Excited to finally have finished work and with a flight home almost a month away, it was the perfect time to explore more of Indonesia and enjoy the holidays! On December 14th I applied for the last visa extension needed, and decided that on December 19th, as soon as I get hold of my stamped passport I’ll head to Gili Islands.
19th was postponed to 20th due to pure laziness, and the fact that 19th was the last day to see some of the other interns so we decided to spend the day with them and pick up our passports on the 20th.
December 20th 7 am, we start driving from Malang heading to Surabaya’s Immigration office, with the intention of picking up our passports and going back to Malang, for we had already booked busses to Bali.
But, as luck would have it, passports won’t be picked up that day. And for a matter of fact they are left in the immigration office as I write this post now. Apparently, when it is your third visa extension, you need to visit not only the immigration office, but another office for migration and illegal immigrants control and get a paper signed from there. One word: Bureaucracy.
So with lots of begging and pleading, we got our papers ready and went to the other office, where we again begged and pleaded to let us get our papers the next day, instead of December 26th! We had to include lots of puppy faces to show that our Christmas will be ruined and that we already have bookings made.
December 21st, we didn’t book another bus for this day, as we weren’t sure if we’ll make it or not! But luckily, we got our papers signed and went back to the immigration office, where they said we can pick up our passports the following Monday! That was when we again begged to travel and to pick them up once we are back after the New Year.
With that agreed, we head to the bus station in Surabaya, only to find that “all tickets are sold”, and a while later some tickets appear with a higher price than the usual! The old scam again, but we had no choice but to try to bargain for two tickets, unless we want to spend another day in a hotel, which will be way more expensive!
And off we went to Bali, a long and eventless bus ride to arrive in Denpasar. Tired and sleepless, we took the first taxi offer we got, which wasn’t a brilliant idea, for 300K Rupiahs! Arrived in Padang Bai, where touts started saying things about no more ferries today and only fast boats being available!
Of course we didn’t believe them, and headed to the harbor, where three nice men came to carry our backpacks and took them inside an office to sell us tickets to the ferry.
When we mentioned we are actually headed to Gili Air, not to Lombok itself, they said that they could sell us a combined ticket for 350k Rupiahs, but that we should hurry up because the ferry is leaving in 5 minutes. So we did hurry up and paid, the same three nice men carried our backpacks and ran to the ferry, where they asked for 200k for their help! My girlfriend, surrounded by all three of them paid the first 50k in confusion, and then she started to understand that it is just a scam and refused to pay the rest. They had to run back anyway because the ferry was actually disembarking. They weren’t very nice men after all.
When we checked the tickets we got a while later, it said only 200k was paid, so there is 150k taken as an extra in all the rush on each ticket!
Add to that that the ferry arrived late in the evening, and no more boats were headed to Gili that night! So we were forced to take accommodation in Sengigi in Lombok for the night.
How much did each one of us spend to get to Gili islands from Java?
110 k for the first bus ticket that we were forced to miss
170k for the bus ticket we actually took
150k each for the taxi ride from Denpasar to Padang Bai
350k for the combined ferry/bus/boat ticket to Gili Air
75k each for the night in Sengigi
To add to my disappointment in myself, I saw offices in Gili Air selling combined tickets all the way to Denpasar for only 200k!!
Moral of the story: Never rush when buying tickets, and definitely don’t buy them from touristic offices. Oh, and check the price written on the ticket itself!
Apart from all of that, I had (still having) an extra ordinary time in Gili Air! I’ll be talking about it in the coming posts, but I thought I should first tell you how I got here!