Thursday, 25 November 2010


Saturday 13 November: I'm staying in Mataram, Lombok island's administrative centre. I need to extend my visa and also try to get a Pelni shipping timetable - their website is not the best. Both offices open on Monday.
Sunday 14: Day trip to Sengeggi, a nearby seaside resort but it's expensive compared with Mataram's convenient shopping mall, cheaper beer and internet, and good inexpensive restaurants.
Monday 15: The visa procedure is complicated with forms in Indonesian and a local sponsor is also required. There are no set fees - this is negotiable officialdom (I think my sponsor is the Muslum cleaner!) and I have my passport stamped and returned within 20 minutes - easy. The Pelni office assistant is as helpful as she can be and gives me a telex print-out of shipping routes for November and part of December.
Wednesday 17: Before heading for the Gili Islands I hire a motor scooter to visit the stunning beaches at Kuta, Lombok's Kuta, not Bali's. But, disaster strikes - I have to stop abruptly to avoid a jeep that cuts in front of me and then breaks sharply. My front wheel locks and skids on the sharp gravel - off I come - the bike lands on my foot (I know, at my age I should know better). I'm lucky to get away with a crushed foot and a few light grazes and continue a couple of miles to Kuta to clean my wounds. The beaches are reminiscent of north Cornwall''s spectacular coast but my foot's too painful to enjoy it.
Thursday 18: Today, despite strong medication (Diclofenac 50mg pills trice daily) I can't walk - my foot is badly swollen and I can only hop painfully as far as the Opey's beer shop in the garden - life could be worse . . . Oka Homestay is going to be my home for a while.
Opey is well educated Lombok Hindu of Bali extraction with a beautiful wife and two pretty daughters. He believes strongly in Karma - if you behave badly in life you will be reincarnated as a lower form of existence - Insect, Rat, Dog or a higher animal which serves humans - Fish, Sheep, Goat, Chicken (all food) or a disabled, retarded person paying the price for indiscretions in a previous life. This is why, he explains, he doesn't overcharge his customers, even tourists - his large bottles of Bir Bintang are 20,000 Rupiahs (about
£1.50), a keen price. A nice guy, I like him.
Friday 19: Sitting on the porch of my cabin at Oka Homestay, to my left a German guy is deeply grazed along the full-length of his shoulder and arm from a motorcycle skid. It's lightly bandaged and not healing - I was lucky. To my right a Swiss girl, in the care of her boyfriend, is diagnosed with dengue fever - she's lucky too, it could be malaria. We call it "Oka Hospital" much to the amusement of Opey and his family.
Saturday 20: In the morning sun the younger of my two landladies keels over in the gritty courtyard-garden banging her head on a plant pot. Jumping up I hop painfully to her side - what can I do, I can't even bend over? Hopping to the reception area I grab the older woman, who's English is not so good, and point to her colleague. Slowly she saunters over, kicks the injured woman's legs a few times until her eyes roll in their sockets, ". . . ill, epileptic . . ." she declares and walks away. Bad Karma.
Tuesday 23: Finally, with a Pelni ticket for Saturday afternoon's monthly sailing of the 'big ship' in my bag, I limp to the end of the road and head for the public ferry to the Gili Islands.
Photos around Lombok island.

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