A Tainted Paradise in Gili T
Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
37Trip End Apr 01, 2011
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Finding an extremely cheap place down in the southwest corner of the island I set up camp and investigated the island. Word had it, that there was a party on the island the night I arrived, so I thought it rude not to check it out. As it turned out, the music was terrible, unprogressive minimalistic garbage. Where someone has basically come up with a three second loop, then looped it for the whole track, occasionally pressing stop.... and then play. Woohoo!! Haha. Still its marginally better than that pop pap, created by the government approved pop music generating machine, that they pump out every other bar, so I made what I could of the night and did have fun
The next day I felt fine in the morning but then increasingly ached as the day went on. I felt like I had the flu with every joint aching and a chronic headache setting in, making me move and feel like I was about 90 years old. Figuring I had just overdone it, I rested for a couple of days and it seemed to go away, but then came back with a vengeance. Crippling me, leaving me pretty much bed-ridden my mind started to muse about Malaria, so I dragged my sorry vessel up to town to go on the internet and looked up the symptoms. Lo and Behold, I had pretty much every symptom of Malaria. Sweet!
Feeling not too bad at that point, as it seemed to come in waves, I decided that if I was sick, pretty much the last symptom left that I hadn’t exhibited, then I would see a doctor. Lo and Behold (what does that even mean?) I was sick that night and in the morning and felt worse than I had so far. Great! Probably shouldn’t have had that beer. Visiting the doctor on the island he assured me that it wasn’t malaria, but mostly signs of dehydration, with a possible infection
Now with a replenished sense of wellness I was free to enjoy the world and marvel at the processes of nature occurring all around me. Feeling much more at peace, I sat on the perfect beach and watched the creation of sand for about an hour. I had mulled over where sand came from in the past and there it was, right there in front of me. Hundreds of pieces of dead coral being rolled up and down the beach, broken down bit by bit into coral sand by the clear blue waves. Marvellous stuff. Life is so simple when you remove all the un-necessary complications and worries that we humans like to wrap everything in and worry about.
Speaking of which, I had eaten through my funds during my illness and needed to visit the fantabulous money laundering device we call a cash machine. Alas, upon my arrival, it was empty. The only machine on all three of the Gili Islands, empty. Great! Better ration the last of my Rupees then. The next day, the machine decided to agree to give me money, then freeze just before it did and swallow my card. So now, I’m stuck on the island, with no money and no card to buy things with either, if they even accept card payments
Through speaking to the hotel who owned the land that the cash machine was on, they said they couldn’t do anything about it. The only thing I could do was to actually be there at the cash machine when the guys from the bank came along and have my passport to get my card back. The beautiful catch was that they had no idea when the bank guys were coming. Just that they were definitely not coming the next day, so possibly the day after that. If I missed the bank guys, then they would take my card over to Lombok nearby and I would have to somehow get a boat over there with no money, then navigate my way across the island with no money to find the bank and pray they hadn’t destroyed my card by then.
By a sheer stroke of luck, I happened to walk into town in the afternoon on the next day when I was assured they wouldn’t come and happened to walk past them just as they were emptying the machine. So by a sheer stroke of luck this ridiculous situation resolved itself and I got my card back, so all was well... for a short time at least.
Whatever this curse was that was ruining my time in paradise, it was not quite done with me yet, as my illness returned in full force, much stronger than it was before. Ill spare the details but I was very ill and was basically bed bound once again. It was hideously relentless and left me curled up on the floor wishing for it all to be over. I’d had enough of this so I went straight back to the doctors, where I was sick, leaving no doubt about my condition, who gave me some anti-biotics, which I reluctantly took and they sorted everything out within a couple of days which was a huge relief. Still, I had lost the best part of 12 days to this illness in total, having been stuck in survival mode, finding it extremely difficult to enjoy this beautiful island.
