#6 GILI T —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

All About Bluedolph aka Sven

Our last days in Gili T.. Took a bit of a weird turn as Milla fell in love with a plastic reindeer called bluedolf. She quickly renamed him to Sven (Frozen reindeer). Sven had been travelling with a couple to over 5 different countries. They were given Sven as a present and were dragging him with them for a while now and in a very weird way had become part of the family by doing so. The time that they had left in Gili T Sven would be temporarily relocated as Sven soon ended up in our bed.

On St Georges day (first time i even heard about such a day) the English tried to be English and had beach games and English food. We missed the food and games part because I was having my first Lobster ever at Scallywags. When we came back the goodies weren’t finished yet and we joined the crowd at Chappies (the bar in front of Manta) The betting was on… how many ‘ would it take to sink Bluedolf Aka Sven?  Some of us should at least have an idea because of our diving physics but anything went and there where bets between 5 and 80 kilos or so. Milla wasn’t all to keen on what was happening but she soon joined in for the fun as long as I promised I would rescue Sven if something went wrong. It took 3 people making it happen and after a bit of fighting back Sven Sank with 36 kilos. Soon after the excitement we took Sven to bed to get his well deserved rest and  the others partied on. It is after all a diving/party islandDSCF1590Indomanta2015©AnnekePeeters

Except for dealing with Sven we didn’t do so much in Gili T. We let of steam and after a few days we were relaxed and fine with doing everything at a slower pace. Letting go always is a bit of a struggle for us but Gili T forced us into Zenn mode and we thank Gili T for it. We did refresh our diving skills in the pool and Mark finally went diving while Milla and I got seasick on the boat like a proper hardcore dive instructor. Diving together did get postponed again. But at least one of us got wet so there is improvement.

I had been told over and over again by Nick (my ex boyfriend) what a great community of wonderful people Gili T had. Even though it was a weird way for us to meet them. It turned out that he was more than right. When the time came to leave we where far from ready, goodbyes where of a sad kind and we promised to return soon. The typical saying that some places use as a sales pitch came to mind several times. Come as strangers, leave as friends…… was certainly truth here!!!

The Day we left Gili T it was raining. Not the normal daily shower but the heavens had really opened their gates and it seemed like they weren’t going to close them anytime soon. By the time we got on the boat we were already soaked. The boat was a speedboat, a bus type as they call them here. I think it’s because the inside looks a bit like a bus? Now for this little girl this is a bit of a problem. No matter how many years I have spent out at sea, I still get seasick like a boss. As long as I sit outside and watch the waves I’m sort of fine. I’m sure you hear me coming.. yes outside and thunderstorms aren’t a great match, especially the roof isn’t a great plan because of the swell. So that left me a tiny bench on the back of the boat next to the 7 outboard engines. Milla fell asleep on my lap within the first half hour.  The wind, waves, thunder and lightning picked up fast and before we knew it we were getting soaking wet. I wasn’t feellng very safe as when we arrived on the boat we realised that we forgot Milla’s  life jacket in our bag that was now in storage. We asked for a life jacket from the boat. The answer we got was very unexpected. I wasn’t allowed a life Jacket for my 3 year old daughter because it would cause a panic with the rest of the guests. After trying to explain and even begging I still didn’t get a life jacket for Milla. They did allow Mark in to the luggage area and get our own. Not sure where the logic was in all of this but the fact that I wasn’t allowed a life jacket and the fact that he kept telling me forcefully that everything was fine made me believe the opposite. With every wave and thunder the conversation kept repeating itself in my head. I presume being worried beyond controle is sort of a mum thing,  but maybe not so handy for the type of mum who wants to be adventurous and cool.

Anyway after a while Mark took Milla inside and I stayed outside together with two people who seemed off their faces and kept howling at the wind. I honestly thought they were mad until I remembered that Ania and I used to howl at the wind back in the days when we lived on Frazer. After 3 soaking hours we arrived in Pedang Bai – Bali and I met for the first time and I could officially say that I was cold for the first time since we arrived in Indonesia.

