Defy Death on Komodo Island
If you find yourself in Indonesia, Komodo Island is a unique experience. The island, reachable by cruise ship, or boats from Lombok, (you could probably also arrange a tour from Bali), is home to Komodo National Park, a habitat for Komodo Dragons (monitor lizards), the world's largest lizard.
I happened to be working on a cruise ship that made a stop at Komodo Island and was able to go on a walking tour to see the dragons up close. That may or may not be a good idea, seeing as their saliva may be venomous and they are fearsome hunters.
At the beginning of my walking tour, the guide noted that the day before, an island inhabitant was attacked and died. Maybe he was telling us this so we'd be cautious? Or maybe it really happened. He also told me, "It's a good thing you're wearing a hat. Komodo's love red. You're like their walking dinner!" I have red hair. This may not be the safest spot in the world for me. My group started out through the park, following the guide, and another man took up the rear (right behind me) who was armed with a large tree branch.
So, we're walking along quietly as we can (there are "Keep Quiet" signs posted), and we walk around a corner and see this:
As we slowly pass, allowing everyone to take pictures, I hear this noise that starts with a few clicks and then what I liken to an exhaust pipe when a truck engine is being revved up. The guide behind me (armed with the tree branch), who didn't speak conversational English, then says to me, "Go! Go!" I look behind and this is what is on the trail, running quickly towards me:
The dragon continued to chase us down and both guides had to beat it off with their tree branches. The dragon tired out and walked off the bath to recuperate in the shade. I also noted several deer around the island. The guide informed us that before they start the tour groups in the morning, they feed deer to the dragons to get them full and sleepy.
Back near the dock, there are locals selling handicrafts...but I didn't linger on the island long after a near escape from being dinner. There really aren't great accommodations on the island, so it's best as a day trip.