Sunday morning two weeks ago I left Gili Air by local boat. Two days ago I went for a full day snorkeling trip and we were visiting four different sites. The first out of four spots was quite nice, as there were a lot of turtles. The sunlight was just perfect, as you saw all those nice colours reflecting underwater when you swam with them. The second spot infront of Gili Trawangan was just full of dead corals, due to the moaring of all the tourist boats and dump tourists stepping on the corals. I’ve no idea why we went there. The third spot where these artificial underwater sculptures infront of Gili Meno. Didn’t hear about them before, but was OK to dive through them, as they were just a few metres below the sea level. For lunch we stopped at Gili Meno, which was then my 7th island in Indonesia. We were introduced to eat only on the restaurant on the beach, where a Nasi Goreng was 55k IDR…seriously 🤨. That’s five times more than in Yogyakarta! No, you won’t get my money. Hence I was walking 5 minutes into the island and found a warung where I got it for half the price. Which is still expensive, but regarding that it’s a small tourist island, it was OK. The fourth spot had a lot of small fishes, but due to all the anchors of the boats, also the corals got damaged there. The snorkeling spots where not that impressive, I already saw more beautiful sea live, for example Bora-Bora is an excellent spot for snorkeling.
The day before I attended a Yoga class. It was the first time after more than one year, but the teacher was really nice. Even as it was an intermediate level, I was proud of myself that I could follow most of the figures. In order to improve my rock climbing performance I probably should also do more yoga in the future and not just strengthen my body.
Anyway I finally went to Lombok, as my 8th island. Once arrived and got out of the boat, all the touts were approaching one to offer their driver “skills”…as you know, you get a driver licence in Indonesia just by paying at the police station. And if the police doubt that you are able to drive a car, you just need someone who claims that you can do so. Well, I was just walking away from them, even if they’re persisting offering their skills for 200k IDR and more. I said I would pay 10k rupiah, but somehow they didn’t want to agree. While walking to the main junction some taxi driver offered me to drive. When I said I’m taking the local bus…they replied, no local bus today. Sure, because with local bus you wouldn’t have business. I was the only one who walked that 1km to the junction, but in the end I got directly my local bus, without any waiting time, to Mataram for 20k IDR. Suddenly I was out of the tourist bubble. On the way I saw some houses with cracks in the walls and also some intermediate huts for the local people. I guess these damages were caused by the last earthquakes. Some of the houses may completely broken. In Mandalika bus terminal I changed the bus and made an excursion to Selong in East Lombok. There I met my host Rauhil and her friend Anton, who actually picked me up from the bus. They were both pretty kind and we had a nice conversation the whole afternoon and evening. Anton told me that he’s also a guide to Mount Rinjani, as he’s from North Lombok. But the peak is still closed due to the last earthquake, and only a two days track to the crater rim would have been possible. He also told me that in North Lombok almost 99% of the houses got damaged by the earthquake, and most people are afraid to sleep in these houses. Some cracks are as wide as an arm. The government provided some immediate money, so the people can rebuild their houses.
Thursday morning I got a pick up to the beach of Jemeluk. It would have been just one kilometre of walk, as I did the day before in order to enjoy the sunset. But as the pick up was included in the price of the boat anyway, I didn’t refuse. We need to register again at the beach for the passenger list and need to check in our luggage. After about one hour processing time, we finally were allowed to embark the boat. This boat is the shortest connection, not only in time but also in distance, to cross the Lombok strait. Compared to the former crossings this strait is with at least 250 metre depth pretty deep. And once we left the bay there were immediately large waves. I was pretty fine with it as I still remembered my experience in Kiluan bay just a few weeks ago, but I also could imagine what it means to cross the Wallace line in really bad weather. In such conditions I would definitely not be on this open sea. After about one hour the boat stopped at Gili Trawangan to disembark to party people and let a few other people embark, before we headed on to Gili Air on the East. In Gili Air I went to my hostel, but I opted for a private bamboo bungalow, as it was not much more expensive, and I’m not exposed to an AC in the night. In the afternoon I strolled along the beach, and I was happy to be there during high tide. As in the evening when I returned to the sme place, it was low tide at this day.
One week ago early in the morning I walked along the empty streets of Ubud to the departure point of my shuttle bus. After the experience one day ago I opted that day for a bit of pricey tourist experience, in order to avoid spending the whole day again at several bus terminals around Bali. But also this drive took in total almost 4 hours, as we also needed to change the bus once in Padang Bai and waiting for another one. First we drove down the slope to the shoreline and then the bus was heading north more or less along the shoreline along the eastern extend of the large Mount Agung. Once arrived in Amed it immediately remind me about Ko Tao, as it mainly consists of one main road where all guesthouses, hostels, bars, restaurants, as well as dive shops are situated. And it’s still not finished. A lot of construction works is still ongoing. Hence, one could guess how this former fishing village will look like in the future. From what I’ve heard, is that the appearance of the village changed pretty much in the last decade, and road was just paved a few years ago. Nowadays, there’re supermarkets and ATM’s and all you need for an average tourist. In the evening I headed to the sunset point in order to watch the sun going down beside the impressive Mount Agung. Unfortunately, nobody is allowed to go there as the last larger eruption just dates back to 18th May and the volcano is still somehow active. Therefore, we can spot it only from the distance.
