The first thing I noticed about Gili Trawangan was that no one was harassing us about transport. This could be because the only forms of transport on the island are horses, bikes and good old-fashioned walking. Despite the reggae music and boat motors Trawangan was a wonderful place! It is easy to see why the guidebook states that many people end up staying longer than planned, we did 4 nights and I think we'd only really planned on 2 or 3. I would have happily stayed longer!
Our snorkeling trip turned out to be too good to be true. We had paid $30 each for island hopping and 5 snorkel stops. In the end we stopped at Gili Meno for a mediocre lunch and snorkeled twice. Naturally, places on the island were offering trips for about $7! We did get a great snorkel guide though. He knew all the best places to see large schools of fish and sea turtles! Still we were very disappointed by the short trip and agreed to stop back in Senggigi for a chat with the guy that we purchased the trip from.
After 4 great days we were ready to say goodbye and purchased return tickets to Senggigi from the corner shop guy. He obviously had a company and had a friend that would drive us. The whole trip back to Senggigi our driver was trying to sell us another day of sightseeing. He just wouldn't take no for an answer so Katie pretended to get his number and we said we'd call the next day when we knew what was happening!
We arrived back at the tourist centre and the guy (let's call him Frankie) we purchased the trip from just about shit his pants! We told him that while we had a nice time and the guides were great we didn't get nearly what we had been promised and either wanted some money back OR transport back to the ferry. Frankie said we couldn't get money back but they would drive us to the ferry. We had gone into the office ready for a battle and ended up in a car with Frankie on our way to his house for fresh coconuts. Yep before we got to the harbor he took us to his home where we sat on plush sofa's scooping coconut into our mouths. It was strange to say the least!
Before long we were back on Bali and had settled into a homestay in Padangbai. While our first time through Padangbai had led to a near meltdown on my part because of the constant sales pitches, the second time was very laid-back and enjoyable! We stayed at Made Homestay right along the beach for $5 each.
After we headed to Tirtagangga, a small town surrounded by beautiful rice terraces. It's a very peaceful place bursting with green and a wicked water palace! Although before we were even out of our bemo a guy was trying to sell us sunglasses, it doesn't even matter if you're already wearing a pair! I swear these people would try and sell you bottled air if they could.
"You want air in a bottle?"
"Um... no thanks I'm good with the free stuff you know... everywhere!"
"But this air better *shakes bottle*... it's in bottle!"
"Yes but thiiis air *waves hands around* is free!"
So far on this trip I have learned many things that I would like to share with fellow travellers who may one day find themselves with a "Do you need transport?" hangover.
1. If a deal sounds to good to be true it probably is, this is a warning you read everywhere for a reason!
2. If you're foreign you're clearly rich so be ready for everyone to try and sell you stuff and then seem confused when you don't.
3. You will be offered transport even when you're sitting in a car.
4. Everyone will try to sell you something. The conversation starts off like this
"Where are you from?"
"We're from Canada, Denmark, Scotland and Ireland"
"Oh you United Nations! How long you in insert location here"
"Just a day."
"You need transport?"
"You need transport, I know a guy. He's my brother/cousin/father/barber."
"Nope it's ok we have transport!"
"How much you want to pay for transport? My guy do it for 200,000."
"Really no thanks!"
"My guy have nice car! How much you pay?"
"Really it's ok! Can we just see the menu please?"
*This conversation can be altered slightly to accommodate the sale of necklaces, fruit, water or a room and it gets old incredibly fast.
I realize that everyone has to make a living but that doesn't make it any less annoying!
5. Indonesia hasn't been nearly as cheap as we thought it would be and we are all running to the nearest ATM far more than we'd planned
6. Finding the real Indonesia is proving to be difficult. We are all on edge when it comes to trusting anyone and that makes things difficult. It's hard to find the culture we want to find when they've masked so much to suit a certain kind of tourist.
7. Bali is either a dog lovers fantasy or hell. Everywhere you look there are dogs, they just aren't the healthiest creatures on earth. It's like "OOOOH dogs!! Oh no... it's starving :(" (Padangbai's Topi Homestay has set up a Street dog fund, though which was very nice to see!)
Soon we'll be off to Toyahbungkah so Mia can trek up a volcano!