Did I really take two buses to get here?

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 17, 2012

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, July 4, 2012

So I'm now in Waikabubak, the ugliest little town I’ve ever seen. I’m at the Aloha Hotel, scheduled to check out in about 45 minutes and Mr. Marten, the owner of the homestay at Tarimbang, is coming to pick me up and drive me down there.

I think I’ll stay about 4-5 days there, depending on the swell, then one night in Waingapu, the Sumbanese capital, and then off to Bali.

The Aloha Hotel is pretty much a dump, but I woke up without bedbug bites, and somehow I slept OK, so I shouldn’t complain.

I remember joking about the "Western toilet" advertised on some hotels, and now I know why it’s such a draw. The typical Indonesian toilet does not flush – you pour water into it and it uses gravity to clear. There’s also no seat cover and no tank – just a bottom part.

There’s a large basin in there too, with a spigot. You fill up the basin and then use a bucket to dump water over yourself. Emily and Jeff – who are staying next to me in this lovely establishment – laughed hysterically when I told them I nearly climbed into the basin because I thought it was a tiny bathtub.

The mattress was about 4 inches thick and provided no support. Underneath is a hard board. But I like a hard bed and I slept really well.

I got on the Internet last night and got to check out a lot of stuff. I thought I fixed the Internet problems with my phone, but no luck.

Emily, Jeff, and I walked around last night after the Internet café – which was just a dirty place full of weird chain-smoking people staring at screens.

Around Waikabubak (and there were a few actually in Bali too), there are these large sculptures at every intersection that seem to serve no purpose. Some light up, like some kind of carnival attraction. Some are statues of famous Indonesians. And some are just random things, like a guy on a horse. It makes directions easy though – take a left on the guy on the horse, go up to the radio tower in the middle of the road, make a right, etc.

We had some more traditional Indonesian food, which was just limp and funky meat and veggies with rice – it was actually pretty good, though, and my stomach seems OK today, so hey.

Afterwards, we had some really tasty treats – a large pancake like waffle with melted coconut and chocolate inside. The guy got the waffle and put the chocolate and coconut in there, and then cooked it in an iron skillet for about five minutes. It tasted a lot like a waffle cone with fresh coconut and chocolate inside. Delicious.

I picked up about 15 little bananas for less than a buck, so that’ll be my breakfast today.

Getting here was also a trip: The 11am bus showed up at 12:45. It cost less than a dollar and took an hour and a half, but the blaring Indonesian music was worth the uncomfortable ride. The bus read “BEAUTIFUL” on the front window of this crazy contraption. It had padding on the ceiling (which turned out very useful when we hit the bumps) and a weird seating arrangement that seemed as haphazard as anything I’ve seen. I’ve never been bus sick, car sick, or boat sick, but with the loud music and the huge bumps, I was starting to get queasy by the time we showed up at Waikabubak.

There are two employees on each bus: the driver, of course, and a barker, whose job, it seems, is to get people on the bus, take their money, secure the stuff, and then tell the bus driver when to stop. The barker was all of 15, chain smoking and trying to get every pretty girl he could see onto the bus. He was relatively successful, as by the time we got to Waikabubak, we had many passengers, a bunch of whom were young girls. 

When we got to the market, I started to freak out a little. The bus stopped and everyone else got off. I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, as the driver winked and put up 10 fingers. I had already paid the guy at the door 8. The guy at the door kept telling me to get off. The bus driver intimated that I should sit down. I kept pointing at myself and then the bus and then outside as more and more people kept getting on.

Finally I listened to the barker and got off the bus. Down off the roof came my rather large suitcase and my giant surfboard bag. I’m standing there in this market with probably 20 buses and 500 people and I have no idea where I’m going.

Luckily, a barker runs up and asks me where I’m going. For the 30th time, I say “The Aloha Hotel.”

And, sure enough, I get on an even smaller bus with my surfboard bag and suitcase on the top and off we go.

This bus was tiny, just a panel van really, with seats lining the windows and a giant picture of Brittany Spears on the back. 

As usual, people are openly staring and the guy next to me asks for what I think is a cigarette – the commodity of choice here.

Instead, I break out my Powerbars and my Cliff Bars and hand them out to everyone. They look at them like they’re poison. This one old guy with no teeth whatsoever just kept trying to read the package, as if it was going to explain what was in it. I just kept pointing to my teeth and pretending to chew. I really hope he took off the wrapping first.

By the time the guy next to me explained in his limited English and my five words of Bahasa that he has an Italian boss in Denpasar, we had arrived!
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