Abdul from La Boheme Hostel

I had to cycle back to Mataram and I really wasn’t looking forward to it. The hills were a bitch on the way there and they were going to be a bitch on the way back. It was so hot and when I had to push my bike up some of the hills I felt like I was going to pass out, I had to stop and do it in stages, at one point I just had to sit on the side of the road and wait for myself to cool down. But the silver lining was that the hills weren’t as bad as I feared them to be and after a combination of cycling and pushing I made it to Senggigi and I was relieved the hills were over, I was on the flat and on time to get to the immigration office in Mataram before it closed for lunch.

Trash is everywhere. Burning trash is the worst.
Last view of the Gili Islands
Why don’t the photos of the hill look as bad as they are!

I caught a glimpse of a cyclist on the side of the road who appeared to be waving to me. Initially I thought it was Stef, the cycle tourist from Holland who I met when I was last on this road, but it turned out to be someone different, this was Henk, also from Holland.

We went for a drink and I had a really nice chat with him, we talked about all sorts of things and it was nice to feel like I had a friend for a while. We ended up talking for a couple of hours, and I knew I wouldn’t make it to immigration, but sometimes unexpected fortune comes your way and you just have to roll with it. We left to go our separate ways, and I told Henk off for not wearing his helmet, although it seems more common not to wear one.

I cycled as fast a I could and got to the immigration office 5 minutes before noon and decided to try my luck. I attempted to wheel my bike into the entrance hall but I got stopped and had to leave it outside. You have to be dressed appropriately to enter and I was in a hurry, so after locking up Priscilla I managed to get in holding my trousers in my hand, while promising to put them on when I was inside!

I knew I wouldn’t be seen, but I wanted to make sure I knew what the process was and that I would be able to leave with my passport today and I wouldn’t have to stay the night in Mataram. With all that confirmed I took a little wander around Mataram but it was too hot so I went back and sat on the ground outside immigration. It’s really easy to find your way around because you just need to look for the gigantic islamic centre right in the middle of town, opposite the immigration office with a very tall and very loud tower.

A guy came and chatted to me, nice and friendly at first and then the conversation came around to money and him trying to get me to give him some money. I understand why they do it, but it does get exceptionally tiring after a while. When the  immigration office opened up again it was pretty straightforward. You give over your receipt and you get given another piece of paper, about half an hour after that you get your photo and fingerprints taken, you pay 355,000INR (~£20) to the cashier where you get another piece of paper. Then you wait for about an hour and a half and then you get your passport back.

There are a bunch of guides to extending your visa out there on the internet but I found they made the process seem a lot more complicated that it turned out to be, so if you are looking to extent your Indonesian visa you can read this guide to find out how…

Not wanting to spent the night in Mataram I cycled back to Lembar, this time I took some back roads to get there and it was a nice scenic ride (if you forget about the piles of burning trash). I got stopped by a huge procession coming up the street with one of the biggest speakers I have ever seen! The people in the village were great, making sure I was stood in a safe place and encouraging me to take photos. I later found out it was a circumcision celebration.

Back in the harbour I went to find Og and stayed with him again. They were welcoming but it was a little awkward this time because Og was having problems with his friend, who I took an instant dislike to. I had to listen to him having an argument with his girlfriend on the phone (in English which was weird) and he was really shouting at her, telling her he could hear another man in the background and that she was a liar and he hated her and their relationship was over, real psycho stuff. Then as quickly as he got angry he turned into this apologetic creep, begging for forgiveness and telling her what he wanted to do to her. His was also asking Og’s mother for money and he would disappear without telling anyone and just reappear having pawned something that didn’t belong to him. It was all a bit odd.

I exaggerated how tired I was and went to bed early. In the morning they gave me breakfast for rice and prawns. Little ones with legs and heads and shells. Exactly what I needed before getting on a ferry! This time getting the ferry was smooth and seamless, from buying a ticket to getting on the boat, there was no waiting. The ferry on first inspection looked a shoddier one compared to the one I got on the way over, but it was actually a step up with an air conditioned room and padded, reasonably comfortable seats.

preparing the breakfast prawns
Og and his mum

It was all going rather smoothly, and it was coming up to 4.5 hours when we just stopped tantalisingly close to land. We stayed there for 3 hours. It was so frustrating, after we started moving again it was another half an hour to land. 8 hours on the ferry and now too late for me to cycle to Seminyak, so I had another night in Padang Bai. When I got off the ferry I thought my bike had been damaged. I rear derailleur looked really strange and the gears wouldn’t work properly. I racked my brains but I just couldn’t see how it could have been damaged. The way I stowed it on the ferry meant nothing could have touched that side of the bike because it was next to the wall, and the panniers provided cushioning from the wall. Eventually I realised that the kids had been playing with the gear levers, clicking them backwards and forwards, as well as dinging the bell a lot!

safely stowed on the boat
we were here for 3 hours

I didn’t really want to go back to Seminyak again but I was running out of money, and I had to go and see if my replacement bank cards had arrived. If I had more money I would have probably done the Komodo Island boat tour, but this is where travelling with a bike can sometimes become a bit of a burden, because it isn’t that easy to just go off an do something different.

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