5/10/18: Taking The Public Ferry From Bali To Lombok

I woke up at 6:30 for my run.

The first half of the run was pretty much ALL uphill, which was pretty challenging for me since I don’t do so many hills regularly. I was pretty happy that I was able to maintain a 10 minute/mile pace, even at that elevation.

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The second half of the run was nice and easy, since it was all downhill coming back. It was even a bit boring at times, because I didn’t really need to stay focused or really even try very hard to complete the run.

I got back, showered, and tried to find a quiet area to record the podcast. I looked all over the hostel (Pillow Inn), but really couldn’t find anywhere that was private enough. I probably could have recorded it in the stairwell or something, but I hate recording in areas when I’m not relaxed. I would be rushing through, constantly worrying about people seeing me or hearing me, and it would just not be the best episode.

I gave up, and decided to get breakfast instead.

I ordered a smoothie bowl from the hostel and sat down.

It took almost an hour for my food to come— almost an HOUR. For a SMOOTHIE BOWL. I was starving.

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It was pretty good, but honestly it may have been a bit too much fruit for me. The smoothie bowl was dragon fruit, avocado, and banana topped with more fruit and coconut flakes, then it also came with mango juice and a fruit platter.

I went to my room, packed up, and then went to pick up some food to take with me to the ferry.

I walked next door to Black Pearl and ordered nasi goreng to go.

I checked out of the hostel and then ordered a Grab bike to take me to the shuttle bus station. I would be making my way from Bali to Lombok, the neighboring island, today.

The Grab process took forever— I ordered it at 10:45, thinking that would give me enough time to get me to the bus station by 11:15.

The first Grab I ordered canceled on me, the second one was too far away (9 minutes) so I canceled it, and the third one was also 9 minutes away. I decided to just stick with the third one since clearly there were no Grabs nearby. I started to get all panicky when I thought about missing my bus.

The bike came around 11:10. The driver had a green helmet, as Grab drivers usually do, so I climbed on the back without asking if it was for me.

He asked me where I was going, which I found a bit odd since he should have that info on the app already. I told him Perama Bus Tours, and he put it in his map.

We started driving off, and 2 minutes later another bike pulled up next to us and started talking to my driver. I wasn’t sure what was going on, until the other driver asked me if I had called a Grab.

That’s when I realized that I had gotten on the wrong bike. I’m not sure if it was a completely random person’s bike, or one of the drivers that I had canceled on, but either way I felt bad. I didn’t know what to do— stay on this one, or go on the other guy’s bike.

In the end, I just stayed on the bike I was on and he took me to the station.

I got my ticket— my bus was scheduled to leave at 11:30— and I sat down to wait.

11:30 came and went, with no sign of a bus.

11:35— no bus

11:40— no bus

At 11:45, a bus pulled into the station.

A few minutes later, another one came in.

One of the staff members pointed to the second bus and said, “This is your bus if you are going to Padang Bai.”

I grabbed my backpacks and walked over to the bus.

I and a few others got in, and we got going. We all had open seats next to us, which is really rare for Southeast Asia. They always PACK the buses until they’re 110% full.

We rode about  an hour to the port where we could catch a ferry to Lombok. My original plan was to take the slow public ferry to Lombok, since it’s much cheaper than the fast boat. However, I was beginning to consider taking the fast boat since it was already getting a bit late in the afternoon and I wanted to get to Anne, who was waiting for me in Lombok, by evening.

Side note: I met Anne a couple days earlier on the Mt Batur hike. She was leaving to go to another island (Gili T) that day, but we decided to meet up again in Lombok since we both wanted to do similar things on the island.

I wasn’t sure where to go— there were no clear signs to point us in the direction of the ferries— so I just followed these two German girls who were on my bus.

We entered an office that was selling tickets for the public ferry.

I didn’t see any ticket booths for the fast boat, so I just bought a ferry ticket for 46,000 IDR (about $3) and headed to the dock.

The ferry was already parked when I got there, but it still had to let the incoming passengers off. First the cars got off, then the people, then the huge trucks. It seemed to be never-ending— at least 10 trucks got off. The ferry must be HUGE if it can fit that many large vehicles.

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Waiting to get on

Once all the old passengers were off, we walked onto the ferry.

We walked up the stairs to the second floor, and entered a large room with all sorts of seating— booths, chairs, and benches.

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I chose a small bench along the wall near some other backpackers.

It was 1:30 when I got on, and I figured we’d be moving by around 2.

However, we didn’t actually leave the dock until 2:30.

As we were still docked, some guy went up to the front and started singing and playing his guitar. I thought it was some entertainment, but it turned out that he was doing it to raise money for something. I had no idea what it was for, so I didn’t give anything.

