Saturday, 5 September 2009

Indo blog 5: Sangege, Lombok: 1st-2nd July

Wow I've FINALLY got around to writing the concluding installments of my epic Indo holiday blog. No idea why it's taken me so long to get round to this, as our short stay in Lombok may just have been my favourite bit of the whole trip.

Wed 1st July - Ubud, Bali to Sangege, Lombok

We left Ubud pretty early in the morning, settled up with Mr Raka, said our goodbyes, and sat out on the street to await our pick up that would connect us with the bus to Padangbai; the ferry port to Lombok. An hour's drive through the more remote parts of north west Bali saw us arrive in time for the 9am ferry. Even at this time of the morn it's a bit of a scrum of locals, backpackers, coconuts and live animals. This ferry was a lot bigger than the one we caught to Karimun, but no air conditioned 'VIP' area this time. No 'In the night garden' on TV. Gutted. We got good seats in the shade on deck and read our books, talked shite and doodled to while away the four-hour voyage.

We arrived in Lembet, Lombok and got a bus to our final destination, Sangege. Our bungalows were about a ten minute drive out of central Sangege, so we figured we'd hire a car in town so that we could pinball about the island for the three days we'd be there. While this should have been pretty straightforward, it proved more difficult than it sounds.

Let me explain; Indonesia is oddly racist against its own people. Businesses and service providers routinely distrust locals and refuse to deal with them in favour of Bules. When Rizqy called ahead from Bali to book our bungalows in Sangege, the Indonesian woman he spoke to told him they were full. When Carly called half an hour later, she was given a choice of rooms. Similarly, at the salon in Ubud where Carls and I had our massage, the receptionist made Rizqy wait outside while Carly and I made our booking, because they assumed he was our guide (and therefore expecting a commission for bringing two Bules to their salon). Riz for the most part took this sort of treatment on the chin, but it was fairly obvious it was starting to get to him. He and Carly had holidayed in Bali/Lombok before, but because I was there this time, most tourist orientated businesses only saw a young, tattooed Indonesia guy with two western girls, ergo, he must be our guide.

It was no different in Lombok. The first hire car place we went into flat out refused to hire a car to a local. They were quite blatant about it. They would hire the car to me or Carly (even though we didn't drive!) but they wanted me to leave my passport with them. Which I refused to do. Because I'm not a bleeding idiot. Some swearing may have occurred. Ahem. On to hire car place number 2. They agreed to rent to a local, without anyone having to leave our passports, but the car they gave us was held together with sellotape. Unfortunately we had no other option. Riz, being a guy, and being a guy who likes a nice car, was mortified.

Anyway, we put the experience behind us and rattled off in our dustbuster along the coast to our bungalows. The place was called Santai, meaning 'relax' and that's pretty much all we did here. I. Loved. It.

Santai was a small collection of reed-thatched bungalows grouped close together by the beach, and interspersed with towering palm trees. Every bungalow was raised on stilts about three feet off the ground, with rattan blinds that could be rolled down from the overhanging thatch for privacy. Indoors, there were two low single beds surrounded by mozzie nets, and another door leading out to an outdoors bathroom, which was open-air but high-walled, with foliage and ferns growing up over the wall so no one could see in. It was still very strange sitting on a western loo looking at the sky. The shower was ace - a huge terracotta pot sitting on a high brick pedestal, with a rubber stopper in a spout at the bottom of the pot. You removed the stopper and out poured a stream of cool water. The pot could be refilled by opening a valve at the back of the pedestal. Was kinda ingenious. And it certainly woke you the hell up.

The best bit about the bungalows though was definitely the hammock. It was on a large porch out the front of the bungalow. You could roll down the blinds and swing lazily in your hammock, listening to the sea and reading trashy crime thrillers and drinking the hot sweet jasmine tea from a thermos that was regularly refilled by the Santai elves. It was total bliss.

But we couldn't sit around in hammocks all day AND night. There was booze to be had! We wedged ourselves back into the Tonka toy and headed into town after nightfall, satisfied my thai food cravings in a place called Bamboo, then headed over the road to a bar called Papaya. Which we chose for the sole reason that they did a happy hour of two-for-one pitchers of Arak cocktails and had live music. I mean what more do you want people?

I believe at one point we had five pitchers of blue Arak moonshiney madness lined up on our table. Not for long though. :) The live band were basically doing covers and taking requests, but they were pretty good - the female lead in particular. We cheered, we swigged, we took photos of our blue tongues, we demanded more booze and then we... er... drove home.

Another explanation: drink driving, while utter madness, is not really frowned upon in Indo. Actually, given our experience of the wacky races drive to Karimun, I don't think I would want to drive sober. Sorry Mum. Won't happen again Mum.

Thu 2nd July - Chilling in rainy Santai

Day two in Lombok dawned on a monstrous Arak hangover. This is when I fully appreciated the terracotta pot shower. Three seconds under that thing pretty much firehoses the hangover out of ya. Awesome.

Decontamination complete, I popped over to the library to pick a book. This was by the main Santai house where the owners lived. The family operated an open door policy to residents. You could wander into the kitchen, take anything you wanted from the fridge - water, coke, beer, and you just had to write in a little honesty book what you'd taken and your bungalow number. NOBODY ever lied. I certainly didn't. Another reason to love this place.

The library was on a large, raised platform area that served as a central communal space for all the residents. Everyone sat and ate together here at meal times, which was lovely, as you got talking to all sorts of weirdos. :) After an hour swinging in my hammock reading a book, and another hour chilling in Carly and Rizqy's bungalow, we had lunch here with a fine selection of nutters. There was a middle-aged Dutch couple, a younger Dutch couple with a little baby girl who was better than telly, a very loud German woman and an older Australian lady. We talked languages and travel (as you do) and played clap-a-handies with the wee bubba. Oh so Boho.

It was as we were heading back to our bungalows that I got to experience the start of my first tropical rainstorm. I'd landed in Indo about two weeks after the end of the rainy season (timed that well) but this doesn't mean it never rains in the dry season. One or two very big, heavy drops instantly preceded what was basically a solid wall of warm rain. It was a deluge. Utterly bonkers.

We all bolted for cover in our bungalows. As soon as I was in I locked the front door, and sat at the door to my open air bathroom, watching it. Now, if you ever find yourself caught in a tropical rainstorm, do yourself a favour; get butt naked and take a shower in it. Its bloody awesome, and bizarre, and totally liberating. I was giggling like a bairn. I even washed my hair.

When I was done communing with nature I got into my hammock (clothed), and passed the entire afternoon reading my book, drinking tea and watching the continuing rain.

The rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun at about 4pm, and Carls and Riz and I went for a wander along the beach, watching sea fishermen and walking along the sea wall to a rocky outcrop where we got some pretty awesome shots of the waves breaking.

We headed back and joined the other Santai guests again for dinner at about 7pm. Discussed the weather like a right bunch of brits. Turned out Carls and Riz had had the same idea as me. Great minds...

Dinner was egg curry, salad, steamed veg and rice. Which doesn't sound like much but it was totally delicious. We sat up til late with loud mad German woman, polite Ozzie lady, and older Dutch couple, digesting dinner, drinking Bintang and talking politics, US foreign policy and religion before we were rudely interrupted by a power cut. Santai elves appeared with lanterns to guide us back to our bungalows. You didn't want to go blundering around pissed in the dark. There be giant spiders in them thar bushes. Ai haz seen dem.

1 comment:

Jo in Lombok said...

There are many Gili (small island) in Lombok. As resident of Lombok I recommended Gili Nanggu for honeymoon. But who Love crowded Island Gili "Party Island" Trawangan is the best place.