A Cheap but Sticky Situation

Trip Start Feb 18, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Monday, April 26, 2010

Padangbai --> Gili Trawangan

So we had a decision to make on how to get to the Gili islands. There is the "fastboat" option which takes about one hour and goes directly to Gili Trawangan. This costs about $30/person(which was the cheapest we found, some go for $65/person).  Then there is the "slowboat" option which is a 4 hour ferry ride to mainland Lombok then 2 bus rides followed by a small boat ride to Gili T. This trip takes about 8 hours, but only costs $10/person. Hmm.

We went back and forth about pros and cons of each, and eventually decided to save a buck on the slow boat. We figure if it sucks then we'll take the fastboat back.

The ride was actually awesome. The ferry had air conditioning and big reclining seats as well as couches and tables.  (Getting off the ferry was a bit tricky as we weaved through and under trucks parked on the bottom level, getting nearly run over when they decide to just start backing up. Interesting the way things work here)

The drive through Lombok was beautiful. Switchback mountain roads winding through jungles with monkeys relaxing on the sides.  We stopped about halfway to the second boat to talk to the people at the shuttle boat/bus office. They spent 15 minutes warning us that when we get to the next pier not to let anyone help us with our bags, not to give anyone our ticket, and not to give anyone more money. We heard about this "gauntlet" from our guidebook and other travelers so we were prepared for the worst.

When we arrived at the pier in Bangsal, a sketchy (and high) looking guy came right over to the van to try to help with the bags. Jon politely but firmly says no thank you, that he could handle his own bag. Well, this guy didn't like that! He starts to get upset and says he's just trying to help and he's not going to fucking cheat us. Um, ok, but we still will hold on to our own bag.  Another, more official-looking guy comes over and says, "Hello, I work for the shuttle company, please come and wait inside the cafe before the boat departs in 30 minutes." Ok, we can do that.

We and the group we took the van with, go into the cafe to sit down. Sketchy guy follows and asks Jon for his ticket, says he works here and it's his boat.   Again, "um no, I'll give you the ticket when I get on a boat. The people at the office said not to give the ticket to anyone beforehand."  He walks away looking even more pissed. (which I can sort of understand. Everyday this guy deals with tourists trying to save a buck, treating him like he's some kind of criminal, when actually all he's trying to do is figure out which Gili island we're all going to so he can make sure we get on the right boat. With that said, the following situation could have been easily avoided by any of the 3 solutions: A) not such an intense warning from the shuttle office and/or them letting us know we would be greeted by their staff on the other side B) uniforms
or just same color shirts for the staff  C) not having a psychopath working for the company

So begins the misinformation that leads to a bad confrontation.
Sketchy-turned-scary guy begins yelling at one of the Swedish guys in our group, "It's my fucking boat!!!! Give me your fucking ticket!!!!! You are so fucking stupid!!" Woah. Psycho guy is getting in his face, screaming and spitting till he's red in the face. I keep my distance, but Jon stands next to them both (he feels responsible for pissing the guy off in the first place) More sketchy looking "staff" get involved and I am afraid.

After trying to calmy explain the miscommunication, they tell us that we can just find our own boat!

We all just leave the cafe and walk to the pier.  More weird grungy locals are standing around and as I follow behind Jon to go give our tickets, a guy grabs my arm and pleads, "Wait, wait. Just stay with me for one minute." I try to pull my arm away and he won't let go. "No! I'm going with my husband" I say calmly so as not to start a freakin' riot. He lets go saying "Oh oh that's your husband."


The psycho-sketchy guy from before follows us inside and let me tell you, if looks could kill, we would have been ashes.

He even calls the office and thrusts his cell phone at me demanding that I speak to them.
"Hi, hello? Yes, we just came from your office where you told us to not trust anybody and then when we didn't, the guy with the boat was very offended and angry. Why didn't you tell us he would be there waiting for us?" blah blah blah.
"Yes yes it's ok to give the ticket to him".

Crazy guy makes me go tell the Swedish guy what happened on the phone. "Um, he says it's ok?" The Swedish guy apologizes to crazy man which just makes him angrier (we think it was his blond mustache)

Whatever. We all just go wait on the shore for the boat to arrive.
Eventually crazy guy leaves and we get on the next boat to Gili T.
Everyone is nervously laughing.  Leave it to one asshole to leave a bad taste in our mouths. So far Lombok sucks and I miss Bali.

I think we'll take the fast boat back.  In retrospect this fastboat desicion will not only be the beginning of a very wonderful experience but one that will permanently change me forever...literally.

And had this negative experience never happened, we definitely would have forgone the fastboat for the slowboat again, thus missing out on an amazing week in Amed, Bali.

I guess everything happens for a reason.
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Betsy on

Sorry you guys had a rough time at this destination, but this being the first and only scary situation is a great sign! Sounds like you handled it well.

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