World cup blues and we're off the booze!!
Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
92Trip End Apr 22, 2011
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Where I stayed
Losmen Tjabe Merah
Immigration at Lombok airport could do with reorganization. We walked off the plane straight to immigration were we joined a large queue which took over an hour to clear. The source of the delay was the unhurried visa issuing desk that had two uniformed men in a tiny room with a flickering florescent light above them, methodically sticking in visas and stamping passports. Having consumed a large amount of alcohol on our 3 hour flight, things were getting desperate at the back of the queue. The toilet was in sight but it was the other side of Immigration and customs. Gary was in pain, he really, really needed to go. His options were to go back out the door and pee up the wheel of our plane or ask the man at immigration nicely to let him through. Luckily he went with option two, I didn't fancy the sort of trouble he could of got in with option one. He asked a man in uniform who nodded but took his passport off of him ...just in case he did a runner. He then had to go through the metal detectors (don't know why they have them leaving the airport) by this time he was almost dancing, I was just happy that there wasn’t a queue for the loo because he wouldn’t have made it. He returned back a lot calmer than he left and we got our visa and collected our luggage.
We’d booked a room online as we were getting in late and Lombok isn’t somewhere you can just turn up to. They don’t have budget areas, most of their cheap accommodation is mixed in with big expensive resorts or mid-range hotels. The room we booked was ok very basic and fine for one night. As the lady showed us round all I wanted was a shower, I looked in the bathroom, 'Err no shower?’ I questioned. 'No, Indonesian bath’ she said, pointing to the bucket and cold tap in the corner and doing a pouring over her head action. Fabulous!!!
Throughout our trip the first night in any room is the worst, Bed bugs, cockroaches, rats, are just a few troubles that could give us an uncomfortable night. Fortunately this room was sound and we had a good night sleep. The next day we went in search of a new hotel (one with a shower hopefully.....Indonesian Bath Pah!!). We had already seen one online but rather than book it I was sure we would get a better deal just turning up. We wanted a nice room with a TV and pool, so we could watch the World cup at night (seven hours in front) and laze by the pool during the day. The Bukit Senggigi Hotel was perfect, just what we were looking for and like I thought we got a better deal by turning up. We are paying £22 a night which is a bit more than our normal budget but it comes with breakfast so we only have to buy one other meal a day. Plus sitting by the pool all day means the only other costs we incur are suntan lotion and replacing our books.
We are actually on a bit of a health kick over the next two weeks. We have let ourselves go a bit.... comments have been made about Gary flabby belly and me getting stuck in holes. So we are exercising and cutting out the beer, fizzy drinks and Pringles.
Lombok doesn’t have the mad tourism that it neighbour Bali has. You still have the street sellers that pester you every day selling necklaces, sarongs, watches, paintings, motorbikes for hire, trips to the islands, but it is not a bad as Bali will be. Lombok is a volcanic Island and still has an active volcano ... which we hope will stay snoozing at least for the next two months. One of the main reasons to come to here is to reach the Gili Islands, three small islands just off the top of Lombok each island a bit larger than the next. When we travelled thirteen years ago we visited Gili Air and Gili Trawangan, in fact this is where we first learnt to dive, and so we are keen to go back and see how they have changed and discover what we remember about them.
You only get a thirty day visa when you arrive in Indonesia, and queue up for hours for it, so to stay here longer we needed to visit the Immigration office and arrange an extension for another thirty days. We had already discovered where the immigration office was and done a drive by in a taxi a few days before, so we had no problem hiring a scooter and set off for the day. South East Asian immigration offices always look a bit daunting. They are usually full of locals and the queues look massive, and yet everyone we have visited treats foreigners like kings. Once we found the information desk the chap behind it couldn’t be more helpful. He spoke perfect English and explained exactly where we needed to go and how to fill the forms out. We were in, done and out in 30 mins all that is left to do is come back the next day to collect them.
This meant we had the rest of the day to explore some of the island on the bike. We rode back past our town (Senggigi) and up through the hills, following the coast line round. The sights were magnificent, each bend and hill brought us to a fabulous view and a picture perfect cove. The sea is clear and blue but slight jade in the shallow parts. I couldn’t get a good enough picture showing the colour changes. As we hit the top left corner of the island we saw three islands just off shore. These are the Gili’s and where we are heading in a couple of weeks. There is no tourism this way, a few big hotel resorts but no shops and restaurants, just lots of farming and evidence of village life. Gary had to dodge, chicken, goats and cows as well a pot holes. The road actually ran out at one stage where they are resurfacing it and I got off and walked while Gary did some off roading.
26th June 2010
Firstly let get the shocking football out the way, can’t believe England can play that bad and still think they are in with a chance, still I would like to be proven wrong. What a World Cup, lots of shocking results. We have been up every night watching the first and second games, which were played at 7.30pm and 10pm and then only the occasional late game (England obviously) played at 2.30am, which left us bleary eyed in the mornings. When we first got to our hotel, Gary got chatting to guy that showed us round the room and said about watching the football. Later that afternoon after we had checked in he came rushing over to Gary and said ‘I have put a big TV in your room and tuned in the football stations’. We have also been having a little bet on each game but they have all lost, how can you bet on Switzerland beating Spain and Mexico beating France, it just doesn’t give you a chance!!
We received our extension visa and now have 30 days extra to spend in Indonesia which is great. This is still going to get us to Australia three weeks early than we had planned but we have loads to do when we first get there as we want to buy a camber van so time isn’t really an issue.
Our two week stay in the Bukit Hotel was perfect, we were given first class service all the way. Our sheets changed every morning with petal’s left on the bed, when we sat by the pool they came running out with cushions for the sunbeds and pool towels and breakfast was always served with a smile and joke. It was great value for the money.
Left Lombok a day later than expected due to the fact that we maxed out our credit card. We have deliberately left the credit limit on our main card at its minimum just in case it ever got cloned and then we are not hit for too much. The bill is paid off every month so we never usually get near the credit limit but I forgot the Man Untied season ticket money was paid this month so tipped us over the edge. It was a worrying few moments as we phoned the bank thinking we had been attacked. The rather laid back, or thick I wasn’t sure which, chap in the Santander helpdesk didn’t seem to comprehend that I was worried about how my account was possibly over drawn and when I asked him to read out all the latest transactions it didn’t occur to him to read out the massive £1700 transaction!! Still they are not paid to think! Sorry if you work for Santander but they are not in my good books at the moment I have a whole list of things they are driving me mad with. So we had to wait a day for the bank to clear and we could get some cash out the cash point.
We have stocked up on suntan lotion, moisturiser and insect repellent as these are always expensive on the islands and are all set to spend the next two to three weeks going back to the wonderful islands of Trawangan and Air. Let’s hope they haven’t changed too much.