A Travellerspoint blog

Love at first sight: Sydney / Laska na prvy pohlad: Sydney

Reunion with an old friend in one of the world's best cities and the unpredictable journey to Melbourne. / Stretnutie po rokoch s kamaratkou Luckou v jednom z nejlepsich miest sveta a nevyspytatelna cesta do Melbourne.

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By ZZ

We spent the remaining days in Australia in the amazing city of Sydney followed by a road trip to Melbourne. Our friend Lucka prepared an exiting program for us and we ended up spending a whole week at hers in Sydney. That left us with just 3 days for a 1000 km long journey to Melbourne. In our humble opinion, Sydney is a serious candidate for the best city in the world. Situated in a beautiful natural harbor of the Parramatta river, it has access to calm harbor beaches as well as the wild waves of the Pacific coast. Thanks to the wonderful weather, people mostly live outdoors: they exercise in parks, make picnics in the natural reserves, surf and bike all year round.

Lucka and I haven't seen each other for 7 years. We attended the Bachelor studies in Prague together and then her heart brought her to the Oz. Even after the long time we had plenty to talk about. Old friendships never fade away! We arrived on a Friday and spent the first evening just like the locals at the Opera bar. The views off the Harbour bridge and the sexi Opera were just stunning! On an early Saturday morning we set off for the Bondi beach to see the "Sculpture by the sea" exhibition and to manage to do the "Spit to Manly walk" in the afternoon. We enjoyed the laid back weekend atmosphere and took breaks at lovely little hidden beaches along the way. In the evening, Lucka's boyfriend grilled some delicious kangaroo burgers for us. In the company of some other friends we spent a pleasant evening chatting, drinking beer and playing foosball. Despite a little headache in the morning, Lucka and Pavel decided that we go for a trip to the Westhead National Park and to the Northern beaches. It was a beautiful day full of great views off countless beaches, hidden coves and cultural heritage. We visited an Aboriginal sacred site with interesting stone carvings. We ended the day in a Thai restaurant and then sailed back to CBD by ferry. Thanks Luci for the great weekend!

During the next week we had enough time to do proper Sydney sightseeing. We visited the Darling Harbour, the Rocks, CBD, Darlinghurst, Paddington, ate the best ice cream at Messina and swam in the incredible pool at the Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, where the waves brake directly into the pool! We met our friend Niky from Prague, who is currently studying in Sydney. The journey onwards to Melbourne had to be organized, too. We found a "relocation deal", that gave us 3 days to relocate a huge motorhome to Melbourne, for just 5 $ a day. The car was a luxurious Mercedes Vito that sleeps 6 people and is equipped with a kitchen, shower, toilet and a TV. We have to admit that we had some difficulties to get used to this truck, but after a couple of hours, we were cruising the highways like a boss :) The first day on the road we couldn't miss the chance to stop at one of the most beautiful places we had yet to see: Jervis bay. This paradisiacal bay with turquoise water and white sand makes for a perfect habitat for dolphins, whales and other big sea mammals.

Unfortunately, the car started having problems the next day. The orange light "engine failure" kept blinking and after I didn't manage to drive uphill for 3 times, we had to admit that it was officially broken. Luckily we met a warm-hearted car mechanic in the little town of Pambula who took care of us and had us sleep in the van parked in his workshop. As the car could not be fixed immediately, we had to catch an early morning bus to Melbourne. We made it just in time to board our plane to Dubai! What a run in the end! So we said goodbye to Australia. It was hard. We fell in love with the country. But it was time to go home and that was, quite frankly, the only thing we wished for. Until the next time, Australia!

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Posledne dni v Australii sme sa rozhodli stravit v Sydney a cestou do Melbourne. A ze sme sa mali na co tesit - kamaratka Lucka nam totiz pripravila prvotriedny program. Az taky, ze sme u nej stravili tyzden a nechali si na 1000 km do Melbourne len 3 dni. Sydney je totiz vaznym adeptom na najlepsie mesto na svete! Je zasadene do ustia rieky Parramatta, ktore tvori prirodzeny pristav. Clovek tu najde pokojne plaze v zalive a zaroven divoke vlny na Tichooceanskom pobrezi. Ludia ziju vdaka krasnemu pocasiu vonku: sportuju v parkoch, piknikuju v prirodnych rezervaciach, surfuju a bicykluju.

S Luckou sme sa nevideli asi 7 rokov. Chodili sme spolu na VSE v bakalarskom studiu a ju potom srdce zanieslo do Australie. Aj po tolkej dobe sme sa vsak citili ako stare zname a nadsene si rozpravali novinky na oboch stranach. Hned prvy vecer, zrovna bol piatok, sme si typicky zasli na drink do Opera baru aj s Luckinou kamaratkou Katkou. Kochali sme sa pohladmi na majestatny Harbour bridge a sexi Operu. V sobotu sme hned skoro rano vyrazili na Bondi beach na vystavu Sculpture by the sea, aby sme este potom stihli turu zo Spit do Manly. Nechali sme sa uniest vikendovou atmosferou mesta a kupali sa na krasnych skrytych plazach. Vecer sme si u Luckineho priatela s partiou kamaratov ugrilovali klokanie hamburgery a uzili si pekny vecer. Aj ked sme v nedelu boli trochu pouziti, Lucka s Pavlom s nami mali dalsie plany - narodny park Westhead a severne plaze Sydney. Bol to nadherny den plny vyhladov na ocean, roznorodych plazi a kulturych zazitkov (posvatne miesta Aborigines), ktory sme zakoncili dobrym obedom v Thajskom bistre a malebou plavbou z Manly do centra Sydney. Dakujeme Luci este raz za super vikend!

