Lombok, Indonesia: Bargain Bed Bugs
Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
76Trip End Feb 06, 2014
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So it was up at 0530, in reception at 0600 only to wait and wait and wait until the bus finally arrived in the pouring rain at 0700. A two hour trip across the island we were dumped at a cafe, told to exchange our ticket for another piece of paper and ordered to wait. With everyone else going direct to the Gili's on a posh speedboat we were collected and taken to an old school ferry - cars on bottom, people on top where music blarred and ladies with baskets offered snacks of rice, crisps or drinks. People were sprawled out across seats. When we queried how long the trip was we were told anywhere between 3 - 5 hours. What? To that island that I can see on the horizon not very far??? Surely that can't be right. But yes, turns out we had just climbed aboard the world's slowest boat.
But it was a good trip. Terribly uncomfortable but good. I snoozed for a bit. Blogged for a bit. Three and a half hours later we were docking on Lombok. Off ferry and onto another bus. Pleased we had tickets as those who didn't were told they weren't allowed on the bus despite the fact it wasn't full. I really don't understand Indo's take on tourism. The hour and a half drive to Senggigi was very pretty. Palm trees, cows, rice fields and lush mountains. Think LOST and it couldn't be more different to Bali if it tried. Horse and cart, bamboo huts, goats on the road, chickens pecking through mud or being chased by cute little grubby faced children. Rustic and rural. Even in the capital of Mataram there wasn't a glass fronted surf shop in sight.
We of course didn't get dropped off exactly where we would have liked but at least it was in the tourist town of Senggigi which is where we had decided to stay - we just had a 500m walk to the square/centre. Senggigi itself was a seemingly pleasant place and was more or less just a street lined with bars, restaurants and shops. Into a restaurant for late lunch and "thank god we made it" drinks. I continued to sit there pondering life whilst Sam set off in search of accommodation. Returning with a right chuffed smile on his face I was slightly dubious even more so when he told me he had secured us a room for IDR 110,000 which worked out to GBP2.70 each!! Oh dear, what have I let myself in for! Bracing myself for the worst I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice looking double room complete with little verandah opposite a tranquil garden, trickling fountain and pond with fish. The boy did good!!
Leaving the road behind we headed to the beach. Much like Kuta we were met by murky dark sand, a rotting big pile of rubbish and boats a plenty washed ashore. By no means a bathers paradise. We walked from one end to the other and it was all pretty horrible but we managed to find a nice bar down by the point (opposite end to the Sheraton) so pulled up a pew, ordered some beers, a pizza and watched the sun go down.
Waking the next morning we discovered the true price of acquiring such cheap accommodation. Bed Bugs!!! The only saving grace was they were only on Sam's bed, not mine, otherwise all hell would have broke loose. Packing our belongings and thankful for having taken Sam's advice the night before of 'never put your pack on a bed', we told management and moved to another room. We were pleased to see they took the blood splatter seriously and fully dismantled both beds and blitzed the room. Most other places would have just turned a blind eye and rebooked it to another unsuspecting couple.
Our main reason for coming to Lombok was to obtain a 30 day VISA extension to take our total allowable time in Indo up to 60 days. Catching a taxi to the Department of Immigration in Mataram we completed the forms, paid the US$40 one day service fee and were told to come back at 4pm to pick it up. With not much to do in Mataram and the rain bucketing down we caught a cab back to Senggigi.
Blessed with a break in the weather we hired a motorbike and cruised up the coast in search of an elusive white sand beach or at least a beach which looked nice enough to warrant a swim. The places north of Senggigi were definitely a lot nicer. Huge swooping bays lined with palm trees, marbled sand and turquoise water. Putting my beach snobbiest to test it was by no means a "Oh my god you must come here" but more of a "thank god it's not all as awful as Senggigi". The road hugged the coast, twisting and turning bay after bay. Wide open ocean on one side, tropical forrest and dark threatening clouds the other.
Pulling into a bay for a swim we were met by the aromas of grilled fish coming from a small beach hut. Lifting the lid on a styrofoam box we picked the two best looking fish and whilst I swam, Sam watched as the lady lathered them in special Lombok sauce and grilled them over coals. Called from the ocean we perched on a bamboo shelf in the sand and enjoyed our very simple but incredibly tasty meal.
With a clap of thunder echoing in the distance we jumped back on the bike and headed a little further north before the rain started to fall and we turned back. Despite our best efforts, we were sorely disappointed to find out we couldn't outrun the storm and returned soaking wet. Amazing how much rain hurts when hurtling along on a motorbike in shorts and singlet.
Picking up the VISA was no issue. We were even offered water and cake whilst we waited as it was someone's birthday. All very nice but we couldn't help but think "Happy Birthday. Now please stop chatting and process our VISA".
Back in Senggigi we retired to a restaurant for drinks and dinner. With a big sign out front stating "TripAdvisor No. 1 choice blah blah blah" we thought we were in for a treat but we had obviously missed the fine print saying "It's shit, eat elsewhere". After that we ventured into a bar with live music where we sat watching working girls try to pick up undesirable men whilst a redneck talked bollox. Rather entertaining and before we knew it a few hours had passed and it was time to return to our abode to pack in readiness for our next destination.
It would have been nice to spend more time on Lombok exploring some of the southern beaches, waterfalls and trekking up to the volcano but with the island covered in a semi-permanent blanket of cloud and rain we didn't see the point. Problem with travelling paradise in the wet season.
Transport: IDR 150,000 each incl:
- Bus 0700-0900 (Hotel to Port)
- Boat 1000-1330 (Bali to Lombok)
- Bus 1400-1530 (Lombok Port to Senggigi
Hotel: Elen Hotel, Senggigi