Komodo, West Flores - where a dream came true

The story begun more than 1 1/2 years ago at Chili's KLCC when my mate, Siew Lian and I met up with our OWD instructor, DiveChiefKaz for dinner. Both Siew Lian and I were newly certified at the time and I think we met Kaz to sign off Siew Lian's paperworks for the OWD card... Kaz just got back from a diving trip to Komodo at the time and he showed us some still photos and videos of the trip. I was soooo envious when I saw those beautiful photos and videos of marine species and landscapes that I haven't seen before but at the same time, a lil' bit scared seeing videos of divers practically 'flying'in strong currents. I quietly told myself that Komodo, with its harsh underwater conditions, is far-fetched for a newbie like me and is only reserved for experienced and otai divers.

Fast-forward a year later... Ikan, another diving instructor, who happened to be in the same Komodo trip that Kaz went before and who is now a friend of mine too, buzzed me one day and asked if I wanted to go on such trip. Obviously, I jumped into agreement instantly. The Komodo trip is not commonly opened to just any divers due to its harsh conditions so the invitation was in a way, an honour to me.

But months, weeks and especially days leading to the trip were nightmares to me. I began to self-doubt of my diving abilities and skills especially when I got to know that as previous trips, the rest going were all either dive instructors, divemasters, trainers or very experienced divers when I myself haven't even clock 100 dives on my dive log (and I still haven't!). I became more anxious when I got to know some of the people whom I know well like Chott, Rid and Abang Roy, who were supposed to go on the trip with me dropped out, one by one. The month leading to the trip was very stressful too since I was about to start a new job and had to rush with many tasks at the old place. To make things worst, I was financially-constrained too hence, the idea of getting all sorts of gadgets such as vest, new fins, reefhook etc in preparation for the trip only brought headaches to yours truly. The news of earthquakes and tsunamis around the region didn't help too, giving me a number of sleepless nights.

Fortunately, I was and still am lucky to have such helpful and understanding friends. Kaz and Ikan gave alot of encouragement and reassurance, Rid and Pyan (of Fisherman Divers) helped by training me up with negative descends and SMB deployments while Rocket helped by letting me borrow practically all the things that I needed, from the vest to even the luggage bag. My other-half, being the usual understanding person he is, even accompanied me for a quick dash to Tioman to enable me to train with Rid and Pyan. Those who have gone on such trips like Macha (who was my AOWD instructor and an excellent underwater photograher) and Ummi kept giving me reassurance and tips before and during the trip too.

The long-awaited 28th October 2009 finally arrived. With a mixed emotion of anxiousness and excitement, off I went....

The hotel we stayed in Bali

Labuan Bajo: the port town in West Flores where we boarded Pak Condo

Example of nudibranchs on steroids @ Cannibal Rock

The rarely seen rhinophias @ Cannibal Rock

A huge napoleon wrasse @ Batu Bolong

GT madness @ Castle Rock

Sweetlips @ Crystal Rock

Sunset @ Lighthouse (or Gililawa...can't remember)

Manta ray @ Taka Makassar

A stop at the National Park to see the komodo dragons. They were huge and scary!

A female komodo dragon roaming in the woods while we were hiking. Female komodo dragons are much smaller than males.

A view from top of a hill

More photos can be found here and here.

In summary, it was a BRILLIANT trip with excellent dives, great company (they were a loud and funny bunch but always take safety and security while diving seriously)and good food even when we had a couple of hiccups with the flight schedules. Hope I'll get the chance to go back there again next year!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you everyone for making my dream came true...


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