PART EIGHT: GILI TRAWANGAN/LOMBOK
Shame has forced us from the island!
Mad Dog only emerged from his slumber this morning and had little to no memory of the events that unfolded yesterday evening. He mumbled something about ‘Blue Lagoon’ then demanded breakfast. I fear he is losing it. When we did leave the room in search of food it became apparent the rest of the island was not suffering from such memory loss. Smirking glances and poorly hidden laughter followed us everywhere.
“Are you feeling better today Mr. Donny?” the young scallywag who lured us to our accommodation on the first day asked me when he saw us in the street. The genuine concern in his eyes was what put me over the edge. This tiny little grifter is obviously no stranger to tourists coming over and getting messed up, so when he becomes genuinely concerned for one’s safety you know you have crossed the line.
On the bright side it appears Mad Dog didn’t save my life. I asked the young fella what actually happened and it appears a couple of locals from a nearby boat jumped off and came to my aid when they saw me floating around like an unflushed stool. Mad Dog apparently hadn’t even noticed I was in trouble, so caught up was he in his own drug-induced haze. He gave me no more information than that and scampered off to harangue some newcomers fresh of the boat, before I could ask of the gentlemen (or gentle ladies?) responsible for saving me. I guess my thanks will have to be left drifting in the breeze, or in the note on my soiled board-shorts I am forced to leave behind.
Perhaps leaving was an overreaction, but the combination of sobriety after a few days of partying, and the embarrassment of almost drowning in a couple of metres of water whilst off my chops, has left me with a less than overwhelming desire to remain here. Plus there are so many more beautiful places within spitting distance we may as well head somewhere else. We have decided to go to Lombok! The mysterious Islamic Island with a smoking volcano and white peppercorn beaches (I have been told).
We were accosted almost immediately upon reaching the wharf by a pony-tailed fellow named Sonny. He swooped in and swept us off our feet and before we knew it, here we are, on our way to his mate’s place on the slopes of Mt.Rinjani– The Great Volcano.
I write this on the boat ride over. My heart lifts as the Gili’s fade into the background. I feel destiny approaching…
* * * * *
Lombok is… interesting. The first thing I noticed was that the people aren’t quite as friendly here. Not unfriendly, but there is definitely an underlying edge to how they perceive you that doesn’t quite sit at ease with me. The motorcade of young men with assault rifles as we drove from Bangsal to our accommodation did nothing to dispel this sensation either. Our driver, who had to this point been driving like a character from Grand Theft Auto, had a sudden new found appreciation for the road rules when we encountered that lot. I don’t blame him. He said something and laughed when they had finally all passed, but I’ll be damned if I know what it was. “Thank fuck for that!” probably.
Much like Bali, I was amazed how the landscape transforms from barren to luscious green in the blink of an eye. What the fuck kind of micro-climates do they have here? I need a meteorologist – I need Tim Bailey.
Our accommodation is substandard, but it is only temporary. Sonny’s mate clearly doesn’t care too much for house-keeping given his place is only a stop-gap before climbing the mountain. Tomorrow we begin our trek, but this afternoon we were taken to a nearby waterfall to pass some time. Our guide was never without a cigarette, and even more impressively never out of breath. I assume he is some sort of machine fueled by tar and if he ever stops smoking he will completely break down, melting black into the earth like the Witch of Oz.
I indulged in some much needed Misogi under the ‘falls, washing the sins of the Gili’s away, and felt a new man on the walk back. Great excitement came in the form of some monkeys! A family of them! Our guide seemed very uneasy, but I could have watched them play for hours. They fled as soon as they became aware of our presence, but the brief encounter excited me no end. MONKEYS! I fricken love monkeys!!!
We now retire to bed for our early morning assault on the volcano. Despite the heat I think I may have to sleep fully clothed. This place has bed bugs written all over it…
By Al McClintock