Two A+ VTCT students, Holly and Iris, thought they were flying to Labuan Bajo in Flores to meet Komodo Dragons upfront and personal, but a twist of fate led to a totally unexpected and different experience.
First they came very close to not even getting to the island! As they were so pleased with their high marks, they did what so many young people do. They celebrated! And like so many others, they celebrated just a wee bit too hard and for way too long. As a result they were literally running to the check-in desk, where they were faced by a rather stern-faced airline staff who was clearly not happy with their extremely late arrival. It was only after several minutes of pleading accompanied by some tears, that he relented and gave them their boarding passes.
It was thus with great relief when they landed in Flores. However, as they had been too busy celebrating they had no reservations for accommodation. They decided to relax in a nearby cafe with some much needed water before seeking a taxi. To their surprise a pleasant young man paid for their drinks. They thought it must be their lucky day, Little did they know though that this was just the start of a day that they would never have imagined even in their wildest dreams.
Outside the cafe, a car pulled over and offered them a lift into town. It turned out to be a crew member of a luxury sailing boat who invited them to join an ocean adventure the following day. Although delighted, they also felt a bit suspicious about such a wonderful opportunity. After all, he had just randomly picked them up outside the airport gates so who knew where he was really going to take them. Sensing their hesitation, he suggested they come for an on-board dinner that evening to meet the owner, captain and crew.
As they approached the 53 metre long vessel that evening, they felt both apprehensive and excited. Were they going to be held captive with no one knowing their whereabouts, their phones have been thrown overboard? Would the Indonesian government search for them given how many islands there are and how vast the seas are? How would their parents fare with them being unaccounted for over a long period, perhaps forever?
It turns out any fears were totally unfounded as everyone was welcoming and delightful. They were just looking for enthusiastic people for a video to promote the US$14,000 a night, all frills-in maritime escape. Holly and Iris just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and readily accepted the invitation to sleep on board that night as they wanted to start filming at sunrise.
Perhaps it was the evening’s get to know you gathering, complete with free flow drinks that got everyone off to a late start the next morning. Whatever, the ladies had to spend yet another night on board contemplating how fortunate they were to be sleeping in the lap of luxury.
When they advised the young Polish owner of the boat ‘ZEN’ that they had to return to Bali for their homeward flight, he said come with us as we are sailing to Bali anyway. In total they spent 4 days and nights living like a celebrity. Appropriately It was a truly zen-like experience for Iris and Holly.
By day, they snorkeled in the crystal clear waters, one day even seeing a pod of dolphins and the next a huge manta ray leaping out of the water. Although they were both new to paddle and wake boarding, they quickly became adept at it. When fatigued by all the play, they picnicked on secluded lagoon beaches with food fit for the stars who usually sail on the ZEN. When really tired, they got a shot of adrenaline by plunging into the sea from the deck, all the way down screaming yippie.
By night, they drank tropical cocktails as the sun slid below the horizon, and dined on lobster and other freshly caught seafood. All the while causally getting to know the others who are now life-long friends.
Back in Bali and feeling a bit wobbly with land sickness, they returned to BISA to share their awesome story and pictures with their trainers.
While BISA cannot guarantee their students such a fantastic sailing adventure, they can certainly promise a delightful learning journey.