A Travellerspoint blog

The Komodos and on to Ruteng

Day 257 – Saturday 6th October

Had a relatively good night’s sleep last night considering the condition of the room, but after I’d managed to sweep most of the cockroaches out the room didn’t seem so bad except the dampness and the wonky bed! Due to the fact that I am paying a lot less than I should be, the bastards gave me the worst free breakfast this morning, haggling is a part of the culture I don’t know why they have to hold a grudge. I went for a walk around town to find some cheap food, and found a nice little restaurant to eat a proper meal, then came back to the hostel and spent the next few hours just sitting on the internet. I haven’t had this much internet at my fingertips in so long, so it was easy to spend the entire afternoon sitting there wasting time, plus the mammoth blog entry took a while. I did manage to distract myself for a while and spoke to a Californian couple about the komodo islands and the diving around here as well, and they just made me really want to do both but my budget restricted me to just doing one. So once I was finished up on the laptop I headed off to book myself on a day tour to see the dragons tomorrow, I managed to get 2 places to come down to the price I wanted (after a while) but in the end chose the guy who had a more empty boat tomorrow which should make the trip a bit more relaxed and might meet myself a travelling buddy for the next couple of weeks. Due to the fact that we are now very much into low season and East Flores and Timor are rarely visited anyway it might be a lonely few weeks ahead. After booking the tour I got myself some dinner and came back to the hotel to spend a bit longer on the internet before sitting in bed watching a movie and going to bed.

Day 258 – Sunday 7th October

Had to get up at 7 today, which wasn’t very nice, and after another piss poor breakfast I headed off to meet up with the tour guide and the guy coming on the boat. The guide seemed really nice yesterday, and after a bit of convincing sorted out some lunch and snorkelling gear for me for free, but today was a right dick, he told me to tell the other guy I was paying a lot more than I was and then ripped him off. It didn’t bother me too much, it’s the other guy’s fault for letting him walk all over him, but I did feel bad that when we were on the boat I just lied about how much I’d paid. Anyway, the guy is a Swedish man name Jan who’s a typical tourist, he turned up with his trousers and long sleeved shirt, caked himself in sun cream and had a bloody ponytail! Needless to say we didn’t have a hell of a lot in common. The boat ride to Rinca (the other Komodo Island, with more dragons than Komodo itself) took about 2 hours, and in order to avoid awkward chats I just tried to sleep the whole way, looking up every now and again to take in the beautiful views of thousands of islands drifting past in the crystal clear waters. Luckily we were the first boat to arrive on the island, so there wasn’t a barrage of tourists trying to pay and stuff, so we met up with our ranger and paid the countless fees for tax and rangers and other bullshit including camera fees (which I didn’t pay, s I knew they’d never bother checking my pockets). Then we headed off on the hour and a half trek around the island to see some Komodos. After about 2 minutes we saw 8 sitting outside the kitchen, obviously attracted by the smell, and fuck me were they big just incredible. We were so lucky as well because they started fighting with each other and then run at us (which was fucking terrifying) the ranger completely freaked out and like pushed us back out the way as he tried to fend them off with his stick. Normally they just lie around doing nothing in the day as it’s so hot, and today it was 40 degrees would you believe it, so to have seen them move let lone attack us was awesome. After that hair raising moment we got started on the trek proper to see them out in the jungle, and we did manage to see a few, but as I said they were all just lying around sleeping so not very enthralling, but they are pretty impressive lizards. The ranger gave us a load of interesting facts about them as well; there are 1300 on Rinca, the males are 3 metres long and the females 2, the females dig holes to lay their eggs and dig around 10 all next to each other to confuse predators (we actually saw a female guarding her holes) the incubation time is 9 months (like us) and the babies come out 30cm long, they hunt in the evening and very early morning and almost every day, but they can go months without food as their diet consists of buffalo! They manage to eat such big things as their bite is poisonous, and they can just sit around and wait for a buffalo to die then eat it up, they don’t eat monkeys which is unfortunate as the island is fucking teeming with them, you can’t walk 2 steps without seeing about 10 jumping about. I think that’s all the fun facts I can remember, the last person to be injured by one was 5 months ago and was actually a ranger, but they managed to get him to hospital just in time. Apart from that it’s normally stray local fisherman who come on the island for food and get killed by them, the last person to be killed was in 2009. The trek was really good, not just for the cool facts, but we saw a shit ton of monkeys, some komodos and a few buffalo as well as the amazing scenery, it was fucking hot though and I didn’t have any shoes so my feet burnt to a crisp which was the only down side, plus I was accompanied with this boring bastard. Once the trek was over we hopped back on our boat to go snorkelling, when I found out that this guy is scared of the water which bodes really well as I wanted to go to loads of different island to check out the underwater life. Instead I just told the captain to take us to the best spot and went swimming around there for around half an hour, and the coral and fish were incredible you can really see why this place gets such a good write up from divers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really snorkel for too long as Jan was just sitting on the boat looking all bored and depressed and it just ruined the whole experience, so after that one spot we just headed back in to harbour at Labuan Bajo. On the way I spoke to Jan a bit and it turns out he’s also on his way to East Timor which means that this won’t be the last I see of him as there’s only really one route to get there, I’ll just have to avoid all the places in the Lonely Planet as I get the impression that he uses it religiously. Once we did make it back we parted ways and I went to bed for an afternoon siesta, it really is too hot here to do anything else. When I got up I went to find myself some food, and the restaurant had a shop so I finally picked myself up some flip flops having been without for a while now since they were stolen on that beach back in Lombok. Then I came back to my place and debated where to go tomorrow and if I should get a local bus or pay these tour agencies commission to sort out a shuttle bus, the problem is they have something to sell so getting any information about the local buses is impossible. It looks like I’m going to go to Ruteng tomorrow, a small place about 4 hours from here which is supposed to have some really nice scenery, and I’m not really sure what else, I guess I’ll find out. Eventually I went for some dinner, then came back and spent the rest of the night on the internet chatting to people; unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere showing the United match.

Day 259 – Monday 8th October

Got up at 10 today, packed up all my stuff and went upstairs to get my breakfast, and the cunt behind the desk decided it was too late, despite the fact they don’t prepare anything and there are just cold pancakes lying around. Luckily though the girl working here isn’t as mean and brought me over a pancake and some tea, and I proceeded to sit on the internet for a while as I doubt I will have any for a few days at least now. I decided that in order to save a lot of hassle I would just get the shuttle bus, so I asked the boss to book me on it, but he said if I just waited out front I’d see it go past at 12 and could just flag it down. This should mean I will save money by not having to pay him commission, which is surprising as everyone at this hotel has been against me since the day I got here. So I checked out and sat on the pavement and waited for the bus to go past, and waited, and it got to half past and the girl from earlier told me that the bus was never going to go past unless you booked it and if I just walked down the road, there are a few guys who run their own bus service for cheap. Thank god for her this morning! So I did just that and sure enough next to the motorbike mafia on the corner of the street was a minibus waiting and the guy took my bag and said he’d take me to Ruteng and even drop me off at my hotel for 60000, the same price as the local bus, result! Unfortunately he wasn’t leaving until 2 so I had to spend an hour just sitting on the pavement in the boiling heat, you can tell rainy season is just around the corner here as it’s pushing 40 degrees every day, and it’s fucking unbearable. Just before 2 the driver drove off with all my stuff in the back and not me, but he just did a tour of the town to find some more customers and eventually came back and I jumped on and we hit the road. The drive to Ruteng was absolutely jaw dropping, an abundance of amazing scenery, rice terraces everywhere, beautiful mountains and all as you cruise along this windy mountain road carved in to the rock. It took about 4 hours to get there, and it felt like I’d done my activity for the day, rather than just drive from point A to point B, plus I saw a stunning sunset over the mountains, so I was happy to arrive late to my hotel and not do anything for the evening. Not that there was anything to do, Ruteng is seemingly a ghost town, and I had a good 30 minute walk around just looking for a shop, but I did manage to find a restaurant and had some dinner and then came back to my hotel. The hotel is relatively nice, but it’s been in the lonely planet (which I didn’t realise and normally try and avoid) which means they take the piss a bit. I did manage to get her down on the room rate, but they charge an extortionate amount to use the wifi (when it’s always free in any other hotel) plus she charges by the item for washing for the price of what’s normally a kilo, and after asking for a blanket twice she never bothered to bring it up to my room. Plus there’s no lock on my door and I really don’t trust her, but that seems to always be the treatment when you haggle for a room here. Tonight I really needed a blanket, as Ruteng is up in the hills it got fucking freezing, so I had to lie there in any warm clothes I could find with my sleeping bag liner and towel on me and still froze to death during the night.

