Sailing through the lesser Sunda Islands has been an experience beyond words for the beauty is endless...I can picture myself sailing on and on around the stark and sculpted islands and never, ever getting bored...for it sucks out all the toxins in you and fills you with an energy that is not only uplifting but purifying.
From Labuan Bajo you can book day trips or overnight trips for as long as you want basically. The boats vary in price depending on the type, some are affordable (which translates into rudimentary) and there are a few that are down right ridiculously expensive. Of course we opted for the affordable which included basic meals and snacks; snorkeling gear (optional diving gear). Unlike the luxury boats that provide tastefully decorated cabins, immaculate bathrooms, a butler, a chef and all the luxury amenities you expect to have at a 5-star hotel.
Our boat was pretty basic. The bathrooms were tiny and damp with no partition between the toilet and the shower…so yes, the floors were wet. The first thing that came to my mind was; ‘how am I going to survive this for four days’. But I did, with much trepidation and discomfort.
The next room I checked out was the kitchen. The cook was in the midst of preparing our very first meal on board. It definitely was not appetizing so I skipped lunch altogether and decided that from dinner onwards I'm going to take over the kitchen and prepare all the meals. But it wasn't easy because the kitchen was so disgustingly filthy; the walls were lined in grime with cockroaches crawling everywhere. I literally had to zone out from my element and focus on preparing an edible and hygienic meal as possible given the limited ingredients and conditions at hand. Umbu, the cook was so endearing and eager to learn. He told me that he was not really a cook and was assigned to fill in for the actual cook who could not make the trip. No wonder. I also taught him how to keep the kitchen clean...I just couldnt resist, my OCD simply took over.
The sleeping cabins apart from feeling claustrophobic, reeked of diesel fuel so most of us opted to sleep on the open air deck. It turned out to be such a mind-blowing experience; gazing up at the moonlit sky, feeling the chill of the evening sea breeze and listening to the stillness of night gently lull you into deep slumber.
From island to island the color of the water gradually fuses from light aqua marine to a deep azure blue and this juxtaposed against the white sand with hints of granulated pink coral along with the backdrop of barren hills of cream and burnt sienna, are a sight beyond one's imagination. We would sail across the islands and stop to trek up rugged hills, observe komodo dragons in their natural habitat, swim and snorkel on the most pristine beaches while some ventured to dive and explore the beauty of the coral reefs. From time to time I would disappear back aboard the boat to prepare lunch for everyone. Not exactly my idea of an ideal vacation but hey, we got to eat! Then we would sail off again before finding a spot to dock at dusk and watch the glorious colors of sunset fade into darkness.
Despite all the shortcomings of the boat, the captain and crew were not only friendly and obliging, they were interesting as well. After all, sailors have more than a story or two to tell. Traveling is not always defined by how luxurious and comfortable your accommodation is (though it helps), but rather it is the journey that lies ahead and the company you choose to experience it with, is what makes it unforgettable. This nation of islands which is more than just Bali is a wonderland. Sometimes to get to the most spectacular and breathtaking landscapes can be arduous. But its worth it. So leave your comforts behind for just a few days…and inhale the beauty, the serenity and most of all, the gratitude you feel from experiencing heaven on earth...it's right here in Indonesia!