Gili Trawangan countries sign

Travel Stories: Lost in Paradise

Posted In: Travel

This is another story from my old travel blog, aptly titled: Lost in Paradise…also known as “that time we were stranded on Gili Trawangan.”

Originally written June 8th, 2013.

Four hours later and I was sitting in Sukhasana pose, trying to keep my calm in a small, hot shack, trying to figure a way to get back to Bali because we missed our boat due to unforeseen circumstances.

Long story short, we didn’t have our passports or any cash, and there were no more boats heading back to Bali for the day.

Nobody on the island was able to give us any idea how to get back by tonight. Normally we would have just stayed the extra night, but 1) the boys were leaving early the next morning, 2) we’d been harassed by locals from sunup to sundown and were getting a bit weary, and 3) we’d planned to surf all day, for our first time this whole trip, tomorrow…which also happened to be our last day in Indonesia.

I went to Manta Dive, where Freddie (the Macklemore look-alike from yesterday) worked, in hopes of finding someone with a better understanding of English to give us some ideas. We eventually found out that we could take a small boat to nearby Lembar, take a car ride to the airport at the other end of the island, and get on a 9PM flight to Denpasar, Bali—if they would even let us on without our passports. But again, we had no cash to pay for any of that. Again, due to unforeseen circumstances.

I’d brought my debit card, which I hadn’t even planned on using, but TD was down for maintenance and wouldn’t be up for a few hours…and we only had 20 minutes before we had to leave. We went to try and find a buddy we’d met in Bali who was also on Gili T as a last resort, but found that he’d gone diving and probably wouldn’t be back for a couple hours. We had exhausted every possible option. Standing in the middle of the hot, dusty street with our backpacks, staring at a post with wooden arrows pointing in the directions of various countries, we resigned to our fate.

“Well…..let’s go sit on the beach.”

We put our backpacks down, splayed out on the sand, and just laughed at our misfortune. We joked about being homeless, the likelihood of hiding out on a boat for the night, and basically just the series of misfortunate events that had led to us being stranded on Gili T. But…at least we weren’t in jail. At least we had bug spray. At least we had a great time last night. Thus, became our new cardinal rule: if you can still count at least three blessings, life is good (a sentiment echoed by a graffiti artist on a nearby wall). We were in good spirits, and I was actually kind of excited at the prospect of trying to get by for the night. By now, close to 40 minutes had passed, and our small window of opportunity to get back to Bali was closing…if it hadn’t completely closed already.

Thus, became our new cardinal rule: if you can still count at least three blessings, life is good.

And then we got a message that TD was up and running early.

We booked it to the ATMs: the first one rejected the withdrawal, the second one gave an error message, and then the third one…actually worked. We ran back to the booking shack, and within minutes, after a flurry of rushed phone calls, we were sprinting down a rackety old pier. With only a small piece of paper on which a bunch of instructions where scrawled on the back, we hopped into a boat bearing a woman and a small baby that pulled up to the dock. We sped across the waters to an island where we would catch a car, that would supposedly take us across the island to another isolated agency to get tickets, and then to the airport where we would hopefully catch our flight in time…if they let us on.

We got off on the island about 15 minutes later, the boat sped off, and there was no car. We waited and waited…and eventually a little van showed up, and our driver ushered us in quickly for the long drive. We listened to the driver’s only source of auditory entertainment the entire way there: a scratched CD of LMFAO. In case you didn’t think LMFAO could get any more horribly repetitive.

But…we made it to the agency. To the airport. Onto the plane. And against all odds, we actually made it all the way back to Bali.

We arrived at our hotel, ready to tell the boys our crazy story. While we’d gone to Gili T, they had signed up for a nature hike…which ended up being just as much of a story. What had been advertised as a leisurely night hike turned out to be a climb so steep that it was essentially mountain climbing without any proper climbing gear. When we found them, they had ripped their shoes off (whose soles had literally been torn in half by the climb), bulk ordered McDonald’s delivery—too exhausted to even eat at the restaurant downstairs—and slept for close to 18 hours straight.

All of us exhausted by our adventures, we crammed together in one bed and watched a British dance competition on TV before the boys had to leave to catch their flight at 4am.

All I can say is…it’s been a crazy 24 hours.

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