We took the long slow cheap way to get to the Gili Islands and ‘boy oh boy’ was it big on long, big on slow and big on cheap. It took forever. We were going to get a bus from Seminyak in Bali to the ferry terminal at Padangbai but missed it and had to get a taxi instead. This was ok as it took less time. We arrived in to Padangbai in the late afternoon and decided to stay the night as we didn’t really fancy getting a rust bucket ferry at night. I’m not sure why, you are probably better off drowning at night than during the day but that’s what we decided. So we stayed in a lovely little home stay called the Bagus inn and had a beautiful fish dinner in one of the restaurants down by the beach. The next morning we made our way to the ferry terminal and got on board one of the roll on, roll off, ferries for the four hour journey to the port of Lembar in Lombok. We could have gotten a fast boat and cut about two hours off the journey, it would have cost us about one hundred euro but we had been on many of these fast boats in the last couple of months but never for more than an hour and didn’t fancy being thrown about in one for two hours so we decided on the slower more sedate ferry option. It also only cost us about ten euro. The journey was pleasant enough on the old bucket, weather was good, people friendly and engaging.
We arrived in Lembar and immediately started the process of finding transport to get us to Sengigi. This is a once popular town,which doesn’t attract too many tourists anymore. We had decided to stop here as we would have been too late to pick up a ferry to the Gili islands and definitely didn’t want to head out to them at night in one of the small taxi boats that they use.
We struck a deal with some guys at the port and got into a decent enough van with air con. There was the driver and some sort of guide. About two minutes out of the port the driver takes a call and pulls over to the side of the road. He then tells us that the call was from his boss and he has to return to the port to pick him up. Within a nanosecond another far older van without A/C pulls up behind us and he tells us this is the alternative transport, how convenient. We didn’t mind too much we had been in worse and little did they know we wouldn’t have minded being in the dilapidated little vehicle from the beginning. I didn’t like the way they had tried to pull the wool over our eyes but while both vehicles were alongside there were four of them and I wasn’t about to push the point, we still had wheel’s, that was all we cared about after our already long trip.
So we left him to pick up his imaginary boss and headed off to Singiggi. The whole time the ‘guide’ was trying to prize more business out of us while we were staying in Lombok, the sight’s they could bring us to, the great rates they would give us, if nothing else they would get us from Sengigi to Bangsal to pick up the boat to Gili. We were non-committal in relation to it all, ‘let’s see later’.
When we got to Sengigi Lisa started looking at hotels with Axel tagging along. I stayed with Elka and the van. I looked at our guide friend and said to him, ‘your friend from the first van, he didn’t get a call from his boss, did he’. He immediately got very defensive and said ‘why do you say that’. ‘Well for starters our alternative transport arrived without your friend making any call’s for a replacement and secondly it was right behind us when he took the ‘call from his boss’. He wasn’t very happy and said so and that if I thought he was lying then he was very hurt, I told him I was sorry about his feelings but I still didn’t believe him or their stupid story about the boss calling his friend, all the time making eye contact with him. He couldn’t look in my eyes and fell silent. I told him that they had fucked up a chance to make some decent money out of me as if they hadn’t tried to be so smart with their van swap scam I would have given them the business to get us to the port the next morning, no problem. I told him to tell his pal he was a short-sighted idiot and he had missed the bigger picture. He didn’t say much for a while and then said he was sorry and that it was his friend’s idea. I told him to get some new friends and he might stay in business longer.
It had started to rain, and it didn’t stop the whole time we were in Sengigi, I couldn’t wait to get out of the place.
We did the next day, by taxi to Bangsal. The taxi took us to near the port but not quite to the port. They have one of those idiotic arrangements that only let’s you get to the port by pony and trap. The pony and crap cartel. This delighted Axel and Elka. So they loaded the poor thing with the baggage, the kid’s and Lisa. I cried off, citing the opportunity to take some photographs as my excuse to walk the half kilometer there.
Once there I found them surrounded by the usual rag tag bunch of half assed scammers that seem to populate ports of all sizes. I had been expecting this as we were told to watch out for it. They were very insistently trying to sell us overpriced tickets for the little ferry boat’s right in front of the ticket office which showed the real prices on their board, telling us that there wouldn’t be one along for ages. Trying to sell broken toys to Axel. One of them was trying to get us onto a boat leaving straight away if we would bypass the ticket desk, he could add us to the already over-crowded boat for three times the going rate. I was hot and getting pissed off at this stage with them constantly in my face and told him to ‘fuck off and leave us alone’, he started to scream at me ‘you tell me to fuck off, you tell me to fuck off who you think you are, I said I didn’t tell you to fuck off, I told you to ‘fuck off and leave us alone’ and could you please ‘fuck off and leave us alone’. He then started to threaten me, saying there were some bad Muslim men on the island who would get me, I said, ‘who the fuck do you thing you are, Al Qaeda’! Lisa intervened and tried to cool thing’s down. I had been warned to expect some hassle in Lombok and that some of the locals were aggressive, but not this. I went off to the ticket desk and got three tickets and went off to join the others all the while keeping an eye on my back. We got tickets 6 through nine. When they had sold 25 the boat would depart. It took about ten minutes, I was happy to leave Lombok far behind me especially half assed Al (Qaeda) and his crummy cohort of half assed crooks.