Before we could head out ofBali, we had two very big decisions to make. Should we change our tires? We were running on the same TKC we had put on in Kolkata but we had to change our rear TKC to a Karoo in Malaysia since it had run down and we knew we might have to do deal with some offroad stuff in Indonesia. Another worry was getting intoAustralia. Everyone had some story or another to tell about Australian customs and quarantine. We didn’t want them to deem our tires unfit to ride on the road. We ended up changing our front tire inBalito a Pirelli. Couldn’t believe they had the front tire size since it’s such an odd one, but although it was the right size, it was a road tire that we didn’t want. We thought we’d hold off on the rear…at least we had a little bit of knobby left in case of any shit on the rest of the islands. And if we really need the rear…well…we’ll have to see whatTimorhas to offer!
We got toLomboka little late, and by the time we got to Senggigi it was dark. We wanted to take a couple days to chill at one of the Gili Islands so we stayed in Senggigi for the night, found a place to stay (places are a bit pricier here…I mean $25-$45) and found a decent place to eat where they had a fun band playing old rock songs…it was a good change for the both of us! The next morning we set out for the dock to see what the deal was for going to Gili Trawangan…yeah we know…it’s supposed to be the party island. But dude, when it’s just husband and wife 24/7…we’ve done all the quiet, romantic stuff…we need to throw some craziness in to liven it up a bit every now and then!
At the dock, we found the ticket office and they told us the boat would be leaving in an hour (depending on if they got enough people to go). We back-tracked to a guest house we had seen on the road and asked if we could keep our bike there. They let us keep the bike and we promised to pay a little money to them for keeping it. We are pros now at 15 minute packing…we threw in our swimsuit, toiletries, shorts etc and walked back to the dock. The boats that take you across are wooden, rickety things that are packed to the max with people and supplies. To get on and off you have to walk through sand and water, so better to wear your flip-flops! Getting off at Gili T, you are hounded by dudes that want to show you guest houses or eat at their restaurant. After an hour or so of looking around (also a pricey place!) we found a good, clean place kinda away from the noisier areas. We quickly changed and headed to the other side of the island to see the sunset. There are bars set up on the beach at this sunset point, so we grabbed a Bintang and watched the red sun set into the blue sea. I have to say, the whole sunset thing was Nick’s idea…he can be a sweetheart! Every girl needs a little romancing 😉 As it started to get dark, the bar guys made a bonfire. We decided to head back and get some food…we were starving!!!! Luckily there was a street market set up where we had some amazing beef rendang, curries, mie goreng, rice, and some regret-it-in-the-morning sambal! Good stuff…going to miss this food!
Nick had always contemplated diving…as you know, I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to the water and I just got comfy snorkelling. I told Nick to just go for it but we didn’t feel like we had a lot of time to sit around in Gili and he also wasn’t sure if he wanted to make the commitment for 3 days for the certification course. He chose to do the intro where he had some hours of instruction in the pool and then would be taken out to the water for an hour or so. They let me come along on the boat but while Nick was getting his coaching in the pool, I did some window shopping and took some pics along the beach. When Nick and I would walk around the main street together, the guys would try to convince us to come to the guest houses or restaurants but walking around alone, it was a testosterone fest. Guys would call out with stupid pick-up lines, throw compliments (unwanted), and play up the wholeIndiathing. That definitely got me riled up. For the most part, inAsia, I think if you have a man with you, guys don’t bother you too much…but I can see how it would be tougher alone. I mean I know how it is inIndiawhere a lot of guys have absolutely no sense how to treat a woman with respect. Let’s not get started on this subject! I was able to catch some of the first part of Nick’s class where they squeezed into their wetsuits and practiced in the pool. I felt like a parent at my kid’s first swimming class! Lame I know, but maybe my own fears of being so deep underwater made me vigilant. They stopped for lunch and later we headed on the boat for Nick’s first dive. The dive company was nice enough to let me come on the boat and gave me snorkel gear. Nick got dropped off with his instructor in one spot and our boat moved on to drop off other divers and instructors. We were heading deep out and the ocean was kind of choppy, there was no way I was getting into this water all alone! After an hour we met Nick back up, he enjoyed the experience and was able to see a couple of big sea turtles. We headed up to the top of the boat and dried off and basked in the sun. Ahhhh we were in heaven!
After a couple of nights of relaxing on Gili T, we took the boat back to the big island and headed for Gunung Rinjani…to actually do some trekking you need 5 solid days. Although we were enjoyingIndonesia, by Lombok we were getting a bit…Asia’d out. We bypassed doing the trek and hiked to a couple of waterfalls in the area. There are a couple of beachy surfer spots to go to but we bypassed those and decided to take the ferry to the next island, Sumbawa.
Overall Sumbawa didn’t have too much to see, but it wasn’t as hopeless as many travel guides made it out to be. Lonely Planet had really painted a bleak picture of the island, saying there was hardly an ATM, people are incredibly poor etc etc. Yes, it was very dry and made up of just golden grass and doesn’t seem like it’ll be a tourist hot spot, but it seems just like the rest of Indonesia, people might not be making enough money to sell lots of crops but they are definitely able to feed themselves.
We had heard that the ferries were going to get less and less frequent or reliable as we headed towards Timor. We had an idea that the ferry usually leaves in the morning with a possibility of another one going in the afternoon. When we got there, there was a French guy on an old Honda bike with two bamboo baskets attached to a rod as panniers. Now that was awesome. He was going to go to Alor to see the whale hunting. Man if our big bike could go…that would’ve been awesome to experience that! He had the same questions as we did but he could speak Bahasa Indonesia since he had been studying in Yogya for a while. Soon we found out that the ferry that was standing at the port was not going that evening because they said the winds were too strong? Hmmm…or maybe the captain didn’t feel like it? Whatever the case, we knew we had to wait, but the amount of big trucks waiting for the ferry made us wonder if we’d get on the next morning. There’s really only one or two guest houses at the port and the one we chose was right next to the entrance of the ferry port. That evening was the Euro Cup Final , Spain vs. Italy. Nick of course wanted to watch it and it turned out the guest house owner was making big plans to have a match-watching party. All evening long we saw the owner and his friends make arrangements, hooking up a laptop, projector, setting up chairs…I mean this was going to be a full-scale viewing! At some un-Godly hour Nick got up and I could hear constant shouts and cheering. I also managed to get up and watch a few minutes from the balcony as it seemed a guys only affair. Nick was happy to be able to see the game and stumbled back to bed only to be awakened 3 hours later 🙁 We were able to catch the ferry the next morning but it took sometime and it was up in the air for a couple of hours. The ferry to Labuhanbajo, Flores was no exception, it was packed! It was also a bit longer but we were able to get seats inside the air con section. We were also able to catch a glimpse of the Komodo Islands on the way. There were nonstop Indonesian movies, apparently produced and directed by The Punjabi family. Supposedly they are an Indian-Indonesian family that makes movies, who would’ve known? But there was a character that spoke broken English purposely. This provoked every other person to turn around and look at us to see our reaction when English would be spoken. Of course we laughed, it was funny as hell even though we didn’t understand much of the Bahasa Indonesia, we got the jist…Indonesians seem to enjoy the slapstick humor that you used to get in Indian movies or what you see in Mexican sitcoms on Telemundo. We didn’t mind the fact every one would take a look at us at that point, at least they thought we could speak English! By 5pm we had a beautiful view of the evening sun setting on the harbor of Labuhanbajo.