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Guy singing

The ferry was HOT. There was no AC or fans, and it was pretty stuffy.

I rotated between napping, reading my book, and listening to podcasts for the duration of the trip.

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My lunch

For some reason, my phone has been dying super quickly lately. Even when I don’t do anything with it, 10 minutes later the battery will go from 60% to 50%.

Eventually I just had to turn it off to keep it from completely draining.

There was a LOT of puking as the boat teetered crazily from side to side; at some points it almost felt like it would completely topple over to one side.

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A LOT of sleeping going on

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I looked at the maps on my phone at 5:30, and it looked like we were about 30 minutes away from Lombok.

However, at 6 pm we were still in the same place on the map.

At 6:30, there was barely any difference.

At 7, we were a bit closer, but still had a bit to go.

I was getting really stressed about Anne— I hadn’t talked to her all day since I didn’t have internet, and I had told her I’d be there by evening. She was probably thinking that I had ditched her, and I really needed to get in contact with her.

Finally, at 7:30, we were in Lombok.

I really never thought we would actually dock.

I got off the boat and walked over to where some cars were parked, hoping to get a cab.

I asked some of the backpackers around me where they were going.

A group of 3 girls were going to Kuta, which was the opposite direction of where I needed to go.

I asked a couple, and they were going in the same direction as me. I would just need to keep going further north once they got off.

We decided to try to find a cab together.

We got out of the harbor area and walked about 2 minutes before a guy stopped us and asked if we needed a cab. He led us to a parking area, where we talked to another guy to negotiate a price.

We told him our situation— the couple needed to go to Mataram, and I needed to go further to Senaru.

At first, the guy wanted them to pay 150,000 and me to pay 500,000.

I asked him if he could do 400,000.

He looked over to his boss, who shook his head.

I said that’s too much money.

He told me that I should just stay in the area overnight and go to Senaru in the morning, when I could take a public shuttle bus.

I told him a friend was waiting for me, and I couldn’t do that.

He told me he could do 450,000.

I pleaded for 400,000— it’s only 50,000 less, and if he could do that for me, he’d have all three of our business.

I said please a few more times, and finally he agreed to 400,000.

It was still a lot of money— about $30— but it was a 3-hour car ride, and it was already 8 pm and I had no other option.

I was really grateful that the couple stuck by me and helped me get a ride with them. They had NO obligation to, and I was really more of a nuisance to them. My problem of getting to Senaru had nothing to do with them, and they could have easily just gotten a ride them two, but they very kindly shared the ride with me.

Our driver was accompanied by his wife, who apparently always drives with him because he can’t speak English. What a duo! I loved the wife— she was really sweet and actually spoke amazing English.

We chatted until we got to Mataram.

The guy was from northern Germany, the girl was from Hungary. They had met while studying in Hungary— the German guy had gone to university there. For the past few years, they’ve been living in Hamburg and working.

They both quit their jobs 8 months ago and have been traveling ever since.

The guy had done an exchange program in Harrisburg in 11th grade, so we chatted about our Pennsylvania connection for a while (I went to Penn State).

They were a really cool, genuinely nice couple and I was a bit sad to say bye to them.

When they got off, the driver’s wife asked me if I wanted to get food.

I hadn’t had dinner yet, so I told her sure.

She told us we could stop by a nasi goreng (fried rice) place on the way, since we were still 2.5 hours from Senaru.

About 10 minutes later, we stopped at the side of the road and sat at a nasi goreng stall.

While we were waiting for our food, I asked her if she had any children. She told me she has a 24 year-old daughter, a 15 year-old daughter, and a 7 year-old daughter. Such big age gaps!

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Guy making our food

Our food came and we all gobbled it down.

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We got going about 10 minutes later, and I laid down to try to get some sleep. I wasn’t sure if Anne had booked the trekking tour to climb Mt Rinjani for the next day, so I wanted to get as much rest as I could just in case.

When I woke up, it as 11 pm and we were close to my guest house.

I showed them where it was on the map, and we kept driving for about 5 minutes before we pulled up to it.

I was worried that there would be no one to let me in, but thankfully someone was there and took me to my room.

Anne was still awake when I walked in, and she was shocked. She totally thought I had ditched her and decided not to come.

I felt really bad— but there was really nothing I could do since I didn’t have internet all day.

I asked her if she had booked a trekking tour, and she told me no because she wasn’t sure if I was going to be joining at all and didn’t want to pay for both of us just in case I wasn’t coming.

After I explained my situation and day to her and we settled down from all the excitement, it was time for bed.


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