Asia/ Indonesia

Gili Air to Lombok: The Journey from Hell!

This blog post is going to be a little different to my last few. While I love writing travel guides and tips, today I just feel like relaxing and telling a story. I haven’t written much about our time on Gili Air, a beautiful Indonesian island full of reggae, cafes and white sandy beaches – although you can find my post about snorkelling on Gili Air here. So I wanted to share one of the standout stories from our time here. I laugh about it now but there was a few minutes where we thought we were in real trouble. So, without further ado, here goes…

The Gili Air to Lombok Ferry: A Journey from Hell

Gili Air ferry travel

At the end of our stay on Gili Air, we arranged to leave on ferry transfer to Lombok. We went down to the port where we were told to wait for the 1pm boat then waited. And waited. And waited. With plenty of people also waiting and no boats visibly coming in, we initially assumed that the service was running late. It was only after close to an hour when we went over to the ticket desk to find out what was going on.

It turned out that we were booked onto a local boat service that only runs when a certain number of people are waiting. So if there isn’t enough people, the boat doesn’t leave. With a flight early the next morning, this was not the news we were hoping for. After some discussion, we asked if they could do a call out over the microphone to see if anybody else was waiting. Suddenly, dozens of people appeared from nowhere and we congratulated ourselves on a great move.

Our happiness faded quite rapidly as we saw that a simple longtail boat was taking us to Lombok. Mainly because the small number of people already waiting had now rapidly increased and people were cramming in – most of whom were locals carrying huge baskets of goods. Oh, and we were travelling in February where the rainy season can mean rougher seas. There was definitely a lesson for us here – sometimes, things are super cheap for a reason!

Gili Air to Lombok ferry

I’m sure you can tell how this is going to go now. Once we came away from the island, the waves grew and our boat started violently rocking from side to side. We were almost falling out of the side while the boat lurched forward like a pirate ship at a funfair. At one point, my companion reached into his bag for his passport and phone, turned to me and said “I reckon I could swim back from here”. Meanwhile, I just sat there laughing out of sheer helplessness.

When we thought that it couldn’t get much worse, we started noticing a couple of wasps flying around. More and more appeared from the end of the boat until a small swarm was divebombing around us. As I sat there with exposed arms and legs, I remembered the last time I was stung by a wasp. Spain, a massively swollen lip and an injection in my bum, in case you were wondering. I tried to make myself as small as possible and thankfully land came into view pretty soon. When we docked, there was just the wasps to fight through to safety. My travel buddy had had enough by this point and – very chivalrously – jumped straight over the side into the water and left me to fend for myself. Unbelievably, I ran through without a sting and we had miraculously made it from Gili Air to Lombok.

We expected a breezy car transfer from here but even this didn’t quite go to plan; think eight people and all our luggage crammed into a medium sized people carrier in humid 30 degree heat. I couldn’t have been any happier to reach our hotel room and when I slid into the tranquil pool for a swim, I finally felt myself relax.

Looking back on it now, our ferry journey to Lombok was pretty scary at times but without these stories, it probably wouldn’t feel like I’d really been travelling at all! Remembering my travel buddy with his passport clenched between his teeth still never fails to make me laugh…

Have you ever found yourself in a tight spot while travelling? How do you handle it?

Laura x

Read more about Indonesia:

Budget Luxury in Bali: The Moksha Ubud

Where is Better for Snorkelling: Amed or Gili Air?

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How to get from Gili Air to Lombok

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  • Reply
    July 7, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Wow! It sounds crazy that a boat service won’t leave unless enough people are on it

    • Reply
      July 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Yes we didn’t realise at all! x

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