Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sights to See: Flores Island, Indonesia


Flores Island 
Discovered by the Portuguese, this sparsely populated rural island is 75 per cent Christian.  It is the gateway to visiting Komodo Island and the Komodo National Park.  Spectacular coral gardens under coastal waters make it excellent for snorkeling and diving.  Three volcanic lakes, each with a distinctive color caused by dissolved minerals, are found high in the mountainous interior at the summit of Mount Kelimutu.  Locals make prized hand-woven textiles using natural dyes and hand-spun cotton.  Resulting blankets, scarves, and tablecloths make good souvenirs, but formal clothing for locals is also made from the fabric.

     Labuan Bajo
Once a small fishing village, this town is the capital of the regency MangarraI Barat--the western most part of Flores.  Originally filled with fisherman homes, this area now houses tourists.  Among the options is a floating hotel, and construction is rampant.  A rustic local market is well worth a visit.  This tiny town is the launching point for trips to Komodo Island.
Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia
Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia


town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia
town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia


rooster at town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia
rooster at town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia


red peppers at town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia
red peppers at town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia


Flores Island Attractions
Batu Cermin Cave/Mirror Cave  Existing under the sea long ago, this scenic cave area features dry coral and fossils.  The limestone cave itself is pitch dark, so visitors must carry flashlights, and it also has low openings.  Closed-toe shoes are advised. 
Mirror Cave on Flores Island in Indonesia
Mirror Cave on Flores Island in Indonesia


Melo Village  As my group approached this up-island village, we were welcomed first by smiling children running beside our van.  Then, while we gathered with the village men, we heard the women singing and playing instrument as we were led us up the hill to a ceremonial hut.


There we were served homemade arak liquor.  (Legal arak is made from coconut palms and is considered inferior to the homemade version made from ental or jaka palms or sometimes cashew fruit.)
serving arak liquor at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia
serving arak liquor at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia

First we observed the traditional Caci whip-fighting dance.



While watching, we sipped the coffee that the village produces.
coffee service at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia
coffee service at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia

After the women performed the stick dance,



we were invited to join in.  Arak is said to loosen you up for dancing, and indeed it did.  Even though there had been a decent rain fall and the dirt had turned to mud, we all participated and had an enjoyable frolick.  Later, as we departed, the children ran after our van to bid us adieu.
children at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia
children at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia

More things to do on Flores Island.

More things to do in nearby Bali.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Travel Articles: Disneyland


Best known for its world-famous amusement park—the original Disneyland in Anaheim is filled with family activities and familiar fast-food restaurants.  Knott’s Berry Farm is next door in Buena Park, and downtown Los Angeles is just 28 miles away.  Beach towns are close by, with plenty of spots where kids can play tag with gentle waves, and opportunities to commune with nature are also plentiful--whether in tide pools or on a boat journey out to sea.  More . . .
Donald Duck poses with kids at Disneyland
Donald Duck poses with kids at Disneyland

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Good Eats: Cathay Palisades, Pacific Palisades, California


Cathay Palisades  15315 Antioch St., (310) 459-9628.  L-D daily; $$.  Perfect for families, this comfortable spot has plenty of big booths and friendly, speedy service.  It has a typical Chinese menu with a vegetarian-vegan section, and upon request will replace meats with tofu in many dishes.  Everyone gets a complimentary kimchee appetizer.  Our vegetarian favorites include:  hot and sour soup, chow mein, spicy broccoli, and crispy tofu.  It is a popular choice for take-out, too.  

interior at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California
interior at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California

kimchee at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California
kimchee at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California

hot & sour soup at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California
hot & sour soup at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California

chow mein at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California
chow mein at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California

green beans at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California
green beans at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California

crispy tofu at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California
crispy tofu at Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, California
Cathay Palisades Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More places to visit in Pacific Palisades.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sights to See: Komodo Island, Indonesia


Komodo Island  200 miles east of Bali; where the famous dragons are.