#4 LOMBOK —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

Day 4

Kuta Drive – Lombok

After breakfast we packed the rental car and without a proper roadmap or GPS we started our adventure to the south of Lombok. In this quick visit to Lombok we try to have a little bit of an overall idea of what the Island is about. In 4 days this is hardly possible, that’s why I say try. At least whatever we see is more than what people to who just stay in the boundaries of their hotel, town or Resort. Now, I’ve driven in many places and Mark in even more but Lombok could be added to the list of adventurous place to drive. I’m pretty sure I even saw Mark closing his eyes and praying on several occasions while he was overtaking, but for sure he will never admit that. After a short drive through local towns we ended up driving though the islands capital and to our surprise even on Lombok there was a Mc Donalds, KFC and Pizza hut. Is there anywhere left on this earth that has not been taken over by fast-food chains? Soon the big city turned into towns again but the traffic never got any less. At one point there was police everywhere and we were asked to stop at the side of the road. For a second I was wondering what we had done wrong and I was incredibly relieved when the loud sirens raced past us. It turned out to be a really long convoy probably holding someone important. It was clear they were heading to the airport but until now I have no Idea who it was.

Near to the airport the traffic got less and instead of the exhaust smells we could finally  breath and take in the smell of the tropics again. There where rice fields as far as you could see. Local farmers were working their land dressed in traditional clothing and lots of kids playing on the sides of the road.. As we were getting closer to Kuta (not to be confused with Kuta in Bali, they are two entirely different things) the scenery started to change. We went from flat to hills and maybe even mountains. The rice fields gave way for jungle and here and there we saw signs of Traditional sasak villages. Even though I’m very curious to look into the local culture the fact that there were big tourist busses at those villages put us off. To tell the truth I have no Idea where the busses came from and where they would fill them. Maybe as a day trip from Bali? Senggigi where we stay is supposed to be the most touristic spot in Lombok. But there are only a handful of people there at the moment.

Finally we arrived in Kuta. We drove straight on direction beach. But we had to turn back because of the smell of toilet waste and garbage. This couldn’t be right? Luckily it wasn’t we took another turn down to the beach and this sort of looked more than what we had imagined. The big bay with white sand and shallow water where you can keep going. Sadly there had been storms so the water was murky and brought in all the sea grass. But you could defiantly see its potential. As soon as we got out of the care we were greeted by boys that sell bracelets. Even though we had made a pact not to buy anything on the beaches anymore as they ask way too much these boys were sweet and cute. At least the first 3 and then the next three and then the local sasak woman with piles of sarongs on their heads and and and.. We were the only white people walking on the beach and so the only one they could come to. It’s the one think about Lombok that we don’t like. And its the not giving up trying to sell things to you that you don’t need. They are everywhere all the time, and a no thank you isn’t enough. They try to hand Milla things, and then of course she would cry if we didn’t buy it. But together with us Milla is being trained and now learned to say; no thank you, nest time. I know these people are only making a living and we would never shout and or be aggressive especially not with the kids. But I do hope in years to come they will be les persistent, its more begging then selling and we can’t buy something from everyone. Cause when you do things happen like today. After giving in to those first 3 boys on the beach (when we thought that would be it) it ruined out that we had spent all our money and also our cash limit on the credit card had been reached.

There we where in Kuta but without money. After the walk on Kuta beach we drove down to the next beach hoping that it would be less murky for some reason so Milla could snorkel. On the way their way past the local monkey forest on top of a hill at the end of Kuta beach. This time we didn’t get out though. At the next roundabout near the Sofitel Hotel (strangely enough the only real resort until now) there was a lake. We had to stop there because lots of cows were being herded across the road to go for a swim. It was such an amazing and unreal sight and one of the reasons I love taking these drives. It was one of those you had to be there to understand it moments, and I was there.

We arrived at the next bay and it was as beautiful as the one before. The green hills going into the sea at each end and mushroom rocks coming out of the turquoise water. We put down our Sarongs and soon panick got the best of me. Nooooooooooooo SANDFLIES!! I sat there and Mark was ready to pack up and go. (He had seen me react to them once before) These just jumped but didn’t seem to bite perse so I got into the water knee-deep. So Milla could snorkel but our little princess didn’t like all the loose seagrass floating about so we got out anyway. We took another boiling drive into Kuta town again and stopped at the Warung with the cheapest advertised food. Nasi or Bami Goreng for 10.000 rupiah this we could definitely still afford. While sitting there we took in what was going by( in-between people trying to sell us things) Lots of backpackers on their bike with a surfboard just following the waves. I looked at them and I saw myself again a few years ago and then I looked at me now. And again I was in this twilight zone.. My head and heart is still back there, but my body is somewhere else. As much as I enjoy still being part of the bag packing scene for short periods and as much as I don’t mind sweating or teaching my 3-year-old how to use a hole in the ground toilet. Or how much I love figuring our where you can get the tastiest cheapest food, or how much I love spending us much time as possible with locals. I can’t say I didn’t really enjoy the refreshing swimming pool after a long sweaty drive back with a sleeping sweaty toddler on my lap back to our hotel.

