FROM THE ARCHIVES
3rd July 2014
I wrote this post in July 2012 when Geoff and I were cruising around the top of Australia to celebrate Geoff’s 70th Birthday. The ship also stopped in Lombok, Indonesia. What a shock we got when we saw the conditions that people lived in! As I have just shared a post this week showing some photos of Lombok to demonstrate CONTRAST, I thought it would be a good time to share this post from two years ago.
It all began the moment we set food on Indonesian soil at Lombok Island. We were pestered by the locals trying to get our business.
On one side was a short man saying: “Missus, you want car to take you around island? Only $75 Missus.”
On the other side was a stall holder, a tall thin man holding a necklace: “You buy necklace lady, only $40.
With a shake of my head another necklace appeared “Maybe this one lady?”
And so it continued while we waited for some ship friends – Lisa and Alan – to arrive at the port. You know that feeling when flies or mosquitoes buzz around your face and you have to shoo them away? Well, that’s exactly what it felt like with those pesky men at the harbour! I wanted to get out a fly swat and go “wham!!” just to have peace.
Meanwhile the little man with the car kept coming back saying things like: “your friends here yet Missus?” in between discussing prices for his car. He started at $75 but I would not agree to any more than $40 but he would not budge from $50. He was almost in tears as the argy-bargy went on.
Of course, the necklace man kept pestering me and had finally come down to $30. “No way!” I replied walking away. Oh, it was going to be an interesting day in port …
When our friends arrived, the short man (Rony by name) appeared in a flash and a price of $50 for 4 hours driving was agreed upon. I wasn’t sure why he stuck with Geoff and me for so long as other people came and went. It seems my appearance made me look “regal” because he said to me: “You royalty missus.”
Now how could I deny this man our business after such as statement as that?
Not wanting to trust even someone who thinks I am ‘royal’ I wrote up a contract on a piece of paper and made him sign it as instructed to do on the ship. Life isn’t easy even when you are having fun on holidays!
But what we did not bargain on, was the third world living conditions we encountered as we sped along avoiding motor scooters and cars by a whisker. This trip was not for the faint hearted as we averted our eyes from the traffic in order to stay calm.
Rony managed to talk non-stop in between laughing uproariously as he perched himself (minus seatbelt) on the passenger front seat facing us in the back. We taught him how to pronounce some English words and gave him other information. He thought we were the funniest people he had ever taken around. Luckily he wasn’t driving at the same time or the fun may have died with us!
But the thing was, where did the four hours go? We were in and out of streets, villages and a town that looked more like a pile of rubbish than a town. The only decent structures we saw were schools and Temples. The rest was horrid. It reminded me of pictures I have seen of slums in India; it was just like that; quite heart breaking actually.
Folks, these people are sooo poor! Lisa asked that we eat at a Hotel to avoid food poisoning and the ‘Hotel’ the driver stopped at resembled no hotel us Westerners have ever seen. But the highlight of the day was a visit to a village to watch what Rony called “weabing.”When we got there, it turns out it is ‘weaving’ we are about to see. Oh Rony, we did try to teach you how to say ‘V’ but it didn’t work did it?
We were greeted by a man who took my hand and said”Mumma, welcome to our village” and then showed us around the mess that was his village. The woman are the workers here folks! They sit anywhere and everywhere weaving beautiful scarves and clothes. The man said: “No weaving no marriage.” That is how important it is for woman to learn to weave in Lombok.
Finally, we headed for the Harbour after an incredible lunch at an ‘interesting’ place that cost us $2 each. There were no tourists here; there would have been 300 locals eating here! Dishes covered the table and we left enough food to feed another five people! Oh, we had a wonderful time and once on our tender back to the ship, the four of us could not believe the incredible things we’d seen with Rony and his side-kick driver (who did not speak a word throughout the whole four hours).
Once back at the Harbour I cast a final look at the necklace I had been inspecting whilst waiting for our friends earlier in the day. I asked again the price of the necklace. Guess what it now was? With the stall man out of the way, the lady said: “$5” What happened to the $40 he quoted me in the morning eh??
Before the man in charge had a chance to appear and intervene, I scooped up the necklace and paid the money and got the hell out of there! Oh it felt good.
Until tomorrow …