There is not much going on in Padangbai. The strip along the harbor is the main tourist area with a few dive schools, homestays, restaurants and the normal sarong-clothes-souvenir-shop. The major “attraction” of this place is the harbor; all the Fast Boats and Ferries going to the neighbor-islands (Gilis, Lombok and Nusa Penida) depart here. Around 08h30 the place is filled with tourists awaiting their fast boats to the Gilis and around lunch time it lights up again with the tourists coming back from the Gilis. Most of the people staying over are divers (or sunburnt bicycle-type-of-people).
In Padangbai there are only a few ’important’ temples. Nothing jaw dropping. And then there is Pantai Kecil. The dog at the Guesthouse followed me (or showed me the way) halfway to Pantai Kecil – it is up a steep rocky road and down a steep hill. When you get down you see a beautiful hidden gem, a small beach (which is the meaning of Pantai Kecil), a strip of white sand stretched out for about a 100meters, a few thatched huts (selling food and drinks), a few Coconut Trees and beautiful clear water.
I believe there are beaches more beautiful than this one, but what made this one so special is that you actually have to put in the effort to get there. ..which means, less tourists, much more peaceful, quiet, serene and relaxed. On this beach a falling coconut should really be your only worry.
That was Padangbai.
Now I’m on a boat.
Struggling with 2 Pannier-bags, a handlebar-bag and the dry bag is a mission when none of them have straps for carrying it on your back. I’m not on a mission to struggle. So I took out my backpack, distributed all my belongings evenly in two plastic bags, stuffed the bags in my backpack, locked the panniers to the bicycle, got on the bicycle with the backpack, got my ticket, cycled into the big Ferry and without the fuss of taking stuff off the bike I walked up to the seating area with my backpack.
I’m pretty sure getting out of the Ferry will also be hassle-free – when I see land, I’ll go down, put a plastic bag in each pannier and viola.
The Ferry to Lembar, Lombok left at 8am (instead of 7am). Every now and then I see a tiny cockroach crawling around and a colony of ants on the march for food. There are three signs saying Dilarang Merokok (Do not Smoke) but the sweet smell of the Indonesian Clove Cigarettes are filling the seating area with thick aromatic gray clouds. I am very happy with my seat by the window and the fresh smell of ocean air (even though cockroaches and ants are feasting on some noodles next to me someone spilled on a previous ride). Every now and then I have an itchy feeling in the bum-area…I really hope that this just paranoia!
The ride is going quite smooth – I see the top of the mountain and then the coastline as the boat rocks from one side to another side. The ferry ride from Bali to Lombok can take anything from 3 ½ hours to 8hours depending on the weather conditions and waiting period at the harbor.
I hope with all my heart that this is a short ride. Since I couldn’t find anything on the internet about accommodation in Lembar(The Port in Lombok) I think I have to cycle on to Mataram – the Capital – in the heat. I found a name of one Homestay in Lembar, but recent reviews of rat-infested rooms made me decide to rather push through to a place without rats(or that is the hope!)
My plans have changed a bit (it is ever-changing) and I’ve decided to spend about two days in the coastal town Senggigi after leaving Mataram . I found a Couchsurfer in that area – a German who lived in South Africa for a while, now living in Lombok and oh ja, he speaks Afrikaans. Senggigi was never part of the plan but luckily it is on my way to Gilis.
I have my fingers crossed that I can get off this cockroach-infested boat in about 2-3hours, fingers crossed that the sun will be shy when I’m on the bicycle and fingers crossed that the hills are alive with the sound of music and not with the sound of my huffing and puffing.
Roger. Over. Mayday Mayday. Peace. Out!