#3 LOMBOK —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

Day 3

Monkey See Monkey Do – Lombok

After a night full of heavy rain and thunderstorms Milla woke up with the words “I want to see monkeys”. In my mind I said thank you to the guy at dinner who had put the idea in her head.

After breakfast there was still nothing else coming out of her mouth but Monkeys, so we asked around how we should get to the Monkey Forest. We had a motorbike but that wasn’t a great idea as the drive there wasn’t safe for Milla. So we took a normal taxi. On the way to the hills where the monkeys live, we passed the local market and some villages. I was surprised to see how poor Lombok really is. The conditions some people had to live in where shocking.

You can’t compare it to Thailand and you can’t compare it to some worst of places in the world that Mark has visited. But it is poor and everyone we have met never waited long to share with us how difficult things are.

Tourism and the money it brings can be good I guess, as long as it doesn’t spoil more than it gives. Lets hope for the people here that some more tourists will come, but without bringing the downside of tourism that we have seen in so many other places. When you read the guidebooks is says that Lombok is authentic, real and pure, That for sure is the least you can say about it. Until now everyone we have met has been so kind and welcoming and I wish already that we could stay longer to explore more and to be able to accept all the invitations we had to go to people’s homes. But for now we only have one day left before we head off to Gili and then Bali.

To get back to Milla and her monkeys. They were not hiding!! As soon as we got a bit higher up in the rainforest they would be along the side of the road everywhere. The first place our driver could stop he did. It was a viewpoint where you could see the ocean from the mountains. Some monkeys were up a tree a little bit down the road. Mark went to them with a packet of peanuts. He opened that packet and within a minute a monkey came down and instead of taking the peanut he took the packet and climbed up a road sign. He was kind enough to share with his friends so that was nice of him. Mark got another packet of peanuts and the monkeys followed him to where we were sitting. It turned out they are still pretty sweet here in Lombok and they come to eat out of your hand without stealing all the other stuff you have with you. Of course we all thought it was fantastic and me too I enjoyed the spectacle very much. And I can’t say my heart didn’t melt when a monkey held my finger for a while. But at the same time I had mixed feelings as I’m all for leave the wild animals alone. If you feed them they get less scared of humans and that it its own will bring problems with it. I’m not even sure if peanuts is good for them and if this happens more and more they will probably get aggressive like any other monkey in any other touristic place. For now it’s fine as Lombok doesn’t have so many tourists, but I couldn’t help being cross with myself for not informing myself better before we left on this adventure.

After Milla’s little monkey fix and her being used for holiday snapshots from the Indonesian tourists, we drove back to the hotel. This time from the other side, meaning we got to drive all the way down to Senggigi from the harbour on winding beach roads. There where coconut palm fields, rice fields and on the beaches itself there were no hotels in sight. Just lots of local fisherman and their families. I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take for tourism to take over. And I’m still not entirely sure if thats a good or a bad thing.

When we got back to the hotel we got on our motorbike straight away to visit the hindu temple close to us in Batu Bulong. Before entering we were asked to wear a red ribbon and make a donation. The temple  itself is named after a hole in a rock and of course it has a hole in a rock with a pretty little temple around it. Milla wasn’t to impressed and wanted to go back to the pool to swim so that’s what we did and that’s where our day ended.

#2 Lombok —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

Day 2

The day Milla learned to snorkel.

We woke up and had a relaxing breakfast after which we chose to get ripped off by some beach punters. I needed a sarong and was feeling soft-hearted. My old backpacking self was nagging in the back again but I felt like pretending I didn’t care for once. So we paid way to much for a sarong and some bracelets. Lets just hope they are doing something good with the money, like give their kids something extra. After getting ripped off we took a Taksi to Senggigi town to reload at the ATM.

