Saturday, March 10, 2012

Honeymoon in Bali continued...

We flew to Lombok to Mataram airport (or that’s what our tickets said), so when we got off and got outside after getting our luggage, it was a bit of a shock to be surrounded by people trying to be the ones giving you a ride, and a guy insisting that we were not in Mataram! We had tried previously to find out about how much it should cost to get from the airport to the docks where we needed to catch the public boat to Gili Meno, but no one really seemed to be able to tell us, but one lady said that she thought it should be about RP 80,000. We had trouble getting a hold of the place we were staying on Gili Meno before we left, and even after we got a hold of them (in retrospect) I am not sure about it cause it wasn’t the voice of the guy who runs it. Anyway, we tried and tried to negotiate around RP 100,000 for the ride, but all of the men around us insisted that no one would take us for less than 300,000, so after a bit we finally gave in cause we couldn’t find much else. The ride was nice, and the guy in the van helped us with the language etc. It was about a 2.5 hour drive to the docks.

When we got to the port, we found out that the public boat had already gone (it only goes once a day) and that being the cheapest option by far, we were a bit angry that we missed it. One guy at the office, which was a bit makeshift cause apparently the main office was under construction, was going to make a deal with us that for RP 450,000 ($50) he would give us a ticket to Gili Meno and back and the trip back to the airport via van. We hesitated for a while, and tried negotiating but he was firm and said that was the rate. So after much deliberation we decided to take it cause it seemed like a good deal considering everything and what we had paid so far. He wrote us out some receipts and wrote down his phone number, and made sure he knew what date we planned on coming back so he could be there with the van to pick us up.

We got on the boat, and some guys picked up our luggage and us (to help us onto the boat without getting our feet wet, which I thought was kind of funny at first, until they cornered us on the boat and wanted money. Now we had already had a very stressful day and had spent a lot more money than we had expected to. We were very angry, and David only gave them a very small bill and I said that they weren’t getting any more because we hadn’t asked for them to do that, and that that was very unkind. This made me very angry, and after a bit of arguing they finally left (probably cursing at us); I didn’t care. We decided that we were just going to walk to our hotel once on Gili Meno cause we had already spent a lot of money on transport and didn’t feel like spending any more, plus it’s not a very big island. We were glad we walked cause it wasn’t far. When we got in we were greeted by Paul, a very nice man in his early 60’s from Yorkshire (I loved his accent!!). He gave us the key to our room (John, named after the Beatles singer, it’s a theme there cause the owner loves the Beatles) and we talked for a bit. He told us of a little place just a minute’s walk away where the wife of the house has a little place to eat and that it was lovely and very cheap. He was right, we went there to eat and it was wonderful. They were a very nice couple, and we found out that her husband took people out snorkeling in his boat for a decent price, so we decided that later on in the week we might have to go with him.
It was a good end to a horrible day.

Our week on Gili Meno was filled with lots of eating out (because we didn’t really have a choice, and also because it was so cheap and good, why not!! At one place that we frequented was a cat (we dubbed her Dr. Penelope James Nubbins) that would cuddle up to us. She was named Nubbins because she had a nub of a tail that all of the cats on the island seem to have. Their tails look as if they’ve been broken, cause they all stick out at strange angles and are varying lengths. We asked about this and were told they are born that way...interesting.
We also took a day trip to Gili Trawangan, the largest and most touristy of the three Gili islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air). We rented bikes and cycled around the island, it was lovely! We stopped at one deserted restaurant/hotel on the very quiet, almost deserted part of the island and had some shakes by the beach. It was lovely, and much rewarding cause it was very hot out! We then stopped at another place once it started to get a bit more busy again and had a delightful lunch and I went for a bit of a dip in the water while David read. We also visited a book store cause I needed another book to read, then we had some drinks before getting back on the public boat back to Gili Meno.

We also did some scuba diving, which was my second time (1st in Thailand) and David’s 1st time! It was just us, and we had an introduction lesson then one dive. We saw some sea turtles resting on some coral, and had such a wonderful experience!

We did end up going snorkeling with the husband of the lady who has the small restaurant at her house near where we were staying, and he and his two sons took us out onto their boat and took us to three dive sites, it was amazing! David and one of the sons saw a shark, but I didn’t. There are reef sharks there, but at this time of the year stay in deeper water cause it’s cooler, but even so, we heard they are timid and swim away from people. We also saw some more sea turtles! One of the locals who was I assume a guide for some tourists had caught one and was holding it up for the tourists to see cause it had a cut shell. I swam over and scolded him and told him to let it go and we shouldn’t touch the wildlife, and one of the tourists sounded kind of ashamed and said yeah, let it go. I think they were enjoying it until I brought to light that it was bad, and then they felt bad. I am glad, I hope I taught them a lesson that day. That was one thing I didn’t like about it there, the locals don’t care about holding wildlife and stepping on coral or dumping their garbage in the sea, there’s not a great deal of understanding about how to care for their environment (in my opinion anyway). I hope to help change that someday.

Anyway, the snorkeling was amazing! Another day we rented some snorkel gear and went out right from this restaurant (they kept our things there for us) where we had eaten earlier. It was amazing, David and I had a blast, we floated around for about an hour, and at the end I swam for about 5 minutes with a sea turtle!! It was just me and him floating in the currant together, I was so close, I could touch his shell (but only did once to see if I could :P). He had to come up twice for air while we swam. I could have stayed with him all day, but the tide was taking us further from the beach where David and I left and and David didn’t know where I went, so I decided I should turn around. Amazing.

Overall we had a very relaxing time, walking around, eating, swimming, eating, watching movies in our hotel room, eating. :P Oh, and the place where we stayed had a bird park which we visited before we left, it was neat, there were some really interesting birds in there, some I had seem before, and quite a few I hadn’t (the strangest ones were from Papua New Guinea, no surprise there, they have a lot of strange looking animals there! :P). They even had a crocodile.

We left Gili Meno with a very good taste in our mouths, and a love for the peace and quiet of the islands. Then we had to return, which we weren’t looking forward to because we started to think more and more about how we might have been scammed by that guy at the docks on our way there. Sure enough, when we went to get on the boat they made us buy another ticket, and when we got back, there was no van waiting, and no one could get a hold of the guy, they said someone in his family died, I wouldn’t put it past any of them that that wasn’t true and he made sure not to be around on the day we got back. We finally had to give in and buy another ticket back to the airport, but this time we had information and knew that we shouldn’t pay more than RP 150,000 total to go to the airport (so we were ripped off a bit on the way from it too). We weren’t in a hurry, so we had plenty of time to try and figure things out, and this seemed good, so we got on a van with a swiss brother and sister. They were very nice and we had a lovely drive to the airport, chatting with them most of the way. Needless to say, even though we found we had been scammed, the way back was much less stressful than the way there. That’s one thing I lament about the Balinese people is that they are very nice, but it’s really difficult to tell when they are honestly being nice, and when it’s to try and get more money out of you. I think we saw plenty of both, sadly I think more of the later than the former.

We might have lost around $200 in being cheated throughout our trip, but we try and not let that bother us, that’s just what happens when you travel to places like Bali, if you’re a tourist, and you don’t know how much things should cost, or the best way of getting places, you’re bound to be cheated. If we ever go back to the Gili islands, we are going to take a speed boat from Bali, that’s the way to go. It’s not much cheaper than the way we did it, but it would save HEAPS of stress. I might even be willing to get sea sick for that cause. :P

Overall, we had an amazing time, and even though we are not set back a bit in funds here at home, we wouldn’t change a thing we did (other than the Lombok fiasco), we had an amazing honeymoon!!! Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible!!

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