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Rinca Island, home of the Komodo Dragons.
An uninhabited island - except for the dragons, deer, boar and monkeys - all of which we could watch from our boat as they came down to the beach to feed at low tide. The deer, standing on their hind legs, would feed from the trees. The boars and monkeys would venture to the exposed reef to find treats, and one can only guess what the dragons were into.
The dragons would often walk down the beach. We spotted one and hightailed it across the reef wading up to our waists to approach the beach ahead of the dragon and not scare it off. Jeff made it into the bush where he was able to hide behind trees and walk only feet from the dragon snapping pictures and taking video and herding him towards our friends waiting down the beach. Gail somehow found herself out in the open and 20' in front of a dragon. She didn't seem to understand Jeff's hand signals to get behind a tree.
Now and then the dragon would see Jeff, hunch down, stare at him and decide whether to attack or not. From Gail’s point of view, they were having a stand off. From Jeff’s point of view, the dragon was in charge. We managed to get a few good photos and some shaky video. Jeff managed to keep in close to the dragon as he herded it down the beach. At one point, the dragon decided he had enough of Jeff and turned towards him. Remembering that a Komodo dragon can swallow a whole goat and travel quite fast, the plan to herd him towards our friends was quickly abandoned.
At Rinca, we were also treated to one of the most spectacular scuba dives we have ever experienced. There were more species of underwater life then we have ever seen. Not only was there such an incredible variety it was the sheer mass quantity that made it so overwhelming
We travelled from Rinca to Gili Air, a small island of the coast of the island of Lombok. We took our dinghy across the bay to meet Tatanka and Northern Summit. After putting our dinghy on the beach, hiring a "security guard" and dealing with the hoards of vendors, the six of us set off on a day tour of the island. The vendors were quite pushy and could be very annoying.
Many typical tourist traps and places to spend money. We really enjoyed the various methods of weaving, batik, pottery and wood carvings. Each area or village specialized in a particular skill. This village specialized in wood carvings. While some areas of Lombok were built up, these people lived above and in their shops. The water running through the village is used to wash dishes, kids, etc.
We negotiated for a few wood carvings and ended up meeting the whole family of one of the high quality carvers. His daughter translated as he explained with pride his work and showed us all the orders he had. This village ships most of its product to tourist areas and sees very few tourists themselves.
On our way back to the dinghy, we drove through the Monkey Forest. Hundreds of monkeys surround cars that stop on the road. They are used to being fed and can be quite demanding. We thought they were quite cute but one of them bared his teeth and chased Jeff into oncoming traffic. Jeff decided he would take his chances with an approaching scooter rather than being bit by one of the monkeys. A friend on another boat was attacked and bit by two monkeys a few weeks later.
From Lombok it was on to Bali.