Day 1: Lombok
Our first day was a lesson in what not to do.
We flew into Lombok (on our ridiculously cheap airfare) and waited for what like felt like years to pass through immigration. Once cleared, the first thing we needed to do was withdraw money from the ATM so we could get a taxi out of there.
Lesson 1: don't leave your overseas credit card, the one that gives you free international transactions, at home.
So we withdrew money using our regular credit cards, paid an obscene amount in fees, and walked out the front to find a taxi. Men started approaching us from all directions, wanting our business. Our plan was to head straight over to Bali (if you're asking why we didn't just fly straight to Bali from Australia, see the introduction). We asked about prices to the ferry terminal, got the best deal we could and we were then guided towards a private car. I was sure this wasn't the cheapest option.
On the long, mundane drive through Lombok.
Lombok felt surprisingly big for such a small island. The trip from the airport to the ferry terminal in Senggigi should take 1:15-1:30hrs. When we were still driving after 1:45hrs, we knew something was wrong. We seemed to have driven straight through the town we wanted to stop at. Our driver was craning his neck to look down every side street, and our speed had dropped dramatically. Eventually he pulled over to ask some local men standing on the side of the road where to go. Almost two hours later we arrived at the ferry, to find out we had missed the last one for the day.
Lesson 2: take a taxi from the airport, and make sure they know where they are going.
Lesson 3: look up the ferry timetable before arrival to ensure you have enough time to catch the last one.
No ferry for us today.
With our accommodation on Bali now going to waste, and having to pay for an extra night on Lombok, our mission of doing this holiday on the cheap was quickly fading. A local travel agent helped us to find the cheapest place in town, which was basic but fine by us (we didn't plan on staying there long). We took advantage of this extra time by researching hiking tours up Mt Rinjani, deciding to place a deposit on one and hoping that it all worked out in the end. We are always a little wary of handing over a wad of cash and getting a handwritten scrap of paper in return as a receipt.
Senggigi town was a quiet, laid back town, with enough restaurants and bars to keep us entertained. After devouring the local food at a small restaurant/shack, we headed over to the obviously-catering-for-Westerners bar to catch the AFL (Australian rules football) game. As my team was playing, I didn't want to miss it.
Lesson 4: watching your team lose in a nail-biter can put a real dampener on the start of your holiday.
So far, not the idyllic tropical getaway I was hoping for.