We quickly returned to the pool because we had promised Milla to go swimming. We got the masks and snorkels out and placed ourselves on the sunbeds with a view. Milla was eager to get in the water and after a while she asked for her mask (until now she liked the idea of snorkelling but as soon as she got the mask on her head she bailed) this time however she seemed really keen. She has been obsessed by fish and maybe she now understands that without the mask she won’t be able to see any when we get to Gili T. Whatever it was that went through her brain it worked. For sure it wasn’t us pushing her. As much as I secretly wanted her to snorkel this trip I didn’t keep high hopes for success. (She only is three after all)

We were in the water with her and there was minor success but definitely a lot of improvement so I was already happy. Mark and I got out of the water, and this is when the magic happened. She asked for her mask and snorkel and jumped in. I wasn’t keen on giving it to her at the start, resulting in me being ready at the edge of my seat to jump in if I needed to. But something went click and she put her face in the water and kicked her little feet to the stairs of the pool. She got out, jumped in halfway the pool en repeated what she had done before, and again, and again, and again. I don’t think I have ever been so proud in my life. I actually cried! My little girl is a mermaid just like her mummy. She is even a better one!

The rest of the day we hung around and then rented a motorbike to go for food and a look around into town. Milla in the middle just like the locals, with the main difference that I brought a helmet from back home for her. She loves it!

My mermaid, expat and travelling girl. Im so proud!

#1 Lombok —- * LOMBOK – GILI – BALI*

Day 0

Travelling to Jakarta 

We set of for the airport in Dubai early morning after dropping off the last bits and pieces to the new house. As always DBX was smooth travelling. A lot of here you go’s , please mam and thank you’s while being escorted to cut in everywhere and anywhere because you are travelling with a child. Even the people waiting to board open up the row on their own account (like when Moses split the red sea) to let you go first.

The only obstacle we came across is Milla losing her dummy. You know this dummy that she needs for sleeping, the one they don’t make anymore and on top they don’t make the blanky anymore that holds the dummy and of course  its the only one she wants. As always I brought spare but just the idea of one day not having that spare anymore freaks me out completely.

After settling in on the plane we started our 7 to 8 hour travel. The plane was only half full so if we wanted we could slap anywhere. We were traveling during daylight hours so that wouldn’t really be necessary.

In front of us were to young arab boys. I think they were Egyptian from the sound of their dialect but I wasn’t entirely sure. About half an hour into the travel they caused a bit of a commotion as they had a bottle of whiskey and their intention was to down it in one. From living in Egypt there were thousands of stories going though my head. However after the crew took the bottle from them without a fight they fell asleep and slept all journey.

Another painless journey had passed. Emirates always manage to spoil our little princess which only helps with the travel. We landed in Jakarta around 22.30 local time, got our luggage and went to emigration only to realise that we forgot about the visa application on arrival. After they did the custom visa office trick (trying to let you pay four times as much because we didn’t have local currency) we went to the ATM machine and waited inline again to pay only what we needed to pay this time with Indonesian rupiah. The next thing we needed to do is to pass passport control and then we would be able to sleep. A few people in front of us needed to do the same and they took a really long time bribing the officer as we waited and waited and waited, while money was taken and put back and taken again and finally they went through.

I believe this is where Milla stopped showing patience with anything. She was really tired and after walking into a chair leaving the plane she now got stuck with her bum and legs up in between the desk and the foot railing. Time to get the slingshot baby carrier out!! Even that didn’t really help. After the ‘Taksi’ took us to the IBIS airport hotel and we dropped ourselves on the bed I was a happy mum again. Happy to have a sleeping exhausted child and happy to have felt the tropical heat and to smell that typical smell of Asia.

Day 1

More Travel – Arriving on Lombok

After a good nights rest on a comfortable bed and jet lag not spoiling to much we had breakfast and took the shuttle bus to the airport. Ready for our last stint from Jakarta to Lombok we tried to check in at the normal Garuda desk. The girl behind the counter giggled and someone came to translate that giggle for us. ‘WE HAD BOOKED BUSINESS CLASS’.. What????

