Day 200: A Slip Up

Fri. 1st March 2013

Floating pavillion at Mayura Water PalaceIts time for us to leave Gili Trawangan. We have really enjoyed our time here – it is a very relaxed place with friendly people, both locals and tourists. To state the bleedin’ obvious, I really enjoyed my diving and got such a lot out of it – skills, experience and photos. If we were to stay longer, it would definitely count as holiday and not travel (there is a blog post coming on the difference) so it is time to move on. The only downsides were a) we were just about the oldest people on the island and b) we were right next door to a mosque and we could do with out the 5am call to prayer.

The source of the 5am call to prayerWe are off to Mataram, the largest town (city?) in Lombok for a couple of nights while we make a final decision as to whether our next move will be east or west. We were packed and ready on the beach at 10. The first signs were encouraging – the sea looked calmer certainly than on our arrival in GiliT; and the speedboat was bigger and equipped with proper bench seats for passengers. Less promising was the lack of help getting on to the boat. We were fully laden with backpack, daypack and shoes in hand as we paddled out from the beach to step up on the stern of the boat. Nobody offered a hand up or to take our packs. Warning! Danger Will Robinson! [Note: This last reference will be lost on people denied childhood access to ITV and Lost In Space]

The boat backing in ready for us to get onOnce under way, we stopped to make drop-offs/pick-ups at both the nearby islands of Gili Meno and Gili Air. Both are on our ‘we would have visited if we had longer here’ list. Perhaps if/when we come back to Indonesia. The crossing to Lombok was then only 15 minutes and there was none of the bouncing and crashing off the waves that we had had on our way to Gili T.

The closest we got to Gili Meno - looks promisingGetting off the boat was the reverse of embarkation – the boat backs up to the beach, you load up with all of your clobber and step down off the stern into the surf and walk up the beach. Here disaster struck. I timed my step down wrong – just as a wave swirled in. The boat rose up and I overbalanced and fell on to my knees with the water up to my mid-riff. I was soaked with the bottom at least of both daypack and backpack in the water. Worst of all, my camera case was round my neck (we’d been taking pictures on the boat) and that got a proper dunking.

Backpacks secured for the crossing (not) - the last photo taken with my camera.I was quickly back on my feet (and grateful that I managed to stay on my knees and not fall flat on my face) but the real question was how much else was soaked and what of our electronics was now ruined. Whilst the daypack was very wet, the laptop was in its neoprene sleeve and that seemed to stay dry. My camera, however, refuses to switch on so I am not optimistic. Before we get in the car, I have an opportunity to get changed – at least some of my clothes have stayed dry. When we get to our hotel in Mataram, a full assessment shows that I have been very lucky. My boots and some smaller bits and pieces need the sea water rinsing off them and the packs need a good rinse and then to be left drying in the hotel laundry room but the camera is the only casualty. Frustrating and annoying but at least we have Janet’s camera – it could have been a lot worse.

Rambutan fruit. Like lichee. Tasty!The 45 minute drive from the coast to Mataram and our hotel takes us up and over some hills. As the road climbs up through the forest we see monkeys (Macaques, we assume as the look the same as the monkeys we saw in Ubud, Bali) walking along the side of the road and perched on posts and road barriers. At the top of the hill we cross into Central Lombok and the monkeys abruptly vanish. Our driver explains that for some reason, and despite the numerous fruit stalls just after the marker, the monkeys stick in North Lombok.

Those golden arches get everywhereOur hotel is close by some (Hindu) temples – which are much rarer here on Lombok than they were on Bali – and also close to the only shopping mall in Mataram (and so presumably Lombok too). As lunch is the next priority (after sorting out all of the wet stuff) we head towards the mall, keeping an eye out for both laundrettes and restaurants. Once there we groan at the sight of both a KFC and a McDonalds, ignore them both, and head into a local cafe. It is Tom Yam Soup (very spicy) and fruit juice for lunch. We are really getting into our fresh, blended juices here – better for us than beer and just as refreshing.

What else would you use the pavement for?Wandering round the mall afterwards, it is clear that this is a mall for locals – and judging by the balance of phone & computer stores to clothes stores it seems that men are the primary shoppers and not women! However, at the end of the day, it is just a shopping mall and other than a new notebook for me (for all of £1) there is nothing that we need or of interest. I’m just glad I don’t have to do an emergency purchase of a new laptop. It is too early to decide yet what to do about my camera.

Floating pavillion - for meetings and relaxationOf course, the temples are back past the hotel and so, revitalised after lunch, we head back along the main road dodging the scooters and the other traffic. Even when there is a pavement here, its primary use seems to be for parking scooters and so we have little choice other than to walk along the side of the road. The Mayura Water Palace is the most impressive of the two temples – and the easiest to enter without having to get a guide. Lonely Planet is somewhat scathing about it, but we like the mix of public park and artificial lake (much too big to be called a pond) with a causeway out to a platform for meditation and reflection with the temple then behind the lake.

Entrance to the Pura Mayura temple behind the Water GardensHaving failed to find any other restaurants nearby, we eat in the hotel’s restaurant. We are the only westerners in the restaurant (which was reasonably busy) and really the only westerners that we have seen so far in Mataram. It looks like Mataram is for locals and for the first time in Indonesia, we are away from the tourist mainstream. Given that we are travelling (as opposed to holiday) this is exactly what we want to achieve. So far, everything is pretty easy (and cheap) in Indonesia – providing you don’t fall off the boat!

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