|While we like to think of
ourselves as travelers who seek variety, it's the fifth
year in a row we're headed to roughly the same
geographical area for our winter vacation. We just can't
stay away from the excellent diving in the "coral
triangle" of Southeast Asia. In 2008 we went to the Philippines;
Borneo in 2009; Indonesia (West
Papua and the Spice Islands) in 2010; and Palau,
Micronesia in 2011. Draw a circle around those
locales and the diameter is surprisingly small, although
culturally and politically many of them are worlds
apart. This year found us headed right back into the
circle, and in fact back to Indonesia, although to a
completely different region from our 2010 trip. This
time we're visiting Lombok
to climb Mount
Rinjani and Komodo
for a week of scuba diving (and a bit of dragon-viewing),
with a few overnights here and there to get from one
place to another.
We set off on our favorite air carrier, Singapore Airlines, with stops in Hong Kong and Singapore before reaching Bali, where we decided to spend two nights. Our destination in Bali wasn't the party-oriented beach resorts -- we'll check those out during our brief overnight on the way home -- but rather the artsy interior. The family was in high spirits; the kids were done with first-semester finals thanks to a shift in school calendar, and Tim, a senior already (how did that happen?) had secured early admission to his first-choice college (hint: he won't be far from the nest).
There were two notable occurrences en route to Bali:
Next: On Lombok we embark on a four-day trek up Gurung Rinjani, the second-highest volcano in Indonesia (or third-highest; reports differ), privately guided by Mr. John's Adventures. Mr. John's gets good reviews and the mountain is reputed to be both challenging and spectacular. The biggest uncertainty this time of year is weather; the forecast looks pretty good and our fingers are crossed.