Despite me finally starting to see the charm in Ubud, being on an island inland away from the sea is a small torture in itself. I decided to head one island over to Lombok by catching a minibus to the village of PadangBai on the east coast of Bali.
Padangbai was quaint, very chill and relaxed. Colorful wooden boats line the shore here and there isn’t really a proper beach for swimming without walking a while. I only intended to stay the one night and booked my passage on the ferry to Lombok for $5.40. To celebrate being so close to my
beloved sea again, I ate grilled barracuda caught earlier from the same dark ocean I was sitting beside.
Breakfast is included with nearly every room in Indonesia, so I was up at 07:00 to eat and catch the morning boat over. For those who know me, getting up that early is a feat in itself!
The rusting ferry was huge and completely loaded with trucks, cars, and both locals and travelers. I was glad to get on the boat and away from the hassle and scum of the dodgy dock, which like every other boat dock in a developing country, had more than its share of grungy looking guys
with shifty eyes checking out my bags.
For the first 30 minutes as we waited for the ferry to get completely loaded, there was a circus of vendors selling rice, peanuts, and water…they were frantic and pushy, and also walking in a perfect circuit around the boat. I told the same ones “no” at least a dozen times. When the horn on top blasted a warning, they scampered off the boat like rats by climbing down the sides.
Five hours of calm sailing later and I found myself being ushered into a minibus on Lombok. Unlike Bali which is predominantly Hindu, Lombok is nearly all Muslim, and I could already see the familiar head wrapson women dotted about the crowd.
The minibus was supposed to take me into Senggigi, the main tourist hub on this side of Lombok. Instead, it turned out to be my 20th scam in the last two days and dropped me at an expensive hotel outside of town. When I demanded that I be taken to town, the grumbling driver took me only as far as the next tourist “info” place which are always a beehive of hustlers and guys trying to get commission. I had to walk another 30 minutes to the center with my bags all the while they swarmed me with offers.
From what I have seen so far, the hustlers are far more pushy here — even as bad as in Egypt. Maybe its because I am here at the end of the slow season and they are desperate, but I am getting far too much attention and hands reaching for my wallet so far. I’ve even had to fight my way through the amateur scams like not getting correct change and being overcharged for water and food. Some even tack on 20 percent “tax” to meals if you try to argue.
On a positive note, my hotel which was around $8 a night was directly beside of the mosque. The call to prayer blasted through my second floor room and resonated through my body and heart.
Few words can describe the mournful singing other than getting hit in the face with a sign that says “Wow — you’re far, far away from home!”