One week ago I went to the Pesiapan bus terminal, which is just opposite of my hotel, as the guy at the reception told me that there will be buses leaving to Ubung. Somehow there is no longer any real traffic here, only a few bemo depart and all drivers are asking me for private transport. After waiting almost one hour I realised that I need to change something. Hence, I walked back to the main road and within 5 minutes waiting time a green bus approached and I got my lift to the Ubung bus terminal for 15k. In Ubud bus terminal I found the right bemos which were waiting for customers very quickly. But as the main bus terminal for Bali is now situated in Mengwi bus terminal, the traffic also ceased here. I knew I need to wait for a while for other customers before the bemo departs. But even after two hours, nobody was approaching. Also they offered me a private lift for three times the ordinary price. But there was no reason to do so. In the end I was again walking to the next junction, and tried to hitchhike while I was walking in the direction to the Batubulan bus terminal. After probably 15 minutes Jan stopped with his small daughter in a small black pick up truck. He couldn’t speak very much English but he was very happy to give me a lift for a few kilometres, and I was too. As it was now almost late afternoon I was a bit worried to get my last Bemo to Ubud, as typically the service ceased completely before sunset. Luckily there was a brown bemo waiting for Ubud. The “official” price is somehow about 8-15k. He started to bargain at 100k, if we we would leave immediately, but that was by far too much. In the end I told him I would pay 20k, if he wants to leave immediately, as I was pretty sure he’s driving home anyway. So he agreed somehow, even as he complained a bit afterwards, when I paid. But that’s was the normal grumpy way, if he expected more from a white person. I was really disappointed by the public transport in Bali, as it doesn’t seem to work anymore. Bemo and even government supported public buses only operate in rare cases, hence nobody is using them anymore. Nowadays ojek/grab are very common and almost as cheap as the bemo. Furthermore I don’t know how they earn money, if they don’t make revenues at all and just sitting around the bus terminal the whole day. Most of the tourists use some kind of very expensive private transport (which is at least 10 times higher than public transport, but as international tourist you might think it’s cheap anyway), and the locals use their scooters nowadays. Which in essence both led to crowded roads in Bali.
After arrival in Ubud I did the most important thing you could do on Bali…bouldering in Tokei gym, after the last bouldering in Jakarta was a bit disappointing. The route set up was made from beginner to advanced, but the walls were pretty clear and all holds of the routes have the same colour. I was alone on the wall, but I definitely enjoyed the time there. In the evening I met again Kristina, as she suggested to go to the same hostel as she was. She also told me that she was in the end hitchhiking directly from Mengwi bus terminal to Ubud. In essence there is no public transport in Ubud available and all hail riding apps are forbidden. But at the same time, it’s stated that you should support “local” transport. I don’t no if with this all the drivers are meant, which are lining up along the main street and offer you each 5 metres “Taxi, Taxi” – no thanks, I still have two legs, which are working, or if the expensive private cars are meant with “local” transport. Ubud itself is a bloody tourist town. You can buy probably more international stuff than in Jakarta. Beside the souvenir shops and transport gang also a lot of beggars are looking for your money. It seems that all of them see you as walking ATM, they just try to find the correct PIN code.
Monday early morning I called an Gojek to bring me to the starting point of my hike at the Pura Luhur Taksu Agung hindu temple. As there’s absolutely no public transport available, it’s the only option at this early time. It seemed that the driver was a bit surprised how far I wanted to go, but he did very well and didn’t complain at all about the road conditions. The hiking path starts directly next to the last Hindu temple, and once you got it, you just need to follow it up the mountain. Unfortunately, after about half an hour it started to rain. Sure I put on my raining clothes, but the problem was that the path got really slippery at several sections. Hence, the hike up wasn’t a pleasure at all. You don’t see anything, you’re getting wet from the sweat and wet from the rain. It’s not cold at all, but it’s far from being nice. After one hour I met two other hikers on their way up. They offered me some cake and coffee, but due to the weather I preferred to go on. When I arrived on the ridge, things got even worse, as the way wasn’t following the ridge at all, but always went up and down to the other side of the wall. Beside trees there are men high bushes and the path is overgrown. Therefore you don’t see where you step onto. At one point I was stepping onto an old trunk and lost my balance. Trying to hold me, ended up in grabbing a thorny bush and I eventually scratched my right hand, which directly started bleeding. In the evening it took me pretty long to get all the spikes at of my skin with a tweezers. So I was not that happy when I arrived at the peak, but luckily I was finally above the clouds and it was dry. So could enjoy my snack. But as the clouds just surrounded the mountain there was not much to see. After finishing my snack I went further on to get down. The way down was steeper, but still dry. So I went continuously down. I had also the impression that there were less bushes around and you could more easily walk along the way. But unfortunately just a few minutes before I arrived at Pura Maja Gede, still at a more steeper section it started to rain again. Just after a short while the path was again very slippery, and it took me full concentration to not completely slip down, even as it dropped me down several times. Also there are some roots which could stabilise the soil, but sometimes it was just really hard to go for a few metres and not to slip with both feet. Once I arrived at the Pura Maja Gede temple, the rain stopped and a local offered me an ojek to the nearby village of Pujungan. There I had some late lunch during I wait for the local bus back to Tabanan. The curvy road crosses several mountain villages, where tourists still seem to be pretty rare.