Day 260 – Tuesday 9th October

After a pretty awful sleep due to the conditions last night I eventually crawled out of bed around 9 and headed downstairs for my free breakfast, and I was shocked to find that it was actually bloody good. A really nice banana pancake with chocolate sprinkles on top and a pot of tea, very surprising given her antics yesterday, I’m guessing she’s just bored as I seem to be the only one staying here. After that I went back up to the room and read for a bit on the balcony watching the world go by and waving to all the kids as they left school and shouted ‘hello mister’ at me from the street. I don’t really know what to do here, as there are a few sights around but on the drive yesterday I pretty much saw everything I wanted to see from Ruteng, plus there’s no one else staying here and no one to talk to so I’m a bit bored. I must’ve spoke to soon, as not long after these thoughts bloody Jan from the komodo tour turns up, and his face lights up to see me and of course he was obviously going to stay in this place as it’s in the book, that bloody bus driver bringing me here! So I chatted to him a bit and pretty much the first thing he asks me is ‘have you been to THAT Chinese restaurant yet?’ I had no idea what Chinese restaurant he was on about, it turns out that Lonely Planet recommends it very highly, give me a break! In any town there have to be at least 50-100 restaurants, how on earth could lonely planet know which one is the best, and if you’re hungry just eat anywhere nothing is bad. Either way I was hungry and bored so I said I’d go with him, and after searching around Ruteng for ages we eventually stumbled upon it, and would you know it it had shut down! But he didn’t want to give up yet, for some reason he wanted to find a Chinese restaurant, despite the fact we’re in Indo and there’s no way they’d be any good at cooking it. Anyway, we did find one and sat down and ate a pretty crap meal for a very high price, and I got to know him a bit better, but he really doesn’t talk very much so I didn’t find out too much of any interest. Long story short he’s 38, an ex-alcoholic who now works with alcoholics and drug addicts, and is pretty unsatisfied with his life so he came travelling to broaden his horizons. Thankfully he picked up the tab, I think he sensed that I was a bit pissed we went on a wild goose chase for a restaurant when we must’ve walked past at least 30 local Indonesian places which all serve good food. On the way back from lunch we got harassed by this group of Indonesians asking if we’d like to join them on a tour of the countryside, and I was like hell yeah, why not? Plus there was a young Swedish guy with them who said they were all really nice and weren’t trying to stab us or anything. So I hopped on the back of one of their bikes and me and Janes (I think his name was) went off with these guys as Jan went back to the room, I guess this experience hasn’t been recommended by lonely planet yet! My driver was literally the nicest guy, and all of them were students who just wanted to speak English and show us around Ruteng a bit, and they were all just really cool friendly people. Except for one guy who was a bit of a dodgy guy, even before he had a drink, but all of them apologized for him and I bought him a pack of cigarettes to get him to shut up as he tried to get me and Janes to buy him some booze. Our first stop on the tour was this hill with a chapel on top looking over the whole village and with a 360 degree view of rice paddies, it was really nice and it was nice to finally talk to some normal people. Next we went to the airfield where we stood next to the runway watching the sunset go down over a beautiful lake and yet more rice paddies, then they drove us back (there was lots of hanging around and chatting in between and the whole thing took about 2 and a half hours) and I went back to the hotel and promised to meet up with them later for some food. Once I was hungry I mentioned to Jan that we were going to have dinner with them and that the Swedish guy was even staying with them which proved that they must not be rapists and after a while convinced him that they’re really nice and he should come for dinner. So we headed off to the little coffee shop that one of them owns and they all hang out at and sat down as a few of them played guitar and sang and I played cards with some of the guys and chatted to them all a bit more, it was an awesome time. But Jan just looked fucking uncomfortable and pretty quickly left, and went to have some food alone, despite one of the guys (who’s actually the brother of the owner of our hotel) trying to persuade him to stay and have some food and even offered to take him on a tour tomorrow, but Jan had already booked with one of the guys from the hotel, an paid a lot for it. So me and Janes sat and hung around there for a bit longer, and the promised food never materialised, so we went for dinner with one of the guys at a restaurant down the road. Here we spoke about religion, and the guy was just gobsmacked that we didn’t believe in anything, it didn’t get awkward but you could just tell he was super confused, but that didn’t change how nice he was to us and just kept saying that all he wanted was to make us feel welcome in his village which we certainly do. After dinner it was around 10 and people were starting to peel off so I decided to just head off to bed, I wish I’d met these guys yesterday because then I wouldn’t have to stay in my shitty, cold hotel and could instead stay in the coffee shop for free. At least tonight the woman had brought me a blanket, so I sat down and got cozy in my bed and watched a movie and went to sleep.

Day 261 – Wednesday 10th October

I didn’t get up until half 10 this morning, something I really wasn’t planning as I need to get a bus to Bajawa and buses seem to stop existing in the afternoon here in Flores. But there was nothing I could do so I went downstairs and asked for some breakfast, and after a while the woman came back with no breakfast and asked if I was leaving today as she would have to kick me out anyway due to a large group arriving, so I asked her to book me on the 2pm shuttle bus to avoid confusion. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible as you have to book the day before, but she assured me there would be buses, so I asked for my breakfast again and sat and waited some more. Eventually I gave up and went and packed all my stuff and checked out, and once again asked her to make me some breakfast, and once again she didn’t bother. By this point it was 12 and I’d sat waiting for an imaginary breakfast for 1 and a half hours, so I just picked up my bags and left. Whilst waiting for a bemo to get me I waved to the guys from last night, and they all shouted goodbye, and one of them turned up on his bike and gave me a lift to the bus station, I fucking love how locals are always so bloody helpful! Once we got to the bus station, he found out that there were no more buses to Bajawa, but no worries as he assured me that one of the cars driving past would be going there and would take me on board, so all we had to do was wait. I bought myself some biscuits as well to finally have some breakfast, and chatted to him a bit more, before finally one of the cars he flagged down was going to Bajawa and I hopped in and said goodbye and thank you to him and got on my way. I have no idea what I would’ve done if he hadn’t come to the bus station, I probably would’ve just gone back and spent another night with them which would’ve been good. The driver first had to drop off his current passengers in Ruteng, and pick up his new ones who all seemed to be dotted around all over town, but after about an hour we did finally get on our way to Bajawa at 2. One of the guys he picked up turned out to be a tour guide in Bajawa, so he pointed out all the cool things on the drive there and recommended me a couple of hotels too, my phone had run out of battery though so I couldn’t ask for his number because he would’ve been quite a useful tour guide while I’m here. The drive took about 5 hours, and was just as stunning as that last drive I took, except this time there was a 2400 metre volcano on the way and an even more epic sunset over the mountains. Once we got to Bajawa the driver dropped me off at the hotel that was recommended, and it turned out to be a bit shitty and just a bit more expensive than I would expect for a place, and even though I picked up my bags and walked off he still didn’t lower the price. But luckily I’d been told the name of another hotel and I walked there, and they were the same price as the last just with much nicer rooms and breakfast included, so I took it. I dropped off all my stuff and had a shower then went out for some food at this place just next door, the further east I’m getting the less English they speak which is really good as I’m able to practice my Indonesian which is really coming along quite quickly and the guy at the restaurant was impressed. After food I came back to my room, and did the usual of sitting down and watching a movie then going to sleep. Still no wifi!

