Day 225: Hat Trick

Well today was certainly an emotional roller coaster, particularly for Ann and Sarah at least. After seeing how Ann reacted on the crazy boat crossing I saw where Sarah gets it from. Today saw us packing up and moving on from Lembongan and heading for Kuta. This was the nearest port of call for Ann and Simon to get to the airport, and rather than stay on the island, Sarah and I returned with them. The rest of the day was pretty straightforward after that, we checked in to our hotel, went into town, and finished the evening with a beer at the hotel. Now lets go over what else happened on this wet and stormy day…

I finally got that lie in I’d been craving. Sarah got up ahead of me and began packing her bags. The time must have been around 7:30 when she started. On and off I could hear her rustling about in the background, but was so tired that I kept drifting back off. It was 8:45am by the time I eventually woke up, and Sarah was nowhere in sight. I had only been awake for 5 minutes before she came back. I’d just started packing my bag when she told me “we” are all going for breakfast. I told her to go on ahead with her parents, and I’d be down in 5 minutes when I’d be both finished and more awake. This wasn’t good enough, so to prevent an argument I chucked on some shorts and we all sat around the table. I wasn’t feeling too chatty on accounts of being a little sleepy, but I soon perked up after the Bali coffee. Again, the four of us ate pancakes, then immediately afterwards I returned to the room to pack the last of my things.

It took longer than I’d anticipated, because we were heading to Australia next my bag was bursting at the seams with additional clothing. When I’d finished I returned to the pool to lie on a lounger beside Sarah. I read over the previous days blog and uploaded it to the server, then Sarah returned to the room to pack the last of her things. Simon and Ann were efficient enough to have packed their bags already and went out for a morning stroll. The bags were then stored beside the bar area. As we spent some more time beside the pool a slight disagreement ensued over the return boat times. Seeing as we had a return ticket all we had to do was pick one of three times: 9:30am, 11am, or 3:30pm. Sarah would have preferred the 11am one because of how bad the morning ride was last time, and she feared there would be a storm later that afternoon. How right she was. As we sat around the pool small droplets of rain began to fall. We deemed that a good enough excuse as any to leave and go for dinner. We chose a resort 50m away from ours.

It was getting on for 1pm when we sat to eat. Seeing as we still had a couple hours to burn, and the saying “you never know where your next meal will be coming from” was on my mind, I ordered two dinners. The food was ok, and the views of the crashing waves were delightful, but the constant swarms of flies annoyed us to no end. We couldn’t take a single bite of our meals without having one pitch on our arms. The whole time we sat eating Sarah wound herself up something chronic.
“Oh god, look at those waves”,
“Oh no, look in the distance. Those rain clouds are blocking out the mountains and they’re heading this way”,
“Why didn’t we just get the earlier boat”.
This went on for sometime, and no level of rationalisation helped her nerves. If it wasn’t for the bad experience on the way over she’d have been fine, but because the boat nearly tipped, she feared there would be a repeat performance. Near the end of our meals the weather worsened, causing Sarah to be completely beside herself. After dinner we still had half an hour or so before the boat was scheduled to leave, so we returned to our resort to wait with our bags.

A miracle happened when the storm passed and the sea became as still as a peaceful lake. For a moment it appeared as though Sarah’s worrying had been for nothing… that was until we were about to leave. The shuttle bus arrived 10 minutes early, and no sooner than we grabbed our bags the storm came back with a vengeance. Heavier and faster than before the rain poured down. They even brought their friend thunder along for the ride. The staff helped us throw our bags aboard and guided us out under umbrellas, but when we were seated it got a lot worse. There were no rain guards or plastic sheeting to keep us dry, the rain from the cab roof bounced back into the truck where we were. Sarah and I put the rain covers over our bags, and I held an umbrella up against the gap to prevent any more aquatic onslaught. Ultimately there was little we could do, there was just too much water. The rain was coming down so fast that it sounded like a million Michael Flatly’s dancing on the roof. When we arrived at the beach we were told to wait at a nearby restaurant while the crew prepared the boat. It was a nightmare, Sarah was becoming more and more agitated by the ever increasing bad weather. The road around the shuttle bus was completely flooded, making walking with my bag damn near impossible. There were people helping to carry them, but I didn’t like them doing it when I was perfectly capable. We had to wait all of 15 minutes while they added fuel to the engines and made space for the bags. By now Sarah was fuming, she kept looking out over the sea and felt sick with worry whenever she looked at the fast coming waves. I found the whole thing funny like I always do. There was nothing that could be done about our situation bar see it through, so in my opinion there was no point in worrying about it. I spent the time taking pictures of the bad weather and Sarah’s grumpy face. It wasn’t just Sarah who was worried, Ann was equally as nervous. She hated the first ride so much that she had managed to pass those fears on to her daughter. Simon was just as relaxed about our situation as me, if not more so because of all his years experience at sea from the times he’d gone sailing with his friends. Eventually the boat was primed and ready, and unlike last time, it was a darn sight easier to get aboard.

