Padang Bai, or “the slow pace town” if I may, is the port for the public ferry connecting people who wish to travel from Bali to Lombok. The public ferry is available for the exploring junkies, as well as for the Indonesian natives, an approximately four-hour slow ride from one island to the other. So, how do you get there? What would the trip on the ferry be like? And what about the prices? Asia Exchange´s intern, Fabian, went to find out.
The most convenient way to get around on this island is to drive a scooter. As I have been driving during the last four months, I see my self as an experienced driver. Therefore, I feel confident to drive longer distances. So, with a full tank of gas I was ready to start my trip to Padang Bai from Jimbaran. I put the ending location on my GPS and it estimated the trip to take around 90 minutes, but you never know with the traffic here in Bali. As the infrastructure has hard time keeping up with the ever-increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads, one-hour drive can easily become two because of traffic jams. If you have not experienced the traffic in Bali before, I highly recommend you to not drive a scooter. According to Wikitravel, there is no public transport to get to Padang Bai, but with a taxi or an Uber, you will get there safe for a decent price. From Kuta, an Uber costs a bit under 200 000 IDR and with a taxi it is a little more expensive. Overall, you should not pay more than 250 000 IDR if you are located in the Kuta area.
When I finally arrived in Padang Bai, I was delighted to see the village has kept its Balinese aura. I passed local markets where freshly picked fruits and vegetables were offered along with newly caught fish. I saw locals sitting down talking or eating while they observed the flow of people leaving or entering the harbor. There and then I understood why Padang Bai is commonly known as “the slow pace town”. As I entered the harbor, I decided to park my scooter close to the booth where they sell ferry tickets. There was a price list just next to the booth and I could not help but laugh when I saw how ridiculously cheap it is. If you travel with your scooter, the price for the ferry is 114 000 IDR and without, 44 000 IDR per person. Not too bad for a four hours trip!
The ferry should leave every hour, 24 hours a day but as it is Bali, things do not run as smoothly as it might in Europe. I waited three hours on the pier until I finally boarded the ferry. I was a bit bummed down after many waiting hours but relieved to finally board. I was told every ferry is different but they all have comparable layouts. Usually there are three decks whereas the first is for vehicles, the second for passengers and the third is the rooftop access, which is suitable for sunbathing if you wish. When I finally found a seat, a storm of locals attempted to sell everything from beverages to sarongs. If you just politely say no thanks, preferably in Indonesian, they let you go pretty fast. The prices on the ferry are not expensive and the food is nothing to cherish for. However, the lack of freshly made food did not bother me because I am a huge fan of instant noodles.
After about an hour, when everyone was settled down, we were on our way! Most boats will have at least one tv and the movies they play may or may not be in English, may or may not have subtitles but to my relief, they started playing ‘Mad Max’. One of my all time favorites, so, all I could do was to sit back comfortably and enjoy the ride!
Upon arrival to the port in Lembar, Lombok, I was awakened by the sound of a loud chime. I looked around and saw people packing up their stuff, prepared to exit. I stood up and decided to head towards the rooftop to check out the view. As we slowly entered the harbor, the beautiful panoramic views of mountains covered by tropical forest, left me speechless. After nine hours trip, the view in Lembar really helped to reboot my energy level as it was dangerously close to zero.
There are so many obstacles along the way to Lembar, Lombok that could delay your trip, like for example traffic jams on the way to Padang Bai or ferries that do not show up in time because of various reasons. Still, everyone who considers travelling to Lombok should take the ferry from Padang Bai. Not only because it is cheap, but also of the experience. On my way to Padang Bai, I got to see the beautiful farm side of Bali I have not seen before. Also, the majority of the travellers are locals and therefore you will interact and learn more of the Indonesian culture, which in the long run will benefit you. Learning about other cultures will give you new perspectives of life! So, to whom would I recommend this trip to? Definitely to the one who has a lot of patience and to the one who wishes to get out of his or hers comfort zone.
The ferries that travel between Padang Bai and Lembar, help our students from both Bali to visit and have a good time on both Islands. Read more here about our different study options in Bali.