Posted by travellingjoe 02:03 Archived in Indonesia Comments (3)

Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores

Day 251 – Sunday 30th September

We all got up at 8 today to get ready for the long drive home, and all of our legs ached so much we could barely even make it the 20 metres to the restaurant for some breakfast. After having our banana pancakes and settling the bill, we hit the road for Tanjun, our first stop about an hour and a half from Senaru. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy so we didn’t get any amazing views of the towering mountain on the way. Anyway, we made it to Tanjun, and we’re here to visit De who was Laurie’s guide when he did the trek and who sorted out the trek for u but didn’t come with us due to the fact that he had to prepare for a big Hindu ceremony in his village, which is why we’re here. The ceremony isn’t until tonight so we didn’t really see much except for some of the locals just setting things up and making some really nice food which we couldn’t eat. Laurie, who had spent the previous night in Mataram having finished his business in Bali, came to meet us there as well. He turned up on his newly rented bike with 2 surf boards hanging off the side and dressed up in all his smart gear ready for the ceremony. Once he’d caught up with De and we’d all had enough of sitting around we got back on the road, and after a quick lunch we dropped off Lisa at the port for her boat to the Gili islands. They’re supposed to be really beautiful but they’re really expensive and quite touristy so none of us really wanted to join her, so we said our goodbyes and got back on the road to Kuta. After a good 3 hours driving including a quick detour through monkey forest (yes there were loads of monkeys on the side of the road) we made it back home. It was so nice to get back here and be in our old room again and catch up with the owner and his hot wife. After having a much needed shower we headed out for dinner, all 4 of us and the 4 Austrians as well, so we took over the whole restaurant and James had his last chicken satay, as he’s off to Bali tonight and then on to Thailand. After dinner me and him sat on the internet for a while and he found out that Air Asia had decided to cancel his ticket and they were being fucking useless about putting him on another one which might turn out to be a problem as his visa ends tomorrow. After stressing about it for a while and getting nowhere the 2 of us sat and had a beer and tried not to think about it. It’s bloody sad to see him go as it feels like I’ve been with him for ages, and I guess 3 weeks is a pretty long time, but he’s the nicest guy and I met him right at the start of my time in Indo and he’s definitely made my first few weeks here some to remember. After reminiscing about what we’ve done and where we’ve been, we headed back to the room and around 11 Laurie drove off with him on the back to the port to get a ferry at 1 in the morning and arrive with plenty of time tomorrow morning to try and sort a flight out of here. Laurie didn’t make it back till half 2 and we both have to wake up very early tomorrow to go to Mataram and pick up my passport and sort out an extension on his visa.
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Day 252 – Monday 1st October

Got up at half 6 this morning and after having breakfast and sitting around just trying to wake up properly, me and Laurie headed off to Mataram. First we stopped off at Ismael’s place of work (the Indonesian guy who met us on the beach about a week ago, a friend of Laurie’s) and it turn out he is the manager of the biggest market in Lombok, or maybe Indo, not too sure. Laurie was bloody lucky to have met him as he really is an important guy around these parts, all the sellers know who he is and we got brought a couple of free drinks as we sat in his office with his other employees right in the heart of the market. We stayed there for a while just joking with all the other guys, including Gomez who came with us to the beach that time as well, and they taught us lots of swear words in Sasak (the language of Lombok) and it was all very fun. All in all we stuck around there a bit too long but we managed to make it to immigration before half 11 (when they close for lunch) so I was able to pick up my passport after an hour wait, not really sure what the wait is for as all the paperwork has been done over the last few days, but that’s Indo for you. As Laurie is here on a 2 month visa, he’s allowed to extend it 4 times and stay a maximum of 6 months, but each time you extend you have to have an Indonesian with you to be your sponsor and effectively they become responsible for you if anything happens (i.e. you break the law). Lots of Indonesians make a business out of sponsoring tourists and charge an arm and a leg for doing it, Laurie once had to pay 70 quid to get a guy to do it with him. Luckily though, Ismael’s a nice guy and just wants to help out, so he came along to sponsor Laurie’s extension, but unfortunately he didn’t have his id card as he’d given it to someone or something and therefore couldn’t sort out his visa. He did however have a photocopy at home and he phoned a mate to come deliver it for him. By the time it had arrived the place was closed and wouldn’t be open again until half 1, so we sat and had some lunch to pass the time. Here I got to know Ismael a lot better and found out a bit more about being a Muslim in Indo and running this big market and all about his 7 brothers and sisters, all very interesting stuff. Due to the fact that Laurie is now on his last extension, they decide to make it even harder to get an extension and he now has to come back to Mataram on Thursday to see a human right’s lawyer or something and then he can give in his application, Ismael has a brother who works in immigration, so I’m sure if worse comes to worst he can slip him a bit of money and sort it out. After all that, we went to Ismael’s Mum’s house, a really lavish place, and sat and had a cup of tea as she pointed out the pictures of her husband at Mecca and tried to communicate with us through Ismael and Laurie’s broken up Indonesian. Laurie started to fall asleep though and neither of us could really keep our eyes open so we said our goodbyes and headed off back to kuta. Tomorrow Niko and the Austrians are heading off to Sumbawa (the island to the east of here) and I think I’m going to stay a couple more days and procrastinate about where to go next. So for them it was their last night so we all had dinner together and had a good laugh with them, I never really got to know them that well as they’re 2 couples, but they’re really nice and funny when you do speak to them. After that me and Laurie decided to get some rice wine, but no one was really in the mood for drinking, but we convinced Niko to stay up and the 3 of us passed the rest of the night chatting and listening to music and getting pretty tipsy.

Day 253 – Tuesday 2nd October

After a very late night last night, the last thing I wanted was another early wake up but I didn’t really have a choice in that as Niko got up early as they wanted to get on the road to Sumbawa in good time. After saying all our goodbyes, they hit the road, there’s still a good chance I might see Niko again as there’s a volcano in Sumbawa which I wouldn’t mind going up and he seems up for it as well, so that would be good. Me and Laurie went back to bed but due to it being so hot here at the moment we couldn’t really sleep and instead just sat around watching shit on my laptop and reading the lonely planet yet more to try and come up with a bloody plan. After a while I decided to be proactive and went out to buy myself a phone as I feel it will probably be quite useful when I start going east as the further I get the more in the middle of nowhere I will be and a phone will probably come in handy. I picked up the cheapest thing I could find which still had internet on it and bought myself a sim card, and after 8 and a half months of living without a phone I finally have one, how exciting! I don’t have anyone to call though and the internet doesn’t work on it, so the excitement was pretty short lived, my only contacts so far are Laurie and Niko. When I got back from the shop me and Laurie had some lunch (take away on our bed) and sat watching TV a bit more and playing with the new rabbits that were bought when we were away at Rinjani. Around 4 we decided to go to the beach and watch the sunset and try and come up with a plan of what to do next. After writing down a load of info from the book and weighing up all the options, Laurie decided that he would be up for doing the mountain as he burnt his leg pretty bad on his scooter about a week ago and can’t really surf for a few days. With that plan sorted, we found a small cliff to climb up and watched the sunset and chatted to all the locals who insisted on stopping and saying hello as they drove by. So the plan now is to go to Mataram tomorrow, spend a night with Ismael, wake up early on Thursday and sort out Laurie’s visa, then in the afternoon go to Sumbawa and spend a night somewhere on the way and meet up with Niko, then the next day drive to the mountain, spend a night there then trek up it spend a night on the top, then another night on the bottom when we’re down and the next day I’ll head to Flores and those two will go to Sumba to do some surfing. Phew, sounds a bit hectic, hopefully all goes to plan and it should be a pretty fun few days, considering my original plan was to go to Flores on the 20th September fuck knows what will actually happen as nothing ever goes to plan. When we got back from that mammoth session of planning we sat down to have our last meal here in Kuta in the usual restaurant, and I bought myself one last bracelet as the girl we always see in the evening has been so nice to all of us for the last 3 weeks and I just wanted to give her some money. After dinner I sat down and wrote the blog (still very far behind) and went on the internet for a bit then came back home and had a relatively early night.

