14.12.2012 - 23.12.2012
Day 326 – Friday 14th December
Got up nice and late today and Laurie was already long gone surfing which meant that I no longer had my little errand boy to get me some food, nor did I have any money left to be able to go to walk to the shop and with the ATM as far as it is I was stranded alone and hungry in my room, can’t wait to be able to drive again, it’s just so necessary around here. Once Laurie did make it back the 2 of us sat and had some food and chatted to the owner about our plans for the next couple of days. We’re going to visit Ismael (Laurie’s Indo mate who we stayed with way back when) over in Mataram Lombok and then as it’s Laurie’s birthday on Wednesday we’ll potentially go to the Gili islands, a group of small touristy islands on the North West coast of Lombok. I also finally managed to weasel out the wifi code from the owner, he always bangs on about it not working and his son having to use it for homework so he normally refuses to tell me. But finally I’ve got it and I was able to upload the blog and catch up on a few TV shows. After a bit more hanging around we went to get some money out and settle our bill here for the last 10 days, so annoying when you leave it that long to pay because it’s always a much bigger bill than you expect. Then we went and got some dinner, and after a bit of a miscommunication Laurie didn’t bring any money as he thought I was paying, and I didn’t have enough for the both of us so he was forced to drive all the way home and back again, but it all got sorted out eventually. Then we came back home, packed up all our stuff, cleaned the room and went to bed.
Day 327 – Saturday 15th December
Got up bright and early for our road trip this morning, and after packing and lazing around a bit we eventually got going just before 10. We took it nice and easy on the drive and stopped for some food on the way as well as stopping not once but twice for stupid fucking police road blocks. The whole thing is such a joke they just stop every tourist and if you don’t have an international licence they give a whole speech about how they’re going to fine you a crazy amount of money and then take you to court, uh-oh! Then they all come out with the same bullshit line of ‘I can make this much easier for you, give me x amount’ and then after a bit off haggling we managed to get away with only a couple of quid, bloody corrupt bastards. Anyway after a 2 and a bit hour drive we made it to Padang Bai on the East coast of Bali and hopped on a ferry, not before getting yet more questions form police at the port. The boat took about 4 hours plus an extra hour waiting outside port in Lombok for a space to clear up, which is a ridiculously long time when you look on a map and see just how close the 2 islands are, that’s just Indonesian transport I guess. Got off the ferry and went on the short drive to Ismael’s house, where dinner was already on the table. It’s so nice to be back in Lombok, one island that I know and love a lot, the countryside as well as the people is just brilliant and we both just got a really good feeling on that drive to Ismael’s. After dinner we played around with his 2 kids for a while before heading off to hang out with a couple of his mates, and spend the rest of the night sitting around drinking with everyone. Really fun evening all in all, and it’s just always nice to hang out with locals, plus we got back in time to watch the United game against Sunderland, another good result.
Day 328 – Sunday 16th December
Got the usual nightmarish wake up at 4 am from the bloody mosque down the road this morning, one bad thing about Lombok! Sat in bed a bit longer before getting up and getting some breakfast from the mysterious wife, whose name we don’t know and who pretty much never speaks. After giving her our washing Ismael took us to see some land he’d just bought outside of Mataram, considering the fact that it’s only about 20 minutes outside the city the place is in really nice surroundings with rice paddies all over the place and lots of other cool scenery. Seeing as he’s already got a house in a good place, this land is purely for his own amusement to do some planting, plus it’s on a slope so he couldn’t really build a house. We just sat around there for a bit as he signed a few more papers with his lawyer and the owner whilst having some coffee. Once all that was sorted and he’d sufficiently shown off we hit the road again and went to see one of his mates who owns a fish farm, can’t emphasise enough how nice the driving is around here, seeing all these really cool villages and beautiful countryside, something I’d never see without knowing Ismael. Anyway, we made it to the fish farm and they were just preparing the wood fire for some lunch while we sat on their little verandas overlooking the water and all the fish below, so peaceful. Plus it started raining like mad and it was just the best place to chill at that time. A few more of Ismael’s friends came to join us after a while, a couple of which I’ve met before, and we all sat around drinking some of the local booze while eating some bloody delicious fish. After lunch we hung out a bit more managing to all have a good laugh despite the language barrier. Once we’d all had enough, me, Laurie, Ismael, Gomez (work mate), and the other Ismael (brother in law) went off, first stopping off at Gomez’s house to meet his family and go into the jungle around him as he needed to cut down some palm. After that Ismael showed us his old house which was just down the road and he still hasn’t sold it yet, with that and the land and his current house it’s pretty obvious this guy is a bit minted as it’s very unusual for an Indonesian to own so much. We left Gomez’s and went to a public swimming pool to cool down, the place was effectively a big man made reservoir and it was so refreshing, plus there were loads of local kids hanging around and we fucked around with them for a bit just chucking them into the pool and things, all really fun. So lucky that we know Ismael as he just keeps taking us to all these cool places that we’d never find otherwise, plus he’s invited me back for new year’s which should be a good laugh. After that we went home and had a shower before having some really good food for dinner and chilling out with the kids for a couple of hours and going to bed for a much needed early night.
