Yeah, I was scared, really scared

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
Trip End Feb 27, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Saturday, February 23, 2013

Welp guys, for the first time on this trip I truly feared for my life.  Only having experienced that just a very few times in my life, I can say I do not need to ever experience it again.  Usually, when a life-threatening event happens you don't even see it coming...the fear and adrenaline only comes later.  However, if you are lucky enough to be on a fast boat in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Bali on the day they resume trips following a cessation due to weather, well then, you get to plot your survival in the event the boat capsizes and turns into a fiberglass tomb. 

Yesterday, the boats didn't run because of weather.  I thought the hotel person was lying to me in order to get another night out of their guest.  Today I learned that he was not lying and when they don't run because of weather, it really is in our lives' best interest.  Leaving the harbor was fine.  To a layman, the weather was fine, partly cloudy and calm seas.  Traversing the distance between the islands apparently gets pretty hairy because of the currents and wind tunneling effect.  I have never seen a boat leap through the air like that.  Even writing this right now brings back the terror filled ride.  It was exactly like a roller coaster (without the inversion)...and without the tested safety features.  On a roller coaster, you have seen scores of delighted, though frightened passengers go before you.  On this ride, you didn't know if you were going to be alive or dead at the end of it.  The entire boat of passengers was gasping and screaming with barely controlled panic.  It's hard to say they were screaming, but I don't know how else to describe the brief, unconcious fear yells that were let loose as we rolled and pitched and pounded back down to the surface of the sea.  I also have never been on a boat, that from the inside was pitched 45 degrees while in the air.  At first you try to tell yourself these guys are professionals and they wouldn't put our lives in real jeopardy.  Unfortunately, you're a reader and you've read that the safety records of these boat companies aren't exactly stellar and there have, in fact, been shipwrecks on this very same route.  With that information on hand, I seriously memorized exactly how the lifejackets were held under the seats so that no matter what position I ended up in, I could get one out.  Then, I was mentally rehearsing the entire escape from various scenarios.  Would I try to help anyone else?  What if my window wouldn't open because of the water pressure?  Could I get out the back?  Seriously. These were legitimate questions I was asking myself.  I also wondered if I was overreacting because I haven't spent a ton of time on the ocean.  All I know is I have never felt anything like this.  To see walls of spray and water higher than the boat coming at you is honestly terrifying.  Seeing the clouds as we shot toward the sky and then the bone jarring crash as we returned to the sea.  The worst was the side to side...I do not know how we stayed upright...I felt like I was in the Perfect Storm and I wanted to soil myself. 
But, we survived.  All of us.  No one panicked although in the ride back to the hotels, I sat next to a Canadian couple from Vancouver who voluntarily admitted it was the scariest boat ride they had ever been on...and they've done some traveling..Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Australia...all places with oceans and boats.  I feel vindicated that I wasn't overreacting.  I thought you guys would appreciate that I actually felt true fear and I don't want to feel it again.  Therefore, I am not so sure I am up for getting to Komodo Island.  I had been told that the seas were too rough and up until today, I just thought they were being wimps.  There is no way in hell I would go now on a 'rough sea'.  You can absolutely forget it, unless you want to see a real-life nervous breakdown.

I am back in Bali now and checked myself into another nice hotel.  With a mirror, Kleenex, and a flat-screen TV, I feel like I'm at the Ritz.  lol.  I forgot what real hotels were like.  Even my sweet bungalow was still a bungalow with geckos as sleeping mates and random bug ursurpers.  There is even a pool here!!!?  I know right!  haha. 

After this morning's brush with death, I am really yearning for home.  I am just worn out.  So many little things are wearing me down these days.  For example, I looked up a hotel on the internet and had the fast boat company drop me off there (which was really nice to not have to figure your way back from the harbor across the island).  However, the hotel wouldn't honor the price I found on the internet and suggested I book through the internet.  I said sure and asked what the password was.  They wouldn't give it to me...they wanted me to go down the street to use a pay Internet cafe.  It just irked me.  I told them that if they wouldn't just let me on the internet that they were losing a customer.  They lost a customer. I walked down the street and booked into another hotel. Then, I needed to rent a motorbike so I could get to the airport to see about Komodo or home flights. Of course, getting used to a new motorcycle takes a few moments of scary uncomfortableness.  The airport refused to have any signs. I could see the monstrosity, but could not figure out how to get in there. I drove to the gates where cars were going through but that is not the motorcycle gate.  Oh, my bad, I didn't see the sign you DON'T have!  I get vague pointing instructions for where to go...unsigned of course.  I try to follow and not surprisingly, end up going away from the damn airport.  I go back to where I came from, much to the chagrin of the car-ticket-taker attendant.  Then, the cars start honking at me and I lose it. I turn around and viciously point at them and yell, "You're just gonna have to wait a minute!"  (Not that they could understand, but still, it was nice to vent). The guy at the booth starts yelling at me too and so I just drive off toward the airport while I hear him screaming behind me, "NO! NO! MISS! NO!" I ignored him and pulled over where there was a police officer.  I must have seemed desperate cause I just said, "Can you PLEASE help me?!" Finally, without people honking and yelling at me, I could listen to this guy and see where the motorcycles were going. I made it...only to learn that the representatives for the airline I need were already gone for the day.  Oh, Jasmine, you say, why don't you just call them! From where I would ask....I don't have access to a phone. The internet? Oh yeah, I can't make changes from the internet. So, it looks like I will be toting my butt right back to the airport again tomorrow. Do you see what I mean by just wearing me down?  Even things that work perfectly are still a bit wearing for a Westerner.  Take for example, the fast boat.  It was great physically.  However, you must climb a ladder that is placed in the surf and climb it while a man holds it from moving against the constant waves. Nothing bad about that, just another fun bit of tenseness.  Then, to actually get inside the boat, since you've boarded at the front, you have to walk heel to toe along the edge of the boat holding on to the stainless steel railings, hoping your feet don't slip off the 5 in wide walkway.  Again, not a problem, just another bout of tenseness as you think about the consequences of falling in the ocean with your wallet, passport, phone, camera.  

After learning that there was no one to talk to at the airport, my deflated self broke down and ate McDonalds at the airport. I was starving since I hadn't eaten for 6 hours and even then, it was a piece of bread and a Sprite. Those French fries and fountain Coke never tasted so good. Then, I worked my way back to the refuge of my hotel where I just want to curl up. Unfortunately, I will get hungry, and I will have to start the food search cycle again...

I can tell I am getting tired because nothing is exciting me.  Right now, there is nothing on the island of Bali that I really care to see.  I'd rather just hole up in my flat-screened TV harboring hotel room and then ooze down to the pool if I am feeling un-ameobic.   Many travelers I have spoken to have professed that when the trip is over, you just know.  I might be knowing right now. 

Lastly, for giggles, I am providing the link for two videos that show a bit of the traffic situation here.  Notice the complete lack of room-space in the tight as you can pack em in on the road, we'll drive. The first is less than a minute long but speaks volumes.

The second you should just fast-forward to 1:45 or so, so you avoid hearing the crazy man talk so much.
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Carla Ellithorpe on

Ha! Did you notice the circle K sign on the right in the second video? Thought that was funny!

jware on

Yeah--are you remarking about that cause you saw it in my pictures as well? In a couple of my pics you can see the Circle K up the street. They are everywhere here, as well as Minimarts and Indomarts. A lot of convenience store choice in Bali...unlike Cambodia or Laos

jware on

I amend my comment for accuracy---in Cambodia and Laos there were lots of convenience stores, just not commercial ones...only privately owned little family deals

alan on

shhhhsh, good thing you're still sane after all of that.

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