Don't take the boat....fly instead!
09.10.2012 - 11.10.2012 32 °C
Gilli T to Labuan Bajo......For the brave!
I decided to dedicate a blog specifically to this trip as it has to be the worst trip we have taken in all of our travelling and people should know which way to get there. Boat or fly? If you are hard core and want to take the boat then read on.
We had 3 weeks left in Indonesia and were torn where to go so after flicking through the Lonely Planet and trawling the Internet I decided to take one of the advertised trips on Gilli T to Labuan Bajo in Flores. It looked great from the Internet photos and ideal for snorkelling and diving. The trip was for 400,000 each apx £ 24 each. This is the one we went for and here is how it went.....
0815 told to be at the pier for the boat, which we were, however what they meant was the beach further down away from the pier, luckily at 0813 someone came and told us! We got checked in at the ticket office, this made me wonder if it's cheaper to buy your tickets there....check it, it's on the beach.
The boat is the same slow boat to Bangsal Lombok but is crammed full of people, luckily the waves weren't too bad but still the boat was tipping quite far to the left (our side). This took about an hour and we got off to shouts of "TICKETS" I was relieved we didn't have to go through the bartering process again.....WRONG.....I showed our ticket "Yes, yes come with me" I looked around for our bus....but it wasn't there.
Scam....there're horse and carts that want to take you to the bus, which is in a car park about an easy 10 minute walk up the road. This guy was not from the tour company but was a cart taxi wanting 50,000. Chloe was feeling the weight of her bag and didn't want to walk so I told him I only had 20,000 take it or leave it....he took it and after 3 minutes at the most we got there, then had to wait.
1030am The mini bus came to get us after was had waited about 40 minutes. It was a comfy ride through Lombok to Sengiggi dropping others off and were then taken to Mataram arriving at about 1130 by the side of a road and shops. We were told we were to wait for another bus which would take us to the bus station by a guy who said he was the owner of the company. He asked us for our tickets....which were taken by the first driver....luckily he gave us more and told us not to give them to anyone else and not to give anyone else any money for the journey even if they insist....bloody scammers. He also told us there was no other way back but through his company....rubbish again.
1150 Mini bus took us to the bus station which was 10 minutes away. We were told we had to wait til 1500 til we left and how unusual it was to have tourists in the bus station. This soon became apparent as we were surrounded by men and young teenage lads.....3 hours of this! They got the guitar out and had a sing song. I asked why so many men just sat around a the bus station, were they waiting for a bus? Yes and no....they are not going anywhere they wait for the bus so they can get on to sell stuff and to sing for money.....that's their daily income. We told them we wanted to go to the market and guess what....they came too insisting we buy all sorts of things, which we didn't.
1500hrs bus came and we got on.....again bombarded by guys asking for money and food, names, where were we going etc. one guy who must have been about 60 took an uneasy liking to Chloe and when I eventually told him to leave her alone he told me I was ugly....ha ha....he continued for the entire journey, he was a right pain in the arse.
We were told the bus was air con with a toilet, but within half an hour they had made god knows how many stops picking up sacks of rice, boxes with live birds in etc all stacked neatly against the toilet door. This stuff didn't move the entire journey....so no toilet.....on this VIP bus...
1800hrs we took the ferry from Labuhan to Poto Tano Subawa. This was about a 2 hour trip. We were told we would stop at 2200 for food which we did, however, I wish we hadn't!
2200hrs food stop....rice and veg in a watery soup......remember this.
2230hrs Back on the road with the pain in the arse old guy still going on and on....he did this til 0300 so we didn't sleep, he kept shinning his torch in our eyes...."awake Misses?" even the French guy sat next to him told him where to go!
0300 to 0500hrs sat waiting in a car park in a small and very uncomfortable bus......with lots of local lads....they asked us for money for the trip and we had to insist again we were not paying as the ticket was included and eventually they said ok.
0500 to 0700hrs same small crammed full local bus to dock at Sape. Sape fields were amazing! We got off the bus and were waved over to walk toward the ferry. The ferry left at 0800 so we decided to get on early....this was a good idea.
0800hrs rented a mat to lie on, another a good idea, for 20,000 .......the ferry was a nightmare! This is when the cafe meal from the night before came into force.....major stomach cramps....both of us for the entire trip. We tried to sleep but it's difficult to explain this ferry. Imagine 20 mats next to each other side by side and head to head...people picking up your drink and helping themselves, people sitting on your feet whilst you try and sleep, cockrals crowing, people coughing over you etc.
1830hrs Finally arrived!
So there you have it...thats travelling for you, don't go with Surabaya Indah!
Option two is to fly for £50 apx.....all done within a few hours.
Unfortunately, due to the sickness we were stuck in our accommodation for two weeks and the sickness lasted three weeks. We were too scared to go to the local hospital so kept hydrated with electrolites and the NHS website.