We arrived at the tiny Lombok airport and began the taxi-hunt.
The car counter offers us our first deal.
Guy: 800 000rph for taxi and boat.
Me: Ish, mahal! How about just the taxi?
Our FLIGHT was only 350 000.
Guy: Just taxi is 300 000.
Me: How far is it?
Guy: Two hours drive. Very far.
Me: Hmm. And the boat? How long it the boat trip?
Guy: 25 minutes if using public boat, 10 minutes if using fast boat.
I do a speedy calculation.
Me: Wait…so you're saying it's 500 000...for a 10 minute boat ride?
Slightly sarcastic tone.
His friend at the counter cant help himself. He snorts a laugh and giggles at his wide talking buddy…who, busted, cracks a cheeky smile.
After much back & forth, we get the taxi for 200 000 and decide to risk negotiating the boat for ourselves.
He writes us a receipt.
Guy: Name please, for the driver.
He writes down, Ms Clain.
Me: No, it's Claire.
He looks at me like…ya, that's what I wrote.
Me: Ok, nevermind...
We stroll out of the airport and are met by a small cluster of enthusiastic taxi drivers, all shouting for our attention.
But the loudest, waving his hands madly like a steering wheel, is this guy,
Taxi Man: MRS CLAIN!! MRS CLAIN!!
Taxi Man spends the first 20 minutes of the trip trying to sell us an expensive boat ride with his own Captain.
We already don't trust Lombok.
Us: No. Really. Thanks. We'll take the public boat.
At 25 000 versus 150 000, that seems logical.
We finally arrive at the jetty.
Unload from the car.
Instantly surrounded by a cloud of wild looking Boat Men.
The taxi driver is in cahoots and lets them carry on.
Mad Luna: Ok we take your bags, 150, go now.
They 100% ignore me.
Three guys grab our bags urgently, hoist them onto their shoulders and turn towards the beach.
Me: Tak. Tak!
Still ignoring me?!?!?
This isn't Malaysia.
They immediately drop the bags, deflated, and disperse.
My friend and I walk off triumphantly to go buy the real, cheap tickets.
But the leader of the gang trails us and our success is short lived...
We buy the public boat tickets.
But Mad Luna (we later discover his name is Luna. He is mad.) takes hold of them.
Mad Luna: Now you must wait.
The girl at the counter rolls her eyes at him.
But she does confirm that there's only 9 people on the boat right now and we must wait for at least 25 or 30 people to get on before it will leave.
We want beach.
So we agree to pay the Mad Luna 50 000 for both of us to go now.
He enthusiastically agrees and pockets the money in a flash.
Mad Luna: Ok, just wait here for a while.
He takes us back outside and sits down.
After getting the boring questions out of the way - where are you from, how long are you staying, he pauses.
He touches my friend's curly, half-Carribean hair.
Mad Luna: Look like spaghetti noodle hair.
Mad Luna: *giggles* Ya, look like noodle!
Incredibly offensive…arguably racist, if you come from England, the home of Political Correctness.
And therefore also hilarious.
Mad Luna: Like me! Also spaghetti noodle!
He pulls at his own big, curly hair, still giggling.
Mad Luna: I like you noodle. So cute.
He said, patting her head.
He proceeded to spend the next 10 or 15 minutes talking rubbish whilst we laughed in shock and deflected his occasional advances.
Finally he hustled us into a boat with about 30 other people and lots of island supplies.
The public boat.