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A boat trip from Bali to Lombok EINDHOVEN (THE NETHERLANDS) - Only for the first time since 1999, I was about to make some boat trips. After planning a trip by motor from Yogya all the way to Sumbawa Besar (yes, on Sumbawa island), I soon discovered there was no road all the way, but there were some stretches of sea to cross as well. By plane was one option, but then I had to check in my motorbike several times. I didn't even think about using a plane, since it was most likely a lot of work arrange six flights to and back from some of Indonesia's eastern islands.

The first trip was a short one, from Java to Bali. A boat trip of about one hour, depending on many factors, but mainly the number of people and vehicles that has to be loaded onto and of the ship again, once it has arrived at it's destination. Finding the right entrance for motorbikes in a mess of trucks, buses, different entrances for each way of transport and many people hawking on the streets wasn't the most easy. I took the main entrance, but was redirected as soon as one of the police saw me. I had to drive another few hundred meters. There was a special entrance for motorbikes only.
Arriving there I had the feeling that I was about to board another boat in another harbour, because it was more run-down than the other part of the harbour. The entrance was just barely opened and the queue for getting tickets wasn't there at all. Quite a strange thing to see no queue at all in Indonesia. But well, I gave it a try. I was rewarded a bunch of tickets for all kinds of services including parking in the harbour, entering the boat, bringing the motorbike and insurance. Although I didn't have the feeling that I would be rescued when paying the insurance fee, I just paid the entire sum, some Rp 12.600 (then 1,05 euro) to cross the Bali Strait to another island in the Indonesian archipelago.

It was a short time waiting here, most people were already on the boat, which clarified my no-queue-entry just a few minutes ago. People of boat company waved at me that I had to hurry to enter the boat. Hurry? Yeah, the boat was really about to leave, so I was the last one to enter. Both weren't true as many more people entered the boat in the minutes after I had parked my bike somewhere on the lower deck. It wasn't for another 20 minutes before we left for Bali.

Less than a week later, yes I spent some time on the island of Bali, but mainly in the eastern part, near the town of Amlapura, a location that also happens to be relatively close to the next seaport which I had to be to continue my trip from Bali to Lombok. Padangbai seaport was at about 30 minutes over a new road that is part of the dreamed 'Road around Bali' which is being constructed bit by bit.
Soon I found out that the relaxing peace and quietness of the Amlapura was nowhere to find in this seaport again. It was a burning hot early afternoon when I arrived in the harbour. Yes I left too late to take an early boat, assuming that the number of people travelling in the afternoon would be a little less than in the mornings and evenings. Nothing was less true that day. Again, I went for tickets, easier to find since these boots were for all vehicles. Soon I ended up with a new bunch of karcis, tickets. Valid for one trip only, as they are each marked. Each of them looses a part, some directly after paying, some upon boarding the boat.

A bunch of tickets that allows you to enter the harbour, boat and parking area, even if you don't use it.A bunch of tickets that allows you to enter the harbour, boat and parking area, even if you don't use it.

The tickets were ripped to pieces as soon as I was on the boat, the other part I had to keep for a check, if there was any. For now, I could put away all my stuff and have a walk around the boat to find a place to sit down for the hours to come. I soon discovered that was not one of the easy things today. The boat was already full with passengers that came by a handful of buses. I found a small space under the edge of the roof at the back deck, waiting to move more towards the place where there was more shadow.
When the boat departed not long after I found a nice place, it turned towards another direction, leaving me in the direct sun, since I wasn't able to find a better spot in the shadow without too many people around me. I covered myself in a lot of sunscreen, grabbed a bottle of water and hoped for the best for the coming hours, but it was obvious that the sun was here to stay for quiet some time, as there were no clouds to be seen, just a plain blue sky.

As I felt the sun burning on my skin, I saw a bunch of obvious tourists enter the open back deck from downstairs. They put down their big bags and started undressing. Some of the people on the boat walked by and stared at them for a few seconds before taking the stairs to the lower deck again. They also used an excessive amount of sun block, just like me, but where I was at least trying to find some shadow, they unrolled their big towels and sat down right there, without any hesitation. Because they were still white, it was clear to see that they weren't around for very long. An interesting group of people for sure.
After a while I got in a little conversation with one of them. It was a group from Norway and they just arrived yesterday. They were heading for Lombok, so they could return to Bali later. While some of them walked around, talking with some of the passengers, in English that was, others remained on the back deck. They soon gained attention from a number of men, enjoying themselves a good view from an old plastic chair the shadow. There was some shouting to other men as more and more gathered. Some even ventured out into the burning hot sun to position themselves for an even better view. This all with a conversation with other people as disguise, but it was worth while for them.

After being on the boat for over three hours, I started to bore myself a little bit. I didn't bring anything to read, since I was driving around on a motorbike, so I want to be as light as possible. Now I discovered that I should have brought at least something to read. Even an Indonesian newspaper would do now. I also found out that the sun doesn't stop shining after those three hours, but some relief was about to come, above Lombok I could see clouds forming and even some rain towards the south. I wasn't looking for rain as well, so I hoped for the best of both worlds, some less sun and no rain.
But the trip didn't stop here, I was only half way to Lombok and still had quite some time to go. I still had the feeling that I was getting toasted pretty fast, so I put on some more sunscreen. The girls from Norway attracted more attention from many of the male passengers aboard as they put out some more clothes. You won't hear them complain for sure. I didn't want to disturb their few hours of watching ladies for free, but I couldn't care much about it either.

On our way to the harbour, the clouds that had been present for quite some time, now also blocked the sun over the boat. It didn't cause any shivers or whatsoever, but it was a welcome break from over four hours of burning hot sun, since I was getting somewhat red already, even after two layers of sun block. At a short distance, I could see heavy rain come down, it was to the south of where I had to go, but rain in Indonesia can spread just as fast as a blink of the eye, so I was weary for any other dark cloud elsewhere over the western part of Lombok. It wasn't really something to worry about since I brought my rain suit with me.
By the time we were actually entering the harbour, dark clouds had also gathered close from there, but the sun was still shining, which gave me a good hope that there would be no problems. Leaving the boat I encountered a bunch of police officers. They wanted to see my drivers licence and my ownership papers for the bike (STNK). As prepared as I was, I carried both with me. But before handing them over they were quite amazed to see that this was a motorbike from Yogya, licence plate starting with AB. They didn't dare to ask why I took the bike with me all the way, but I was sure I was to get more of those looks, and probably also remarks. I was in Lombok now, on my way to Sumbawa.

Posted in Travel @ 19 September 2005 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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