Cez tyzden sme teda mali cas pozriet si zvysok Sydney - Darling Harbour, the Rocks, CBD, Darlinghurst, Paddington a opacko na Bondi. V Surf Life Saving Club na Bondi sme si dali par dlzok v bazene - a ze to nebol bazen hociaky, ale priamo na utese, takze vlny sa prelievali az dovutra! Stretli sme sa s dalsou kamaratkou Niky, ktora prave v Sydney studuje. Samozrejme sme si zorganizovali cestu dalej, do Melbourne, tentokrat s takzvanym "relocation deal", takze sme presuvali auto pre pozicovnu, aby ho mohla v Melbourne zase pozicat. Ked sme videli to auto, trochu sme sa zlakli - bol to obrovsky Mercedes Vito "all inclusive" so sprchou a WC, kuchynou, telkou a 6 miestami na spanie. Chvilu sme si na tento kamion zvykali, ale nestazovali sme sa ;) Cestou sme sa zastavili na jednom z najkrajsich miest v Australii, zalive Jervis bay, kde azurovomodra voda a biele plaze tvoria idealne prostredie pre delfiny, velryby a dalsie morske zivocichy.

Na dalsi den vsak prislo neprijmne prekvapenie. Po tom, co som dvakrat nevysla s nasim kamionom kopec a zacala blikat oranzova kontrolka "pokazeny motor", sme definitive usudili, ze auto sa pokazilo. Trochu smoly v polovici cesty, ked mate na druhy den letiet cez pol sveta. Mali sme ale stastie v nestasti, ze sme natrafili na mileho automechanika v mestecku Pambula, ktory nas nechal prespat v aute u seba v dielni. Zistili sme, ze auto sa potrebuje pripojit na pocitac, aby sa zistilo, co mu presne je. A to v piatok vecer uz v Australii nikto nerobi :) Na druhy den sme teda chytili ranny autobus do Melbourne a prave vcas naskocili aj do lietadla do Dubaja. Rozlucka s Australiou bola tazka, krasa tejto krajiny nas uchvatila. Ale bol cas vydat sa na cestu domov, a v tej dobe to uz bolo to jedine, co sme si zelali!

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Posted by zuzana.zav 04:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australian adventures / Australske dobrodruzstva

Our 4000 km long roadtrip in a hippie campervan through one of the world's wildest countries. / Takmer 4000 km dlhy roadtrip v hipisackej dodavke po jednej z najdivokejsich krajin sveta.

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After spending 5 months in Asia we couldn't wait to enjoy some of the western treats again: dairy products, safe transportation and good English. And CrossFit gyms, because there are more than 600 in the Oz! We first landed in Darwin and spent a few days couchsurfing at Daniella & Dave's place, planning the next few weeks of our trip. The true start of our Australian roadtrip was in Cairns, in the northeast edge of the country, where we flew over from Darwin.

There is no better way to travel in Australia than by a campervan. Taking into consideration the vast distances, no good accessibility by public transport and the accommodation prices, it is the best value for money you can get. The cost of living was a bit of a shock after the incredibly cheap Asia. Here are a few items just for illustration: lunch in a restaurant 1-2 $ vs. 15 $, double room 20 $ vs. 60 $, haircut 2 $ vs. 30 $. Fortunately, patrol is one of the things at the cheaper end and thanks to the WikiCamps Australia app, we could find many free camping sites. Our home for the next 4 weeks became the cool hippie campervan! Our typical day on the road looked something like this: we woke up with the sunrise, had a nice breakfast in the soft morning sun, by 8 am we were already driving to the next destination, stopped at beautiful beaches and points of interest, grilled something for lunch at one of the scenic picnic spots, found a place to stay overnight and fell asleep under the sky full of stars. Thanks to the car we were independent and didn't have to plan in advance. We fully recharged our batteries and gained back some lost kilograms :)

The distance from Cairns to Sydney along the east coast is about 2600 km. However, the meter in the car showed 3400 km upon our arrival to the destination. Our journey started at the Great Barrier Reef, where we encountered a 1,5 meters long reef shark! He swam right underneath us among the colorful coral. Next we saw some wild koalas on the Magnetic Island and a platypus in the Eungella national park. The dingoes on Fraser Island were quite scary, especially because we hiked the whole time (40 km in two days) and slept in a tent alone in the jungle. We saw the whitest beach ever - at Lake MacKenzie. Every fan of the "Crocodile hunter" has to visit the 'Australia ZOO' by Brisbane, take a selfie with the kangaroos and watch the incredible crocodile show. Everyone falls in love with Byron bay. The easternmost cape of the continent offers dramatic views off the cliffs and wild waves, excellent food scene and a first class surf. We couldn't resist and rented a couple of surfboards to show our tricks to the local pros :) The atmosphere along the coast from Cape Byron on changed significantly and we watched dolphins and whales in the Pacific ocean from the beach almost every day. One day we ran into a cool little music festival in the town of Yamba. The other day we visited the koala hospital in Port Macquarie. We sweetened our journey with the good wine of Hunter valley. Lucky enough, Tobi found a 100 $ bill on the floor - we would like to thank the sponsor for some nice bottles of the local Semillon and Shiraz :) I cannot forget the numerous "roos" we saw along the road, albeit the majority was already dead. Perhaps the most bizarre Aussie animal is the wombat, a mixture of a rabbit and a dog. We saw a few in a sanctuary and a dead one at the road :(

The roadtrip was an unforgettable experience not only for the things we saw, but also for the feeling of freedom it gave us. Nature the people in Europe destroyed ages ago remains wild and untouched here in Australia. The few 22 million people who live here are always nice, friendly and optimistic. You just call everyone 'mate' and you fit in just fine! With more than 300 sunny days per year and delicious, locally-grown food you get probably the best country to live in. In our opinion Australia has the nicest beaches in the world - they are always clean, empty and usually protected as a part of a national park. Our favorite morning shower in fact was the one in the fresh ocean water.

