Sunday, September 18, 2011

Arriving In Java

We returned to Ubud for 1 more night (the ferry crossing back was nice and smooth…these are the kind of boat rides I like) and the following day we got a taxi to take us to the Ubung bus terminal. We negotiated prices for a 2 hour public bus to take us to Gilimanuk where we would take a ferry across to Java. The ferry crossing is only 45 minutes long and it’s on a large ship and the seas were calm so we didn’t experience any dramas there, however on the ferry a guy befriended Andrew and started chatting with him, and initially we thought he was a nice guy, until his friend came to sit with us too. Right away I got suspicious. What are 2 guys chatting with us for? Since I’m a woman they didn’t pay too much attention to me (that’s actually the best part of travelling with a guy. If you are walking down the street by yourself, everyone will bother you and try to sell you something, but when I’m with Andrew, they only bother him and leave me alone. It’s like the man’s word is more important than the womans) so I tuned them out and was reading. But I overhead them telling Andrew that instead of going to Mount Bromo we should go to this other mountain where their “friends” go. It turned out their “friends” organize tours there and it’s more beautiful than Mount Bromo. Andrew thanked them for the info but that we were still going to Bromo. I noticed one of the guys was talking to someone in the back of the boat and I couldn’t figure out who he was talking to, but then I realized there was a bunch of guys sitting in the back and he was talking to them. It turns out these guys take the ferry all day long and look for tourists like us to try and convince them to go to this other mountain. As we were getting ready to get off the boat, one of the guys came up to us and asked if we were sure we didn’t want to go and we said yes. Then he said he could get us cheap transport to Mount Bromo, because the train wasn’t going until 9pm and there were no buses. Again we declined. We got off the boat and because of the number of people getting off and pushing their way through, Andrew and I got separated. Right away a bemo driver approached me (a bemo is a mini-van which is used like a public bus. They all have a route they take and you pay very little money for them to take you, but you can also charter them to take you where you want. Unfortunately we never know the route so we very rarely take them unless we are chartering them for ourselves) and started mumbling something at me. He kept mumbling a word at me but I had no idea what he was saying and the frustrating part was he wasn’t trying to make me understand him. He just kept repeating it over and over again. Finally I got really annoyed and started yelling at him in Polish. I said “Do you understand me? No? I don’t understand you either so stop talking to me!” The look on his face was priceless, because of course he couldn’t understand Polish, and he just walked away. I think this was the most effective way of getting rid of a bemo driver that I have found so far. Afterwards I felt bad, but it happens so often that someone mumbles something at you or keep following you around and mumbling, without trying to make themselves heard, and you have to keep repeating “what?” over and over again, that it gets really annoying after a while. It just so happened that I took it out on that guy.

Once I found Andrew we started asking around how much a taxi or bemo would be to the train station, but the guys from the boat came off and started telling everyone exactly where we were going, and I don’t know what else, but all of a sudden the prices were very high or they refused to take us. I was so angry. It’s like a mafia. They all know each other and work together and they arrange the prices between themselves and then we can’t even negotiate. So we just started walking down the street with the idea that we would stop a bemo, one that hadn’t been at the ferry terminal, and ask him to take us. Before we went very far, we found a store and asked how far the train station was and they informed us it was right around the corner. We walked there and found out the train in fact did not run until 9pm that evening. We found a bemo driver and were negotiating with him to take us to the bus station, when the guy from the ferry shows up! He starts talking to the bemo driver, and then again trying to tell us he can find us a ride. I asked him “Are you following us?” but because I’m a woman he completely ignored me. Luckily so did the bemo driver and we agreed on a price and he took us to the bus terminal. When we arrived at the bus terminal there was a bus loading up with people and it turned out it was going to Probiolingo (the town we were headed that night before Mount Bromo). We boarded the bus and got ready for the 5 hour journey. That was an interesting ride because I don’t think the locals there usually get tourists taking their buses so they were very excited to have us on board. Everyone was very pleasant and talked to us. When I sent Andrew to get some snack for the road before we left, one gentleman came over and told me he thought I should go out there and help Andrew because he looked confused. I looked over at Andrew and laughed because he did look confused as to what he should buy. I thanked the man but told him I thought Andrew would be okay to make a decision on his own. A couple of ladies took pictures of me when they thought I wasn’t looking and giggled when I looked back at them. Others were simply curious why we would come to Indonesia and if we had to save money for a long time to come here. This is where it usually gets difficult to share the whole truth with them, as if we tell them the truth about how much we make and how much we spend, they will think we’re rich. It’s impossible to convey the cost of living in Canada to them in a short conversation so we usually end up fibbing a bit. It was curious for them we would come to their country and some told us they had never left the island of Java. I thought that was crazy since Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands and they had spent their entire life on one of these islands. Overall we had a great time chatting with the locals. We spent the night in Probolingo in a hotel right next to the bus station where we would catch the bus the next morning to Mount Bromo.

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