Travelling overland from Java to Bali is a popular option for travellers visiting Mount Bromo, East Java. While the boys decided to head back to Surabaya I was travelling on my own overland via ferry from Banyuwangi, Java to Gilimanuk, Bali. Despite of having portrayed myself as one independent lady traveller – a brave one, I always have a chill in the stomach whenever it is time for me to face the unknown world alone. With the assortment of thought of I-will-survive-no-matter-what, I was dropped at Banyuwangi ferry terminal.
After bidding the tourist guides and fellow friends goodbye and purchasing a IDR 5,600.00 ferry ticket, I walked right up to the ferry docked at the adjacent pier. On my way to the ferry, buses plying from Java to Denpasar, Bali offered to sell tickets to me. But I opted to enjoy the brisk air at the top deck because my destination was Lovina Beach not the world famous Kuta Beach.
Being on board a ferry with 98% locals was quite an experience. Just before the ferry set off, I rested my arms on the bench overseeing the sea and could not help but notice the young adults swimming and begging for money from underneath the ferry. Another thing worth mentioning is the big LCD screen that played Indonesia hits music with lyrics! Imagine a handful of locals mimicking to a dangdut koplo song (a popular Indonesian genre) that sticked to my mind like forever.
I brought bags of sweets and lollipops for the local kids. I started distributing on the ferry. And what pleasant smiles were given to yours truly, not only by the kids but by the guardians of the kids.
As I got off the ferry, I followed the crowd to the exit of the ferry port and found myself queuing for inspection of identification cards. It turned out to be a no hassle affair for tourists as waving the passports suffices. Since money was running low and travelling alone in comfort meant a luxury to a budget traveller like yours truly, I was delighted to opt for public transports. Most of the tourists that I bumped into in Ijen and were on the same ferry took a tourist van.
I was left alone surviving a local bus from Gilimanuk to Lovina. Man, it took more time than expected. When I first boarded the bus, everyone was asking where I was from and quite impressed I spoke a good Indonesian language. Literally, I had been interviewed by the whole bus passengers. They called me by my first name and gave me a first class treatment of a jumping bus standard. The driver invited me to sit at the front row as I would be able to snap better pictures and have clear views of north Bali. The passenger next to me was one young girl who begged me to take her back to Malaysia.
While the bus was getting crowded with human beings as well as other living beings (chickens and ducks), finding my guesthouse was a task that affected everyone on board the bus. As in usual instances, locals do not bother to know what it is in their backyards – so the bus driver had to stop and asked for directions. Trust me, it was not only a stop, many more stops. Finally, the owner of the guesthouse came to fetch me by the road side. And that was where I met Ketut.