And where are the another 600 km missing to the 4000 stated in the headline? Well, you'll have to wait for the continuation of our journey from Sydney to Melbourne!

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Po 5 mesiacoch stravenych v Azii sme sa uz nevedeli dockat "zapadnych" vymozenosti - mliecnych vyrobkov, bezpecnej dopravy a dobrej anglictiny. No a aj nejakych tych CrossFit boxov, ktorych je v Australii viac ako 600! Potom ako sme prileteli z Bali do Darwinu sme stravili par dni couchsurfovanim u mileho paru Danielly & Dava, naplanovali sme si trasu a preleteli do skutocneho zaciatku nasho dlho ocakavaneho roadtripu - mesta Cairns na severovychodnom cipe krajiny.

V Australii nie je lepsi sposob cestovania ako takzvany "campervan", obytna dodavka. Vzhladom na obrovske vzdialenosti, horsiu dostupnost hromadnej dopravy a ceny ubytovania clovek vidi jednoznacne najviac za najnizsiu cenu. Po neuveritelne lacnej Azii to pre nas predsa len bol trosku sok. Pre porovnanie par poloziek: obed v restauracii 1-2 $ vs. 15 $, strihanie vlasov 2 $ vs. 30 $, dvojlozkova izba na noc 20 $ vs. 60 $. Nastastie benzin je jedna z veci, ktore su pomerne lacne a pomocou aplikacie WikiCamps Australia sme nasli aj dost miest, kde bol povoleny bezplatny camping. Nasim domovom sa teda na takmer 4 tyzdne stala fesacka hipisacka dodavka! Nas typicky den vyzeral asi takto: vstali sme s vychodom slnka, dali sme si ranajky pod holym nebom, o 8 uz sme boli na ceste, zastavili sme si na niekolkych plazach a zaujimavych miestach, ugrilovali nieco chutne na piknikovej zastavke, nasli miesto na prenocovanie a vecer sme pod hviezdnou oblohou zaspavali. Vdaka autu sme boli nezavisli a nemuseli nic dopredu planovat. Nabrali sme tak vela energie a aj par stratenych kil :)

Do Sydney je to po pobrezi asi 2600 km, my sme vsak podla tachometru najazdili 3400 km. Zacali sme jedinecnych Velkym barierovym utesom, kde sme stretli koraloveho zraloka! Plaval priamo pod nami, medzi pestrofarebnymi koralmi. Pokracovali sme divokymi koalami na Magnetic island a vtakopyskami v narodnom parku Eungella. Dost strachu z dingov nam nahnal Fraser island, kde sme za dva dni nachodili 40 km a videli tie najbelsie plaze. Kazdy fanusik "Lovca krokodilov" musi povinne navstivit Australia ZOO pri Brisbane, spravit si selfika s klokanom a pozriet si neuveritelne predstavenie s krokodilmi. Byron bay si zamiluje kazdy. Nejvychodnejsi cip kontinentu sa pysi dramatickymi vyhladmi na skaliska odrazajuce dive vlny, skvelou gurmanskou scenou a perfektnymi podmienkami na surfovanie. Ani my sme neodolali a ukazali nase triky miestnym profikom :) Tichooceanske pobrezie smerom k Sydney uz malo uplne inu atmosferu a z plaze sme kazdy den pozorovali velryby a delfiny. Jedneho dna sme natrafili na maly pohodovy hudobny festival v mestecku Yamba a na dalsi sme navstivili nemocnicu pre koaly v Port Macquarie. Trosku sme si cestu spestrili dobrym vinom v Hunter valley, hlavne po tom, co sme na zemi nasli 100 $ :) Sponzorovi dakujeme za skvely Semillon a Shiraz! Samozrejme nesmiem zabudnut na klokany na kazdom rohu, aj ked bohuzial najcastejsie mrtvi na kraji cesty. Jednym z najkurioznejsich australskych zvierat je vombat, nieco medzi psom a zajacom, ktoreho sa nam podarilo vidiet len v zoo a jedneho zrazeneho na ceste :(

Cela cesta az do Sydney bola nezabudnutelna nielen tym, co vsetko sme videli, ale hlavne tym, ako pocit slobody cloveku davala. Priroda, ktoru sme si uz v Europe znicili, tu naplno ukazuje svoju neskrotnu krasu. Ludia, ktorych tu zije len 22 milionov, su vzdy priatelski, slusni a dobre naladeni. Staci skratka vsetkych volat "mate" a ste bez problemov. K tomu pridajte viac ako 300 slnecych dni v roku, cerstve a chutne jedlo a dostanete idealnu krajinu na zivot. Australske plaze sme vyhodnotili ako jednoznacne najlepsie, pretoze su vzdy ciste, vacsinou sucastou narodnych parkov a teplota vody by sa dala charakterizovat ako "osviezujuca", ale nam to tak vyhovalo. Nasa oblubena ranna sprcha bola v oceane :)

Pytate sa, kde som nechala este 600 km? No tych sme najazdili cestou zo Sydney do Melbourne, ale o tom nabuduce!

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Posted by zuzana.zav 07:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Komodo, the lost world / Komodo, strateny svet

On the quest to see the world's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon. / Vyprava za najvacsim jasterom na svete, varanom komodskym.

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By ZZ

When we were planning our trip to Indonesia, one thing stood out from the beginning - we must see Komodo. As the islands of Komodo are fairly remote the question of how we get there hung in the air until the very last minute. After a couple of experiences with the local sea transportation we both agreed that a 3-day sailing trip on a small boat wasn't the way to go (a boat like this sank in August and 2 people died). And so we agreed on option nr.2, a 24-hour long bus ride including 2 journeys by ferry...this option however faded slowly but surely too, as our legs were screaming for relief after we hiked Mt.Rinjani. That left us with option nr.3, a flight from Bali. Going 4000 meters in altitude felt nothing short of a scenic flight. We saw the "beloved" Mt.Rinjani again, the islands of Sumbawa, Moyo and the spectacular Komodo national park from above.

