My friends were staying in Bali so I’ve decided to visit them. I walked around the main road of Gili, where helpful locals were offering their services. The first travel agency had a direct boat at my desired time – 12AM, for a reasonable price, 300K IDR ($22), called Mahi Mahi Dewata. I was asked to check in at 11:30 at the agency, so I did. The boat arrived around 12AM as promised.
I climbed the roof of the boat to enjoy some sun and waves. Someone on the way asked a member of staff if the boat is really direct to Bali, and they were re-assured.
Then we docked at Gili Meno and off-loaded some people.
Then, Gili Air, where some people left and some boarded our boat from another service.
Then, Lombok, where we spent about 15 minutes loading passengers and doing some paperwork.
The people around me started joking, that they were sold this as a ‘direct to Jakarta’. Also I found out that many have been given a much earlier departure time – 11:00 and even 10:30. They have been told the boat is late.
Boat from Bali to Gili T
On Bali, we’ve decided to use a proven company, Ecajaya. Agencies in Ubud were quoting different prices, starting at 350K one way. Then, we found an agency who offered the tickets for 250K, or 500K for return. That seemed like a bargain and we handed in the money.
On arrival to the pier in a pouring rain, we’ve found Ecajaya counter, half an hour before the departure at 1PM. We were told that our names were not on the list! We also found out that the boat is scheduled to depart at 1:30PM, which actually helped to sort out the issue. After about 20 minutes and several calls, our names appeared on the list, we were handed in boarding passes and stickers and went to the crowd on the pier.
The crowd was plentiful and noisy. Street sellers were manoeuvring between us, offering fruit, crisps, water, beer, noodle soup, sarongs and everything else. Beer proved to be a very popular drink before the New Year, and a 14-year old local girl has done a dozen of runs to supply cold Bintangs for the thirsty travellers.
1:30 came and there was no sign of a boat. Neither at 2PM. About 2:30 and a few beers later, our boat started to offload the passengers. It was full! The air-conditioning was full on, and I wrapped myself into a sarong, regretting I didn’t get another one from the street seller on the pier.
Luckily, this was indeed a non-stop service and we safely arrived in Gili T. Oh, to be precise, we’ve has one slow down on the way when a school of dolphins appeared all around the boat. Magnificent!
The bottom line is… if you have some plans (like a flight or something), take much earlier service to avoid surprises!