Indonesia Photo Tour Day 13 & 14

By Michelle Alten

Gili Kenawa, off the coast of Sumbawa

Our night of cruising has brought us to a small islet, Gili Kenawa, off the coast of Sumbawa.  A hike up a steep hillside dishes up views of Lombok Island and Rennin Volcano.  The reef below provides a haven for a stunning array of sea life—angel fish, parrot fish, giant sea stars and so much more. A clown fish peeks out of waving soft corral while a damsel looks right at me, daring me to come closer.

Some of the Wolfies climbing the hill on Gili Kenawa, off the coast of Sumbawa
View from the hill on Gili Kenawa, off the coast of Sumbawa
The “Bottle House” on Gili Kenawa, off the coast of Sumbawa
Inside the “Bottle House” on Gili Kenawa, off the coast of Sumbawa

In the afternoon at Bungin Island, the voice of a Moslem prayer breaks the silence—we are traveling during Ramadan.  The otherwise sleepy village on stilts bakes in the afternoon sun.  We visit the fishing community, perched on reclaimed coral reef by people who were once nomadic sea gypsies.  Elegant young women with airy costumes and matching lipstick perform an elegant and intricate dance, sprinkling bits of popcorn, like confetti, from their cradled brass bowls, as a goat greedily nibbles at the crumbs.  Along the narrow dirt streets, people sell sundries from little shops below their homes, style hair in a beauty salon, and grate coconut as they prepare to break their Ramadan fast.  I admire the discipline and resilience of the people here as they endure the entire day without food or water.

View of the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island
Dancers in traditional costumes at the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island
Portrait of a dancer in traditional costumes at the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island
Street scene in the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island
Street scene with a family in the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island
Street scene with a fisherman working on a net in the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island
Street scene with a portrait of an old woman in the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island
Boys enjoying being photographed in the village of the sea gypsies on Bungin Island

Day 14

We gather one by one on the deck around 6:00, watching and waiting.  Peering out at the sea around us, we search for Anastasia’s boat. She has gone to ask the local fishermen if the whale shark is there.  Finally we spot her– her boat is humming towards us.  Her face gives away nothing.  She climbs the steps to the boat.  “It is here!  One of the whale sharks is near the boat. Let’s go.”

Moments later we are tumbling out of the dingy, swimming slowly towards the whale shark’s fin moving through sea.  The majestic dotted creature slips like silk through the water, weaving between us as it scoops up tiny fish.  Fishermen plop a bucket of their bait into the water as the shark circles back towards them.  The sight of the beautiful lithe body undulating through the sea is something to behold- an almost mystical experience like no other.

My friend Jon took images and video with his Go Pro of the whale shark (I am snorkeling next to it)
whale shark

Here is a link to the video… https://youtu.be/wK-T8w9wM4w   (full screen is best)

Labuan Aji village on the island of Moyo
MSV Katharina at sunset of Satonda Island