- Friday, 1 April: Got up around 7:30am, but missed the departure of Nyoman to Besakih; had breakfast of toast, honey, fruit and tea; walked around my little section of Amed for a couple of hours, stopping at an internet place for awhile; met many Balinese along the way, many trying to sell me transport or programs, but some just curious, I think; investigated prices of Amed boat to Gili Islands and found that Nyoman’s was not far off; swam in the resort pool; read a book; had delicious dinner of urab (boiled vegetables, coconut and peanut sauce) and grilled barracuda, yum!; to bed early with twisty tummy.
- Saturday, 2 April: Awoken by Nyoman knocking on my door; the boat from Amed was broken so I was to hurry, pack, eat breakfast and take a taxi to Padang Bai, where I would catch a boat to the Gili Islands; almost two hours later I was on my way (“hurry” is relative here); got to Padang Bai too late for fast boat, so took uber-slow boat to Lombar, then a van to Senggigi; booked cheap room (about $9), ate good gado-gado and relaxed.
Crickets chirping, sweat dripping, Sasak language floating around in the night. It’s been an interesting day, mostly good because my stomach hasn’t bothered me much at all, but frustrating because of changes in plans and timelines.
Original plan as of last night: Nyoman of Amed’s Rising Star Resort – where I was staying – would drive me to the Amed speed boat, I would try to barter them down by 50,000 rp (around $5USD), then head to Gili Islands. As it turned out, the boat was broken, and Nyoman woke me a bit earlier than expected to tell me this. He had arranged for someone to come pick me up, however, and take me to Padang Bai, where I could catch a boat to the Gili’s. I rushed through packing and dressing and eating breakfast, then couldn’t find Nyoman anywhere.
Over an hour later, my worried pacing brought me near some steps and there he was. “Ready?” he asked. I blinked. Half an hour after that, a young man picked me up in an SUV whose A/C was broken and cheerfully played hip-hop reggae on the ninety minute drive to Padang Bai. This young Balinese man explained that I would take a slow ferry to Lombok, then a bus to Senggigi, then a fast boat to the Gili’s, all today. Sounded good to me and I was getting a good price, I thought, because Nyoman had arranged it all.
Upon arrival in Padang Bai, however, it turned out I was too late to make it all the way to the Gili’s (it was 10:30am at this point), so I would have to spend the night in Senggigi. I admit to being a bit tiffed, then, but what could I do? The ferry ride to Lombok, the island next to Bali and very different in population, was four hours long, boring and stiflingly hot in the shaded area. No A/C on these ferries! I finished the book I had bought the day before and tried to politely, smilingly, wave away all the women doggedly attempting to sell me water, snacks, sarongs or sunglasses.
At the Senggigi port, I was quickly met by many men asking for my onward ticket. This worried me, especially when the ticket was grabbed out of my hands and passed around the crowd. Luckily, a young Sasak man (that’s what the population is called in Lombok) waved me forward and led me to a minivan. Then followed a forty-five minute drive along the west coast of Lombok to Senggigi, the driver and his companion chatting amongst themselves and leaving me to watch the countryside. They were friendly and polite, but I wasn’t much for talking, trying to conserve my energy for cooling my hot, sweaty skin. No A/C in this minivan!
We pulled into a little shop which had a name completely different from the one on my ticket, but they accepted my ticket and then cheerfully attempted to sell me accommodations (in Senggigi and the Gili’s), a dive trip, a Komodo Dragon trip and a few other things. I opted for going out to have lunch and relax. At their recommendation, I went next door, and it turned out to be good food at a good price. The orange juice with ice was spectacular with the way the heat and humidity were affecting me. After my meal, which could more appropriately be called an early dinner, I walked along the main road looking for hotels. The one I found in a cheap-ish range was full and the others were highly priced, particularly for a low season, but they were also big places. I couldn’t seem to find the small ones.
I was getting hotter and farther away from my big pack at the travel shop, was about to give up, when another young Sasak came to my rescue. First he asked if I smoked, and when I declined, he asked me to sit next to him and chat. When I told him I couldn’t because I was looking for a hotel, he recommended I check the homestay down his alley. At that point, I would have tried anything. As it turns out, Sonya’s is dirt cheap. I got the last free room and then set out to walk the twenty minutes back to the shop. The friendly young Sasak guy greeted me easily at the alley’s opening onto the street, same place he’d first spoken to me, and asked where I was off to. I told him and he asked around his friends, one of whom offered to take me on his motorbike for 10,000 rp (a little more than a dollar US). I agreed immediately.
Returning to Sonya’s with my big pack, I was quite happy. One young Sasak who’d waved at me earlier did proposition me - “Later, I cool you off, eh? Why not?” – but shrugging him off with a grin and a wave wasn’t so hard or irritating as usual.
And now? Now, the crickets are chirping and I’m sweating all over my netbook as I type this out in front of my little room, which contains a bare sawed off pipe for a shower, a mosquito-netted mattress and a table-fan.
It should come as no surprise… no A/C here!