Thoughts From A Stalled Speed Boat in the Bali Sea
Let me paint a picture for ya…
When I originally wrote this, I was sitting in the back row of a stalled boat in the middle of the Bali Sea… stuck somewhere between Lombok, Indonesia and Padang Bai.
We apparently hit a piece of drift wood, which in turn broke one of the propellers on the back of the fast boat...
Lots of people are freaking out… one girl is demanding another boat be sent to pick her up so she doesn’t miss her flight… another girl is yelling at the staff for laughing with one another while they work to fix it. An Indonesian girl finally translates what is going on for the rest of us on the boat… which still doesn’t keep the shouting blondie from literally losing her mind. She’s stands up to record the “incident” on her phone, and starts asking the rest of us why we aren’t speaking up about not feeling safe.
Though I did have many words to say, I only spoke up long enough to tell her to calm down and stop yelling at the men so they could do their job. Perhaps I was just still in an island state of mind, but I felt fine… and I’ll tell ya why.
Let me put the situation and their reaction in to perspective. Though we were asked to get to the boat company’s office at 2:45 in the afternoon, it wasn’t until around 5pm that we actually boarded a boat. I was fine with all this… it gave me time to chill on the beach and grab another smashed avocado toast from Banyan Tree, (which was conveniently located just across the road from where we were waiting).
I can’t say that other people felt quite as relaxed. The same girl recording the boat incident… we’ll call her Blonde and Boujee… had been shouting at the guys from the boat company before we even left the island. At 3 p.m., when our boat hadn’t arrived, she wanted to know exactly what time that we’d be leaving. I’ll hand it to her… it is a bit frustrating having to wait around without knowing an exact time of departure… but, like most things in Bali, the boats run on island time… Meaning they get there when they get there.
If there’s anything I learned from the two entire days I spent getting to and from Gili Trawangan, it’s that it’ll most likely take an entire day to get to or from Gili Trawangan. Booking a flight for the same day, or expecting that you’ll be able to make it to your destination an hour or two after the quoted departure time is just not realistic… (and very poor planning).
No, it is not ideal to rush to get to the beach early for a boat… I scarfed down my delicious lunch, rushed back to check out of my villa, and then sat and waited around for hours before it was finally time for the boat to depart. No, it’s also not ideal to be on a boat that breaks down in the middle of the ocean as the sun is going down... But here’s the deal… shit happens. And when it does, you deal with it.
The men on the boat quickly responded to the mishap, and got to work fixing the back propeller. So what if they were whistling while they worked? They were likely joking around and making light of the situation so as to not alarm anyone on board. When asked when the boat would be fixed (by the girl who feared she’d miss her flight) they responded with “Waiting… Ready… Go,” and I don’t think I could possibly describe “island time” any better. Their candidness was totally counteracted by the various bitching blondies who quite successfully raised my very chill blood pressure a few hundred points.
Within the half hour, the men had the boat running smoothly and we were breezing (quite quickly) over fairly choppy ocean waters. It made me a bit nervous (thanks to my raised blood pressure), but it wasn’t my first boat ride and we all arrived to Padang Bai in one (slightly stressed out) piece.
Overall, if you plan on travelling by boat to and from Bali’s surrounding islands, remember these few things...
- Keep your "timeliness" expectations low.
- On that note... Be flexible
- Take your pills - (both your sea sickness meds and your chill pills).
- Relaxxxx. You’re on a flipping island (or commuting to/from one).
This was not the first time I found myself on a non-functional boat in the middle of the water on my Asia trip. No, it's not the most picture-perfect scenario... but I've found that real, RAW travel rarely is.
If you can’t enjoy the ride, despite the curve balls or driftwood that may come your way, ya might as well just keep your uppity ass at home.