than their Komodo counterparts. Happy to comply, sir. After we’d had a good look and gotten our selfies we were lead on a short walk past what will be used as a nest when the females start laying. Apparently, when the dragons hatch they’re tiny. So so tiny and vulnerable, and whilst mum will guard the eggs and attack anyone who so much as glances at her wrong, once they’re actual lizards she gives no fucks. They’re about the size of geckos, we were told. The first thing they do is bolt up a tree where they live off insects for three or four years until they’re big enough to come down and not get killed.
Guys, it was amazing. If you only have the time or money to visit one island then I would say make it Rinca, you’ve way more chance of seeing a dragon. I mean, going to the actual Komodo Island would be amazing to tell people but if your goal is to see one of the legendary lizards, and I would imagine it is, then Rinca is your best bet. So this was nearly it then, we were nearly at the end of our boat trip. This whole region as seen from a boat is stunning. It’s an utterly gorgeous landscape. Is it landscape when you’re on water? No idea and I care very little, it’s breathtaking. I took a million photos as we cruised from the bays to the islands and now to Labuan Bajo where some people had booked hostels or hotels and some of us would stay on the boat a fourth night because it was free, and who doesn’t love free accommodation? Some of us met for dinner and a few drinkies, did the contact detail swapping thing then headed our separate ways. A brilliant way to get from A to B, even if you fucking hate boats like I do.
Lombok to Flores, Indonesia
With: Wanua Adventure