We landed in the middle of nowhere. Labuanbajo on the Flores island is a small fishing town with an airport serving purely as a getaway to the national park. There are about 20 dive shops, all owned by foreigners - this is indeed the reason why the majority of people come to Komodo. And it is a very good one - the Komodo marine park is one of the best dive spots in the world, leaving behind places like the Great Barrier Reef. Our goal was nevertheless to see a living dinosaur, the biggest lizard in the world in his natural habitat where he survived millions of years. The Komodo dragon. He can be seen only on these few islands, which is the only place on earth. We quickly organized a day trip, which included diving and a visit to the Rinca island (where there is the biggest chance to see the dragons) with one of the dive shops. Excited, we couldn't wait until the next day!

In the morning at 7 am we were walking towards the port of Labuanbajo. The boats were just coming back from fishing. The atmosphere of the moment was unbelievably intense, we found ourselves in this God's forgotten place, splashed by the early rays of sun and a fresh sea breeze. We boarded the boat and sailed 2 hours to the national park. The first 2 stops were underwater. Manta point, on itself a quite boring spot but it is the best place to see the huge, up to 6-meters long manta rays. Finally we spotted one, swimming elegantly below us like the queen of the seas. The second spot was the most beautiful place of the marine reserve - Batu Bolong. This regularly looking rock hides a treasure of hundreds of fish, colorful corals and sea turtles all around. This appears to be a giant fish tank filled with a variety of magnificent color! After 2 dives we got pretty cold from the chilly wind. It was highest time to go for a walk with dinosaurs. We were guided by a local ranger equipped with a wooden stick (this should be the weapon that protects us from the dragons?!). He told us that he even guided the 'Crocodile hunter' Steve Irwin when he was on Komodo! The island gives an intense 'Jurassic park' feeling: the lost world, inhospitable conditions, unbearable heat. It didn't take long to spot the first of the up to 3-meters long lizards underneath the trees. The Komodo dragon is strictly carnivorous, it hunts deers, water buffaloes, monkeys and sometimes it's own children. It can smell prey from the distance of 5 km. Fortunately it can survive by as little as 12 meals per year. We saw the majority of them laying lazily on the ground. Later we saw a female lizard guarding her freshly laid eggs and a young dragon running through the desert. It was an unforgettable experience and we highly recommend it to all nature lovers!

Labuanbajo is a magical place - we enjoyed some splendid sunsets and breathtaking views from our room. Every evening we made our way to the fish market for some delicious grilled sea food. We strolled leisurely through the town and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. In 3 days however, the time was up and we had to take a sightseeing flight back to Bali. And that's the end on our Indonesian journey. This country truly amazed us by its natural wonders and diversity: orangutans, volcanic lakes, paradisiacal beaches, an underwater world and prehistoric lizards. Wherever you look, you're stunned by the natural beauty of this land. Maybe one of our new favorite destinations?!

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Ked sme planovali cestu do Indonezie, bolo nam jasne, ze sa musime pozriet na ostrov Komodo. Zostalo ale otvorene, ako sa tam z Lomboku dostaneme. Po par skusenostiach s miestnou lodnou dopravou sme zavrhli moznost cislo jedna: trojdennu plavbu pochybnou barkou. Dohodli sme sa, ze skusime moznost druhu: 24-hodinovu cestu autobusom, zahrnajucu 2 trajekty. Ovsem po vystupe na Mt.Rinjani boli nase nohy ako z kamena, takze sme si nevedeli predstavit mat ich zlozene na sedadle taku dlhu dobu. A tak sme sa vratili na Bali a zvolili moznost tretiu: lietadlo. Bola samozrejme najdrahsia, ale dalo by sa povedat, ze to bol vlastne vyhliadkovy let nad suostrovim Nusa Tenggara. Videli sme tak opat Mr.Rinjani, ostrovy Sumbawa a Moyo a hlavne Komodsky narodny park z vysky.

Prilet do Labuanbajo na ostrove Flores, vychodiska na Komodske suostrovie, je ako pristatie v krajine nikoho. Letisko je opustene a marne by ste tam hladali obchody so suvenirmi. Cele mestecko je vlastne vacsia rybarska dedina s asi 20 potapacskymi skolami a peknym pristavom. Vacsina turistov sem chodi kvoli potapaniu. Nasim cielom bolo ale vidiet zijucu fosiliu, najvacsieho jastera na zemi, ktory vo svojom nedotknutom prirodzenom prostredi prezil miliony rokov. Varan komodsky. Da sa vidiet len tu, na jedinom mieste na svete. Zorganizovat plavbu na ostrov Rinca (kde je najvacsia sanca varany vidiet), nebol problem, vybrali sme sa lodkou hned na druhy den s jednou z potapacskych skol.

