Heading Down Under

It’s been a few days now and lots of things have happened. I will start where we left off last time.

We arose on Jan 29th to a lovely sunny day. It was lovely, but super windy. We had the highest waves we’ve seen yet on Kenawa island.

We boarded up the Earthship as best we could and then headed over on the boat later in the morning to Poto Tano. The wave action made that quite interesting.

We met up with Suji one last time and he showed us where to buy the ferry ticket. For the two of us it was 34k, which is a lot less than the 200k the taxi driver got from us to buy our ferry ticket on the way over. The taxi drivers at the airport will all try to rip you off.

Fortunately, Katrina recommended a smal B&B to us that would pick us up at the port, drive us there and then take us to the airport the next day, all inclusive for 700k. Thats rougly $70CAN. It is a really good deal, the driver and owner of the B&B speak English quite well, and they don’t try to weasel more money out of you.

I snapped this random picture during the ride there.

Yes, that is a scooter coming right at us in our lane. This picture doesn’t even show half of it. Instead of sticking to lanes of traffic, it works closer to a flocking pattern. Yes, they generally stick to the left side of the road, like the UK and Australia, but there is no speed limit so there is lots of passing and being passed, not to mention other vehicles parked on the road, pot holes and random crowds of people.

That being said, the speed is never very high. On the more major roads, we might get up to 80kph, but that was the top end. We asked about accidents, and we were told that it happens a lot less than what you might think. I guess when you grow up in a culture where spaces are small and cramped that you’re just used to the roads being the same way. They figure it out as they drive.

We made a few stops before arriving at the B&B, but for those details, you will need to check out Kat’s post. By the time we made it to the B&B (called “Sama Sama”, which translates to “You’re Welcome”), it was really pouring rain. The car driver parked as close as he could to the door and we made a dash for it.

They don’t usually serve dinner, but because we couldn’t go out due to the rain, they served us a really nice veggie curry dish, with fried egg and rice. It was great after so much rice and fish.

The rain eventually calmed down enough for us to make the trek out to our cabin, but it was full night by that point. As a result, all of the pictures you’re about to see we took the following morning.

This was the hut that we stayed in. The sleeping pad is just big enough for a standard double mattress and a narrow walk way beside it.

There is a doorway at the back of the hut, with some stairs that lead down to the toilet and shower. The shower water is not heated, nor is there a sink or mirror. We were pretty cozy while the wind howled around us.

It was much nicer the next morning and we were able to get a view of our surroundings. Like all of these fun signs.

During our ride with the driver yesterday, he put on some music. The first song was Indonesian but after that he played stuff from North America. The first American song that came on was “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns and Roses, which we thought was rather apt for the location.

You can see a bit of the mountain in the background between the trees there. Kat looked it up and it is an active volcano with around 12,000 feet (3650m) of elevation.

You can’t really see it too well in the pictures so far, but there is a sheer drop right in front of the path that goes beside the huts, probably 3 or 4m (9 to 12 feet). Right on the edge of that was this swing that was attached to two trees. Here is Kat trying it out.

I tried it too, but that picture is on Kat’s blog.

Before breakfast we took a short walk down the hill, to experience the Indonesian wilderness. We discovered this small stream at the bottom.

Looking back up the hill we just walked down looked like this.

Fortunately there was a path with bamboo steps in it to prevent all of the dirt just washing away in the rain. That made the trek pretty easy.

We came across this guy lying beside the path. It’s a land snail and not a small one either. That shell is longer than my hand is wide.

Here is a close-up of the stream.

And the little waterfall going the other direction.

Beyond the stream was a little rice paddy. There are tonnes of these all over the area.

After we made our way back, we found this little toad just hanging out in the dirt.

Some other fun things that were growing right on the property of the B&B are these.

Yup, bananas. Lots of coconuts too. I even found one of these trees.

It is a bit dark, but I think you can see the papayas hanging from the top there.

That was it for our little forest foray. We had banana pancakes for breakfast. No maple syrup here, just chocolate sauce.

We wanted to have lots of time at the airport, so we headed out on another lengthy drive. It took about 1.5hrs to get there, but the weathere was nice and we didn’t have any misshaps on the road.

We had to wait to check in for our flight as we were a bit too early, but it wasn’t too much.

The previous flight from Bali to Lombok was on a propeller plane and took about an hour and 45min. We were on a jet this time and it was under an hour. We arrived around 14:00 and our next flight wasn’t untill 23:00 so we had a bit of time to kill.