The waves weren’t pushing the boat left, right, and centre this time around, and everyone got on without falling over. Also unlike last time, there weren’t as many people. There can’t have been any more than 10 of us, during the first trip there were closer to 40. The passengers had to be shifted about for weight displacement purposes before we could go anywhere, then the captain struggled to get the engines going, this didn’t help Sarah relax at all.
“Why isn’t it working?”
“We’re stuck in the middle of the sea now, come on, why isn’t it working?!?!”
First of all we weren’t in the middle of the sea, we were 20ft from the shoreline, secondly he got the engines going in under 5 minutes. Then the real fun began.
BOOM, BANG, WOLLOP!!!!
These were the sounds and feelings as we came crashing down atop the concrete like waves. At the speeds we were going it certainly felt like concrete at least. Occasionally I looked over to see Sarah and Ann, only to be amused each time. Ann had her hands firmly gripped on the seat in front, and her eyes closed and head down. Sarah had her fingers in her ears and also had her eyes closed. I couldn’t help but laugh, there was nothing to worry about. Had sarah not looked at reviews online, or read about the boat journey in the Lonely Planet, she’d be laughing too. Additional sights that made me laugh were the captain and his right hand man. All around the boat were “no smoking” signs, and there they both were puffing away, even the passenger behind me pointed and chuckled. Somewhere close to the halfway mark there was a large wave which hit us side on, this was the only time you could say there was cause for alarm. The boat tipped to one side to quite an extreme degree. This caused Ann and Sarah to both begin crying and fearing for their lives, I think Ann may have even started praying at one point. The captain did extremely well to navigate us through without anything bad happening to us. Even now as I write about it I am impressed with his skills behind the wheel. He reminded me of Denzel Washington in the movie “Flight”, keeping a cool head under pressure. When we reached the mainland it was nothing like the first time at all, there were no big waves, just small gentle ones that lapped lazily against the shore.

On the beach the porters ran back and forth unloading the passengers bags. When one man brought both mine and Sarah’s to us, he stood waiting with an open hand out repeating the word “tip”.
“Tip the porter?” He said over and over, and was quite persistent about it as well. I paid him 10,000 rupiah (80p) for unloading my bag, only for him to ask for more money when he unloaded Sarah’s. When her parent’s bags were unloaded by a different man, that man also demanded money. We pointed to the first man we’d already given 20,000 to and he turned to him to demand some of it. They were like vultures. I didn’t really understand the situation, from what I could gather it appeared as though they charged per bag not per group. Somehow in all the confusion, one of Ann and Simon’s suitcases went missing. Another porter was wheeling it off down the street, but he wasn’t stealing it, he was just helping get it up the stairs. When we caught up and thanked him, he then asked for some money. We explained how we’d already paid a fortune back at the beach, then guiltily took the suitcase from him. They’re like fish after bread, throw a piece in the water and they’ll fight it out amongst themselves. It was sad to see, as clearly this was their way of making money, but we couldn’t exactly give them all money otherwise we’d have paid a fortune to get our bags carried from the boat to the beach.

We had the same driver as before when reached the booking office. However, he didn’t recognise the name of the resort we’d pre booked, after having a word with the people inside, he was clued up and ready to go. I was a little disappointed with the driver today because he wasn’t as chatty as last time, and I wanted to hear his voice again. The way he sounded and the way he rolled his R’s, I could just imagine him being the voice of a charismatic cartoon villain. After 15 minutes driving we ended up in a traffic jam. We were out during rush hour, everyone had finished work and the traffic was gridlocked. Eventually the police came to usher vehicles around, as nobody would let anyone move, this caused junctions to be blocked and scooters to weave in and out of stationary traffic. The driver had to make a couple stops along the way to ask others where Sun Boutique Hotel was, after the third stop we were back on track. I briefly looked out the window at one point and spotted it. He did a quick u-turn at the end of the road (narrowly missing other road users) and dropped us off outside reception.

After checking in we were each given a welcome drink. It didn’t taste nice, but as to not appear rude, I drank both mine and Sarah’s. We were then shown to our large, spacious, futuristic looking rooms. In fact the whole place looked years ahead of its time, even the elevator had touch screen controls. Before heading to our rooms we asked reception if they’d mind ordering a taxi for us for 20 minutes time. Somehow Sarah thought she’d have enough time to shower and blow dry her hair – WRONG. It ended up taking her to 35 minutes to get ready. When we got downstairs there he was, our blue chariot was waiting for us outside. We explained to the driver that we wanted to go to a market, so he took us towards Poppy’s street in Kuta town. We didn’t think he was very happy when we arrived because of how little a distance he ended up driving. Seeing as he was phoned in to collect us, it meant we had to pay the minimum call out fare of 25,000 rupiah (just under £2), even though the meter read only 19,000. We then got out and began exploring.

