Story submitted by traveller Sam
I heard from other tourists that getting to the island can be quite the adventure. It takes many hours in something affordable or it can be pretty pricey to get there in a nicer boat. Well, I was down to $500 to my name and I still had Vietnam to visit before I made my way back to the US, so I knew I was in for a long trip to Padar Island!
I arrived in Labuan Bajo and it took me three days to find someone who would take me there for the money I had. I went down to the fishing docks and asked probably 30 people. Everyone kept saying, “I’ll take you next week for that.” or “No way and laughed'' I am persistent and I couldn’t justify coming all this way and not making it to Padar Island. Finally, on day three I met the sweetest men named Rosden and Aldira who were just starting their business. I can’t speak Indonesian and they couldn’t speak English but we somehow worked it out and I was told we’d take off at 8 am the next morning and we’d be gone for about 36 hours.
Well, I can definitely verify that it was an adventure. It took us twice as long to get there due to fast currents, we had to stop at Rosden’s home island for gas and some tools (this ended up being amazing because I got to meet his family and he hasn’t seen them in weeks due to work), and we had about 10 different issues with the boat.
I kept saying to myself, “Ok, Sam, maybe your persistence was a bit too much this time, is this boat even going to make it!?” Rosden and Aldira assured me it would, but I definitely saw them exchange a few looks at each other like, “Are we really going to?”😂
I am happy to report, we made it and oh my and it was the most beautiful island I have ever been to. After a grueling and hot hike up to the peak, I asked Rosden to take a panoramic photo of me. He looked at me and with his eyes said, “What the hell is that?” It took a few tries…
But then he got it down and took the most beautiful picture!
We laughed and made our way back down to the boat. We were excited to get back to Labuan Bajo and little did we know the adventure would continue. About 2 hours from the port we ran out of gas. It was 2 am and we were in the middle of the Flores Sea with barely any light. What. The. Hell. Do. We. Do!? We floated for about an hour and all of a sudden we saw light from a big group of boats who were night fishing! To be honest, I was scared shitless. Here I am, an American girl all by herself. I knew Rosden and Aldira were great men but now I was surrounded by many men I didn’t know. To my surprise, we pulled up next to them and they all were SO excited to see me and meet me! One of them could speak pretty great English and kept saying, “Christmas came early!” We shared some laughs and stories from our adventure, got some gas from some very generous fisherman and made our way into the docks. I spent the next few weeks working with Aldira and Rosden and helping them build their business.
Moral of the story? Take the adventure! Always follow your gut and never give up, it’s stories like these that I think of when I think of my travels. This is an adventure I will absolutely never forget!
Find Sam here:
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