Day 254 – Wednesday 3rd October

Once again I got up too early today, but I was just too tired to move after the last few days so I sat in bed for a good hour and a half just trying to get a bit more sleep and failing, my body’s still trying to recover from Rinjani, let alone all the late nights and early wake ups we’ve been having. When I did get up, the pancake man brought me an extra pancake, after 3 weeks of staying here and him bringing me breakfast every morning I still don’t know his bloody name and all I’ve ever said to him is pancake and thank you and yet he brings me an extra one as he knows it’s my last day. I felt very privileged as he didn’t give Laurie the same treatment! We spent the rest of the morning being serenaded by these 2 little girls who had come to visit and couldn’t stop staring at us and saying hello and running away when they got close to us. Boy am I going to miss Lombok, its little things like that that have really made this place for me, and I hope it carries on when I move on to my future islands. Just after 1 we left for Ismael’s house with both our big bags and Laurie’s 2 surfboards, and we made it all of 10 metres before deciding that it was probably a bad idea to drive with this much shit as Laurie could barely even steer the thing. So we dropped off all of his stuff and he gave me a lift to the local village to put me on a bemo (effectively a local minibus) which took me to Praya for 30p and I got on another one there to take me all the way to Mataram for the same price. After waiting about an hour at Praya for the bemo to fill up with people, greedy driver, we headed off to Mataram with the bus completely overloaded and my bag as well as a ton of boxes of fruit and things on my lap. Once I got to Mataram, Ismael came to pick me up from the bus station, I called him with my phone finally it comes in handy, and there I met up with Laurie and one of the guys from Ismael’s office (his cousin) and we sat around drinking tea and playing with his kid. At one point we found a caterpillar and Ismael’s cousin mentioned he was terrified of caterpillars, so Laurie chucked it on him and he completely freaked out it was absolutely hilarious, funny how in any language you can make people laugh, then Laurie mentioned he was scared of snakes and as we put our shoes on to leave the guy put a belt on Laurie’s back and he completely freaked out, such good payback. Rule number 1, don’t mention what your fears are after scaring someone else, payback’s a bitch. Laurie wanted to buy himself a tent for when him and Niko go around Sumba so that they can camp out at all the good surf spots and get up early for when the swell is good, so the 4 of us headed off to the mall to pick him up one and we found one for pretty cheap, and he bought that. Afterwards we went to Ismael’s Aunt’s house to have some dinner, and as she lives right next to the mosque and everyone had just done their afternoon prayers the whole family were round. The food was so tasty and everyone was happy to see us there asking lots of questions and laughing and joking with us and teaching us some more Indonesian. I love these sort of situations, where you’re in a local’s house eating proper local food and feeling super welcome, and it’s cool that even in this city there’s still a really small community vibe, I guess it’s the whole Muslim thing that pulls everyone together. When we left there we headed back to Ismael’s and sat and had some more tea and sat around playing with his son a bit more, he’s literally the smiliest little kid ever and so cute, really makes me miss the nephews and niece back home. But I was tired and I knew I’d be getting a 4am wakeup call from the mosque so I went to bed pretty early ready for another action packed day tomorrow.

Day 255 – Thursday 4th October

Today has been one of the longest days I’ve had in quite a while, I’ve been awake for 2 sunrises and 2 sunsets. So it all started back at Ismael’s where we were inevitably woken up by the bloody mosque at silly o’clock, but we managed to get back to sleep for a little bit before Laurie got up at 7 to go down to immigration and finally get this visa sorted. I stayed in bed though and didn’t get up again until he got back around 9 with bad news, despite them saying he had an appointment with the human right’s lawyer in the morning all he really had was an appointment to pick up a piece of paper that the guy must sign and he has to go back again this afternoon to get it signed. When I got up, Ismael’s wife made me some breakfast and we sat around playing with the kid a bit, before around 12 we headed off to go do some errands. Our first stop was to get the oil changed in Laurie’s bike, as the thing is a piece of shit and the oil was absolutely horrible when we checked it before, after that was done I went to a phone shop to try and get the internet sorted on my phone, but after paying some money for an internet package and the guy sitting and staring at it for ages we still couldn’t get it to work. Next we stopped off for an avocado and chocolate shake, something you can’t find in Kuta as avocados are out of season, but seemingly they’re in full flow in Mataram, then Laurie bought some batteries and we headed off to the market to meet up with Ismael and the boys. The plan now is for me to get on a bus all the way to the mountain in Sumbawa and arrive tomorrow afternoon, and Laurie to sort out his visa and drive later tonight and stop somewhere on the way and meet up with Niko, then meet me at the mountain in the evening. So at 2 I went off to the bus station and Ismael’s brother met me there to sort out my ticket and wait with me for the bus to leave, he’s actually a policeman so I sat with the police working at the bus station for about an hour. This was a pretty funny experience, the guys were fucking jokers and most police around here are corrupt bastards, but these 2 were really alright and the guy invited me to his villa on the West coast of Lombok, shame I won’t be coming back to this island as that would’ve been an experience. I got on my bus at 3 and started my long journey, after a couple of hours we made it to the port and got on the boat to Sumbawa where I saw an absolutely beautiful sunset from the boat going down over the mighty Rinjani. Once we got to Sumbawa, we all piled back on the bus for another couple of hours before we stopped for some dinner on the side of the road. After dinner I got back on the bus and saw that someone had stolen my ipod, after travelling for 8 months now and always leaving my ipod on the seat when I’m still in view of the bus I couldn’t believe that I’d actually had something nicked. The most frustrating part is that I know it was the driver or co-pilot who took it as they were the only 2 on the bus when we got off and I saw them walking up and down it. But when I asked them about it they just played dumb and I didn’t have a choice but to accept my fate, hopefully Ismael can talk to his police mates at the bus station and get them to sort out the prick and maybe get my ipod back, but that’s very unlikely. Either way I wasn’t too annoyed as I have 2 and this is the first time I’ve had anything nicked and I’ve been gone for so long, plus it’s my own fault for being so trusting and leaving it on the seat, thank fuck they didn’t go through my bag and steal my wallet! The most annoying part is my spare pair of headphones was in my big bag under the bus so I couldn’t listen to any music for the rest of the journey. Anyway, we carried on the drive and I was scheduled to get to Dompu at around 5 in the morning where I’d wait around for a couple of hours and hop on a bus to the mountain, but by 3 the bus had made it to Bima (3 hours past Dompu) and all the driver could do was laugh at me as it was seemingly my fault he hadn’t shouted out that we were at Dompu, as he had done for all the other stops. When I got off the bus I asked everyone where the bus to Dompu was and all they could say was ‘sape, sape’ which was the port to Flores, and that bus wasn’t leaving until 4. So I sat down and found somewhere to charge my phone and had a cup of tea, I decided that my best bet was just to cut my losses and go to Flores now, I didn’t want to be hanging around this bus station in the middle of the night all alone for too long, having just had something nicked. On top of that I had a text from Laurie saying he hadn’t sorted the visa and he would have to do the 12 hour drive to the mountain in one tomorrow morning, something which I knew would be impossible. So there it was, I was going to Flores and I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to either Laurie or Niko, which I guess is for the best as goodbyes are never fun. I got myself on the bus and made it to port at around half 5 where I sat and watched the sunset and chatted to Laurie for a bit on the phone updating him on the situation. One good thing was that I only had to pay for a bus to Dompu and I got a free ride to Sape which probably would’ve cost me an extra 4 or 5 quid. But it had been a long and eventually 14 hour trip so far and I had to wait another 3 and a half hours before the ferry left for Flores, and that would take me another 10!