Kuta was a place for drinking, dining, and shopping. The streets were filled with bars and restaurants, and best of all… market stalls. I didn’t mind shopping here so much as there were no longer tacky items like oils and statues. The stalls resembled those of Thailand, with such items on offer as hats, vests, and shorts. Granted every stall sold the same garments in various shades, but it still beat the markets of Ubud. During our time walking the never ending market stalls, I couldn’t keep my wallet in my pocket. I ended up buying not one, not two, but three new hats (and that’s where today’s title comes from). I couldn’t help myself. There were so many hats in so many different colours, and they were all of good quality like my original one from Malaysia. Sarah also bought some new items, a top and bottoms, and a couple pairs of sunglasses. Even Simon splashed out and bought himself a pair of knock off Ray Ban sunglasses, more commonly known as “Ray Ben” seeing as it was printed on the lenses. Simon also bought another item, but he did it on the sly. He haggled with a stall owner to buy me a new pair of headphones to replace my pair that had broken. I wasn’t expecting it at all, so once again thanks for that Simon, it was very kind of you.

At the end of the street of market stalls was a large shopping complex containing fast food joints, established restaurants, designer shopping outlets, and a cinema. We all had a quick look around but didn’t buy anything. It made me laugh, the whole way around Sarah was complaining about being hungry, yet whenever a shiny new item of clothing appeared, she’d forget about being hungry entirely. When we eventually managed to pry her away, we stopped in a nearby restaurant to look at their menu. This place looked very fancy and was part of the even fancier looking resort it was attached to. The whole fancy factor was completely destroyed when we sat at a table. Instead of relaxing, gentle music you’d associate with such a place, there was loud hardcore rap music in the background. It was so loud that we had to shout to communicate with each other. In the end we decided against eating there and found a quieter, and cheaper place around the corner.

This was our last evening meal together. To commemorate the occasion I enjoyed a mouth watering king sized burger and had a Singapore Sling along with Ann and Sarah, although non of us enjoyed it. For once, I had a burger that stayed together until the last bite. It was perfect, and Sarah impressed me when she ordered a steak instead of a salad like usual. After eating it was straight back out into the world of shopping. We decided we were done with the markets, so instead we went back to the mall. We had to walk through metal detectors this time, Sarah informed us these were put in place because a little while ago there was a bombing in Bali which killed over 100 people. Damn terrorists, you can’t even go shopping now without those jerks spoiling the fun. During our second visit to the Beachwalk shopping mall Sarah made another purchase. She went into one of her favourite girly shops and found the dress her parents couldn’t back home. Fancy that, everywhere Ann and Simon looked it was sold out, yet halfway across the world there it was in all its black and white Aztec glory. We stopped briefly in a Dairy Queen so sarah could show her parents the franchise’s upside down ice cream trick, then after spending a further hour or so wandering around aimlessly, we hailed a taxi back to Sun Boutique.

When we got in Sarah was exhausted, but came through for her parents by helping them check in online for their flight home the next day. Afterwards both her and Ann retired to their rooms, while Simon and I transferred the last of my photos to a flash drive for him to take home. While I was halfway through the process Ann came back downstairs to tell me Sarah and I had to change rooms. The reason being the roof above our bed was leaking, and the bed sheets had become completely drenched. When I got upstairs all my bags were packed outside the room, then an employee came up to take us to our new home on the second floor. This move was much to Sarah’s distaste. When she’d booked the rooms online she requested they be far away from the busy street outside. Our first room on the third floor was, but the second room looked out directly on to it. Whenever a beeping car, or a whizzing scooter passed by, it made one hell of a racket. Luckily for Sarah she had some earplugs, and luckily for me I can sleep through anything. When the bags were dropped off I went back down to Simon to find there was only 5 seconds of the transfer left. When it finished I could relax, as I had officially backed up all our photos since Vietnam – I just hope I haven’t spoken too soon by writing that, maybe I should delete that last sentence just in case.

With the photos saved we returned the laptop and retired to our rooms. Our room was lovely, it was even more spacious than the last. I spent a long time going through the evening rituals, shaving my face, and taking a shower, before getting into bed around 12:30am. I then began typing the blog feeling only slightly tired. Now that I’ve finished at 2:36am, I am very very tired. It’s been a great day, but it’s sad to think this was Ann and Simon’s last, their three week holiday has flown by. It only feels like yesterday that they arrived in Singapore. Just where does the time go?

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