Looking at my last post, I didn't have any ideas how to start writing again. A lot of things happened since my last writing. I got worried on how to start writing again with all the events and the airplane rides that I took in a matter of 2 months, I was left with the thought Where am I?
I will try my best to recount all the things in the past 2 months, but first to make it easier for me. I would like to start with where am I?
I took a flight from Cebu to Manila to Jakarta.
I arrived in Jakarta at 11:45 in the evening local time. After exiting from the immigration and getting my backpack, I followed what my host in Jakarta instructed me to do, look for a blue bird cab and gave the driver his address. ( I was still overwhelmed with big denomination of their currency) Since this was an unplanned trip, I did not have much time to study on the conversion rate.
The closest city I can relate Jakarta to is Manila. I thought that Manila has the worst traffic in the world equalling to those of New Delhi and Mumbai but Jakarta is far worst.
Buses and Taxis are the main mode of moving around the city. "Ojecs" or motorbikes can take you around fast but sometimes it needs a strong determination to face the fast running Ojecs racing in the main roads with big cars. One impressive transportation in Jakarta is the Bus way. If most countries have subways to transport commuters fast, Jakarta has a Busway that works like a subway but instead of being on a tube, it is a running bus with its own bus lane and stations to transfer to other routes as well.
For people who loves malls and shopping, Jakarta is the place. Malls are massive and modern.
W, my host trusted his apartment keys with me and helped me get a local sim card that can access the internet unlimited for 30 days.
I stayed with W for 3 nights and I headed to Bali flying to Denpasar via Batavia.
While waiting for my flight to Denpasar, I got an email from couchsurfing, that another host is willing to host me for a few days in Kuta. ( I got lucky on the last minute)
J, offered to pick me up at the airport. Since my flight arrived at 4pm and he still has to be in his office we decided to meet in one of the malls in Kuta.
Like W, J also trusted his apartment keys with me for 2 days.
On the first night we headed to the touristy Kuta beach for Beer. The beach is full of tourist and mostly surfers.
On the second day we rode his motorbike to a less rowdy beach with a magnificent view of the sunset. I offered to treat him for dinner and I thank him for showing me around because I have planned to head to the islands of lombok the next day.
(arriving at denpasar airport)
(a common sight everywhere in Bali)
Arriving at Padangbai, we wait for the ferry that departs at 9am to Lombok ( around 4 to 5 grueling hours)
(leaving Padangbai to Lombok by ferry)
(my bed during the 5 hour slow boat ride)
With lack of sleep and a very uncomfortable ride, I was very tired when I arrived at Lombok Island. From Lombok port, I need to catch another bus ride to a smaller harbor ( almost 2 hours)
At around 4pm, I finally arrive at the harbor that will transport me to Gili Islands. I stayed in the harbor for an hour to wait for the small boats to fill up before it gets to the Islands.
At 5PM the small boat departed to the Islands.
I arrived in the Island at 5:30PM, without arranging any accommodation in the island, I was prepared to camp in the beach.
July to September are the high season in Bali and the Islands, which means prices can easily triple at this time. Bungalows near the beach are the most expensive ones. The farther from the beach the cost slowly drops. I was taken to a bungalow 10 minutes away from the beach. The price for the fan room is at 200,000 rps. Being on a tight budget but at the same time being very tired, I was tempted to get the place.
The craziness in me, tried to walk further until I reached a local village of fishermen and their families. With my heavy backpack, I just knocked randomly at local people's houses and asked if they have a spare room for me.
After 2 houses, I was referred to a boatman named Jamil. He offered to let me stay with his family for 50,000 rps
I stayed in his daugther room. The accommodation was very basic with outside squat toilet, what else can I expect at this high season for 50,000 rps.
In the evening I spoke with Jamil and I learned that I am staying with a muslim family and since its ramadam everyone in the family is not eating from Sun up until Sun down. They told me that everyone wakes up at 3am to start preparing to eat because everyone will not eat until 6pm in the afternoon.
I learned from Jamil that everything in the Island is expensive. The Island doesn't have fresh water and no electricity. Everything is transported by boat from Lombok. So i bathed in sea and showered with the same filtered salt water....
Life in the Island is very simple. No cars and motorcycles allowed in the island. The main mode of transportation is a horse by walking.
Internet in the island is also very expensive. Most internet shops charge 24,000 rps for an hour use of the computer.
He showed me around the village and told me where to get cheap food to eat, because restaurants by the beach are very pricey.
He introduced me to his family. His daughter Melanie is in elementary and is studying in the island's only school.
It is amazing to see the 2 face of the Island. Going to the beach side seeing foreigners getting massages on the beach side with their cocktails and beers and walking along the village where the locals main entertainment in the evening is talking among themselves and their neighbors to past the time.
Staying with the locals here made me appreciate the comforts I have at home but listening to their stories and their way of life is priceless...
One day I hope to comeback to this place, where swimming 20 meters from the beach line, means swimming with turtles and swimming in a very big aquarium of exotic fishes.
I am returning to Bali tomorrow after 3 nights here in the island. I will bring back with me a lot of memories.