Day 329 – Monday 17th December
Got up nice and early this morning as I needed to extend my visa before we had to head off to the Gili islands. Now that I’ve got my 6 month social visa, I have 2 months free (which runs out in January) and I have the option to extend it for 4 extra months, but I need a ‘sponsor’ to effectively take responsibility for me. In Indo there are lots of people who will do this for you and charge you for the privilege, but Ismael is a mate and will obviously do it for free which is so useful. So we filled out all the forms and had the usual long useless waiting around before finally being able to hand it in. After that we left him and drove up along the coast to Bangsal, I think it’s called and got on the 30 minute ferry to Gili Trewangan, the biggest of the 3 islands and infamous for parties. After walking around aimlessly looking for a cheap place to stay we gave up and sat on the beach for a little bit before getting some advice and finding a really nice cheap room. Once we settled down and showered and got changed we hung out on the beach for a bit before eventually going out for some dinner at the night market, which had some absolutely amazing food. On top of that the place was flooded with travellers, something which I haven’t witnessed since leaving Thailand, really nice to just sit down and have a chat with some random people. We found a really cool group of guys and stayed with them for a bit before they went off and left us with literally the most annoying Australian guy, luckily we managed to ditch him and went to the big club for the night where we met up with another group of really nice English guys who we sat around drinking with for a while before partying the night away inside.
Day 330 – Tuesday 18th December
Despite not getting back until 3 last night Laurie woke up at 7 this morning and sat around chatting with our neighbours as I had a really nice lie in in our king size bed. Once I finally made it up, I had the really nice free breakfast and the 2 of us sat around for a while listening to music. After a while sitting around our place we went and chilled out on the beach, as its low season at the moment none of the bars mind if you use their beach chairs, and some even have bean bags which makes for a nice relaxing time. After spending the whole afternoon on the beach we went and had a beer at one of the restaurants where we met a French Canadian, and due to the late exploits of last night, we decided to just take it easy tonight and sit around chilling with him playing some cards. Unlucky for him a huge storm hit and he had to walk all the way home in it as we got stayed nice and cosy at our place.
