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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Boat to Gili Air

At the crack of dawn I gingerly descend from my bunk bed, change, cram my remaining belongings into my backpack, hoist it over my shoulder and leave. Bound for the neighbouring island feeling excited and nervous: new place, new people, new experiences await me.

After about fifteen minutes my ride arrives and a two hour journey dozing in the back of a minivan ensues. Pretty uneventful.

I am then dropped at the port, alone, my driver (after reminding him that my fare included the boat ticket) buys said ticket, hands it to me and leaves without so much as a backward glance.

Ok. I can do this.

This port is small but busy. Mostly trade: people packing bananas, pineapples, crates of cola onto small boats. I pluck up the courage and ask a trader where I should be, he gestures to some boats but tells me I have to wait a bit.

A bit passes, then a while. I grab a coffee and a chocolate. I'm milling around and decide to ask someone how much longer I must wait - she cuts me off 'that's your boat there, you have to run'
Oh god. I hate running at the best of times and this certainly wasn't the best of times. Sunglasses perched perilously on my head, scolding full cup of coffee in hand, backpack on back, rucksack on front, I run ... People begin shouting all around me 'hurry hurry' : I am I was thinking.

Now these boats don't actually come all the way to the shore ... So I had wade (in trainers and socks because no time to remove them) mid-shin deep to get to it.

Then I couldn't get up. Shit. Wet, heavy and now bright pink and panting. I handed a man my coffee. I still couldn't get up. I offered up my hand and he pulled me on board. Phew - I made it.

I faced a boat full of staring faces, 95% of which belonged local traders and families, watching this red-faced overladen woman struggle to seat herself.

I perched on a box with an old lady - she didn't seem pleased to share but I had to sit. So sit I did.

The journey was maybe half an hour but it felt like years. Where I sat the side of the boat came barely above my ankles and I swayed dangerously with every wave, envisioning myself falling overboard and then sinking beneath the weight of my bags, pulled down like a drowning beetle.

Needless to say this did not happen. I made it. And the destination made the journey worthwhile : although this may not have been the case if I had fallen overboard ....