In 1997 I spent a week on Gili Meno – a tiny dot of paradise resting in the Lombok Strait – geek fact; the Lombok Strait is 3km deep, a breeding ground for Tiger sharks and is full of treacherous currents. Lots of Divers go drifting out into it and have to rely on the Bali – Lombok Ferry to pick them up before they hit the ocean / get eaten by a shark / drown. You like those odds?)
Anyway 13 years ago I took a Chinese floating tin pot over this strait to get to Meno. I remember that journey because I needed the loo more than I have ever needed anything in my entire life before or since. And I couldn’t go for four hours because the loo on the ship was knee deep in piss and when I stood horror struck before the unlit cubicle, urine washing around me, a cockroach the size of a kitten ran over my foot. So I spent four hours on a deck as hot as a frying pan wondering how I could position myself over the railing to pee without falling into the 3km depths below and wishing not for the first time (definitely not the last) that I had a penis.
Anyway this is why 13 years later I insisted on taking the fast boat to Gili. The one that costs $60 return as opposed to $10. The one that has a toilet and air-conditioning and comfy seats and even life jackets. Now safely deposited on the other side of that fast boat journey on an island almost unrecognisable from the tropical paradise it once was – layered now with concrete and rammed with huts – I can tell you for a fact that I shall be taking the slow boat back to Bali.
Every vital organ in my body has been repositioned – my stomach now sits where my left lung was. Left lung somewhere near where my bladder used to be. I am bruised, dazed and my right hand has cramp. John’s has several hairline fractures. At some point on the fast boat journey I realised that if Lula needed a wee or to be sick she was just going to have to do it right where she was, wedged tightly between us, because I couldn’t twist my head away from the window and the boiling, vertical horizon for even so much as a nanosecond to aim her in John’s direction. Luckily the whole experience seemed to be too much for Lula. She fell silent and then passed out – no puking or peeing.
The boat was smashing into the waves so hard my sunglasses actually broke. Whilst I was wearing them. Think about that.
At one point an Irish girl screamed out ‘Fucking Bloody Fucking Hell Jesus Man,’ at the captain.
About half way in I was contemplating a leap over the side and a 3km freedive. But I couldn’t stand. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t even scream at the captain like the Irish girl had. My lips were clamped shut to stop the chocolate peanut butter oreo cookies they’d given out as an in cruise snack from reappearing down my front.
So the options are such – we could drift dive back to Bali. We could take the Chinese kettle boat or we could just stay here forever. Tempting as that is – there’s no hot water and Lula has collected every shell on the beach already – so it looks like we’re taking the slow boat.