Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 35 - I'm on a boat!

I've learnt a lot about myself on this trip. Like, my love for buses has a limit.  I've also discovered I really kind of love boats, maybe even more so than buses!

I'm writing this as I catch the slow boat from Padangbai to the Gili Islands.  Which is really a very peaceful journey. It's certainly beating the 3hr bus ride that preceded it.  I'm sitting at the front of the boat, with the wind in my hair and the slow rocking of the boat calming my mood.  The sun is shining, I couldn't be happier.  I was just sitting here, contemplating my life and the direction it's taken. As you do when you're deliriously happy and have a 5 hour boat ride to pass by. When it occurred to me, this is the only thing I have to do today; get to the Gili Islands. That's it.  I don't have to cook my dinner, clean my bathroom, or be anywhere at a particularly horrible hour tomorrow morning (it's a Sunday - I think?). I don't have to commute to some outlying office, and sit in front of a computer all day. In fact, I can do whatever the fuck I want.  All I really have to do is enjoy my life, and every single second of it.

The past week I've spent in Bali, mostly around the Kuta area.  If I had to sum it up for you in one word, it would be traffic.  The amount of time we spent in traffic was outrageous.  Having been to Bali once before, I didn't expect this at all.  However, that was 4 years ago, and only shortly after the Bali bombings, when the bottom fell out of most of the tourism industry.  It seems everyone has certainly gotten over it now, because there are Aussies everywhere.  Taxis are everywhere too. One taxi driver hilariously noted "Taxis be like mosquitoes! They be everywhere! Have to swat them away".  Part of the problem of course, is the lack of a public transport system, and the hodge-podge of the road network. So many roads are one way its ridiculous, big long highways only going in one direction. Then there are tiny little lane ways that accept traffic in both directions, but certainly don't have room for cars going both directions at once.  This was astonishingly presented to us when, at the end of one miniature lane way, our taxi played a serious game of chicken with an on coming four wheel drive.  Brave taxi.  Of course we had no say in the matter. Eventually the four wheel drive had no other option but to reverse into traffic on the main road he had just left. That is the craziness of traffic in Kuta.

The taxi drivers are just as crazy as the traffic actually.  This was made crystal clear to me on the night when Mum and I jumped in a taxi to take us to our next hotel (we moved when Dad, Elle and Gael all had to fly back to Perth).  It was about 11pm when we jumped in the taxi, and told the driver where we wanted to go.  We battled the traffic, as usual, until our driver took an unexpected turn down a small alley way.  Thinking we must be taking a short cut, I didn't think much of it.  Then the driver stops the car, and puts the handbrake on.  Now I'm really shitting myself. There are no other cars, or even any streetlights down this lane way. I can hear my heart pounding in my chest as Mum reaches for my hand and squeezes it. The driver takes his seat belt off, turns around and says "just a minute".  Mum and I look at each other with terror in our eyes. What the fuck is going on? I turn around, and see the driver run into some nearby bushes. Then he undoes his fly. The driver is taking a leak! Huge sigh of relief. Then I see the meter tick over. The cheeky bugger left the meter going!

Another thing that is everywhere in Kuta? Rats. Yep, big tasty rats.  Mum and I were having coffee at a little place called Kopi Pot. Cute place, nice big garden. In fact, we'd had dinner there just the night before.  On this occasion however, we sighted not one, not two, but three giant rats. And oh how we loved the dinner last night. Shudder.

So whilst I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my family, I'm delighted to be escaping Kuta. The Gili Island I'm headed for is Gili Trawangan, or Gili T for short.  It has a reputation of being the 'party' island out of the three Gilis.  But it is still supposed to have a pretty relaxed vibe.  There are no scooters or cars on the island, or any other kind of motorised transport.  The water is supposed to have excellent visibility for snorkeling and diving. Sounds like exactly what I need.

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