The worst day of the illness struck on the day that Marie was due to rejoin me after her expedition to New Zealand
Arriving the next day, we had a bit of difficulty meeting up, having no working phones between us and only facebook to co-ordinate our efforts. We did meet up in the end and we went to a bar to meet a few people. I was introduced to Paul, Ally and Olivia, who Marie had met on the boat over to The Gili Islands and Charlotte, who Marie met during a hike round the less populated side of the island. Having only just started to feel something approaching human after nearly two weeks of wrongness, I didn’t drink for most of the night, but then I did cave in the end and had a few beers. Happy that I was finally feeling ok again and ended up having a wicked night.
The next day we met up again and went snorkelling just off the coast
Whilst I had been on the island, I had frequently been staring at Rinjani, this monumental Volcano on the horizon, which resided on the nearby island of Lombok. I had watched the sun rise behind it on Gili Air and having harboured an urge to climb a volcano for a while, I had been playing with the idea of climbing it. I decided that I would pitch the idea to Marie when she arrived and if she didn’t want to climb it, then that would be the answer.
As it turned out, Marie was quite up for it, even though it would absorb 3 of the 14 days she had available before having to fly home. We pitched the idea to the guys from the pub to see if we could form a scouting party to climb the volcano and get the cheapest deal possible. The idea went down extremely well and unfortunately Charlotte wouldn’t be able to come, but Ally, Olivia and Paul were all up for it, so we met up for a Mexican, made plans and organised it to start the next day, embarking on a three day hike up a 3.7Km high volcano. It all sounds so great on paper. After some hardcore haggling and playing one tourist stand against the other, I managed to get the whole trip at half price, so we managed to save about £50 each. Absolute bargain!
Unfortunately this bad luck demon which seems to have attached itself to me and is hell bent on ruining my life, was still very much on full force and reared its ugly head right at the crucial moment, to cause maximum impact. We each paid half of our money, then set off to pack our bags and maybe have a drink before leaving at 6am in the morning. One of the tasks was to withdraw the other half of the money to pay in the morning and also get enough to live off after returning. Visiting the cash machine again, the worst thing possible happened and the machine ate my card again! It’s the only machine on the island so it’s not like I could have used another one and it had worked fine in between now and the previous card eating escapade.
This left me completely screwed, as I had no money left at all, had no way to withdraw the second half of the money for the volcano trip in the morning. On top of this, my backup credit card had recently, and annoyingly, been renewed by my bank, causing me to have to get it posted out to me, and they had unknowingly to myself, changed my pin number. It was at this critical moment, where I was to find out this wonderful fact, leaving me completely stranded with no money. In a beautiful twist of fate, I had offered to withdraw money for Marie, but her pin number was not working and I was reluctant to try too many times, in case her card was eaten as well. So between three cards, each of them had their own unique problem which stopped any of them from providing any money. To kick me while I was down, I realised that I would be... hopefully... on a volcano when they came to fill up the machine and retrieve my card, meaning that I would never see this card again. This locked up all of my travelling money in a derelict bank account that I couldn’t access.
Trying everything we could, we spoke to about 6 restaurants which were all conveniently just closing, because naturally everything has to be as difficult as possible, before we spoke to a bar who agreed to give us cashback from one of the cards. I tested my credit card again, but no luck with the pin, I was hoping it would ask for a signature, then tried Maries again but no luck. It was ridiculously frustrating. We eventually hiked back up to the room, where we woke up Marie, reconfirmed her pin number then hiked back into town once again and returned to this bar. With tentative fingers I typed in her pin number underneath a screen which said "Last Pin Attempt". After a tense moment, we were relieved to hear a confirmation beep and the extremely helpful bar owner gave us enough money to pay for the trip in the morning. I was still stuck in my dilemma, but at least we could still go ahead with the volcano trip and I could deal with this mess when we returned.
Having a celebratory drink at the reggae bar, we sat, exasperated at how frustrating this whole mission had been. Through all the madness that night, I only ended up getting two hours sleep as a maximum and had literally walked for miles to sort this all out, before having to wake up at 6am, to begin a three day hike up a volcano. Not the best start I could imagine and my legs ached already.