Skoro rano o 7 sme uz slapali prebudzajucim sa Labuanbajo do pristavu. Rybarske lode sa prave vracali z lovu. Atmosfera bola ako v dlho zabudnutom meste na konci sveta. Nalodili sme sa a najprv sme sa plavili asi 2 hodiny do narodneho parku. Nase prve dve zastavky boli podmorske. Manta point, ktory je sam o sebe nudny, ale je najlepsim miestom, kde sa daju vidiet obrovske, az 6-metrove manty. A naozaj sa nam podarilo jednu spatrit, plachtila pod nami elegantne ako kralovna mori. Druha zastavka je najkrajsie miesto celeho parku, Batu Bolong. Tato nevinne vyzerajuca skala trciaca z vody skryva pod hladinou neuveritelne bohatstvo: miliony rybiciek (a ryb), farebne koraly a morske korytnacky vsade okolo. Clovek sa z tych farieb moze zblaznit! Po dvoch ponoroch nam bola na lodi uz celkom zima, fukal studeny vietor. A to bol najlepsi cas vydat sa na prechadzku s dinosaurami. Okruhom v rezervacii na Rince nas previedol miestny ranger s drevenou palicou (to ma byt zbran proti varanom?!). Rozpraval nam prihodu, ako po ostrove Komodo viedol 'Lovca krokodilov' Steva Irwina, ktory sa varanov dotykal a utekal pred nimi. Cely ostrov posobi dojmom Jurskeho parku. Strateny svet, nehostinne podmienky, neznesitelna horucava. A predsa sa pod stromami schovavaju obrovske, az 3 metre dlhe jastery. Varan komodsky je striktny masozravec, zerie srnky, vodne byvoly, opice a niekedy aj svoje mladata. Korist dokaze zacitit na vzdialenost 5 km. Nastastie zerie len raz za mesiac. Ked sme ich fotili, len lenivo lezali na zemi. Neskor sme este videli samicu straziacu nakladene vajcia a mladeho varana beziaceho pustou. Tento zazitok na nas spravil obrovsky dojem a vsetkym vrele odporucame!

V Labuanbajo sme si okrem pohodovej atmosfery uzivali este nadherne zapady slnka a vyhlady z nasej izby. Vecer sme si pochutnavali na cerstvych morskych plodoch na miestnom rybom trhu. Bezcielne sme sa prechadzali a nevedeli sa nabazit pomaleho a uvolneneho tempa. Casu sme ale bohuzial mali malo, a tak sme po 3 dnoch opat museli nasadnut na vyhliadkovy let a vratit sa na Bali. A to je koniec nasho indonezskeho putovania. Tato krajina nas ocarila zazrakmi prirody: orangutany, sopecne jazera, vulkanicke plaze, podmorsky svet, prehistoricke jastery. Kam sa clovek pozrie, nestaci otvarat oci a zatvarat pusu. Ze by sme mali novu oblubenu krajinu? ;)

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Posted by zuzana.zav 23:34 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bali & Lombok stories / Pribehy z Bali & Lomboku

How we swam with sea turtles on Gili Air and climbed the second highest volcano in Indonesia Mt.Rinjani. / Ako sme plavali s morskymi korytnackami na Gili Air a vyliezli na druhu najvyssiu indonezsku sopku Mt.Rinjani.

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By ZZ

Upon our arrival in Bali we were emotionally drenched and not in the best physical condition. First we were charged an airport tax of 200 000 rupiah each (14 euro) in Medan, Sumatra which in our humble view is an official government corruption as taxes are already included in the tickets. Anyway, this was followed by a horror-like stopover in Kuala Lumpur. We honestly feared we will die that day. There was a storm over the KL airport and the aircraft suddenly fell down some 10s of meters. Instead of landing, the pilot started increasing speed again and lifted the plane up into the air filled with thunders beside the plane. We turned around and prepared for the second attempt. The wheels were out and we saw the runway from the window 100 meters below when the situation repeated itself and we had to fly straight back into the windy gale. During the third landing attempt we had our hearts in the throat and visualized our lives flushing by. But we made it. Unfortunately we had another flight two hours later to Bali, so you can imagine the terror with which we boarded that plane. Everything went well until we arrived to immigrations, where we were told that our 30-day Indonesian visa was actually single entry and we had to pay 30 $ each, again. Anyway, we were glad to be safely on land and went straight to our hotel. The room we were given hasn't seen a cleaning lady for a long while. So we asked for another room which was obviously more expensive. We didn't have any more energy to argue and fell asleep exhausted shortly after midnight...

Tobi didn't feel well the last days on Sumatra and had high fever upon our arrival in Bali. That is not a good sign in any tropical country, because malaria and dengue fever have the same symptoms as a normal flu. And so we spent the first day at a clinic going through blood tests. After a few stressful hours Tobi was acquitted and results were negative, to his great relief. We stayed in Kuta, the tourist capital of Bali for a couple more days until Tobi recovered. It is an incredibly exploited place full of Australians with a Bintang beer in their hands. There is no chance to escape the street vendors that offer anything you might need - taxi, massage, Bali boy, marihuana, opium,... We were the happiest people in the world when we finally left Kuta and discovered Amed on the far east coast. It was like an oasis of peace and relaxation hidden under the 3000 meters high volcano Mt.Agung. This was Bali as we imagined it to be: black volcanic sand, fishing villages, Hindu temples and traditional clothing. We spent a beautiful recovery week there doing yoga every morning and eating fresh fish all the time. At the Good Karma guesthouse in Selang we could snorkel straight off the beach and admired colorful fish and shining coral. We also rented a motorbike (as usual) and drove on a discovery trip to Tulamben where the USS Liberty shipwreck from the WWII is sunk. A true holiday!

When we finally had enough of doing nothing we considered it's time to move on - this time to the paradisiacal Gili islands off the coast of Lombok, Bali's neighbor. Think white sand, turquoise water, no motorized vehicles and sea turtles :) Of the three islands we chose Gili Air, a good place to relax but still with enough entertainment options. After sunbathing and long walks during the day we spent the evenings in a beach cinema. One day we decided that we needed more action and signed up for a 'Discover scuba diving' course. I was a little scared because of my ear problems in childhood, but all was good. Our French instructor first explained some theory and then we practiced basic exercise in the pool. After 2 hours we were ready to get on a boat to the dive spot of the day: Turtle heaven. Wow, what a place! We dived 14 meters deep to see a good dozen of sea turtles swimming elegantly around us. We also saw Nemo and Dory and many other fish whose names I can't remember :(

