Indonesia/Philippines May 2010

Indonesia/Philippines May 2010

Escaping Eyjafjallajökull

Escaping Eyjafjallajökull

Remember the golden age of air travel – elusive sophistication out of reach of all but the chosen few, jetting off from art deco lounges? Well, I can’t believe that ever applied to Birmingham Airport.

Epic fail on the baggage carousel lottery

Epic fail on the baggage carousel lottery

The Low Cost Carrier Terminal at KLIA is a scruffy, poorly designed collection of concrete boxes – you can get a coffee and something to eat, but very little else – large swathes of the bag-drop and check-in area don’t have air-conditioning, and even at 7am things are hot and humid. But, this is still…

East to Flores and Labuan Bajo

East to Flores and Labuan Bajo

A new experience at check-in this morning – queue, present ticket, weigh checked baggage and then the unexpected request – “Sir, stand on scales please…” – the four staff behind the desk didn’t even try to suppress their giggles when the kg scale flipped into triple digits and kept on rolling.  This made me expect…

Bemos, ojaks and one-way systems

Bemos, ojaks and one-way systems

Labuan Bajo is a warm, shabby little place – fishing port, dive centre and transit hub for budget travellers heading East into Flores.

Dive days and lazy evenings in Komodo National Park

Dive days and lazy evenings in Komodo National Park

My temporary home, Bayview Gardens Hotel, sits on a jungle covered hill above the port – a handful of cottages built on terraces hacked out of the hillside, linked by steep jungle paths and each fronted with an amazing wooden terrace to admire the world-beating sunsets. Adrian, the owner, is your typical Dutch ex-hippy, now…

Dive days and lazy evenings in Komodo NP (part 2)

Dive days and lazy evenings in Komodo NP (part 2)

I’m a novice diver, so Komodo NP was a pretty steep learning curve. Dive sites were typically in the lee of exposed seamounts – where the water would be slack, in theory…

Cruising back West to Lombok

Cruising back West to Lombok

For the next two nights and two days I’d be on the Perama boat, heading west from Labuan Bajo to Lombok, via stops on Rinca, Gili Moyo, the village of Labuan Haji and Gili Laba.

Dragonspotting on Rinca

Dragonspotting on Rinca

Leaving the mirror smooth open sea, an appropriately mysterious-looking inlet took our boat heart-of-darkness-lite-style up to a mooring point just a short dinghy ride away from landfall on Rinca.

Last day on Perama 114

Last day on Perama 114

After Rinca the captain turned us Northwest to cross the Lombok strait, after which we would hug the thinly populated coast of Sumbawa on our way to Lombok.

Bangsaal – three-time UNESCO global scam and dump award winner

Bangsaal – three-time UNESCO global scam and dump award winner

Bangsal beach deserves it’s reputation as one of the planet’s premier armpits. You’re not paranoid – everyone IS out to scam you.

Gili Meno – paradise or prison? You choose…

Gili Meno – paradise or prison? You choose…

The half-hour crossing from Bangsal across to Meno helped fine-tune the mother of all hangovers, so very happy to chill out and watch the luggage at a beach café within feet of where the boat had dropped us, leaving the hotel hunting to my buddies. This is a serious business – the Gilis are not…

Arriving on Palawan

Arriving on Palawan

24 hours after leaving Indonesia and 3 flights later, it was wheels-down at Puerta Princesa, capital of Palawan in the Western Philippines.

Travelling North to El Nido

Travelling North to El Nido

From Puerta Princesa North to El Nido it’s about 250 km and you’ve got two choices – the public bus (40PHP to the terminal, plus 350 PHP for 9 hours of non-airconditioned fun), or 650 PHP for the “luxury” minivans i.e. only 1 or 2 more passengers than seats. It’s a 6.30am pickup and an…

El Nido. Trust me – you need to go take a look…

El Nido. Trust me – you need to go take a look…

I’m not young. Would like to be, but am not. So when travelling the lure of the new is strong – always forwards, never back – three score years and ten – yada, yada. Until I met El Nido. I. Am. Going. Back. A couple of hundred metres back from the shore, El Nido starts…

Tour A, B, C or D?

Tour A, B, C or D?

El Nido doesn’t have a lot to offer out-of-work marketing copywriters – this level of natural beauty means there’s just no need to spin or exaggerate so the choice across town is simple – Tour A, Tour B, Tour C or, you’ve guessed it, Tour D.