Day 331 – Wednesday 19th December
Today was Laurie’s 23rd birthday! After having a nice long sleep, the 2 of us got up and had a really good breakfast before chilling out at our place and having a couple of really intense games of chess. Then we got a text from Ismael saying he was coming to visit us for Laurie’s birthday, he’s really nice and all but he does try and scrape in a bit too much, but he’s done so much for us there’s no way we could say no. So we sat around waiting for him and then picked him up at the port with his friend, luckily he came with a big bag full of the local wine and a big bottle of good whiskey and one of his mates. After finding them a cheap place to stay, we took some alcohol and got some snorkelling gear and went to chill on the beach for the afternoon. The snorkelling wasn’t very good, well nothing really is after Raja Ampat, but it was fine to spend the day doing something, and Ismael’s mate was a cool guy. After a few hours hanging around there we got a pizza and sat and had that on the beach before all heading back for showers and getting ready for the big night ahead. We took all the booze and went to the night market for some dinner, there we met these 2 English guys; Pete and Jonnny who Laurie had been surfing with a couple of times back in Bali, and the 6 of us sat around drinking and playing cards. Which was pretty funny as the 2 Indo guys just couldn’t seem to pick up the game, despite it being ridiculously simple, I guess it’s just a cultural thing. Once we’d finished all the booze, we left Ismael’s mate behind (as he was being sick) and the rest of us went to the club. As Ismael’s a Muslim it wasn’t really his scene but he seemed to have a good time just sitting around watching, plus Laurie was absolutely hammered which is always fun to watch. After just dancing around for a little while I bumped into an Indian guy who I recognized, at first I thought it was the guy who we met in Raja Ampat and stayed on our island for a couple of nights, but then I realised it was Aravin, a guy who I met way back on my second night in Beijing. Back then, me, him, Job (really cool Dutch guy) and Lee (British guy) had an awesome night where we found a crazy reggae bar in the middle of nowhere at the back of a drive in cinema, and then the next night we found a really nice jazz bar overlooking a lake in the middle of Beijing. Those were 2 of my bet nights in Beijing and unfortunately both Lee and Aravin left the next day never to be seen again, so it was a bit of a shock to run into him after 8 months, let alone be able to recognize him and remember his name. The 2 of us had a lot to catch up on so we sat and had a few drinks chatting and just generally feeling mind blown about the whole situation, I mean it’s just ridiculous how stuff like this can happen in such a big world. Luckily Laurie was preoccupied with some local girls so I wasn’t just ditching him, and me and Aravin had a really good night, as did Laurie and Ismael. Around 4 it was time to leave and Laurie was absolutely paraletically drunk so I was forced to pretty much carry him home, a hard feat for a 6ft plus guy who’s pretty built! Got back and the 2 of us passed out, all in all a really good day!
Day 332 – Thursday 20th December
We both woke up this morning feeling like absolute death, one of the worst hangovers of my life, bloody Aravin buying me drinks all night! Somehow Laurie mustered up the strength to go hang on the beach and meet some new people as I wallowed in bed. The original plan was to go back to Bali today, but in this state neither one of us was in the mood and so we’ve postponed our departure to tomorrow. Once Laurie got back, the 2 of us spent the afternoon just relaxing at our place complaining about how shit we felt! Managed to make a move around 4 and get some food, then we just came back and watched a movie and played some cards. By that point it was dinner time and we had both pretty much recovered so we went to the night market for some food, where we met up with this cool Italian girl who we’ve been seeing every now and again over the last few days, then after dinner the 3 of us just sat chilling on the beach chatting. I’m really undecided about this place, on one hand it’s cool to be with so many travellers and have nice places to go at night, but on the other hand compared to islands I’ve been to before it’s a bit tacky and the beach is less than average, plus it’s pretty expensive to be going out every night. Either way it’s definitely nice to not just be in a bloody surfer community where I don’t have a fucking clue what they’re on about and why they all insist on getting up at the crack of dawn. After hanging with that girl for a while me and Laurie came back and watched a movie before hitting the hay for our 7:30 wake up tomorrow and the long trip back home.
Day 333 – Friday 21st December
Got up bright and early this morning feeling a little bit worse for wear, had our breakfast and packed up our stuff and got on the boat out of here just after 8. Got to the other side, picked up the bike and drove back to Mataram and to the immigration office where I had to pick up my passport. As per usual there was a lot of pointless waiting around, first for them to find my papers, then a bit more, then I had to go into a back office and have my fingerprints and picture taken before finally getting my newly renewed passport back, now I’m safe until the 5th of February. After that we went to go see Ismael so Laurie could say his goodbyes and we could get some lunch. We ended up staying a bit longer than expected as a storm hit half way through lunch and we had to wait it out, fucking typical! Once we did eventually get going, I was finally deemed fit enough to drive, such a luxury having had to sit on the uncomfortable back seat for so long, and the 2 of us got to the port in Lembar safe and sound if not a bit wet. Here we saw a couple of lost travellers and after a brief break in schedule we sorted out some transport for them to get to Kuta before getting on the ferry. On the ferry Laurie sat listening to music as I caught up on my diary, something which I never let slack but over the last 5 days I kept forgetting to do, don’t even want to think about how far behind I am on the blog, sorry guys! After the ridiculously long 4 hour journey we made it back home to Bali, and after a quick 2 hour drive taking turns and stopping off for some McDonald’s (something Laurie hasn’t had in a decade due to moral issues!) we made it back to our place here in Padang Padang. Not only was Laurie’s Finnish mate (he met him about 5 months ago and he just arrived in Bali today) there but the 2 English guys from the night of Laurie’s birthday and 2 of their mates were at our guest house. Having been the only 2 here for over a week before, it was nice to finally have some company! Plus Laurie’s Finnish mate, Marcus, isn’t a surfer so I finally have someone to waste my days with and he seems like a pretty cool guy with a good traveller mind-set. All of us then spent the night having a few beers and getting to know each other before another very late night.
