Tom and Tessa

South East Asia 2016-17


Still feeling bad about our overindulgent (überaus nachsichtig) 21 minute flight from Langkawi to Penang earlier in our trip, I sensed a shot at redemption (erkannte die Möglichkeit der Wiedergutmachung) when I read Wikitravel describe the public ferry from Bali to Lombok as “mainly for locals, freight (Fracht) and diehard (eingefleischt/zäh) backpackers”. At a price point of 40,000 rupiah (£2.40, 2.85€), the public ferry was also ten times cheaper (zehn mal günstiger) than the private fast boats used by those prawn sandwich eating flashpackers (Krabbensandwich fressende Flashpacker). What could possibly go wrong?

As a white British male, I can’t say that I’ve ever been subjected to real discrimination (der Diskriminierung ausgesetzt) but (I know, that’s a big word and this is but a tiny inconvenience (kleine Unannehmlichkeit)) as Tessa and I wandered into the all-Indonesian passenger cabin of the ferry, we were certainly (sicherlich/zweifellos) made to feel somewhat unwelcome (unwillkommen) by one older woman. There were very few (wenig) free seats anywhere and one of the few double spaces was on a bench (Sitzbank) seat next to this greying hag (vergrauende Hexe?Weib). She was sat on the end of the bench, next to the window but, sensing (spüren) she might be vulnerable (angreifbar/verletzlich) to the two dirty foreigners (Ausländer) looking for a place to sit, she very deliberately (absichtlich) shifted over (rüberrutschen) to the near side of the bench and put her bag on the seat next to her. “Not here” was her message. As we walked past her, she put on the loveliest smile, as if to hide her deed (Tat). Fortunately, a father and son immediately made amends (Wiedergutmachung) by beckoning (herbeiwinken) us to sit with them and proceeded to chat to us about our home countries and where we were going.

Now, the real reason this public ferry is for diehard backpackers isn’t just horrible old women, it’s the time that it takes. A mammoth (gigantisch) 5-6 hours compared to 1.5 hours on the fast boats. “Nay bother”, I thought, “we did a 12 hour bus journey with a raving (rasender) lunatic (Verrückter) at the wheel a couple of weeks ago. This’ll be easy”. As this wishful thought sailed across my mind, the lady in the seat two rows in front of us puked up (such übergeben) all over the floor. Not just a little bit. Whole stomach (Magen) full. All water.

Now, an ordinary (normal) person might try and make some effort to clean it up or at least contain (eingrenzen) the spillage (Verschüttung) so it doesn’t effect their fellow passengers on this SIX HOUR BOAT JOURNEY. Not this beaut though. She just left it, leant back (zurücklehnen) and went to sleep. This meant that, as the time ticked away and the boat rocked steadily, the watery puddle (Pfütze) crept slowly out (ausdehnen) across the floor. Because it didn’t contain any chunks (Brocken) of chicken or rice, unsuspecting (ahnungslos) passengers would walk through it, assuming (annehmen) it was just water. Did I mention that people in Indonesian don’t always wear shoes? So many of them were walking barefoot (barfuß) through watery sick. And did I also mention that one of these people was a small five-year old boy who WAS THE LADY’S OWN GRANDSON?! Disgusting (ekelhaft). At least it didn’t smell.

Once off the ferry and away from the sick, we were transported to Kuta (known everywhere as Kuta Lombok to avoid confusion (Verwirrung) with the bigger Kuta Beach on Bali) and the Tri Putri Homestay where we were booked, initially, for two nights.

Lombok is often said to be “like Bali was 10-15 years ago before the mass influx of tourists”. We were, therefore, excited about the potential island paradise we were setting foot on. And we certainly weren’t disappointed (enttäuscht).

After checking into Tri Putri (it was late afternoon by this time), we took a walk down through Kuta village and were blown away (umwerfen) when we set eyes on Kuta beach. Flour-white (mehlweiß) sand and crystal clear (kristallklar) water with barely anyone on it. This was much better than we’d even hoped. As we walked along the shores, several young children walked alongside and tried to sell us their various bracelets (Armbänder) and necklaces (Ketten). Everyone trying to sell you something in South East Asia has a bunch (Haufen) of canned lines (einstudierte Sätze) about how cheap their goods are or how they’ll give you a special deal but these little kids had a new one for us. “Ask me any country and I’ll tell you the capital city (Hauptstadt)”, they said. Even after saying we didn’t want any bracelets, they were happy to carry on walking with us and have a homework lesson. And they certainly knew their capital cities! Nearly every country we asked, they knew the answer to – I’m pretty sure I wasn’t that knowledgeable (sachkundig) at seven or eight years old. After a couple of days of this pop-quiz style of salesmanship (Verkaufstechnik), however, I managed to work out that Africa was a bit of a weak point (Schwachpunkt) in their knowledge and caught them out (ertappen) with countries such as Nigeria (Abuja) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa). The youngsters certainly made a pleasant change to the aggressive sellers in most other parts of Indonesia we’d been to.

The next day we sunbathed on the beach at Kuta and, that night, decided to extend our stay to five nights and planned to hire a moped for a couple of days to explore the rest of the south of the island and its beaches. Adding to our love of Kuta was one of the homestay workers; Ana (male), who made the most delicious banana pancakes (Bananenpfannkuchen) for breakfast every morning. And he’d always offer us a second serving which we dutifully (pflichtbewusst) took!

Day three on Lombok we visited Mawi Beach (a big surf spot) and Selong Belanak. Unfortunately, the weather was overcast (bedeckt) and, eventually, rainy so it was a bit of a wash-out but the beaches were very pretty all the same.

Day four we headed east to Tanjung A’an and were absolutely floored (wir waren platt) by the beauty we found there. We both agreed that this was possibly (möglicherweise) the best beach either of us had ever been to. Even whiter sand and even bluer sea than at Kuta beach a few miles up the coast. We loved Tanjung A’an so much that we decided to go back there again the next day (our final on Lombok). Two days laying on beach paradise sipping coconuts – not bad!

When it came time to leave we both wished that we could stay for much longer. Kuta Lombok made a real impression (Eindruck) and is, for both of us, one of our very favourite places of our entire trip so far. Not only were the beaches and the food fantastic but the people were incredibly friendly and welcoming. We’ll see you again soon.

It wasn’t all bad though as our next stop was the famous Gili Islands off the north-western coast of Lombok. No motorised transport and one of the best dive (tauchen) spots in South East Asia.

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© 2021 Tom and Tessa.