In the last days on Gili Air the owner of our apartment was trying to convince us to do a 3-day trek to Mt.Rinjani (3722 m), the second highest volcano in Indonesia. We knew it was a very difficult one but finally we gave in. Our 8-members group gathered in Senaru the evening before for an initial briefing. It all sounded great and we had no idea what we were actually into. The first day was all right, it took us 7 hours to climb up to the elevation of 2600 m, to the crater ridge. We enjoyed breathtaking views of the huge crater lake at sunset. We slept in tents and the night was very short and nerve-racking for us. The alarm clock was set to 2 am so that we could start our final, 4-hour long climb up to the top to be there at sunset. This was a mental fight, which brought us to the verge of surrender. We had to climb a slope with a 40 % incline on volcanic dust and loose pebble stones. The last 500 meters were the worse, with every step we took we slid down again and although we saw the summit, it seemed unattainable. When we finally reached it, all the pain was gone and we could enjoy stunning views of the surrounding islands Bali and Sumbawa. The way down was easy and carefree and we ate our well deserved breakfast down on the ridge at 9 am. What followed was a looong day because we still had 5 hours of hiking ahead of us. First we descended to the crater lake where we jumped into the hot spring and relaxed our muscles a little bit (it was also our only shower in the 3 days, yuk). And then followed a 3-hour ascent back to the ridge...we tried to distract ourselves by chatting and step by step hiked up. We arrived totally exhausted and as soon as the sun set we fell asleep in our tents. The third day was fortunately just a 5-hour walk down to Senaru, but the muscle pain was pretty bad and Tobi's knees hurt so badly that he had to help himself with a walking stick. We survived. It was tough. But it was worth it (what else can I say?!)! We'll be happy to share the details with anyone interested ;)

...

Na Bali sme prileteli rozcarovani a nie v najlepsej kondicii. Najprv nam v Medane na letisku nauctovali 200 000 rupii (14 eur) "odletovu dan". Nasledovalo medzipristatie v Kuala Lumpur, pri ktorom sme sa bali o holy zivot. Nad letiskom bola burka a lietadlo tesne pred pristatim prudko spadlo. S vysunutym podvozkom potom pilot zacal nahle zrychlovat a stupat. Otocil lietadlo a nasledoval druhy pokus o pristatie. Uz sme mali pristavaciu drahu na dohlad a zase vysunuty podvozok, ked sa situacia zopakovala. Na treti pokus sme pristali s zaludkom v krku a srdcom tlcucim o preteky. Bohuzial nas v ten den cakal dalsi let, na Bali. Ten uz bol nastastie bez problemov, aspon v lietadle. Na letisku nas nechali zaplatit druhy krat indonezske viza, pretoze tie nase su sice 30-dnove, ale bohuzial jednovstupove. Po tychto vsetkych prekazkach sme sa zaviezli do hotela, kde nam dali tak spinavu izbu, ze nam to nedalo a museli sme ju vymenit za inu (samozrejme drahsiu). Asi o polnoci sme zniceni zalahli a odpadli...

Tobi posledne dni na Sumatre chytil nejaku virozu a mal teploty. To nie je v ziadnej tropickej krajine sranda, pretoze to moze byt zaciatok malarie alebo horucky dengue. A tak sme prvy den na Bali stravili na klinike na krvnych testoch. Po dost stresujucom dni sme si vydychli, pretoze vysledky boli negativne. V hlavnom turistickom centre, Kute, sme zostali, kym sa Tobi nevyzdravel. Je to strasne prevarene stredisko plne Australcanov s pivom Bintang v ruke a poulicnych predavacov s plnym sortimentom - taxi, masaz, Bali boy, marihuana, opium. Boli sme velmi radi, kde sme konecne mohli vypadnut do krasneho Amedu. Vychodne pobrezie este stale je to Bali, o ktorom turisti basnia uz 30 rokov. Cierne plaze pod upatim 3000 metrov vysokej sopky Mt.Agung, rybarske osady, hinduisticke chramy a tradicne oblecenie. My sme si dali relaxacny tyzden v malych bungalovoch na plazi Good Karma. Kazde rano sme zacinali lekciou jogy a zivili sme sa cerstvymi rybami. Mali sme nadhernu snorchlovacku rovno z plaze - koraly a rybicky bolo krasne vidiet v priehladnej vode. Samozrejme nemohol chybat vylet na skutri, tentokrat do Tulambenu, kde sa nachadza vrak americkej lode z 2. svetovej vojny USS Liberty.

Ked uz sme uznali, ze by bol cas na presun (Tobi sa medzitym kompletne zotavil), nasadli sme na motorovy cln na Gili ostrovy. Su to 3 male klenoty na brehu Lomboku. Predstavte si biele plaze, tyrkysovo-modre more, ziadne motorove vozidla a morske korytnacky :) Zvolili sme Gili Air, kludnejsi ostrov na relax, ale stale s dostatkom aktivit. Okrem kupania a prechadzok sme kazdy vecer chodili do plazoveho kina - premietacie platno a tulivaky na piesku boli dobrou bodkou na konci dna. Rozhodli sme sa tu aj konecne vyskusat potapanie a prihlasili sa na zakladny kurz. Asi hodinu nam francuzsky instruktor vysvetloval teoriu, potom sme si skusili par dychacich cviceni v bazene a sup naostro. V ten den sa islo lodkou na miesto zvane "turtle heaven", teda korytnacie nebo. A naozaj, po pomalom zostupe do hlbky 14 metrov sa to korytnackami len tak hemzilo! Plavali vsade okolo nas, elegantne a bez namahy. Okrem nich sme videli aj Nema a Dory a vela dalsich ryb, ktorych mena si bohuzial nepamatam :(

