Turns out that spending the night on a boat docked at a port isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep. Fuck me, ports are noisy places. Add to that I’d developed a mean cough over the previous couple of days, I think my hacking would have kept half of Labuan Bajo awake. We’d had a nice last night in town with a few shipmates where we’d had a few beers, but not a huge amount, and I’d applied a nasi campur to my facehole without a second thought. I woke up on the morning of the 4th and I felt fucking awful. I mean, I’d not been feeling great but it was the kind of ill you could power through, but now I was suffering. We made it to Hotel Orange where we’d decided to stay for a couple of nights, I’d fully intended to go diving but how poorly did you have to be before you couldn’t dive? I think when I nearly cried when we were told we couldn’t check in until later it confirmed it; I was too sick for scuba. Fortunately they had a different room we could have right now so we moved in and I promptly passed out.
We’d arranged to meet the others again later on at a night food market where you choose a fish from a display which they grill for you right there over a coconut husk barbecue. It sounded amazing, except I couldn’t eat. I’d tried. It didn’t matter what it was, I could manage a few mouthfuls then it was all over. I had no appetite. People who know me personally know how fucking weird that is, usually I’m that person who’ll watch you eat in case you leave something, and everyone knows they don’t leave food unattended around me if they want to retain possession of it. We joined the group and I watched them devour their delicious grilled seafood as I pushed a few forkfuls of nasi goreng into my digestive system before giving up and staring at it forlornly, wondering what was wrong with me. I’d got a rancid fever too, I was waking up with my pillow and bed sheets drenched in sweat, my sexiness knows no bounds. I was a delight.
On the morning of the 6th we started heading back to Lombok. I’d actually slept the previous night though which was pretty amazing, I was starting to think sleep was a myth. Hopefully I’d be better in a few days and we could have a scoot around Lombok as we’d seen exactly fuck all of Flores. Getting from Flores to Lombok overland might seem daunting but it’s actually quite doable, it’s just long. Wait, that needs more O’s… loooooooong! First you get a ferry to Sape. The ticket office opens at 7am where you’ll part with Rp60,000 each and that price is listed on a board. No one is going to cheat you. Then the boat leaves at 9am. Well, in theory anyway. I’d read a blog which suggested we needed to get down early to make sure we got a seat so we did, but it didn’t start filling up until eightish. It was 9.30am by the time it pulled away, still half empty.
I napped a lot in between trying to expel portions of lung. That bastard cough. Tarrant had taken to buying me Pop Mie snacks, basically just cup noodles, because I could generally force one of those bad boys down. I quite liked them too, I’m a bit of a fan of instant noodles in a pot, I pretty much lived off them once, I’ve no idea how I’m not dead given that they have the nutritional value of a spanner. Six hours later the ferry sailed into Sape where we’d be catching a bus and as we were waiting at the RORO doors to be let off a guy approached us and asked us, “Bima?” We replied yes and asked him how much because here’s a place you could get ripped off and he told us Rp30,000 which seemed reasonable. Once you get off the ferry it’s a fucking gauntlet of men shouting “Bima” at you, or asking you where you’re going. We stuck with our guy, fending off people who were literally grabbing our arms. Our guy shouted at them, they left us alone after that, and he lead us to what turned out to be his bus that he drove. Maybe the gauntlet just seemed so epic because I wasn’t well but it was one of the worst I’d seen in Indonesia, even in tourist hotspots. 1.5 hours later we were in Bima and we watched as the conductor collected the same money off everyone else as he’d collected from us.
Here’s where it gets difficult. As you arrive at Bima there will be loads of blokes that want to sell you a combo ticket all the way to Mataram in Lombok. What you pay here I think will depend on your haggling skills of which we have none so we paid Rp200,000 each for an AC bus which left at 7pm. They all leave around the same time, the bus you get will depend on the deal you strike. We just went with the first guy and paid him what he asked. There are warungs at the terminal where, once again, I tried and failed to eat something of substance. Well this just fucking sucked. Our bus ticket included a meal at one of the stops too and I do so hating turning down food, even more so if it’s free. I’m not overly fond of AC either, it gets on my chest and my chest, it seemed, was already in some manner of strop with me. It made it worse that it sounded like a team of rabid goats on crack were having a tap dancing competition in the AC directly above our heads. Nope, we didn’t get much sleep.
