Woke at 9. Went to Dream Divers to book a dive at 10am. My first since last April in Sri Lanka. Had breakfast at Tri Na Nog, then went diving. The dive centre wanted me to do a refresher course, if it had been over 6 months since my last dive, but I lied and said my last dive was ‘about 5 or 6 months ago’. Took an outrigger canoe to the dive spot and rolled over backwards into the water. It took me a while to equalize when going down – my right ear refused to unblock for a while. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go down, but eventually, through lots of blowing and swallowing, the ear popped and the pressure was released, and I could descend to 25 – 30 metres. I enjoyed the dive, but didn’t breathe well, so lost air quicker than the others and had to surface 10 minutes before them. I sat in the boat waiting for the others, slightly embarrassed at my obvious lack of diving fitness and breathing skills.
Back on land, I checked out of Tri Na Nog, and got a public boat for 10,000RP to Bangsal Harbour in Senggigi, with one of the lads who works in Tri Na Nog and who I gave a guitar pick to that morning. At the harbour, to beat the touts, he took me on his motorbike to a group of Bluebird Taxis. I got in one, and headed to Sengiggi. The driver was a real live-wire, and we talked a lot about music. He recommended some bars for me to go to, notably Happy Café, where he assured me that Eddie, the best guitar player in Lombok, would be playing that night.
I checked into the Dharmarie Hotel, which has come nice bungalows (though a bit worn and faded) set in lush gardens by the beach. Went for a walk while it was still day. Booked a Rinjani volcano trek, and a bus ticket to Flores, for 1,5 million and 500,000 respectively, so that was S$300 down the drain straight away. The guy who worked in Flamingo Tour and Travel was a podgy, chirpy little bloke, married to a woman from Yorkshire, of all places. He took me to Coco Beach on his motorbike, dropped me off, then went on his way. This is a lovely sunset spot. I was the only one drinking in the tropical gardens with individual sofas on a raised bamboo platform.
I took in a sunset on the deserted black-sand beach, which was lovely. The beach was deserted. This was a real find.
The gardener of the place took me back to Senggigi on his bike, and I headed out into the quiet Senggigi night. Went to Happy Café, where Eddie, local guitar legend, was indeed playing. Here, he was a rockstar. Happy Café was his Wembley stadium. Elaborate strumming patterns, whirlwinds, lengthy show-off solos, playing the guitar with a bintang beer bottle, lit cigarette never leaving his mouth, were just some of Eddie’s superstar tricks. He was so into it, his eyes closed, long hair over his eyes, torn jeans….like a porkier John Frusciante. He’s the best guitar player I’ve ever seen on an amateur circuit. The crowd of 100 loved him.
After this, I went to Blue Marlin café, a disco with a band. Another place I’d been to back in 2003. Quiet, but it picked up later. The all-female singers were certainly pleasing to the eye, as was the coolest female DJ I’ve ever seen, beautiful and adept at turning on the turntabling style and the punters at the same time. I was sitting alone outside contemplating my next move, when I was joined by a friendly Russian bloke called Dimitri, married with 2 kids, but his eyes still shining brightly for the local ladies. We stuck around the place, had some vodka redbulls, and it really started to fill up, buzzing with a mainly local crowd. I met a crazy girl called Shanty, all bitter, twisted and broken-hearted after her bule husband had slept with a prostitute and she found out. As a result, she hates men, distrusts them. Still, I’m attracted to trouble, so continued chatting to her, wondering what I’d learn. We ended up going to a local joint at 3am to eat chicken and drink teh botol with the one male singer of the band in Blue Marlin and a girl called Nila. Though Shanty was occasionally funny, she was also erratic, rude, and emotionally unbalanced. I’ve met plenty of girls like her: village girls who meet and marry a bule, who leaves them after a few years of a jet-set lifestyle with 2 kids to look after…..leaving a bitter, twisted, arrogant Indonesian woman who has totally forgotten her roots, treats others like dirt, and can no longer attract the same type of rich bule as she now has all sorts of baggage. Still, they survive off maintenance payments, drive a nice car, live in a huge house, and most of them can hang onto their old materialistic lifestyle for a while, constantly manipulating the defeated other half, blackmailing, threatening….surely there are no worse things in life than an Indonesian woman scorned. Shanty was this type. A mess, but I didn’t feel sorry for her. No doubt she, like certain other village girls I knew who come into status and money, got greedy, and began cheating on her husband before he cheated on her. These girls are carbon copies of each other. Luckily, I met far more of a much better type of Indonesian during my time living in Jakarta.
I returned to my room, thinking about what tomorrow would bring.