We went to the business class check in that was in a different building and tried to figure out what happened and how much it has set us back. Turns out that when we checked the total price while booking it was the one person price. The fact that we booked in Rupiah a currency we don’t understands but that has a lot of zeros at the end didn’t really help. Anyway damage was done so we should better enjoy what was coming. And we did..Only little Milla didn’t really realise how special the big chair was that she was sitting on.

Business Class for all
Business Class for all

A short flight later, were we got to see what was coming from the air, we landed in Lombok. My luggage came straight away, but Marks didn’t. So we waited and waited until there was nothing to wait for anymore. When we didn’t have another choice anymore we accepted the thought that it was gone and Mark went to baggage claim. Few minutes later he came back with his bag. Apparently they load first class on a cart for you and they forgot mine. Nice gesture but not really failsafe as we noticed. We walked out of  the airport and there were about 10 Taksi desks right in front of us shouting and another 30 people to the left of us shouting. My first thought was: why didn’t I read up on Taksi prices on the plane and what was the name of that good Taksi company again. That of course didn’t stop them from shouting so whatever they said I said 200.000 less and we went with whoever still stuck around in the end. The one still had to pay off another one and since having a child I’ve become to soft. Instantly I regretted haggling on the price and maybe I even regretted not going with the official Taksi. Anyway those things are the love/hate things about travelling. There is no decent travelling without taxi haggling I guess.

Driving about 10 minutes the sky broke open and rain started to pour down in ways that it can only do in tropical countries. It however didn’t really make our driver go slower, maybe it even did the opposite, but thank god the rain stopped after a good 10 minutes. During our drive we overtook every other car, bike and truck that was on the road in Lombok that day. I saw my own funeral several times as on numerous occasions we avoided a head on crash only by millimeters. I managed to keep my screams from coming out in noise and put a polite (I’m not scared smile) on my face. While I was putting on my show, Milla was sleeping for the whole drive.

Welcoming rain
Welcoming rain

After an hour of racing against chickens, dogs and people we arrived in the Chandi boutique resort near Senggigi. It sounds fancy and it is fancy. Every time we make it to a place like this, my inner 25-year-old bag packing self, is looking at me disapprovingly. For years I believed that you can only call it travelling if the place you are staying has no AC, no pool and is built out of bamboo. And then I became a mum and things changed. Even though we still don’t use the AC it’s just nice to know when it’s there for when Milla is too hot during nap time in the day. A pool is safer to let her swim on her own and well yes those kinds of places are sadly enough built from concrete. Now this place was even a step higher than when we usually just try to get the previous things for the least amount of money possible. This place is only possible cause my husband saves up free hotel nights through hotel.com. For every 10 nights he gets one free. Because its business hotels he stays in during the year we can afford descent places here and there. This was definitely one of those descent places. It had an open bathroom that I love so much, it had lots of glass and was sett on a grass patch full of coconut palm trees with a beautiful naturally looking pool all facing the sea. The resort was on the main road but still in the middle of nowhere. Locals living on each side, and around sunset there would be a never-ending line of them Knee deep in the sea trying to catch whatever they would eat that evening.

DSCF1372Indo2015©AnnekePeeters

Just as Milla and er dad came back from exploring I saw a bird on its back on the floor in front of Milla. It wasn’t moving much but it was alive, I screamed (I’ve got a thing for half dead animals it upsets me more than any other person). Mark picked it up and Milla was loudly impressed, but not really understanding that the bird was in pain. We found a basket and put the bird in a basket and secured it on top of an orchid that was growing on one of the palms. This way it would be safe from whatever was crawling around and also from Milla. It just laid there, hardly moving and hardly breathing. Every half hour Mark would pick up Milla and let her have a look. I didn’t have high hopes for the bird and thought we would have to make a bird funeral, but by midnight it was gone. Leaving only a little bit of birdshot behind in the basket. We looked around to see if it was somewhere on the ground but noting. All of us couldn’t be happier that the little bird was flying again, and every bird that comes near is now the bird that we rescued coming to say hi and thank you. At least in Milla’s world that is the only truth.

At night before closing my eyes I couldn’t help but think about bay lan bay back in Thailand. How that place had no AC, no pool, no lock on the door, no glass in the windows, no luxury, but it was so perfect. If only I could find a place like that again someday.