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GJ BLOG

A personal adventure travel blog

Bangsaal - three-time UNESCO global scam and dump award winner

Christian Anderson

Landfall at Labuan Lombok was well after dark, so the benefits of the Perama approach became clear - no sharking around to negotiate transport, just straight onto the arranged bus for the 90 minute drive across the island, through villages and towns busy and bustling into the evening - I would have killed for another week here to explore and learn more rather than just speed through, nose pressed to the window. Roadside in Senggigi by 10pm, everyone had the same priorities - ATMs, wifi and cold beer. 100,000 IDR gets you a dodgy room at Hotel Ray - complimentary cockroaches who can’t even be bothered to scuttle away when you flip the lightswitch, but only there for a few hours so who cares? A Danish-run cafe in town saw the first two Bintangs go down far too quickly before we flipped next door to Happy Cafe so Louise could hit the stage with the house band and impress everyone in the room. More beers, then onto the shorts and, Happy Cafe closing, back to the cafe for European Cup final night (3am kickoff) - I only lasted about 20 minutes before the head started dropping but great fun and a brilliant night out. Senggigi by daylight was exactly as expected - a nice little tourist town set up as a base for Bali/Gili transfers, Rinjani trekking trips and dive schools. We were out by 9am - 100,000 got the 7 of us a bemo for the 40 minute drive along the coast to Bangsal, looking for a 30 minute boat ride on to Gili Meno - simple!

Not quite - some practicalities for you. First, your bemo won't take you all the way to the beach, but will stop a few hundred metres short to give the cimodo (horse and cart) drivers a chance to extract some cash. It's a perfectly OK walk, and there's a shop halfway for last minute supplies which was handy. Used the cimodo on the way back though - in May 2010 you could get them down to 20,000 IDR - there's your benchmark people. Back where your bemo dropped you off on the way in, walk well into the parking area through the blue gates, there will always be a couple of super-reliable Bluebird Taxis - spend a couple of days in Indo and you’ll learn that Bluebird is the One True God of taxis - no hassle, no scams, aircon and safe.

Bangsal beach deserves it's reputation as one of the planet's premier armpits. You're not paranoid - everyone IS out to scam you, so keep hold of your luggage (unless you want to pay to get it back) and don't expect a chilled out visit. Only 2 public boats per day from here to Gili Meno, the first of which we'd missed. There are many places in Asia where I'd be oh so happy to waste 3 hours people watching, waiting for the next public boat.

Bangsal. Not. One. Of. These.

But, the great advantage of arriving mob-handed not alone is that 170,000 gets a private boat and split 7 ways that's not too shabby. At the time of writing, in mid season, a direct Perama Boat is 100,000 per person from Senggigi to Gili Meno. Expensive, but Bangsal is a place to avoid, so consider it.