(Continued from “Goodbye Bali, Hello Gili Air“)
Our departure from Gili Air seemed simple enough. We booked a ferry directly from our hotel and we already knew where the dock was located, just a few hundred meters down the dirt road.
We gathered our luggage after a nice, but simple breakfast on the beach. Arriving at the ferry pier, we were overwhelmed with the sheer number of people. Dozens of confused tourists wandering about, equally matched with locals also mysteriously walking around. There was a small que to buy tickets, but having our already, we ignored this line. About the time our ferry was scheduled to leave, we heard a man shouting something that I couldn’t quite understand. I followed him as he walked away towards a boat about 10 meters down the beach. People were jumping onto the back of it, and I asked him if he was going to Lombok. He said YES. I went back to grab our luggage. As I did, the boat left.
Another man starting shouting, rhyming off a long list of destinations for another boat that would soon leave. We were not sure if this was the correct one or not, so again I asked. The man said yes, we could get to Sengiggi (our destination city) on this boat. We grabbed our luggage and headed to the boat. After about 10 people boarded the boat, we gave our ticket to the boat crew who quickly told us “No, no. You have to exchange this for ticket” and pointed to the ticket office. Fearing the boat would again leave without me, I ran to the office, walked around the line (I learned a few things during my time in Russia) got the ticket and quickly boarded the boat. Not long after, we set sail.
The ride was a bit rough, but not too crazy. There were lots of expats speaking in English, so it was quite entertaining to eavesdrop on others around us as they were making new friends and exchanging stories. One of the locals was explaining that you NEVER rely on the ferries this time of year because they’re cancelled so often due to rough seas. But without roads or an airport, what else can you do? Swim?
As our boat approached the shore of Lombok, there was a lot of confusion about where we were. Most people blindly got off the boat. We stayed as we did not hear ‘Sengiggi’ called out when they announced where we were. We just assumed this was the first of many stops and ours would come later. One of the crew then said “everybody out, here.” We jumped out and found our luggage already on the beach.
A long line of people were heading inland and we followed them to a sort of waiting area. No benches, flat screen TV’s or magazines in the air conditioned room. Actually, there wasn’t even a room. It was a fenced off area, with about 200 people just standing in the dirt. Yes, seriously.
3 or 4 times we were asked where we were going by different people. None of them offered any instructions on what to do next. So we waited. And waited. And waited.
Other travellers began to ask each other what was going on. Nobody knew. A 2nd boat arrived and even more people filled this quite small area. These people seemed just as confused as the rest of us.
Not long after, a few “buses” (I use the term VERY loosely) showed up. They lined up along a one lane dirt road and some people were being asked to grab their luggage and climb aboard. When they did, the scene looked like this:
The little vans they use are older than coal. Ours had a door that was literally falling apart and a floor that we could see the ground through (like the Flintstone!)
They filled the interior with people, so where to put the luggage? On the roof, silly!!
I really would have laughed at this, but we figured we were next to do it, so it didn’t seem so funny. How would you even know if a bag fell off enroute? And that one lane road had two directions of traffic. They actually pull off the road to let the other side pass. There’s plenty of space. Build a new lane guys! And if you’re not making enough money to maintain your vehicle, raise the prices!! Seriously!
After about an hour and a half, our turn came to climb into one of these deathtraps on wheels. Lucky for us, it wasn’t full. Taking the scenic road that climbs the cliffs right by the beach, our attention was diverted to the amazing views. We hardly noticed the time it took to drive.
Next post –> “Villa Jati Mangsit, Sengiggi”
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