Eventually, we made our way through the first security check, to then line up at the check in desk with about a thousand other people all going various places. It was divided up by destination so we didn’t have to wait too long.

Once we made it through that, there was another checking of our credentials, then we had to go through Indonesian exit customs. I guess they really want to make sure you do actually leave when you say you are going to.

From there you walk through a massive hallway with the most glitzy shops you can imagine, selling things like perfume, watches, luggage and jewelry. All the things I go to the airport to buy 😛

At that point we stopped to have a bite to eat before heading to our gate.

The weird thing I noticed about our gate number, was that it was the same gate as several other flights scheduled at roughly the same time. All we could do was head over and see what was up.

When we reached the gate, they had all of the waiting area blocked off and you had to go through another security check. This one mainly for confiscating any water or other liquids you may have just bought on the way through.

It wasn’t setup very well as if your flight wasn’t one of the immediate ones being loaded, they wouldn’t let you through. Also, nothing was labeled so you had to get in a line and get rejected before you could figure this out.

So, not only did this create more lines, it created a lot of confusion and congestion between the passengers milling abount trying to find out when and where they needed to be.

Now I get the whole security thing, but if you’re going to take everyone’s water away, and then charge money on the plane for any type of service or beverage on a 4+ hour flight, that’s a lot like extortion. I wasn’t impressed.

Once we made it through that process, and they strarted to load the plane… or at least that’s what we thought they were doing. They did the ticket scanning, we went through the gate and then we got on a bus.

The bus drove out to the middle of the runway, they glued on some wings, and then backed the bus up into a huge elastic band. The band let go and we were launched into the stratosphere. We now know what it’s like to travel by Airbus.

Okay, that last paragraph was a bit exaggerated, but they did bus us out to our plane, which explained how they could load several flights from the same gate, just by directing you to a different bus.

It was an overnight flight, so we had planned to sleep most of it, but it was tough. I have slept on many flights, but this one it was really difficult to get in a position that was either comfortable or wouldn’t make some part of my body go numb.

We landed in Cairns, Australia just before 6am local time. Went through customs, got our bags, and found our driver to take us to the hotel. It’s nice having someone waiting for you.

Unfortunately, the hotel wasn’t even open at that point, let alone have our room ready. We waited a bit and when they opened up at 7am we were able to stow our luggage there while we headed out and did other things.

First thing we did was have breakfast. There are a lot of shops and things closed that early in the morning but we were given directions to a breakfast place. It was nice not having fish, for a change. I had eggs benedict, with ham and spinach. Definitely worth it.

After breakfast we had a lot of time to kill, so we wandered around the neighborhood until we came to this park.

We had been walking for a while at this point and needed to sit. They have these really big trees here too.

I say big tree, but really it’s several smaller trees all combining together like some wooden Voltron to form a super tree.

Here is Kat acting like she is having and amazing time, while secretly suffering from sore feet.

As we continued to wander we ended up out by the harbour. We came across these lovelies just hanging out on a post sticking out of the ground.

These next two guys are mud skippers. They’re a bit like a cross between a fish, a tadpole and an eel. They skip along the water and then hang out on the rocks.

Last, but not least, there were a bunch of pellicans just hanging out waiting to have their picture taken.

These are not small birds. The tops of their heads would probably reach the top of my thigh. They didn’t seem too concerned with people taking their picture.

That was a lot to cover, so I’m going to leave it at that. We have a trip to the Great Barrier Reef tomorrow and a rain forest tour on Friday. We should have lots to tell after those adventures.


Earthship Island, Day 23 (Last Day)

Yes, today is our last full day on the island. Katrina, our Earthship partner left yesterday so it’s just Kat and I now. We still have a tonne of snorkeling pictures to go through so I thought I would start with some of those.

I came a cross this thing a few days ago. It’s room sized and it reminded me of one of those chocolate volcano cakes, if you’ve ever had one.

This is what it looked like looking down into the depression at the top.

The next picture doesn’t look very interesting at first glance, until you realize that the massive blob in the middle is a huge cluster of anemones. Probably several meters across. If you look really closely at the center of the picture you can see the little orange nose of a clown fish looking up at the camera.

This was a fun little formation of coral and under it in the shadows is something that looks kinda like a puffer fish, but no spines. He has a dark grey, somewhat brain coral pattern on his body.

