Lombok - Buying 2000 bricks!
Feb 10, 2005
|Arrival at Lombok and we were ready for a beachy-type holiday for the three of us (us and Neha's mum). Yes we know our last beach holiday was in Vietnam a month before but this travelling is tiring stuff you know! Who are we kidding here? We got off the plane expecting bright sunshine and an idyllic view. We got the idyllic view, but it was raining,. After all this planning for a relaxing break with Neha's mum and its raining!!!
We got to the hotel and it was just as the website depicted - breathtaking. The rooms were great, huge and it had an outside bathroom that was actually the size of the rooms that we normally stay in! The hotel faced onto the beach with the swimming pool ledge facing onto sea. You could just lie in the pool for hours watching the waves crash in! The only snag with the place was that it was nowhere near anything else, and it was a taxi ride into the closest town, Sengiggi.
One night we tore ourselves away from the sunset and the idyllic surroundings and made our way into Sengiggi. We sat down at a restaurant and quickly enough we were chatting to a guide - Ogik - about organising a tour of the island. After we booked a tour with him and had a little banter with him, he offered us to come round to his house for dinner after the tour. As always, we asked what present would be most appropriate for him and his wife and an answer we hadn't heard before came out - bricks! After being stunned by the response he explained that if we could buy some bricks for him then he would be able to build a fence that would help protect his house and family from burglars. We made arrangements for Kiran to buy some bricks with him the following morning and he proceeded to take us off to a local bar with a live band, which was great.
Kiran woke up the following day, his head a little bleary from local arrak the night before and jumped on Ogik's motorbike to be taken to a house that had hundreds of stacked bricks outside. Kiran arranged to buy 2000 bricks (20 US dollars worth). For some reason Kiran decided he had to scrutinise the bricks to check that he was buying top quality bricks - not that he has a clue about bricks!
We set off back to the hotel via a quick stop at his house. On the way back we had to stop off and wait a mile before a police checkpoint. It seems to be a common sight throughout Asia that the policemen, themselves not blessed with a large salary, stop any motorbike or car and find fault with something and get a bribe payment as a result. After waiting for an hour (Kiran stepping in some cow turd along the way - nice!!) it was decided that Kiran would drive the motorbike past the checkpoint as they never stop tourists and Ogik would walk past the checkpoint, getting on the bike after clearing the policemen. Considering the last time Kiran rode a motorbike Neha got a large burn on her leg he was a little reluctant to drive but the sun was too hot and he just wanted to be back at the hotel. After putting on a helmet that clearly did not fit him, working out the gears again and trying to look like he had driven a bike all his life he managed to drive slowly past the police checkpoint. In any other country the sight of a lanky Indian with a tiny white helmet (that looked more like a fez), driving too slowly, smiling uneasily and looking like he would career into a tree at any minute would be grounds to stop him but the policemen could see that they would not get many rupiah out of him without adverse publicity so let him carry on, irregardless of the broken mirror on the bike! You gotta love the rules in Asia!
In the afternoon we set off on a half day tour of the local vicinity taking in the floating palace built hundred of years ago, a temple that houses Muslims and Hindu's together in one site (that's right Hindu and Muslims together) and the smelly market that housed as many dead little fish as you could imagine. The driver was great, informative about the whole island and explained the strangest marriage ceremony we've heard of to date. A streamlined version is that the boy must kidnap (yes we did say kidnap) the girl he wants to marry and hide her for 3 days before he can come back to the girl's village. He must kidnap her during the night as to kidnap during the day will result in him having to pay a higher dowry at marriage time!!! Thereafter there is a long drawn expensive marriage process that involves lots of parties. After being amused by the marriage process and seeing the various sights of Mataram on a blisteringly hot day we relaxed and slowly realised that a bout of dehydration was taking over.
After buying all the bricks for Ogik as a gift for dinner, we ended up missing the tour as Kiran and Neha didn't feel so great. Thankfully Neha's mum was fine and had yet another day of relaxing by the beach to contend with!
On the last night we managed to drag ourselves out of the hotel and head off to Sengiggi for a meal. After meeting up with Christophe and Rosali (fellow guests at our hotel) we had a few drinks at a bar we had previously been to with Ogik. While we were all chatting away and listening to the live music Neha was accosted by a ladyboy (although we're not sure what she was, Neha's still trying to work it out!) called Mona Lisa. Now she was no oil painting (bad joke we know, but with a name like that you have to make the gag!!) and she was adamant that Neha took her number down to give her a call. We're not sure where that card is now. The evening ended by us chatting away to Christophe and Rosali until 3am while lying in the pool. A nice way to end a great, if not eventful, evening.
Returning to Singapore and we were getting ready to build ourselves up for Australia. Lombok was great, mainly for the fantastic place we were staying and the strange amusing brick buying incident. We can now add brick buying in Lombok to teaching a monk how to use HTML in Cambodia for surreal experiences. I'm sure Africa will offer plenty more surreal moments for us! We still have Australia and New Zealand to come in between and the small tour around Singapore with Neha's mum to cram in.