A little more than halfway through the trip, our party of two became a party of three, with the arrival of my globe trotting sister. We were reunited at the Bali airport, which was a little more exciting than we had planned (or hoped for — how did that manage to be the one place with unreliable wi-fi?!). We made our next flight in the nick of time and a mere thirty minutes later were touching down on the island of Lombok. The plan here was to hike Mount Rinjani, the second tallest volcano in Indonesia, and having arrived early in the evening of June 4th, it was a little amazing that by 8am the very next morning we were setting off, having secured a car, traveled three more hours to one of the base camp areas, found an open lodge, and negotiated a hike/trek package all in the span of about 14 hours.
After nearly a week on Java, it was time to move on to other islands. Kris and I boarded another one of the many small planes we took over the course of our travels and made our way to Flores. The harbor town of Labuan Bajo is one of the main jumping off points to get to Komodo Island and see the famous dragons. Incidentally, the surrounding waters are also acclaimed diving spots, so LB (as the locals called it) was filled with tanned blond Europeans who all appeared to be perfectly content to hang out there for months on end. The proportion of attractive people in that tiny town was seriously off the charts.
We stayed at the picturesque Bayview Hotel, a guest house that hugged the cliffs just above town and gave us prime seats for a spectacular sunset on our first night there. The vantage point also happened to be perfect for hearing all three local mosques projecting their call to prayer at top volume. They went on for so long that we started wondering if prayers had ended and announcements were being shared (“There’s a bake sale immediately following the service…”).
You know how people talk about “the trip of a lifetime?” I think I may have just experienced mine — three weeks of temple touring, volcano hiking, scuba diving, motorbiking, beach lounging, and Komodo dragon-spotting in Indonesia added up to one unforgettable experience.
I may be a self-proclaimed frugal foodie, but some things are worth the splurge, and this trip was worth every penny. Besides, it was in the works for a while which gave me plenty of time to budget for it.
So, why Indonesia, anyway?, you may be wondering. Kris — I mean, Dr. Grajny! — was going to have a few weeks off in between graduation and the end of all his free time, aka, the start of residency, and since I’m lucky enough to have quite a few vacation days with my work, as well as my office’s blessing to leave for a good chunk of time, we knew we wanted to travel. Thanks to one Ms. Ainsley Singleton studying abroad in Sydney this past semester, we also wanted to go somewhere close enough that she could come join us. Indonesia was on the radar as a good friend of mine honeymooned there last summer, so we decided to follow suit and jet to the other side of the world.
Indonesia is made up of a staggering 17,000 islands, so we spent our three weeks doing some island hopping and seeing the tiniest of slivers of the country’s incredible diversity.