The day after our Komodo dragon experience, we followed the group going to the semi-private Seraya island, in a nice line through the village. The boat ride was only one hour to reach Seraya with its white sand beach and little bungalows. Once we arrived on the island, we enjoyed the view for a few minutes before deciding to rent masks and snorkels. We went in the water but it was not easy to get a proper fit with the equipment, and AA wasn’t feeling as brave as the day before, especially when some jellyfish swam right in front of her eyes.
Our few days on Seraya were spent snorkeling, relaxing and playing in the sand. Seb saw many fishes again and even some stingrays. Unfortunately the high tides brought in many jellyfish everyday during our stay. We played island explorers a few times, walking on different sections of the island, where we found a lot of garbage. We celebrated the new year with a German family and a European couple around a nice fire on the beach.
|The small bungalows, basic but very nice view and location.|
|The only way to get there!|
|The deserted beach of Seraya Island|
|Storm coming through|
|From the top of our island|
On our last morning on Seraya, we needed to get a ride from a small motor boat to the main boat as the water was very low. When the guy was loading one of the suitcases on the boat, he went straight through the flooring, into the inside of the boat where the motor was located and we could see some water in there. Needless to say we didn’t feel very safe once again… we kept the flippers close by and ready to use just in case!
We left our almost private little paradise island and went back to the smelly port of Labuanbajo. We walked under scorching hot sun back to the airport. The airport is being worked on so anybody coming in has to get through a big puddle of mud. Obviously one of us had to slip and get his feet a mud bath before getting in the airport… We cleaned up as much as possible in the grass and made our way in, through “security”. At no point in the process we were asked for a piece of ID. It had been the same on our flight from Bali to Labuanbajo. We had a good laugh when we saw the metal detector not even turned on and the ladies working the security actually playing Majong on their computers.
Our flight from Labuanbajo to Lombok had a good connection in Bali but as it was late leaving from Labuanbajo it was much shorter than planned. When the plane landed, everybody walked out on the tarmac and waited for the bus to arrive and bring us to the main building. When we walked in the building there was a very small sign saying “Transit”, so we thought we would follow it, but it led outside, by the conveyor belt. We were very confused. We came back inside, double-checked with a security guard and went back outside. Finally a bus arrived to take us to the departure building. We went through the area where people pay their departure taxes, but as we were flying with Garuda Indonesia, the taxes were already included with the ticket, so we just walked by and went through security. This time the metal detector was on, but people working there didn’t seem to care more about security. We checked the status of our flight on the screens, but it hadn’t been updated so our gate number, and flight information where not even on the board yet, with only 2 minutes to the boarding time. We were starting to wonder how to find the proper gate when we heard the last call for boarding our Garuda flight to Lombok. We rushed to the right gate, hopped on the bus, who then drove us right back to the same plane we had just left!
|On the tarmac at Denpasar International Airport, Bali|
Our friends had told us that the easiest way to get to Kuta on Lombok was to take a taxi and buy the pre-paid ticket from the boots before getting out of the airport. They were asking 84 000 Rupiah (8.40 CAD) to get to Kuta. We had read online that it should be less than that, but at 8 pm we didn’t feel like shopping around with taxi drivers. All of the process from the airport to the room was so easy, we kept wondering where was the catch. But no catch, it was just that easy!
In Kuta, we woke up the first morning to the sounds of the mosque at 4:30am. The mosque being visible from the guesthouse, is was very loud but earplugs did wonders for the other nights. Kuta could easily look like any other Indonesian village but the beach was different. The sand was more of a golden colour and the waves much stronger than the other beaches we’ve visited so far. It is a well-know area for the surfing community. We walked on the beach for a while, meeting women and kids selling sarongs and bracelets, but also locals enjoying the water. During every lunch and dinner, we were interrupted every few minutes by kids selling bracelets and sarongs.They can be pretty persistent with people not knowing how to say no firmly. We spent about a week in Kuta catching up on work, sleep and movies.
|Kuta Lombok Beach|
|Kids selling jewelry on the beach|
The last night we tried to phone Blue Bird Taxi in order to book a taxi to go to the airport the next morning. We got through and even got somebody that spoke English. The only thing is, they can’t come to pick up tourists anymore as the locals won’t let them. Locals will block the roads for any empty taxi coming in. We were expecting an answer like that coming from hotel staff, but never would have expected something like that from the biggest taxi company in Indonesia. The local businesses charge between 120 000 and 150 000 Rupiahs, when the going rate with a meter should be around 50 000. The hotel owner called his “friends” and got us a private car for 80 000. While waiting for the friend to call back, he said that the other option would be a motorcycle ride, which he could do for the same price. The price of gas or any other excuse doesn’t hold up if the price they say is the same for a car or a motorcycle. Indonesian attitude and felling ripped off all the way to the last night…
When we landed in KL, we knew exactly where to go this time. Between the traffic and the rain, it took a while to get to downtown, but by the time we arrived the rain had mostly stopped. We were again very impressed with the customer service skills of the receptionist, reminding us that we were back in Malaysia. She showed us the hostel and our AC room, with WiFi! We spent a few hours looking into our next crazy adventure before going for supper in the Central Market. We spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur, enjoying the warmth in prevision of our next expedition. We also booked our flight tickets for the first legs of this new adventure: Kuala Lumpur to Auckland via Sydney. Exciting times!