Day 256 – Friday 5th October

I sat around waiting at the port for a couple of hours before they opened the ticket office at half 7 and I was first in line to buy myself a ticket, this meant I was first on the boat and could therefore nab myself a bed rather than the shitty metal chairs, and by this point I really needed to sleep. So I just put my head down, and bar being woken up by the ticket inspectors asking for an extra 20,000 to use a bed (around 1 pound) I managed to sleep all the way until about midday when it just got too hot on the boat. Once I was up I got myself some pot noodles and chatted to a couple of Indonesians who were on their way to Flores for a one day trip and would be getting back on the boat in the morning, poor bastards, couldn’t really understand why but they were university lecturers and were going to do some teaching in Flores or something. For the last few hours of the boat trip I sat and watched a couple of movies on my laptop and had another quick nap and we made it in to Labuan Bajo (the gateway to Flores) at around 7. So after leaving yesterday at 3 I had finally made it, I haven’t done such a long trip since China, and as usual it really isn’t as bad as it sounds believe me. Once I got off the boat I walked down the main strip managing to avoid the millions of touts trying to take me to hotels, and I stopped off at all the affordable looking places on the way, finding out that they were too much for my budget, before a guy in a tourist office pointed me in the direction of this place, seemingly the only cheap place left here. After haggling them down to about 4 quid a night for the downstairs room, something they really didn’t want to give me ‘you take upstairs’ I thought they wanted me to go there because of the price but it turns out it’s because the downstairs rooms are absolutely horrendous, and easily the worst place I’ve stayed in so far. Not only is the floor covered in cockroaches, and yes covered! But the shower consists of a tap and bucket (something I don’t usually mind) but the tap doesn’t stay in the ground properly and you have to have one hand holding it in place when you try and use the water otherwise it just explodes all over you, something that’s happened repeatedly already, oh yeah and there’s a giant rat living in their as well as a really loud gecko. After having a shower I decided to ask them to move me to an upstairs room, but in the 10 minutes I was in my room someone had already taken it, so I had to stay. I managed to brush out all the dead cockroaches from the room, scared the rat out as well and once I’d used the toilet all the live cockroaches decided to go in there, so I poured buckets of water down to try and flush them away. Once that was all done the room didn’t seem so bad, couldn’t get rid of the gecko tough, but he’s just a bit noisy and harmless so that’s alright, plus the bed smells of and is very damp, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I headed out to town to get myself some dinner and found a nice local Indonesian place where they were all very impressed with my Indonesian, I seem to be getting better by the day, not only am I trying really hard to learn but it is a fundamentally simple language, so hopefully I’ll be as good as Laurie or Niko in no time. The food was really good and the bill really small so that put me back in high spirits, and the restaurant above my place has wifi, so for the first time in about 4 days I was able to catch up with the world, and also talk to Greg for a little bit about how his travels are going, good to hear he’s now on his way to Cambodia and racking up those miles, soon enough he’ll have made it down to Indo. The restaurant kicked me out around 10 or 11 and I went to bed for what I’m guessing won’t be a great night’s sleep. Sorry for being so late on the blog guys, and sorry this is such a long entry, but it’s been a pretty busy last few days and I had a lot to write about and no time to actually write about it, hope you all enjoy! I’ll probably be heading off to the komodo islands in the next couple of days so expect some cool pictures of those dragons coming your way!

Posted by travellingjoe 00:31 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Mount Rinjani

Day 247 – Wednesday 26th September

We all had to get up at half 6 today as we had to rent new motorbikes and the man came to deliver them. Unfortunately the guy was a bit of a clown and only brought one bike and didn’t have the papers with him, and wasn’t too happy that we were leaving Kuta with them. So we had some breakfast and got ready and then met him a bit later and picked up our bikes and headed on the road to Mataram to the immigration office where I have to renew my visa and Laurie has to pick up his passport, and James needed a new inhaler. With all our delays, and the fact that we took the back roads to get there we didn’t make it to Mataram until around 11, which was ok as they don’t close until half past. I paid for my forms (ridiculous!) and filled them out and dropped off my passport which won’t be ready until Friday, and Laurie picked up his and we were back on the road again. First stop was the bus station where I checked out prices to go to Flores, and then we went to a pharmacy where the woman behind the desk proposed that her and James should get married, and then we headed to the port. Laurie is off to Bali today, as he is now going to stay in Indo for another month (due to his Australian visa still not coming after a 2 month wait) he needs to pick himself up a surfboard and rent a motorbike long term. Both these things are cheapest to get in Bali. So we wished him goodbye and put him on a ferry, but hopefully we’ll see him in a couple of days if he sorts everything out in time. Then me and James drove back here and stopped off at the bike rental place to tell them our plan of taking the bikes for a few days and going to climb Rinjani mountain. We did this due to the fact that all the sellers here get a bit worried when you take bikes out of the town as you never leave a deposit and could quite easily just drive off with the bike. He wanted us to give him a passport, but he knew I’d given mine to immigration already and that would be impossible so he reluctantly said that it would be ok. After that all of us from the guest house went out together for dinner, potentially our last night all together as everyone is leaving in the next few days. Then when we got back the bike man was sitting on our porch waiting for us to tell me and James that he wasn’t happy with us taking the bikes all that way and he was worried we wouldn’t bring them back. After a lot of arguing we eventually had to give up and he took them away. The whole thing was just really frustrating and the guy was such a dick about it and he’d left it so late that we didn’t have time to find someone else to rent a bike from until the morning. Anyway, there was nothing I could do but sit and hang out with everyone tonight before we leave early tomorrow. Had to say goodbye to Max and Philip (German twins) which was sad, they’ve been really cool and had a couple really fun nights with them when we’ve had a bit too much to drink and it’s just sad to say goodbye to this place as well having been staying at this homestay for over 2 weeks now. But we’ll be back after the mountain and I should see Laurie again and the Austrian guys so all will be fine.

Day 248 – Thursday 27th September

Got up really early today in order to pack and get the bikes sorted and hit the road in good time. After packing up all my stuff, me and james went to go sort out a bike, but seemingly everyone had been told that we wanted to go to Rinjani and no one wanted to rent us a bike and those who did wanted almost double what we’d normally pay and a passport as deposit. It’s so fucking annoying how pretty much everything in this place is run by the mafia and they all collaborate to fuck us over, having to leave a passport is such a rick as they really do have you by the balls and if anything were to happen they could charge you an arm and a leg because what wouldn’t you pay to get that back. So we walked around and asked everyone and got no luck and we came back here to it down and just relax and rethink our strategy, we also sent Niko and Lisa on their way as there was no point in them waiting around for us. Eventually the guy who we’ve been renting off for ages said he’d give us a bike and not completely rip us off but he did still want a passport, but given that he’s been relatively honest and nice up to now, and by this point we really didn’t have a choice James reluctantly handed his over. So with that we were able to hit the road, about 2 hours behind schedule, after having to say goodbye to everybody all over again! Once again we went the wrong way to Mataram and once we got there we then took a 1 hour detour in the wrong direction, so by 12 we were only about 30 minutes away from home and we should have really have made it to the mountain had everything gone to plan. It could be worse though, driving around here is always nice and there’s always somewhere to stop and have a drink and ask for directions, which we started doing, and eventually we were on our way in the right direction. Me and James took it in shifts to drive, and luckily I managed to get the coastal, windy road part which was beautiful, and long story short we made it to the village of Senaru less than an hour after the other 2, around 4 pm, after driving hard and fast. Once we got there James was knackered so he lay down for a bit and the 3 of us went to go check out a waterfall close by, which was super refreshing to stand under if not a bit painful. After hanging around there in the freezing cold stream we went back to our guest house and met up with our guide to discuss the plans for tomorrow. After agreeing on what we were going to do I went to the shop to pick up a couple of things and had one of the weirder experiences of my life. I stopped off at a guest house to ask the way and the man said ‘let my friend show you the way’ and then a little dwarf appeared from nowhere and started skipping down the hill and summoning me along the path to the shop, like a bloody leprechaun to gold! It was just so bizarre, I still don’t understand why he danced his way to the shop, but maybe he just likes to play up to his height or something. When I made it back we had some dinner and hit the hay nice and early for a 5:30 wake up, fuck that!