approaching Komodo Island in Indonesia
approaching Komodo Island in Indonesia

Komodo National Park  The Komodo dragon—actually a giant monitor lizard--is the world’s largest and most lethal lizard.  An endangered species, it lives only on small volcanic Komodo Island and a few neighboring Indonesian islands (a visit here is often tied in with a visit to Rinca Island).  The lizards can grow up to 12 feet long and have inch-long serrated teeth that drip hemorrhagic venom.  They have been known to attack humans, although they prefer to eat birds and small mammals like monkeys that will not attack them but will also go after not-so-small wild pigs, eagles, deer, horses, and even water buffalo.  They are cannibals and will eat another dragon, and there is documentation that they have killed and eaten humans.  Mating occurs in July, when each female lays 15 to 30 eggs, which incubate until March or April (8 to 9 months).  They do not live in family groups, and the 4-inch-long newborns live in trees for about two years. 
On my visit, we did the 1-hour, 1-mile medium trek to the waterhole and Sulphurea Hill (named after the cockatoo bird).   Rules dictated that we stay together, keep silent, and don’t touch anything.  No smoking is permitted.  Out of the estimated almost 6,000 dragons that live here today, we saw four.  We were told that on a good day in winter (I was here in October) you might see 14.  And though they can move like the wind, on the hot day we visited the dragon's we saw didn't move, which is probably a very good thing.  One appreciated perk of the visit is that the ranger will take a picture of each visitor with a dragon if timing permits.  Locals sell lovely local pearls and hand-carved dragons as souvenirs.  Wish I’d bought something. 

pier at Komodo Island in Indonesia
pier at Komodo Island in Indonesia


entrance to Komodo Island in Indonesia
entrance to Komodo Island in Indonesia


ranger guide and komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia
ranger guide and komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia


komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia
komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia
 

picture-taking with komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia
picture-taking with komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia


picture-taking with komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia
picture-taking with komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia


picture-taking with komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia
picture-taking with komodo dragon at Komodo Island in Indonesia


souvenir vendor at Komodo Island in Indonesia
souvenir vendor at Komodo Island in Indonesia

Most tour boat excursions to Komodo Island will also stop at one or two of the area’s gorgeous beaches for snorkeling and a picnic.  My group stopped at:
Pink Beach on Padar Island for snorkeling and a delicious buffet picnic lunch.  A natural phenomenon, the pink sand on this beach gets its color from red coral fragments. 
approaching Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia
approaching Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia


view from Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia
view from Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia


picnic spread at Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia
picnic spread at Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia


picnic spread at Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia
picnic spread at Pink Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia

and also on:
Angel Beach on Pulau Bidadari Island, which in addition to being the perfect spot for snorkeling, diving, and sitting in the clear, turquoise water, offers a private Honeymoon Beach.
Angel Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia
Angel Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia

view from Angel Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia
view from Angel Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia

picnic tray at Angel Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia
picnic tray at Angel Beach near Komodo Island in Indonesia

More things to do on Flores Island.
 
More things to do in nearby Bali.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Great Sleeps: Sylvia Resort Komodo, Flores Island, Indonesia


Sylvia Resort Komodo  Jl. Pantai Waecicu Labuan Bajo – NTT, 081 238 710 815.  40 rooms.  Pool.  Breakfast.  The best rooms here are along the bay-front strip, where it is very quiet save for the sounds of happy frolickers and the odd clicking noise of geckos.  Plenty of substantial wood lounge chairs are scattered on the sandy beach, where water laps at the wide, clean, sandy shore.  But my favorite thing was lounging in the infinity pool’s lukewarm water and gazing out to Cecu Bay.  But no matter where you are in the world, no matter what the bliss, there is always the interruption of reality--in this case it is someone clearing orange canava trumpet flowers and debris from the sand, turning on porch lights for the night, and with the flick of a switch illuminating trees with lights, when all I really want is to hear is the tweeting of birds and the lapping of water hitting shore while twilight slowly deepens.  Note that this is an inexpensive backpacker’s hotel, and so the bathroom is tiny, water is precious (they truck in barrels of it, so it sometimes runs low and the shower is limp—the amazing thing is that it runs at all), and you walk up and down stairs to get to the entrance lobby (there is no elevator).  Off the restaurant in the open-air entry building is a lounge area with two pool tables.  The spare, simple rooms are of decent size and feature white marble floors, allowing you to quickly spot any wayward bugs.  White cotton sheets and duvet provide comfortable sleeping, and the AC works well.  Wi-Fi is free but spotty.  They speak little English at the front desk but always have a smile and can help you arrange for tours.  
view from lobby of Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia
view from lobby of Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia


pool at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia
pool at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia


guest room at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia
guest room at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia


bathroom at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia
bathroom at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia


sign in bathroom at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia
sign in bathroom at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia


raking up canava flowers at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia
raking up canava flowers at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia


dusk at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia
dusk at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia


gift shop at Sylvia Resort Komodo on Flores Island in Indonesia

More things to do on Flores Island.

More things to do in nearby Bali.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers