Meno, Komodo, and Kanawa
Sept 21, 2001
It took 3 weeks, but I'm finally back at a place with a cheap reliable internet connection.
Let me catch up in chronological order.
Sick on Trawangan
I wake up with a minor cold. I think that I have a bit of a fever, but it could also be just a bit a sunburn. After an afternoon nap I go out for a light dinner. After dinner I buy two bottles of water for the evening and start walking home. It's a bit of a walk a half mile or so. I feel a little tired on the walk. Then, just before I get to the hut I'm staying in it hits me - I can barely walk, I can barely move, I'm physically exhausted to the point of near paralysis. However, I am completely coherent. I can't actually carry the water bottles up the 3 steps so I put them on the patio first and make my way slowly up the stairs. I had some nyquil in my medical kit but decided to wait a few minutes to see if I got any better before taking the nyquil. I don't get better, I think that I might be getting worse. In the western world you pick up the phone and call for help - In huts on islands you slowly make your way outside and easy yourself into a chair before yelling for help. The first person to walk by ignores me. Panic probably should have set in at this point, but I don't panic easily. Then one of the local taxis, a horse cart, drives by. I yell for help and the driver stops his horse. I yell for help a couple of more times before the driver walks over to my hut. "Help, doctor, very sick" is met with a blank stare from the driver. Step, by step, by step I make my way back into my room and pick up the Lonely Planet phrase book. I try again, this time in Indonesian "Help, doctor, sick". This time the driver replies - "Money". One finally time I slowly make my way back into my room. I unlock my pack, grab my passport and stash of money and follow the driver out to his cart. There's no pain, but it's a scary experience to suddenly be barely able to walk and have no idea what's causing this. I tell the driver to stop and the first nice hotel (of two on the island). Walking strangely and dressed for bed I'm stopped halfway to reception by hotel staff. At the expensive hotels, everyone speaks English so I tell the man to please tell my driver to take me to the hospital. After a ride around half the island past all the bars and drinking tourists, I arrive at the clinic which I later learn was only opened months earlier. I sit outside while the driver goes to find the doctor or nurse. Then I'm escorted to one of the two beds. I'm laying in bed with my head cocked slightly to one side without the energy to move. Still completely coherent I'm questioning the doctors diagnosis and want to know everything that they are doing. I receive the standard treatment for Gilli Trawangan - pills for flu, pills for fever, antibiotics. One minute, I'm struggling to find the energy to swallow the pills, the next I'm checking into the nicest hotel on the island (adjacent to the clinic). Thirty minutes later I'm in my room talking with my parents and suddenly feel much much better. Weeks later I find other travels who have had very similar experiences - the final diagnosis is a particularly nasty asian 24 hour flu.
Ahmad, Krisbina and Arbi - my Indonesian Family
The husband (Ahmad) of the nurse (Krisbina) served as my translator when I first arrived at the clinic. He felt sorry for me as I was sick and alone and basically adopted me for a few days. I ate with him and his friends. Then they took me and their son (Arbi) over to Lombok to meet his brother and sister in law. It was great to finally be away from the tourists filling Bali and Trawangan. They left me in Sengiggi, Lombok as I intended to head from there to Kute in Southern Lombok.
I meet some German tourists who tell me how much they enjoyed Gilli Meno. In the evening I have my first experience with bedbugs - I truly disgusting experience, I know that at least two chewed on my for a while, but it caused no problems and I never found the bites. In the morning I decide to head back to Gilli Islands and check out Gilli Meno.
Adam's personal paradise - warm weather, white sand, clear cool turquoise water, a nice gentle breeze, palm trees, banana-papaya shakes and I'm hanging out with 5 20 year old girls.
Somehow I find myself on a 4 day boat trip across indonesia with a stop at Komodo Island and finally arriving at Flores. I'm still heading the wrong direction - I was supposed to be heading West. Days are spent traveling from island to island and snorkeling. On the 2nd day we arrive at Komodo and see dragons. One the 3rd day we stop at Rinca (the only other island in the world that is home to Komodo dragons). I decide to take a shower at the restaurant rather than going on the hike. I get out of the shower, walk past a couple of komodo dragons relaxing in the shade and go into the restaurant. One of the four guys sitting in the restaurant asks me in bad English "Where are you from?" When I tell him "America" he replies "I hope not New York" and then him and his friends tell me in a tag-team fashion that New York and the Pentagon have been attacked by terrorists and that 50 million, no 50 thousand people are dead. That's all the news I have for 24 hours until I get to see 15 minutes of CNN between power outages in Labuan Bajo, Flores.
The boat trip could have been a disaster - the boat broke even before leaving the harbor. There weren't enough sleeping mats, blankets, pillows or snorkeling gear and there was rough water for two of the evenings. However, our group got along fantastically and had a great time. 14 of the 16 people from the boat trip hop on another boat together and take a short trip to Kanawa island. It's like summer camp for a week. The numbers there slowly starting dwindling, but when I left after 6 days, 7 people from our trip still remained on Kanawa.
Here are some images from the island of Kanawa. It really was summer camp there. We even had our own olympics. Photos credits go to Amy Finlay-Jones.
Oh... and the deer of Kanawa deserve a special note. I've seen deer before that are not particularly scared of humans, but never before have I seen deer that actually like to be pet. One deer in particular would join our group and sit by the bonfire every night.
Sape, and terrorists on the trip back to Lombok
By particular coincidence, I find myself in the tiny town of Sape in Sumbawa - for those of you who don't get the joke SAPE is the ticker symbol for Sapient where I worked for 4 years and whose severance is paying for the trip. The room I stayed in was the cheapest I have ever seen - 55 cents a night and no bedbugs.
I'm traveling with a dutch couple and we arrive in Bima, Sumbawa to find that the fast ferry to Bali has been cancelled while it's being repaired for 3 weeks. The only alternative is a 12 hour bus ride back to Lombok. Not bad at all it's air-conditioned, has reclining seat and only costs $7 to get across two large islands.
It does make one just a little bit edgy to be in the conservative part of an Islamic country when the US may bomb Afghanistan literally at any moment. It makes one really edgy to wake up on a bus somewhere in the middle of Sumbawa to find that 4 masked bandits have boarded the bus. They all have head wrappings that cover the entire head other than the eyes. The leader is holding a sword, well maybe sword is too generous of a term, holding a long rusted machete. His 3 cohorts are all carrying big sticks. Just when I am absolutely positive that we are being robbed they leave. They just casually walk off the bus. I look questioningly at some of the Indonesians and one of them tells me "Not terrorist" and then laughs. I don't think that I'll ever know who they were or what they wanted.
Not further incidents on the bus and I arrive in Mataram home of cheap internet. Internet in remote Indonesia in 50 cents a minute and the connections are slow and unreliable. Internet in Mataram is 50 cents an hour. From here I might rest up for a day or two and then make a climb part way up Mount Rinjani. Sometime soon, I should be rushing across Bali on my way to Java. I'm way behind in terms of getting to Nepal for the trekking season so it's looking likely that I'll fly from somewhere to Kathmandu and then make my way back to South-East Asia.
Great stuff Adam. I was surfing facebook and end up staring at these photos that sent me back to those days in Kanawa that couldnt be better. Thanks for the flashback