Thursday, 21 August 2008

Day 456 - Mataram, Lombok

So I had a whole day on Bali doing diddly squat, though if you have seen the picture of the little hotel I stayed in then you will know that it was justified. I desperately wanted to stay another day, but I could just see me getting bored, then I would have considered it a waste.

I had breakfast before off I set, but prior to that I had a pre breakfast snack as yesterday I learned it wasn't the type of breakfast to get you up a mountain. Today was a Buddist ceremony, Bali is almost entirely Buddist. I was told the roads would not be busy as everybody would be at home with there families. It started 20km on the flat, and jolly busy it was too, but I felt good, a days rest meant I felt strong, but I also wanted to be back on the move, I felt good about life in general. Then I turned south, towards the mountain, though the climb started straight away, it was nice and gentle the whole time, I could get into a steady slow rhythm. After a while it was time for a food stop though I had already noticed that I hadn't passed a single place to eat at, just little stores. I stopped at a couple across the road from each other and called out to them to see if they had any rice, they didn't but they did tell me I would find some another 10km up the hill, I couldn't wait that long so I stopped. I had a fanta and ate my way through the bread supply on one side and from the other side I had a very strange pink frog spawn like drink, though I am sure I have had that before, in Loas I think. I sat on a wobbly bench and when I move knocked the glass off and smashed it. Having cleared up the glass and taken back the spoon across the road, I gave the woman some money for the broken glass. A few minutes later she came across with a bowl of rice, some chicken and 3 kebabs, wonderful, and she refused payment. A lovely gesture and just what I needed, but once I set off I wondered if she would have given me the meal if I hadn't broken the glass and then paid for it, I will never know. The climb was exactly 35km, only the last 2 being steep, but always manageable. At the pass there were small hills on either side and the area was wooded, but there was a little sign saying 1640m, so I flipped the computer to the altimeter and it was on 1639, then it flashed to 1640 and back again. There must be something wrong with it as it is never that close. Once I started to descend the mountains and the large crater lake came into full view, worth the effort of the climb. As I carried on down there were restaurants with fantastic vistas, so I stopped at one. They wanter 60,000 for a meal, that's normally 4 at my prices, though it soon dropped to 40,000. I carried on, there were numerous places to eat with views, this is obviously where the day trippers from the south of the island come. I stopped at a cheapo cafe where there was just one couple. I had nasi goreng and coffee for 18,000, though as I paid with 20,000 the girl soon returned and said they had no change, that old gag to get people to leave it. I really couldn't be bothered on this occasion, I just said keep it, though I don't like such tactics. As I was just leaving the girl came out and called "Sir, sir", she came running over and gave me 2 oranges, I felt very guilty, how little faith I have in the human race at times. The descent was a stange one. I was still at 1300m, but the land just gently sloped down to the coast, the road was straight, just the odd little bend, it would have been so tedious to climb that way, 45km of going downhill. As I went down the roads were decorated for the ceremony with long bamboo poles with trails coming down from the top like a lantern. In the morning I had seen no end of people with baskets of fruit on their heads, but now I passed processions in the road and at the front of each house the family were outside with displays of fruit in front of them(photo). As the processions passed with all the men wearing bands around their heads, a monster type thing, a sort of panto horse would stopped at each display and do a little dance. I stopped to take photos, but it just caused chaos, the boys wanting their photos taken(photo), the girls running away when they saw the camera. It started to rain, heavily, though I carried on until I found a hotel, stopping to look at Buddist temples, just how many temples can you fit on one small island. I didn't find a hotel until I reached Padangbai, where I would get a ferry to Lombok. I asked a port official if there was a hotel here, "Yes, lots" he said, "Where?" I asked, "Hmm......there" he said quickly as though he had just spotted one as it was about to fly off! I didn't see a huge amount of Bali, I managed to avoid the package holiday resorts, but I like the place, I can see why people come here.

Getting the ferry the following morning was easy, I only had about 100m to go to get it at 9am. It would leave full. A bus went on after me with luggage on the top that jammed against the roof. It was a rusty old ferry with not enough seats, so not the most comfortable of crossings that took 4 1/2 hours. To make things worse they were working on the port which meant only one docking bay was available and there was already a boat there, so we anchored up for about and hour. At last we went in and the first vehicle started to leave, the bus that got wedged aganst the roof getting on, this time it grounded itself and was going nowhere, nor was anything else, not even a bicycle. After another hour it became evident that all anybody was going to do was look underneath the bus every now and then, they didn't seem to actually be doing anything, so I unloaded my bike and with a little help lifted the bike over other cars and eventually escaped, the first vehicle off. It was 3pm, I had hoped to get to the other side of the island ready for a ferry off the otherside the following morning. I decided not to cross the island at all, there was unlikely to be anywhere to stay inland, so I just went 20km north to Mataram, the main town and reluctantly booked into a hotel.

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