Your combo ticket will include the ferry. You get off the bus, board the ferry to Lombok, sleep as much as you can sleep on the hard, plastic chairs whilst drooling a lot and coughing up enough mucus to plug up Gunung Bromo, then get back on the bus at the other end which will take you the rest of the way to Mataram. The rabid goats still hadn’t calmed down. By the time we reached our destination I was exhausted. We stumbled off the bus, collected our bags and fended off the taxi drivers so we could sit down and try and work out what we wanted to do. We figured we’d spend a couple of nights in Senggigi and I also needed a pharmacy so I could do battle with this cough. We gave up trying to find public transport and enlisted a driver to take us to our next town where I shuffled into a pharmacy, hacking up the contents of my chest in the process.
Ha, you can tell we’re back in tourist land, the first medicine she tried to sell me was Rp350,000. That’s about £20. Fuck off, I don’t spend that much on cough medicine back home, I don’t care how strong you tell me it is, for that price I want a new fucking lung. The next one was Rp125,000, but it wasn’t very strong, she told me. I looked at it. Of course it’s not very strong, it’s Chinese herbal stuff, stop trying to sell me the hippy shit and take me to the good stuff. I was about to leave when she finally handed me a Rp40,000 bottle of nice, normal cough medicine. Seriously. Of all the places you expect to get ripped off in Lombok and Bali a pharmacy is one of the last places you’d think of.
I don’t remember much of Senggigi. I went for a little walk with Tarrant once, it seemed like a quiet little ghost town, possibly on account of Ramadan combined with it not quite being tourist season yet perhaps? I don’t know, it just seemed weird and souless. And I was deteriorating. My fever was getting worse, the medicine was doing nothing to help my cough, I was hacking up bucket loads of mucus and I still couldn’t eat. I decided it was probably flu because obviously I’m a doctor now with a degree from Googleversity. We decided to just go to Bali. We were meant to be flying to Singapore on the 15th, I would attack this flu with whatever medication Tarrant could get her paws on without a prescription and I would get better.
No. This was not a thing that happened. Though we did make it to Bali; we took a shuttle to Lembar where we boarded the slow ferry after a good 90 minutes slumped on a bus in a queue, feeling worse and worse and worse. Fortunately the slow boats are big bastards with room to lie down on the floor which is exactly what I did. I drifted in and out for the five hour journey, the AC barely kept my fever in check, and when we got to the other end an announcement came over the tanoy in Bahasa. I had no idea what it meant but we didn’t seem to be moving. I went to throw up.
Tarrant found out that one of the docks was broken, we were fifth in a queue of ferries and it takes about an hour to unload each boat. I was asleep when she found this out but I’m quite surprised she didn’t start a riot. I puked a few more times for good measure. Obviously my internal organs hadn’t made me suffer enough yet. Thankfully, by the time we did finally arrive on dry land a lovely Australian bloke called John offered us a ride in his truck and took us all the way to Sanur where the guesthouse we’d booked had thoughtfully left a key out for us and I promptly sweated all over their sheets.
I got worse. At one point my fever got so bad Tarrant had to spend an hour cooling me down with a damp cloth. At about 6.30am on the 13th June, after another sleepless, feverish night, I decided to check myself into hospital. It had been over a week now and I wasn’t getting any better, I couldn’t eat or sleep and without these two basic things there was no way I could heal myself and let’s face it, I’m a fan of modern medicine. Give me those healing drugs. I’d already Googled where I wanted to go because that’s the joy of private hospitals; you get to choose, and I just hoped my insurance company agreed with my choice.
Flores, Lombok & Bali, Indonesia
Stayed at: Orange Hotel, Labuan Bajo, Flores
Pondok Plaza Guesthouse & Backpackers, Senggigi, Lombok
Tjana Homestay, Sanur, Bali