Poslednych par dni nas lamal majitel apartmanu, v ktorom sme byvali, aby sme isli na 3-dnovu turu na Mt.Rinjani (3722 m.n.m.), 2.najvyssiu sopku v Indonezii. Nakoniec sme sa nechali nahovorit, i ked sme vedeli, ze to bude velmi narocne. V predvecer vystupu sa nasa 8-clenna skupinka zhromazdila na "skolenie muzstva" o priebehu nasledujucich 3 dni. Znelo to vsetko fajn a zatial sme netusili, co nas vlastne caka. Prvy den sme zvladli v pohode, za 7 hodin sme vyliezli na okraj krateru a mohli sme sa kochat prvymi pohladmi na obrovske sopecne jazero uprostred. Noc bola velmi nervozna a kratka. Uz o 2 rano sme mali budicek a slapali sme 4 hodiny na vrchol. Tento usek bola skuska nervov. Liezli sme v sopecnom prachu a kamenoch po svahu so sklonom 40 %. Poslednych 500 metrov bolo najhorsich, clovek uz videl vrchol, ale pri kazdom kroku sa smykal dole. Ked sme konecne dosiahli vrcholu, vsetko vycerpanie preslo a dostavila sa obrovska euforia. Videli sme Bali aj Sumbawu a samozrejme nemohla chybat povinna vrcholova fotka :) Cesta dolu bola uz rychla a bezstarostna. O 9 sme si dali dobre ranajky a...cakalo nas este dobrych 5 hodin turistiky. Najprv prisla ta prijemna cast, 2 hodiny dole k jazeru a k horucim pramenom, ktore boli vykupenim pre unavene svaly. Obed. Slofik. Zatial by to slo. Ale potom prisiel zaver dna, trojhodinovy vystup naspat na okraj krateru, kde sme stravili druhu noc. Snazili sme sa kratit si cas rozhovormi s clenmi nasej skupiny a poctivo sme ukrajovali cestu krok za krokom. Vycerpanie bolo vidiet na vsetkych a so zapadom slnka sme aj my zapadli do stanov a zalomili. Treti den bol nastastie uz len zostup do dediny Senaru, ale to uz Tobiho tak boleli kolena, ze zatinal zuby od bolesti a opieral sa o drevenu palicu. Prezili sme. Bolo to narocne. Ale stalo to za to! Zaujemcom radi zdelime dalsie detaily ;)

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Posted by zuzana.zav 04:30 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Splendid Sumatra / Skvostna Sumatra

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By ZZ

It's only a short 1-hour flight from Malaysia to Sumatra. But these are two radically different worlds. After our arrival to Medan, the 3rd biggest city in Indonesia, we immediately caught a shared taxi to the wilderness. Once in the van, an elderly man started talking to us and asking the typical questions. 'Where are you from? What's your job? What's your religion?' He then thanked us for coming to Indonesia and said to invite our friends and family, too. And so we invite you all, come to Indonesia and you won't regret it!

Sumatra is full of natural wonders. We first went to see the unique lake Toba, a huge volcanic crater created 80 000 years ago. In the middle of it is Samosir, an island the size of Singapur, created during an eruption 50 000 years ago. The whole region is home to the Batak Toba tribe with their unique culture and habits that survived hundreds of years. To get to the Samosir island, we took a boat from Parapat. Our first impressions were very promising. Mas cottages, a place where we stayed, was an oasis of piece and relax between the two villages of Tuk Tuk and Ambarita. On the first day, we foolishly stuffed ourselves (as in me - Zuzka) with fried fish in sambal sauce and mashed potatoes, and then we had to digest it for 4 days :) Well, sometimes we jumped into the lake for a nice morning swim. One day, when the sky was overcast, Tobi laid outside just in his trunks and turned so red (surprisingly) he had to cluster himself with the white SOS after sun balm we brought from home. The other day we rented a motorbike and went to see a traditional Batak dance in the Simanindo museum. The funny part of the performance came in the end when we had to join the artists to dance the final part with them :) On the way we saw many traditional houses with their typical pointed roofs, graves with statues and crosses and churches too. We were lucky to see a wedding in one of them and joined for a few more dances. Horas!

Rested and full of energy we hit the road again. This time our destination was Berastagi, a base for the Gunung Sibayak volcano. We really disliked the place and shortened our stay to the necessary minimum of 1 night. It's basically an agricultural town with a few markets...the streets were just too dirty, stinky and noisy for our taste. Gunung Sibayak was a different story, though. We set off early in the morning and reached the peak in 2000 meters after a short 1-hour walk (the hike is very easy). The volcano last erupted 180 years ago but make no mistakes! It is still active! In fact it's immediate neighbor Gunung Sinabung erupted just last year. We enjoyed mostly the views of the small lake inside but due to thick clouds we haven't seen much of the countryside. We took a nice bath in a hot spring which ended the day pleasantly, uaaah :)

The best not always comes in the end, but this time we couldn't wish for more. We can officially call the Gunung Leuser National Park one of the highlights of our whole journey. It's one of the last places on earth where you can still meet wild tigers, elephants, orangutans and the many more. We didn't really like the idea of meeting a wild tiger, but we had really been looking forward to encounter some orangutans. Bukit Lawang, the gate to the park, is already covered with jungle. There are many lodging possibilities, all of them very basic and natural. Expect no ATMs, frequent electricity cuts and hardly any wifi (and don't even think about warm water). But that's ok. We loved waking up with monkeys playing on the other side of the river. We were very lucky to meet Sinar, a legendary guide, at our guesthouse Garden Inn. He's been studying the animals here for 25 years and going for a trek with him was a real adventure. First we spotted the Thomas Leaf monkey, an endemic specie with a punk style haircut. Then we admired the rare white-handed gibbon swinging fast from tree to tree. Just before noon we found a group of orangutans. Orangutan is a solitary animal and to see 10 of them together is like winning the lottery. What followed was a 30-minute long spectacle of the apes playing, kissing and showing off. We got to see it from a 5 meters distance! Later in the afternoon Sinar heard the sound of an adult male and absolutely had to show him to us. So we climbed an almost vertical slope like monkeys and then slid down on our buts to follow him. And there he was, "his majesty" - 90 kg heavy, 40 years old orangutan with huge cheeks resting on a tree. The branch dangerously bent under his weight. After that we returned back to the village tubing down the river (inflated truck tires tied together) and the cold white water was nice and cooling after the hot day in the jungle. We came back to our guesthouse wet, dirty and tired but full of unforgettable experience. The pictures are just amazing, don't you think?

