Island Adventures: Komodo Island, Volcanic Eruption

We’ve been staying in mini motels, driving through remote mountain ranges, and yesterday we finally checked into a hotel near the beach with semi-decent wifi connection.

So this morning me and my family woke up at around 5:30 AM to get ready to go to Komodo Island. Yes, the so called “dragons” of the modern age. Once I walked out of my room I sensed that something was off – the sky was hazy and well, at first I thought it was “cloudy” but once we reached the hotel restaurant, my parents informed me that the haze in the sky was caused by a volcanic eruption on a nearby island.

Upon further inspection, the sky turned out to be brown in colour, not a sign of rain, but dust. I could actually see little specks of brown dust in the sky if I squinted hard enough.

After breakfast we headed to the dock to take a boat ride to Komodo Island. We had a small cabin inside the boat where my sister and I sat, because it was a bit too dusty outside for the both of us and we could still see through the window anyways. As we moved along I noticed that we seemed to be moving in towards the ashen sky. It was like sailing into the apocalypse while everyone was running the other way.

It was about 2 hours until we finally reached Komodo Island. And well, it was even worse there.

It was practically raining dust there, and every now and then specks of brown ash would just splatter on our clothes. Imagine a kid throwing clumps of dirt at you while a bunch of others were hosing you down with sprinkles of ash. You were trying to walk up a windy hill. You also struggled to ensure that dust didn’t get into your eyes but that was very difficult because they were free flowing in the wind.

I saw the komodo dragons though, which made me very happy. They didn’t do much, really. Just normal reptile behaviour. Lying down, basking in the sun, occasionally turning their heads towards you to judge you as you took pictures of them with your phone.

But anyways, it was great to see them. As we walked back we heard the news that the entire island was about to be evacuated, just on time. A group of tourists were still on their way in, and some of them were still hellbent on going inside by themselves without the rangers, which of course caused a bit of a stir around there.

We didn’t wait around, the ash was getting thicker and my lungs were already beginning to cry. So we headed back to the boat and sailed off to our next stop, Angel Island.

We had planned to go snorkelling, but we weren’t sure if the eruption would’ve gotten in the way of that. Long story short, I slept, woke up with lunch on the boat right on the island shore ready to continue our activities.

Snorkelling was fun, despite the struggle of always seeming to get salt water into my mouth. My breathing was a little off too, I don’t know. Maybe it was because of the ash, but my chest felt pretty heavy so I stopped after a while. I practiced skipping rocks on the ocean and in the end my whole family was in on it. I think the people on the boat were very concerned at the sight of us tossing dozens of rocks into the ocean. But oh well, it was fun.

By the time we returned to the port we found out that all of the boats had been ordered to stay put for the rest of the day. We managed to leave early enough before the order was given. I also heard something about flights being cancelled, but hopefully by tomorrow it’ll be okay because that’s when we’re supposed to be leaving.

I never expected to experience a volcanic eruption this early in my life, to be honest. I mean, living in Indonesia, I knew one was bound to happen sooner or later but I never thought I’d be so close to the eruption and right in the middle of the ashen rain. It was scary, but it definitely made my trip more memorable. Who knows what other hazards will be coming my way.

(Hopefully none.) Why did I say that? I don’t know. I just saw komodos and a volcanic eruption. I think I’m allowed to be a little bit off tonight.

I also think I’m going to lie down for a while because well, this post seems to be coming to an end. I’ll update the rest of the trip tomorrow, filling in the missing days and posting a couple of pictures that I took because pictures are fun. Pictures are more fun than words because words can sometimes be too much. Words are definitely too much.

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Indonesian. 20. English major at the University of Bristol.

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