Day 249 – Friday 28th September

So we all got up at half 5 today which suffice to say was not one of my favourite experiences, but I guess it meant we got to see the sunrise which was very beautiful. After forcing down as much food as we could our guide turned up and we headed off around quarter past 6 on the long walk up the mountain. Nothing of any real significance happened on the way up, just a lot of putting one foot in front of the other and a lot more panting and a constant need for a break and water. Physical exercise is definitely something that has been lacking in my lifestyle, so having to walk up 2000 metres in 5 hours was fucking horrible. But due to our early start there was no rush and we eventually did make it to the last checkpoint before the top where we sat down for some lunch. Here our porters (who have to carry 30 kilos off stuff on a bamboo stick on their backs) cooked us a really good meal and made us tea and chased off all the monkeys who kept trying to come steal our food. After lunch we were still well ahead of schedule so we all decided to have a nap. Once we got up there was only an hour and a half to go to our camp, and it was potentially the hardest part of the trek, but by this point I just wanted to make it to the top so I powered on at the front of the group (having been lagging at the back all day) and got to the crater pretty quickly. And fuck me was the view impressive once you make it, just a giant crater with a huge lack in the middle and a volcano in the middle of that, and then the view to the rest of the world behind you, absolutely stunning. Everyone turned up eventually as did a lot of other groups, but having been the first our porters had set up our tents in the best spot, right on the edge of the crater with the doors looking out to that view. For the rest of the afternoon we all just sat around chatting and resting our weary legs, then we had dinner at 5 and we polished off a victory bottle of rum watching the incredible sunset. Once the sun went down it got fucking freezing, so we sat in one of the tents playing cards for a while and all went to bed around 7. None of us really slept though due to the tiny tents and the uncomfortable sleeping bags, the whole night was just really frustrating, I was beyond tired yet I just couldn’t get a wink of sleep.

Day 250 – Saturday 29th September

The guide got us all up at half 5 again today, and the porters had our breakfast already made, tea and pancakes and toast what a great way to start the day. We all sat round the fire trying to keep warm as we ate and moaned about the serious lack of sleep the night before, then the sun started to come up and we forgot all our troubles. I thought the sunset last night was pretty impressive, but it was nothing compared to this, it was fucking beautiful and really put us all in good spirits. I took about 100 pictures of it as it changed pretty much every second. But once the sun was up we said goodbye to the porters and headed down in to the crater and next to the lake. After about 10 minutes Lisa decided that she just couldn’t do it, as not only did we have to walk the 2 and a half hours down the steep crater, but we’d have to walk it back up after as well. So she sat down and had a bit of a breakdown saying she just didn’t have the energy, so we all gave her a little pep talk and eventually she decided to give it a go and follow us down. After my sudden surge of energy on the last part of the trek yesterday I decided to stick with Niko at the front of the pack and just power my way down to the lake as quickly as possible. The 2 of us made it down in an hour and a bit which was bloody good time and pretty much ran in to the freezing cold lake as soon as we could, which made the whole trip worthwhile. Once we got out of the lake we walked for another 20 minutes to the hot springs to warm back up again. Unfortunately the hot springs we found were way too hot to get in and even just dipping our feet n was fucking hard, but we managed it and just sat with our legs in the water for a while before the other 2 and the guide turned up and he showed us the way to the more bearable springs. He also showed us a little cliff we could jump off in to the lake which was quite fun, but the main attraction really was that hot sulphur water which just felt so good, and turned all my muscles to jelly. But there was no time to hang around for too long as we are on a bit of a rushed 1 night program compared to the usual 2 night program where you spend a night by the springs. So after an hour hanging around there we had to get back on our way again, not before jumping back in the cold lake to wake my muscles back up again ready for the arduous trek back up to the crater and then all the way down again. I decided to stick with Niko again as he really is a bit of a trekking beast, and we made it back up to the crater nd down to the first checkpoint for lunch in only an hour and a half. This meant that we were able to eat, and drink tea and have a nap before everyone else turned up. Once the other guys had eaten and had a rest we all hit the trail down back to Senaru, and this bit really was the worst part of the trek, it was just total agony for the legs and the trail seemed to go on forever. Me and James stuck together for this part of the trek and let Niko run off and do his thing as the guide (Adi) and Lisa brought up the rear. We didn’t make it back to the guest house until around 5, so a good 10-11 hours of trekking today! Safe to say none of us could walk anymore and all we wanted to do was just lie down and have a shower. Which is exactly what we did, then we had some food and went to sleep just after 8. Sorry to have rushed through all that, but the trek itself felt quite rushed so it seemed quite appropriate. But all in all it was awesome, every part of the walk was beautiful, and to have made it felt really good and just to be doing some hard physical work felt good too, and I’ve definitely caught the volcano bug and I’m sure in the rest of my time in Indo I will climb a lot more volcanoes.

Posted by travellingjoe 07:42 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Still in Kuta

Day 243 – Saturday 22nd September

We all got up later than usual this morning due to last night’s drinking antics with the German twins. Once we did all make it out of bed, James opted to spend the day here in Kuta and take it easy, while I was going to join Laurie and the twins to Mawi and maybe have a go at surfing. On the way we picked up a beginner board so that I could have a go, Max and Philip also crashed and had to go home to repair their boards. All in all with all the stops it took us like 2 hours to get there and by that point everyone was leaving as there were no more waves. This was good in a way as it meant the beach was empty and the 2 guys aren’t as pro as Laurie for big waves. After Laurie had a bit of a play around having not been in the water for a whole 2 days, he decided to give me a go. This ended very badly, not only do I not know how to surf, but this is one of the hardest places to go on the island so I really didn’t stand a chance. Either way I gave it a go and got the crap beat out of me by the waves before being dragged in to the cliff by the current, so I just climbed on to the cliff and back round to the beach and gave Laurie the board to let him show off. He kept on going for hour, don’t know how he doesn’t get tired, and eventually the 3 of us had enough of waiting so we waved him in and headed back home to get some food. Max and Philip recommended us going to a different restaurant tonight, having eaten in the same place every single night since arriving we thought it might be a nice change. Unfortunately it really wasn’t as good and it was more expensive, so when we got back, me and James headed out with the Dutch girl Lisa to our classic restaurant for a second meal. After eating everyone crashed for an early night and me and James stayed up to watch a documentary about this evil American company pretty much running the food industry, they’re called Monsanto look it up. It was pretty nuts and everyone should watch it, anyway stayed up till around 2 watching that then went to bed.

Day 244 – Sunday 23rd September

We got another new arrival this morning to our little homestay, Niko from Finland, who’s also a surfer but still a cool guy. We all spent the morning just sitting around the communal area getting to know each other and just generally lying about doing nothing. After a while, Laurie got a call from an Indonesian guy he stayed with before that was on his way to visit Kuta on his day off. He turned up with his mate, and we left the 3 of them to catch up as the rest of us went out to get some lunch, once we got back plans had been made to go surfing, surprisingly! Luckily Laurie just wanted to give the 2 guys a good day as they had let him stay with them a couple of times, and showed him round the market in Mataram (the big city on Lombok) which the guy actually owns. So we picked up a beginner board for them and headed off down the coast in our 4 bike convoy to selong blanak, the huge white beach we visited around 5 days ago. On the drive the 2 indo guys actually crashed, but it wasn’t their fault and neither of them got hurt so we carried on, and after a long bumpy drive made it to the beach. When we last came here it was the just the 4 of us on the whole beach, but today being Sunday there were way more people than 4, but it’s a huge beach so it didn’t feel crowded or anything. We all just plonked our arses on the sand and got some sun as Laurie tried to teach one of the guys to surf. Once he’d had enough I decided to give it a go, and as this was a beginner spot I was actually able to ride a couple of waves this time and not just get constantly thrown off the board which was fun. It’s still fucking difficult on shitty waves and I really don’t want to turn this into a surfing trip, nor do I think I’d ever get good, so I think this might be the last time I really give it a go. We got back on the road home just before sunset in order to beat the light and said goodbye to the Indos as they took another route home and went straight out to dinner. The United game kicked off at half 8, and my food barely arrived in time before then so I had to take it to go and sit in the bar down the road. Not the best match I’ve seen in my life, but it’s always nice to beat Liverpool even if we were very lucky. Once that game was over the City game got going pretty soon after and I stayed to watch that, but got kicked out at half time as they were closing, pretty annoying but at least they forgot to ask me to pay my bill. Everyone was asleep when I got back so I went to bed pretty much straight away.