You come across quite a few larger shells when you’re swimming about. Most of them are usually occupied, as is this one. You can’t see the crab as he moved too far around the bend. I wasn’t going to stick around and wait for him to come back out as I took this picture at a depth of around 3m.

Remember those concrete bell shaped structures we found that I posted pictures of previously? Well here are more concrete things, this time pillars and cross beams. We’re guessing that it was from a previous dock or pier.

This was a rather large fish I came across. You have to go out far enough so the water is a bit deeper before you start seeing larger fish.

I found a really nice looking brain coral. This one was a bit bigger than a large beach ball.

For the most part, clown fish are really timid, except for this guy. He came out and swam around right in front of the camera.

Last but not least, a big spiny sea urchin.

Yesterday, when we were walking with Katrina for her to catch her boat, we found this on the edge of the shore.

That is a nautilus shell. It’s the first one we’ve seen here and it’s the biggest one I have seen in real life. Heck, it might be the only one I have seen in real life.

It was certainly a really lucky find.

Today is really nice. It’s sunny, which we haven’t had much of recently. It’s been raining a lot.

Fortunately for all of you, I can now entice you with the alur of this awesome beach picture.

I don’t know if we will be posting tomorrow, as we will be up near the mountains. You can be sure that we will take some pictures though.

Earthship Island, Day 21

Two days ago we came upon this guy. He was much larger than most of the other hermit crabs we have come across.

He looked quite oversized for his shell so we tried offering him a bigger one.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t going for it. I don’t think he liked being handled so much and just wanted to get away. We left him be, but he still didn’t take either of the shell options we offered.

The mornings here are usually pretty nice. The wind is calm and the tide is out. Sometimes the sun shows up too.

Yesterday afternoon the clouds rolled in and we were pretty sure it was going to rain on us. Here is what it looked like looking out from the Earthship.

It wasn’t long after I took those photos that the sky opened up and the rain came down.

It was fascinating to watch as the rain smooths out all of the waves coming to shore.

This rain was driven by strong winds from the south, so the back of the Earthship fills with water.

I had put a towel over the door to try to reduce the wind and rain coming in. It did cut down on the wind, but didn’t do much for stopping the rain.

Out front, we saw this guy out in his boat in the rain storm.

He didn’t seem overly concerned. He did pull into shore in front of the Earthship to bail out his boat and the headed back out, sticking to the shoreline.

I was watching all of this and thought to myself, “how many opportunities will you have in your life to go out and experience a tropical rain storm?” So I ran out into the rain and had a good frolicking.

I have to say that compared to the rain water, the ocean water felt like bathtub warm. I yelled out to Kat, who took the picture, “This is the coldest I’ve been since we arrived!” The rain was chilly, but not unbearable.

I can mark that down on my list of exciting life experiences.

Earthship Island, Day 19

Yes, we’re getting close to the end of our Indonesian portion of the trip. Katrina is heading out on the 27th and we are leaving the island on the 29th. We decided to leave a day early and spend an evening at a place near the mountains before our flight. Katrina stayed there before joining us at the island so we have a good idea of what to expect.

I must say that after eating nothing but rice, fish, and cooked vegetables since we arrived I am quite ready for something else. Actually, some ice cream would be really awesome, but that’s not going to happen while on Kenawa.

Sometimes the ocean water is really calm. Here is a picture if you don’t believe me.

I mentionedin a previous post about skipping rocks on the ocean and I wasn’t kidding. The weather here is very north/southish instead of the normal east/westish. As a result one side of the island is usually calmer than the other side.

When the wind picks up, it starts to look like this.

It gets pretty wavy, especially over the dead coral section we walked on a few posts back. Waves break when the height of the wave is half the depth of the water, so it hits the shallow part, breaks, and then has to work itself up again before reaching shore.

Right along the beach there a lot of these vines with pink flowers.

The flowers all close up at night, or if it gets dark from a storm. There aren’t many types of flowers on the island, but these are the most common ones.

On yet another jaunt around the island we came across this little guy. I say little, but his shell was probably the size of a lemon.

This is actually a konch and not a hermit crab that has taken over an empty shell.

With the wind giving us a stiff breeze, walking around the north west tip of the island where it gets rocky, you can get some good splash action.

Nothing like watching the waves splash up on the rocks, bathing all of the crabs.

We’re counting down the days and we don’t even have a drill yet. As far as further building projects go, that may fall to the next group taking over after us.

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