...

Na Sumatru je to len kratky, ani nie hodinovy len z Malajzie. A predsa su to dva odlisne svety. Z tretieho najvacsieho mesta Indonezie, Medanu, sme hned z letiska utiekli do divociny. V minibuse sa nam prihovoril starsi pan a najprv kladol obligatne otazku: Odkial si? Co robis? Ake vyznavas nabozenstvo? Potom sa nam podakoval, ze sme prisli do Indonezie a povedal, ze mame pozvat aj nasich priatelov a rodinu. Tak vas vsetkych pozyvame, pridte do Indonezie!

Na Sumatre sme skutocne videli jedinecne prirodne vytvory. Zacali sme jazerom Danau Toba, obrovskym sopecnym kraterom, vytvorenym pred 80 000 rokmi. Uprostred neho sa nachadza Samosir, ostrov velkosti Singapuru, ktory vznikol pri vybuchu pred 50 000 rokmi. Cela oblast je domovom kmena Batak Toba, ktori maju jedinecnu kulturu a zvyky. My sme sa na ostrov preplavili malou lodkou a prve dojmy boli skvele. Ubytovali sme sa v Mas cottages medzi dedinami Tuk Tuk a Ambarita, mimo turisticky ruch ostrova. Najprv sme sa (hlavne ja) totalne prejedli vyprazanou rybou v sambal omacke so zemiakovou kasou a potom sme sa 4 dni valali. No, nie uplne. Obcas sme si skocili do jazera :) Jeden den sme si pozicali skutrik (Tobi je uz profik) a previezli sa do muzea kmena Batak. Zrovna predvadzali tradicny tanec a tak sme sa pridali. Cestou sme pozorovali tradicne domy so spicatou strechou, hrobky s krizami a kostoly. V jednom z nich bola zrovna svatba: zeny boli sviatocne oblecene v batike a vlasy mali zacesane do elegantnych drdolov. Trochu sme si s nimi zatancovali, ako nas pred chvilou naucili.

Oddychnuti sme sa vydali na cestu do Berastagi s jedinym cielom - vyliezt na sopku Gunung Sibayak. Planovane 2 noci sme nakoniec skratili na jednu, pretoze sa nam tam ani trochu nepacilo. Mesto je spinave, smradlave a sluzi najma ako polnohospodarsky trh. Na Sibayak, vysoky nieco malo cez 2000 metrov, sme isli hned na dalsie rano. Sopka je stale aktivna, i ked posledna erupcia bola pred 180 rokmi. Uprostred je male jazierko, otvory chrliace vypary a stvrdnuta lava. Vystup je relativne jednoduchy a za hodinu sa da najlahsou cestou dostat az na vrchol. My sme nemali vela stastia na vyhlad kvoli hmle a mrakom. I tak to bol zaujimavy den, ktory sme zakoncili prijemne v termalnych pramenoch.

Nakoniec nas cakal vrchol navstevy Sumatry a jeden z vrcholov vobec. Bukit Lawang, brana do narodneho parku Gunung Leuser. Jedno z poslednych miest na zemi, kde sa daju stretnut dive tigre, slony, orangutany a vela dalsich zvierat. Nam sa stretnutie s divym tigrom uplne nepozdavalo, ale na orangutany sme sa tesili. Bukit Lawang je skutocne takmer divocina. Pri rieke hniezdia hostely jeden vedla druheho, za nimi uz je len dzungla. Nie su tu bankomaty, elektrina funguje sporadicky a internet je velky luxus. Clovek sa rano zobudi, pozrie z balkona a jedine, co vidi, su stromy a opice. A to sa nam pacilo, byt strateni v pralese, v drevenych chatkach, kupat sa v rieke, rozpravat sa s miestnymi. V nasom hosteli Garden Inn sme stretli Sinara, legendarneho sprievodcu, ktory tu uz 25 rokov orangutany studuje. S nim v dzungli to bolo dobrodruztsvo. Najprv sme videli endemiticky druh opice Thomas Leaf, alebo "punky monkey" kvoli pankacskemu ucesu. Potom vzacneho bielorukeho gibona s mladatkom, ako bleskurychlo ruckuje medzi stromami. Okolo obeda sme natrafili na skupinku orangutanov. Orangutan je samotar, takze vidiet 10 jedincov pohromade je velmi zriedkave. Pozorovali sme ich asi z patmetrovej vzdialenosti ako sa na stromoch hraju, predvadzaju a pusinkuju. 30-minutove divadlo na nezaplatenie! Neskor zacul Sinar dospeleho samca a musel nam ho za kazdu cenu ukazat. Najprv sme sa teda vystverali skoro vertikalnym kopcom, potom sme sa sklzli na zadku dolu svahom a tam na strome oddychoval. 90-kilovy, 40-rocny orangutan s bradou a velkymi licami. Ked ruckoval medzi stromami, vsetko sa pod nim prehybalo. Potom nas uz cakala len cesta naspat, tentokrat na nafukovacich kolesach po rieke. Spoteni, spinavi, mokri, ale totalne nadseni sme sa vratili vecer do hostela. Tie fotky su neuveritelne, uznajte sami!

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Posted by zuzana.zav 20:49 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

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