My first trip out of Korea since arriving here since 6 months ago, took me down South towards the equator and three islands of Indonesia – Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands.
I went down with Tom and Matt and whilst we were there we met up June and Crystal for a few days. The trip was certainly not without its hiccups, but we made it back just about in one piece!
Not such a smooth start
Getting ourselves down to Bali wasn’t the easiest journey. The worst thing about being a teacher is that you have to fly during peak season – so we had the cheapest of the cheap flights that were still not that cheap. This meant that our journey time was about 30 hours each way with lengthy layovers in Kuala Lumpur airport.
We were sat on the steps of Daegu west bus station waiting for our first delayed bus, when Matt decided to take a look at his passport to gaze over his to be added to stamp collection. The following conversation followed:
Tom: “#%$% I haven’t brought my passport”
Toby: “Yeah good one”
Matt: “He’s not joking”
Tom: “Delay the bus as much as possible, I think I can taxi home and back just in time”
Toby: “Well at least he’s brought his neck pillow”
Yep. No joke, he actually managed to forgot the only thing you really need to bring. Something about Americans not travelling much or something right? Luckily he made it back just in time, just. The bus ride was smooth, but then dropped us in Incheon, not Incheon airport, and actually quite a way from it.
We took the subway towards the airport line tracks, but the line closed before we could make it. Leaving us in a fairly derelict part of Seoul, with just a few cabs waiting for suckers like us that had missed the last train. $50 and a 110mph cab ride later and we were at the airport, looking forward to checking into the jjimjilbang there and relaxing until our flight early the next morning.
That was until we saw the ‘Sorry, we’re full sign’ outside the jjimjilbang and so instead went in search of a comfy bench.
Our connecting flight of KL was then also delayed and the final traffic to the hostel insanely bad, so we final got into a bed at 4am sleeping until midday the next day.
Insects and Injuries
Indonesia is the first tropical country I’ve visited in quite a while, and comes along with its collection of poisonous insects to prey on you.
I was the first to suffer from the local fauna, waking up on Saturday morning with a huge red swelling on the back of my hand. I thought that somehow I’d managed to burn it the previous evening, maybe against an exhaust of the multitude of mopeds that rammed Kuta’s streets. I got some protecting cream from the pharmacy and went down to the beach. The local who rented us our boards saw it however and told me, in his vast medical knowledge, that it wasn’t a burn but a bite from either a spider or a centipede.
He went and got a (highly sterile) toothpick from a local vendor and said what was best was to pierce so that it could drain. A quick stab later and I was oozing fluid from my hand. This continued for a few days. Matt had some antiseptic cream that I kept applying and now it’s pretty much scabbed over and seems to be healing okay and my student’s think I’m very 007 like to be surviving poisonous bites.
Tom was next to be attacked by the wildlife, another unknown insect biting him in his sleep, (these insects are cowards, getting us at our most vulnerable), and waking up with a lip swollen about 4 times it’s usual size.
Despite his obvious discomfort, once we’d (obviously) established that he wasn’t dying, it was tricky to keep a straight face whilst speaking to him. Luckily for him a few days of leaving it to sort itself out, the swelling had pretty much gone back down. Unfortunately his students won’t get the entertainment of fat lipped Tom trying to teach them.
Matt somehow got away without any viscous insect attacks, but did semi self inflict some pretty heavy sun-burn on the back his thighs from our first couple of days surfing, which he then ignored, and they proceeded to blister and scab. We all also had our fair share insect bites, travel exhaustion and mild hangovers. Although Tom wins hangover of the holiday after drinking the local Whiskey, leaving him throwing up and dead until 5pm the following day.
Blisters and Basics
Our two day hike up Mt. Rinjani, was stunning and also challenging. The way down especially so for the guys. In our ill-equipped footwear we were tackling soft, dusty dirt at about a 40 degree decline rate. Many a slip and fall happened and feet got destroyed, with Matt’s in particular sporting some nasty deep blisters.
After our two days of long hiking, followed by about a 4 hour drive back in the back of a pick-up, mini van and car, arriving at our airbnb in darkness the one thing we were all really looking forward to was a hot shower.
If only we’d booked a place that had hot water.
The cold trickle of water from our airbnb’s showerhead made scrubbing the thick layer of dirt off quite the challenge and we certainly weren’t feeling refreshed afterwards.
The development level between the islands of Bali and Lombok was insane. Accommodation prices in Bali were fairly cheap ($10ish), yet featured ac and powerful hot showers. Our place in Lombok was super cheap ($3.50ish) but was just a fan and cold water. Even June and Crystal’s pricey ($45ish) hotel in Lombok had only tepid hot water and one morning simply just didn’t have any.
It’s not that bad really
So we had our few mishaps, but it’s never going to be complete smooth sailing. Nothing that bad really happened though – no one got seriously ill, no one got robbed, no one got swept out to sea, we didn’t lose passports, we survived about 7 hours of driving around on mopeds and made all of our flights on time.
That very adult health insurance we all purchased was ultimately unused and all we have is the post holiday blues and we go back to teaching our currently very unmotivated students in sweltering Daegu humidity.