Friday, 24 January 2014

The next morning we have another day exploring on the bike again and it really is a beautiful place to do it, Lombok just had it all for me, everything you could want to do on one small, easily traversable island. 

Just enough facilities to make it a whole lot easier than some other places but without the masses of tourists (aside from the south coast/Kuta area).  A huge thumbs up from me and a place i know I will go back to.

Patty had to return to Jakarta for a few days for work as she also organizes wedding’s and parties so we were to meet back up in Labuan Bajo, Flores.  While Patty took the quick, easy option to fly there after her work was done, I had a few days to kill and figured I would do it the hard way, crossing over land and sea to get there via Sumbawa. 

It turned out to be quite the mission and put all of my solo travelling skills to the test, I wouldn’t recommend it without some knowledge of the language or at the very least some sort of book or translator.  There are actually some great apps by Codegent for your phone or Ipad for learning languages and I utilize them all the time.  I will be in Vietnam in a week and am already studying via app.

First up was a taxi to Mataram from Kuta, it is basically the same price as a bus, plus it drops you exactly where you need to be, so a no-brainer for me to use one, $8 from memory.  There are plenty of places that offer a ‘package deal’ all the way through to Flores, but after doing the trip my own way and reading many horror stories, I would only recommend doing it that way if you were really pushed for time.  But this area of Indonesia isn’t exactly the place to be for those on a strict time schedule.

From Mataram it was a 2 hour bus ride to Labuan Lombok with TiaraMas company, where I got a ferry across to Poto Tano, Sumbawa, which took about 2 hours, once there it was another bus ride of around 2-3 hours to Sumbawa Besar, the largest city on the island.  You will be on the same bus from Mataram all the way as the bus crosses on the ferry with you and you simply get back on once you reach Sumbawa.

Get some bearings before you go, I knew roughly which street I needed to be on to find accommodation (Hasnuddin St) and had the driver drop me off in the general area.  A 5-10 minute walk in oppressive heat saw me drop my bags at the first place I came across, even with some bargaining in Indonesian, I still paid too much really.  I think it was Hotel Suci.

 I hate doing that, after a big day travelling with non English speakers in rough conditions and then walking in the heat with heavy gear, it is too easy to take the first place you see.  I broke my own travelling rule because I was exhausted, hot and dripping with sweat, but sometimes you just don’t care.

 A quick stroll up the road later I found a place that was much better value and had wifi in the lobby, once again i'm unsure but fairly certain it was Hotel Dewi.  The staff were very helpful there, after letting me use the wifi they wrote down some info on the bus stations I needed to go to, in Indonesian for me.

There is a great eating place on this street also, I think it was Aneka Rasa Jaya but ask around about a place with beer and wifi and you should find it.  A great meal with a couple of icy cold and well deserved large beers, a spot of wifi on the Ipad doing a little recon and I was back to my room getting some shut eye for another huge day tomorrow. 

An ojek (motorbike taxi) the next morning got me to the bus station about an hour before I needed to be, there are snacks and drinks there while you wait, don’t take the first bus price they give you, always bargain.
I should have taken more pictures of the ferry ride