On Day 162 we hopped on the public boat between Gili Meno and Bangsal, Lombok bright and early at 7:45 (for $1!). As you can imagine, this was quite a shock to our system after over a week of lounging around on the beach, eating banana pancakes and drinking tea with chunks of ice hacked off of a block clinking in the glass. Even after thoroughly embracing the nomad beach-bum life, we couldn’t help but be packed an hour before the scheduled 8am boat, and at the pier 40 minutes before departure.
A good thing too, as once the little open-air motor boat was filled (with passengers, but also styrofoam fish boxes, empty 5-gallon water bottles, several stacks of roofing shingles and palm baskets too) we pushed off with little ceremony 15 minutes early. The journey over took only minutes and we were once again in the real world.
A world with traffic lights, stores that sell only one category of item (i.e. only food, only clothes), wifi, power 24 hours a day…. and I gotta say, I don’t like it.
Besides the lack of laid back island-vibe, we are securely back in respectful Muslim territory. The Indonesians give the tourists a break on the small islands, turning a blind eye (mostly) to the lack of clothing and decorum in the area, much like on Koh Lanta. But now that we are in the capital of Lombok Island I am getting a lot of stares in my shorts.
We walk down the main street of Bangsal, occasionally asking for directions to our minibus pickup point. Answers range from “100 meters that way, brother” to “10 km, you need a taxi, 100,000 rupiah”. We come across a group of three men standing in front of a street-side warung and poll the group. One says the minibus picks up “right there” (pointing down the street), one says he will drive us for 100,000 rupiah, and one says it is too far to walk. It is, indeed, just across the street and down three buildings.
Marc is upset – this is the highest per-minute taxi lie area that we have ever encountered (taking the crown from Sri Lanka). I’m not phased, too preoccupied with pulling down alternately the sides and the crotch of my jean shorts, sorely regretting not packing my pants closer to the top of my backpack.
We grab our minibus and transfer 30 minutes south to our hotel, but the drive takes almost two hours since the driver gets lost several times trying to find our fellow travelers’ hostels. Finally we arrive at Favehotel Mataram and I scurry up to the room to cover myself up.
Our trip to Mataram exists solely to extend our travel visas for Indonesia past the 30-day mark. There is literally nothing else to do in Mataram except for see the giant Mosque (which we walk by every time we go to the immigration office) and go to the mall (no thanks). So, we do all the things we haven’t been able to do in a few months: stream Netflix on wifi, sit under the air conditioning, order pizza as room service, and take hot showers.