Day 245 – Monday 24th September

Finally had a long lie in today, as per usual everyone got up super early and woke me up but I decided to just be persistent and really force my head down, as much as I’ve been a morning person the last 10 days I can’t be completely changed! So I got out of bed at 1ish and went to meet James in the internet café to try and get some sort of idea of what to do next, but came to no conclusions as usual. Just to let you guys know what my dilemma is; on arrival in Indo you get a 30 day visa on arrival and you can extend this for another 30 days and then you really have to leave as they don’t like overstays one bit. So I will extend this visa, but it doesn’t run out until the 4th and Lombok is supposed to be the most painless place to do it, so I will hang around here until near then and then get it done so I get as much time from the renewal date. But long story short I will have a month to get out of this country and either apply for a 2 month visa somewhere else or do the whole 30 day on arrival thing again. The problem is that I want to go east to Flores, one of the longest islands with very few roads and therefore a lot of time is needed just to get across, let alone slow down to enjoy it. Past Flores, after a 9 hour boat you can get to West Timor which is connected to east Timor (officially not a country in Indo) so I will have to rush across and get there in a month and get a new visa. One problem with that is I have to get an east Timor visa beforehand (takes a week) and the land border crossing between the 2 is often closed. So if I get that far and can’t make it I am completely fucked, as flights from that part of the world (being so remote) are a complete fucking fortune. Anyway there you go, that’s why I’m always complaining about visas, and that only covers the first 2 months, after east Timor it gets no easier, but thinking that far ahead is just pointless. Anyway the longer I look at the internet and maps the more confusing and difficult it all becomes, but I need as much info as I can get while I’m still in a relatively built up island. When we made it back to the homestay the 2 Austrian guys and their girlfriends had made it back from climbing Rinjani (a 3700m high volcano) which is something all of us are interested in doing. So we racked their brains for ages, and as hard as it sounds I’m sure it would be worth it, the only problem right now is the cost, and I’ve still got a couple of days to decide whether or not I really want to do, but it’s definitely in the pipeline. Just before sunset me, James, Niko and Lisa went to the top of a hill to watch the sun go down, as all the other surfer dudes fucked off to get their fix. The sunset was absolutely beautiful and I took way too many pictures, I’ll be sure to throw on a couple, but there’s way too many to choose from. When I got back, a lot happened, firstly I found out it doesn’t matter when you renew your visa, it will only start from the date your first one ends (something that seems normal, but really isn’t that common in other countries) and Laurie needs to go to Bali tomorrow to sort out his own flights and shit (long story) and to get a new surfboard. So we decided I would drive with him to the immigration place, sort out my visa and pick up his passport, then drive him to the port and say goodbye. All this news was dropped very suddenly on us and no one is happy to say goodbye to him, but we only had one option and that was to start drinking and have a goodbye party. Picked up a load of bram (rice wine) and the rest is history, Laurie got stupidly drunk and we didn’t get to bed until 4, and we have to get up at half 7 tomorrow to get to the visa place in time, should be fun!

Day 246 – Tuesday 25th September

The alarm went off at half 7 today and seeing how passed out Laurie was and how I’m not in a giant rush to get to the visa place today, I decided just to turn it off and let the 2 of us have a lie in. That we did, and he was hung-over when he got up as well, so there was no chance of him making a move today, so we have one extra day with him. Everyone sat around trying to feel better, before they all mustered up the strength to go surfing, neither me or James could be bothered goig a it involved sitting on a boat rather than on the beach. So the 2 of us just had a very lazy day today, we ate lots of good food, sat around chatting and really had a proper day off. And yes I know every day I have is a day off, but it’s good to have days where you literally do nothing and even the idea of walking 2 minutes to get food seem way too far away. We did do one constructive thing, and went to go check out prices of going up the mountain, and they were way too much so we gave up pretty quickly! We were about to go and check out the sunset somewhere when everyone arrived back from surfing and we just sat and relaxed with them instead. Laurie went up the mountain a couple of weeks ago and made friends with a guide, so we gave him a call to get a quote and after haggling for ages he actually gave us a really good price. Lisa only has 2 days left so we can’t do the normal 3 day trek and go right to the top, but the Austrians did the 3 day trek and couldn’t physically make it to the top and they’re way fitter than us so it’s probably for the best. So the plan is to go to base camp on Thursday night, spend the night in a homestay and then start at the crack of dawn on Friday, by the end of the day we will make it to the crater where there is a giant lake and some hot springs. Here we will spend the night fishing, making fires and going in the hot springs, at that altitude it will be 0 degrees, compared to the 35 I’m used to. So having the hot springs should be brilliant, and our muscles will be sore too. Then we’ll get up the next morning and hang around there for a little bit before making our way back down and off home. I’m super excited about going now, and it will be a good way to end my time here on Lombok. After that was sorted we all had some dinner and then as everyone was a bit knackered from last night we all went to our separate rooms quite early. In our room we just watched human planet for a while, there was a really good episode on Indo which I thought I should see, and then we went to bed ready for an early wake up tomorrow when I will get my visa extended and say goodbye to Laurie.

Posted by travellingjoe 06:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Loving Lombok

Day 237 – Sunday 16th September

After another refreshingly early wake up today, the 3 of us sat and had a lazy breakfast at our homestay before heading down to our local beach. As today was a Sunday it was actually relatively busy with locals, I say relatively as the beach was still pretty much completely empty. We had our lunch at the usual restaurant, today I tried a gado gado which is vegetables covered in peanut sauce with rice, absolutely delicious. And of course our 3 little girls managed to find us eating, so once we’d finished we decided to go with them right down to the other end of the beach where it was completely deserted. There they made a few bracelets and just sat around with us chatting and getting terrified whenever a dog came near, turns out the dogs often attack the locals! It’s nice to spend time with them and teach them English and stuff but I don’t need any more bracelets, and I feel bad not asking for any so I think we might have to start going to another beach in the future. After spending the day on the beach we all came back to our place and met our new neighbour, Laurie, a guy from Norfolk who’s been in Indo for 5 months now. So obviously he had a lot to say about the country and some good stories and things, unfortunately he is a surfer as with everyone in this country! It’s not a problem it just means that he’ll be off all day surfing, and with Fernando leaving in a couple of days we need a new member to join the gang. The 4 of us then went out for some dinner, chicken satay of course, then we went around to enquire about options for tickets off the island. I’m still completely unsure about what my next move will be here, I don’t know where to go nor do I know when to go! The main problem is the visa issues over here, and long story short if I want to avoid flying in and out loads of times I’ll have to go all the way east and then up to the North and back West all the way to Malaysia. I don’t even know if I can do that anyway, so I need to read in to it more. Then we came home and drama next door, as the kiwi had had his bike stolen when he wa having dinner and the guys who he rented it from wanted more than 600 quid for it, and it was a piece of shit! In the end the guy did pay up, the whole situation sounded a bit suspicious, like who actually stole the bike and how did the guys who rented it out to them know where the bike was and stuff. You can’t trust anyone when money is involved!

Day 238 – Monday 17th September

Same usual routine this morning of slowly getting up, getting our free pancake and sitting down doing nothing for a while. But then it all went wrong, Laurie’s surf board is currently being fixed in the shop, so he managed to rally us all together to go on a road trip and check out the local scenery and not actually spend the whole day on the local beach getting harassed by kids. We rented a couple of bikes and some snorkelling stuff and then hit the road, we drove for a good hour or so and ended up at this giant white sand beach which seemed to stretch on forever. Not only was the beach spectacularly beautiful, but the drive there was really something else, the countryside around here is so beautiful and all the people stand at the side of the road waving at you and shouting hello and trying to high five you and stuff. I’m sure I’ve made it clear already, but my favourite part about this country so far is definitely the people who live here they’re so bloody friendly it’s incredible. On the beach we tried to go snorkelling but there was a bit of a swell so we settled for just jumping in the waves instead, and spent the whole afternoon just relaxing there and talking to Fernando about stuff as he’s off tomorrow now. We started to drive back just before sunset which meant that the views on the drive home were just awesome and we stopped off a couple of times in the hills to really get a good view of the whole place. It’s a shame Laurie has to be a surfer, because he is a really cool guy and he’ll be off all day, although he is an instructor so I might be able to get myself into the surfer club and be cool like all the rest of the aussie jocks out here! When we made it back from the drive we had a usual dinner, Fernando’s last chicken satay, he’ll probably have withdrawal symptoms when he leaves! Then after dinner Laurie had some local rice wine and we all cracked on with that for the rest of the night and got way too drunk, it was all a good laugh and definitely a good last day for Fernando. Went to bed much too late, and all of us in a state, Fernando has to be up at 8 tomorrow to get his bus back to Bali, I don’t envy him one bit!

