Komodo Trip (Part Two) Posted by sasha on Nov 7, 2016 in Uncategorized
The first day of our Komodo National Park adventure was spent relaxing on Kanawa Island, snorkeling with manta rays, and exploring the stunning Pink Beach. After a long day at sea, we arrived at our home for the night – the place where people live alongside dragons – Kampung Komodo.
While most people doing a boat tour of Komodo National Park end up sleeping aboard, we were given the option to stay in the village with a local family instead. Considering the very rustic state of our vessel, we were thrilled to be given the choice to sleep on land. Plus, prior to our trip we had no idea that people actually lived on the island alongside the massive lizards. Most of the few thousand people who live here are Bugis fishermen hailing from South Sulawesi. Somehow, they’ve managed to coexist with the thousand or so Komodo dragons, who can outrun humans and kill with just a single bite.
To protect from the dragons, homes here are built on stilts. After dark – when the dragons are most active – the villagers keep their goats and other animals on raised planks. They also don’t stray far from home at night and avoid wearing red – the dragons can mistake it for blood and move in for the kill.
As the Bugis people are Muslim, they don’t eat the pigs that are native to the island. They also don’t hunt many of the local deer or water buffalo, ensuring a steady supply of food for the dragons that generally keeps them from seeking out a human snack. They’ve also managed to cash in on the giant beasts, making wood carvings to sell to passing tourists and opening their homes as guesthouses.
It’s not an easy life out here, but it sure is a beautiful place. Hopefully mass tourism never reaches this corner of Indonesia, as it’s doubtful they’d be able to sustain. For now at least, it’s an amazing place to visit and stay in small, adventurous groups. In my humble opinion, it always gives you a much better perspective when you can meet the locals and see how they live rather than just pass through, seeing it only out the window of your luxury ship.
Sunset and Flying Foxes
After touring the village and meeting our hosts for the night, we got back on the boat to take a little sunset cruise. A few of the local village kids decided to join, giving us a good chance to practice our basic Indonesian and teach them a little English. One of the kids was so excited to try on my baseball hat – something so common back at home but so exotic out here.
One of the highlights of a trip around the Komodo National Park is witnessing the hundreds of flying foxes emerge at dusk. They are among the largest species of bats, with a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters.
Needless to say, it’s a fascinating sight seeing them with the backdrop of a gorgeous sunset around a tiny, uninhabited island in Indonesia. After an action-packed day, we were all ready to get back to the village.
Upon our return, our hosts were already working to cook us up a feast. It’s amazing what the villagers can do with so little – their kitchen consisted of a couple of pans and an open flame. We enjoyed some noodles, rice, veggies, chicken, and even a few cold Bintangs before calling it a night and crawling into bed.
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