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Published: September 11th 2008
Mount Rinjani, Lombok. from the Overnight Bus
A rare sighting as most days by 9am the volcano was shrouded in mist.
We arrived outside Perama’s office for our 7.30am start. We were marched off to the port by the ‘helpful’ assistant who handed us our onward bus and ferry tickets and directed us onto the waiting ferry, our home for the next eight hours. On entering the passenger deck we were dismayed to see rows of hard plastic seats, after a search round Stan found the VIP lounge. To use it cost 15,000 rupees extra each (less than a pound).
We immediately grabbed a seat. Although the lounge was almost empty we found it hard to find four seats together that actually worked. Most of them were broken in the fully reclined position or worse, arms torn off and stuffing hanging out. We found out why later, after the officials had collected the extra tariff from the Europeans, the Indonesians flooded in with their hoards of children who, over the next eight hours managed to demolish the place as their parents slept, blissfully unaware of their behaviour!
As we were tossed around on the waves, Stan read in the Lonely planet guide that tourism had declined in this area over the past few years, probably due to the fact that several ferries had sunk! Nice!
We docked at Sape, on the island of Sumbawa and left the total chaos behind thinking things couldn’t get any worse - wrong!
We were greeted by men screaming at us “where you going?” When we replied "Mataram with Perama” one dragged us to a Bemo, it was packed full, he gestured us to get in, there was four of us all with big back packs, no chance! After some arguing they threw our backpacks on the roof and we squeezed ourselves inside, poor Simona ended up sitting on a wooden stool in the aisle, the heat from so many bodies was oppressive, we had two hours of this until we reached Bima where we were to transfer onto a ‘better’ bus to take us to the port on the west coast six hours away.
After running around the bus station at Bima to find much needed food we ended up with some cold rice and watery egg curry. It was now 9pm and, apart from a few crisps and biscuits, we'd eaten nothing since our breakfast of Banana pancake at 7am so anything was welcome!
The road followed the coastline and would have been a spectacular ride but by now it was dark and the driver was a total maniac overtaking buses and lorries with just inches to spare where the side of the road dropped away dramatically, several trees lost their branches as he forced his way though gaps.
Finally we got onto the second ferry to take us from Sumbawa to the island of Lombok, it was 4am!
There were no unruly children on this ferry but instead the cockroaches were out in force not just on the floor but all over the seats as well! Add to this the crazy Indonesian guitarist who insisted on entertaining us until past 6am with his flat monotonous singing.
Will someone please remind me why I gave up package tours in favour of independent travel?
Two bus rides later and another boat ride finally brought us to Gili Trawangen and we’ve just eaten vegetable curry in a comfortable clean restaurant overlooking the sea. It tasted gorgeous!!
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