Here is Bean8’s first ever blog entry about one of his favourite days in Indonesia:
One of the most terrific days in Labuan Bajo, on the Indonesian island of Flores, was when we travelled to a cave. First, we took a taxi to a very poor village with houses made of just corrugated iron or sometimes wood for the walls. The houses were built on stilts to reduce pests, such as snakes and rats, for storage and sometimes just for shelter from the blazing heat of the sun. It seemed to me that the villagers could make anything they needed out of what was available to them. The children were very happy even though they had very little. They were interested in us and wanted to show us what they could do. For example, they were playing with a long skipping rope and a little boy showed us that he could skip on each leg five times. When we clapped him, he was very proud! There were also loads of goats wandering through the village, which I thought was very strange as I’ve never seen goats ambling around villages back in England!
We walked through the village down onto the beach and the guide took us out in his narrow longboat. The seats were right next to the engine so it was earsplittingly loud, and you could smell the diesel. But the sea was very beautiful because of the different shades of blue according to how deep or shallow it was. The islands that we could see from the sea (!) were very lush in their greenery.
After the fifteen-minute boat ride, we arrived on to another beach which was still part of the mainland, but you could only get to it by boat. We walked the short way to the cave and to my surprise it was filled with water! I had thought we were going for a walking tour through the caves, but I now realised that we were to swim here instead! The entrance to the cave was filled with slippery clay and rocks on a steep downward slope towards the water. We crawled carefully down, and I was first to enter the refreshingly cold water.
The cave was awesome because if you looked at some of the rocks carefully, you could see animal shapes. For instance, one looked like a Komodo dragon and another looked like a mallard duck diving into the water from the roof of the cave! The mallard duck and the Komodo dragon were actually stalagmites and stalactites. There were lots of other stalagmites and stalactites, and the roof was a very irregular shape. Bats were flying around in the cave and hanging off the roof. The bats must have pooed in the water, so I tried not to swallow any of it!
At first, it seemed very dark and I couldn’t see the back wall of the cave, but once our eyes had grown accustomed to the blackness, we could see everything around us. I then felt more comfortable exploring the back wall to see if there were any human sized passages out towards the ocean, but there were none. Our Daddy tried to swim down to the bottom of the cave, but he couldn’t reach it. He thinks it was about 5m deep! We swam for about an hour exploring every millimetre of the cave!
When we finally finished our swim, we walked back to the beach and strolled along the shoreline to the pier. Mummy shouted, “Look, there’s a big fish!” – it turned out to be a black tipped reef shark! And there were ten of them playing follow my leader in the shallows (Mummy was right because sharks are fish!). They must have been juveniles because they were only about 50cm long, but adults can reach 150cm in length. We followed them for a while watching them play, until another longboat arrived, and a local boy threw a stone at the sharks. They all zoomed in different directions, some of them straight towards us at great speed whilst we were in the water. We ran out of the water as fast as we could!! I was very pleased to see such a rare and shy species and it was the first shark I’d ever seen in the wild. This made it one of my best days in Indonesia.