Day 334 – Saturday 22nd December
All the surfer crew got up at 6ish this morning, I really don’t understand how Laurie does it, he barely sleeps more than 3 hours most nights just to go surfing every bloody day! Either way it means I get the whole bed to myself and I really needed to catch up on sleep so I did. Once I did get up, Laurie had made it back from the morning surf and he’d brought some lunch with him (he’s too good to me!) and we sat and ate that before they all went off to surf again. Unfortunately Marcus wasn’t feeling too well so I was stuck alone just watching TV in my room trying to put off writing the blog as I know how far behind I am. Once they all made it back from the surf we all sat around chatting for a while about ‘how good the barrels were’ and what not before it was time for dinner. Then me, Laurie and Marcus went to eat round the corner and catch a bit of the Arsenal game. When we got back, Laurie went to the internet to catch up on some things, but having not yet written the blog I decided to give it a miss, forgot to mention the internet no longer works at our guest house which is a right bummer. Anyway, me and Marcus sat watching Forrest Gump, such a nice feel good movie which I haven’t seen in way too long. Plus there was a giant storm going on right in front of us as we sat nice and dry on the balcony. Once Laurie made it back, he went straight to bed as did Marcus as he’s not feeling too well so I just sat and watched TV for a bit.
Day 335 – Sunday 23rd December
Laurie decided to put off going surfing early this morning and instead got up late and the 3 of us sat around and had some breakfast together at the guest house. Once we’d eaten he rushed off to surf as he was getting some withdrawal symptoms! Then me and Marcus drove off to Kuta as he wanted to rent himself a bike for his last 3 weeks in Indonesia. This was the first time I rode my own bike properly since the crash, and it’s not in too bad a state, but the front wheel is really wobbly and it’s a bit of a bitch to drive when you’re going fast, just got to hope it holds on and I don’t have to end up shelling out for it, but it’s likely that the guy who rented in to me will notice all the scratches and make me fork out. Managed to get to Kuta in good time as there wasn’t so much traffic as usual, and after sorting out a bike and a couple other things we hit the road back to Padang Padang, only getting lost a little bit, much better than usual! By the time we made it back it was already evening and everyone was back from surfing and gearing up to get pissed and go out. Having already been to the surfer bar they’re going to quite a few times now, and it always being shit I really couldn’t be arsed and Marcus was too ill to drink, so with Laurie we all went and hung out on the beach watching the sunset, before Laurie had to go and get lashed. The 2 of us stayed there for a while just watching the moon and stars, god my life is sounding really gay at the moment! It was really nice though and the beach is really cool. We hung out there for a while then came back to have some dinner and sit and watch the United game in one of the restaurants. Don’t really want to say much more on that subject! After that we went to meet up with all the guys at the bar, and the whole place was way different to how it is usually on Sundays, I guess it’s the busy Christmas period. But the place was completely packed, with good music and everyone was having a really good time. It was a bit too late to start drinking and given the state of our entire group we had a lot of catching up to do, Laurie especially was smashed. He did manage to bag himself a little lady friend, not one he’ll want to remember for a long time, desperate times call for desperate measures I guess. Fortunately he managed to get her in and out in time for me to go to bed!