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A One-Day Lesson on the Road

The Ferry from Bali to Lombok took about 6 hours – the boat left an hour late and we waited for another 30 minutes to dock the boat. After all the trucks, buses and scooters left the boat I cycled out of the ferry into Lembar. I got greeted by beautiful mosques gracefully surrounded by rice-and cornfields, caught a glimpse of the majestic – still active- volcano, Mt.Rinjani, lots of hellos, goats next to the road for sale for the big Muslim holiday, lots of horse carts and a fierce sun.

The road from Lembar to Mataram was an easy road, no ups no downs, but I had to stop every now and then for a sip of water because of the damn sun. I was on a mission to get to Mataram and to get out of the heat. A few km before Mataram exhaustion kicked in because of the 5hours of sleep I had the previous night (but had a lovely skype call with mommy dearest!), the 6hour Ferry ride and cycling in the hottest weather ever…but I pushed through, found a cheap hotel and some good cheap food.

Roads in Lombok are not as well marked as in Bali and all the one-way streets confused the crap out of me. I memorised the small towns between Lembar and Senggigi and stopped every now and then just to make sure I was still going in the right direction. English is not widely spoken here and I love having the chance to practice my Indonesian!

Ampenan (between Mataram and Senggigi) must be one of the dirtiest places I’ve ever seen! The whole town smells like a garbage truck and every building looks like the perfect place for a rat-vacation. Just a few kilometers out of Ampenan I smelled the fresh ocean air and enjoyed a beautiful road all the way to Senggigi – I went up and down a few gentle hills and stopped to appreciate the beautiful views of the coastline.

I stayed over at a German Couchsurfer’s house just outside of Senggigi…what a place! I had my own huge bedroom, bathroom and even a balcony with a view of the swimming pool and palm trees part of the Villa Complex. A little quiet piece of heaven: a fan, an air-con, clean towels, a comfy bed and hot water…all for free! Joy!

Just by the way…I am in love with Lombok! The people here are insanely friendly – a different kind of friendly than the Balinese. One night I got a free scooter-ride with a local from Senggigi Beach back to the Couchsurfer’s house. I offered him money but he refused; I offered again, he refused again. I even took some money out and then he said “no really, keep it”.

This whole bicycle-thing is like a school of life – I’m learning so many “life lessons”, witnessing a different side of the world and having encounters with the most honest, warm-hearted and sincere people! It’s funny to think that ‘we’, in the western-first-world-places, think ‘we’ have it all with our fancy cars, houses, technology and what not, but actually ‘we’ don’t have a clue. ‘We’ seek out these 3rd world countries, have vacation on their stunning beaches, sip our cocktails, take photos of what ‘we’ think is a difficult life, and use expressions such as “ahhh how bad” when ‘we’ look at their living conditions. While ‘we’ are enjoying the luxuries, being served by the locals they are smiling happily if they own $200 or less a month. They are living in the now, they don’t care about tomorrow and appreciate the smallest gesture.

This brings me to the lesson I learned on the road from Mataram to Senggigi: Don't act all special just because you are a tourist and have more money than the locals, but rather blend in. A smile costs nothing, saying “no thank you” won’t make you poorer and taking the time to listen to their life story will definitely be an enriching humble experience.

I don’t think for a second that ‘we’ would survive living such a primitive life.

I am saying ‘we’ – not to generalise – I know I am part of the ‘we’, but I hope that I can be like them one day. I hope that I can be proud worker, one day – even if that means I’m cycling with a food cart. I hope that I can be a proud home owner, one day – even if that means I’m living in a small little hut with flies and rats. I hope that I can be a proud parent, one day – even if that means my children have dirty feet.

I hope that can I master their secret to life, one day, because all I can do now is to learn from each day and taking it one day at a time.

One day.



Profile photo of Anje Rautenbach

The craziness and desire to travel started from a very young age. I went from the backseat of my parents' VW kombi to leaving South Africa in 2009 to explore South Korea and the rest of Asia.I picked up the travel bug quite fast - the unknown intrigued me and I got mesmerised by different smells, cultures, food, languages and adventures. I explored beautiful places around Asia, ate delicious Asian food, got food positioning countless times, collected Asian beer cans, did a two month cycle trip in Indonesia, fell in love with bicycle touring, studied Indonesian, taught English, ticked off items on my bucket list, added items to my bucket list, filled up a passport, met locals, lived like a local, CouchSurfed, got tattoos and developed a personal mantra to "dream, explore & discover".I tried to be professional, with a decent eight-to-five job in South Africa as a copy writer, but with a serious case of wanderlust, everlasting itchy feet and an adventurous heart to explore the unknown...I quit my job. My bicycle, panniers and passport are luring me away daily from the safe and familiar into a wandering journey, never a destination.

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