Day 239 – Tuesday 18th September

Got woken up at 9 today by Fernando saying goodbye, and boy did I feel like shit, since I got to Indonesia I haven’t had a drink as it’s pretty expensive here, so drinking that dirty rice wine last night gave me an absolutely horrendous hangover. I said my goodbyes to Fernando, sad to see him go back home but at least it definitely confirms to me that I have no inkling in jumping on a flight back to England in the near future. Then I went back to bed, and me and James spent the whole day pretty much to laying around in bed trying to feel better, while Laurie somehow mustered up the strength to go surfing. Eventually around 2, we’d had enough of complaining to each other about how shit we felt and decided to head down to the beach to get some food and jump in the water, which did a hell of a lot of good. Unfortunately going to the beach meant dealing with the kids, and as nice as they are they really are too loud and neither of us was in the mood to hang out with them all afternoon. Plus all the other local kids have noticed how nice we are and they all come and sit with us as well, so there was a good 7 of them jumping around us at any one time. After a while of putting up with all of it, we decided just to leave and we arrived back at the place around the same time as Laurie. Now that Fernando has gone, he’s now joining our room which helps us all as it’s super cheap to share one room with 3 people and always more of a laugh. Last night during our drunken antics I showed Laurie my groin region, as recently I’ve been getting a rash right where you don’t want one, and the last thing I want is an STD, so being the nice guy he is he offered to check it out yesterday and today decided to take me to the hospital and get it sorted. It’s so useful having such a proactive guy on the team as there’s no way I would’ve got round to it myself. At the doctors I was told it’s a common problem in hot countries as sweat rubs off on where your boxers sit and the doctor himself says he gets it quite often. I was sorted out very quickly, they gave me an injection and a few drugs to take to get the problem fixed and I was in and out within 15 minutes. The doctor himself was bloody hilarious, ‘when I get it I love to itch ooh aah it feels so good like orgasm yes, aahh I love to itch!’ couldn’t stop cracking up. And then he presented me with a bill of 50 quid, that soured the mood a little bit but I guess it’s not very much for peace of mind and at least now if it happened again I know what drugs to buy without having to go to a doctor. We were all still a bit groggy from this morning today, so we spent the rest of the evening watching a movie and having dinner then getting to bed nice and early.

Day 240 – Wednesday 19th September

The kiwi and Australian left for Sumbawa today, originally it was my plan to leave with them today as well, but I’m not ready to leave this place at all, it’s so cheap to be sharing with 2 other guys and Lombok is just really beautiful as well. We had a very slow morning today, after breakfast we sat around chatting with a couple other guys staying here, then they left to surf and we got talking to the owner’s hot wife. We found out that she had her kid at 13 years old, and at the time the boss was 28, I don’t care what culture it is that just sounds wrong to me. Not only is it crazy for a 13 year old to have to push out a baby, but for a 28 year old man to impregnate her is just fucked up. Either way she’s super nice and her and Laurie gave me a lesson in Indonesian, I’m really going to try and give it a crack as it doesn’t seem to be too hard a language and I’m going to be travelling way out in the sticks where English just isn’t spoken. After learning for a good hour or so Laurie decided to go off surfing and me and James hit the local beach, after some gado gado (my new favourite dish here). Surprise, surprise the kids quickly tracked us down, but today we were in a better mood and it was quite nice to sit and play around with them and obviously buy another bracelet, I think this one is my last one, I’ve got way too many now. I also owed them some money for the last few days of bracelets, so it was good to catch them and pay them off. After the tide went out, me and James had both had enough of the kids so we just went back to the room and went to use the internet for a while. After some food we just spent the rest of the night catching up on each other’s life stories, and James has a lot of interesting shit behind him which was very good to hear, he’s 35 so has a lot more life experience than the 2 of us. After picking up a snack of martabak, a pancake type thing with egg and vegetables we watched a bit of TV and hit the hay.

Day 241 – Thursday 20th September

Every morning we all wake up pretty early, so we often spend a couple of hours just sitting around the homestay before we make a move anywhere, and today was no different, we got up and sat and watched some surfer film, Laurie is really trying to get us in to it I think. Not that I don’t think it’s a good idea to surf my way around Indo (as everyone else seems to be) but it takes years to be good and I don’t want to just be the spastic surfer in the water who everyone laughs at, as this seems to be a bit of a pro place to surf. But when Laurie suggested us all going down to Mawi to watch him surf, we though why not and we all mustered up the strength to go to Mawi (one of the best surf spots around here) and once again we had a really nice drive on the way there, despite falling off the bike on the shitty roads! Once we got there me and James just sat on the really nice beach as Laurie got his surfing on. Unfortunately, he broke the board which he was very pissed about considering he’d only just had it fixed the day before yesterday and it costs a lot to fix, especially when you can just buy a board for the price of maybe 2 or 3 fixes. So the day on Mawi was short lived, no worries though we had a nice drive back. We all left separately, and when we got back James was not here, weird considering he left first, so I went down to the cash machine and bumped in to one of the bracelet girls and it turned out James had given the 2 youngest ones a lift back to their village. Once he got back we went out for some dinner and got chatting to these 2 cool German guys, but all people chat about here is surfing and I quickly feign interest. After food we all had to use the internet for a while where I found out that United missed yet another penalty last night, this is getting ridiculous! After internet we all came back to watch a movie, but Laurie fell asleep pretty much straight away and neither me or James were feeling it so we gave up half way through and went to bed.

Day 242 – Friday 21st September

Laurie’s board was broken today so he was forced to join the crew of people who don’t really know what the hell to do in the day. After sitting around procrastinating for a while we decided to just go down the coastal road and see how far we can get. After about half an hour we stumbled upon this deserted, perfect white sand bay with perfect blue water, it was absolutely stunning, and there was no one else there as well. We hung out there for a little while, went for a swim and the jumped back on the bikes, unfortunately my flip flops were stolen from next to the bike, bastards! At least the bike wasn’t stolen I guess, but we had to carry on, and we kept on driving for over an hour and ended up at this really quiet little village which is located next to the old port, and has seemingly been completely forgotten about since the port is no longer used. Here all the kids were going crazy when we turned up, they followed us from off the bike and sat there staring at us as we drank tea and ate a really nice fish and rice dish. It’s so weird how you only have to go a few kilometres down the road to find villagers who are completely shocked to see white people, even the older members were getting really giddy, it was brilliant. Once we’d finished our food we got back on the bikes and kept on driving through the stunning countryside, Lombok is famous for its tobacco plants, and all along the roads there’s fields and fields of the stuff, it’s a really nice plant and just makes the place look so green. So whenever you’re driving it always looks nice, and there’s always loads of kids who run out on to the street to say hello and high 5 you as you drive past. On the road we kept noticing these really tall brick houses which looked completely out of place, so we stopped at one to check out what it was, and they’re basically just tobacco drying towers, and the smell coming out of them is so nice. We sat and chatted to the farmers who were more than happy to talk, with our limited Indonesian we managed to find out that they sell their product to Marlboro, would you believe it?! They offered us some of their fresh tobacco, and we said our goodbyes and got back on the road. All in all we must’ve been driving for a good 4 hours, and once we made it back we watched a documentary about how the press cover up wars, in particular Iraq, all very interesting, and then we went out for some food with the Germans from next door. When we got back, James went to sleep and me, Laurie and the 2 guys stayed up drinking some local rice wine for a while, and played some cards, and eventually we made it to bed around 3, long day!

Posted by travellingjoe 06:30 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

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