Would you like a cup of coffee?

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There are those moments while traveling when you just want to yell at everyone that looks at you, “Get the hell away from me!”. We were having one of those moments. Leaving the horrors of Bali, we were trying to escape to Lombok where it seems the stench followed us.

Getting off the ferry at midnightish in Lembar after the usual taxi, ojek (motorcycle taxi), transport bombardment we found a lovely waiting room equipped with AC, a security camera, and metal benches- basically our idea of paradise! I layed my blanket down on the floor with all my mosquito friends and curled up while Aurelien played guard and my personal fly/mosquito swatter on the benches.

Lombok Ferry waiting room

Six hours of “sleep” and a few hundred mosquito bites later and we decided to make our way to Mataram, the capital. As we leave our paradise we are flocked by all those who see money signs, I mean foreigners walking around with backpacks. “Transport!? Senggigi!? Taxi!? Where are you going!? Ojek!?”. We were like the most famous celebrities of Lembar followed by an entourage of paparazzi wanting to take our photographs, actually just wanting to make our wallets thinner. Unfortunately, our wallets were already thin therefore we beelined towards the supposed public transport or bemos. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Indonesian bemos. These are minivans that run a certain route usually never known unless asked or the occasional destination painted on the windshield. They are quite comfy, meaning over twenty people sitting in a van meant to hold ten people maximum, and ten very skinny people without bags, or legs.

The price for the 30 minute journey is 8,000 rp or 80 cents, which is slightly more than the rest of Indonesia, as we verified beforehand and even asked surrounding locals.

“Berapa” (How much?) we asked the first approaching bemo we see "two people,"  he replies in English (already a bad sign), “only 100,000 ruppiah” he replies with a big I’m-so-smart grin. We laugh and move on and he follows us his minivan puttering along beside us. “How much you want?” he asks. We then mention the real price. He laughs and after twenty minutes of creeping along beside us with ten people waiting inside he eventually lowers the price to 20,000 rp per person. We finally get him to leave and continut to walk towards the city a meare 20 kilometers away as the cycle continues with the next few bemo drivers until one guy even yelled out, “If you don’t have money go back to your country!” My blood was boiling. I was ready to u-turn it back right through Bali direct to Java.

“Hello!” a voice yells out to us.
“Would you like coffee?” the voice says.
The voice is coming from a little yellow house a few meters from the road. Aurelien and I look at each other and acknowledge that coffee is a good idea, and ask how much, “berapa?”. He laughs, “Free! Gratis!”
Hmm... We look at each other cautiously. “Why not?” our eyes say and we go in. After our previous experience we are a little on edge and weary. “He might have a homestay,” Aurelien suggests to me in french looking around.

Two hours later we are shaking hands with Tony and his wife our bellies full of coffee and snacks, our bags full of ginger coffee that we mentioned we liked, and two large smiles. Unfortunately, this didn’t break our horrible view towards the blood-sucking Lomboknese or Balinese, Tony was originally from Sulawesi, a rural island that we will hopefully visit one day, and his wife from Medan, in Sumatra. “Figures!” we thought, a little depressed not to have broken this negative feeling.

Tony worked on a boat when he was younger in the 60s and thus visited the ports all over Europe, Africa, and Asia and his stories are amazing. Stories that take you back so many years, his words painting pictures in our minds of Amsterdam, Hamburg, Abidjan, and Lagos these ports so many years ago, prostitutes looking for sailors, french fries frying in road side stands, large mugs of beer being poured in little bars and him as a young Indonesian man walking around witnessing everything for the first time.

Jacqueline in Mataram

Aurelien in Mataram

There are bad people and there are good people, there are people that want something from you, and there are just those that want to talk to you, tell you about their life, ask you about yours. You can always say no in fear they are all bad, but then life, and little moments like this would just pass us all by. Believe in the good in people. We had started to forget that after our short stint in Bali and our introduction to Lombok, but that little moment drinking coffee brought us back, and our hearts opened up again. A few seconds later we were picked up by a bemo full of school children, we worked out 10,000 per person.

On to the next adventure!

Would you have paid the 20,000 or even 100,000?
Have you ever had a similar experience with a complete stranger?


  1. What a great story! and really inspiring! it made me want to do the same like you both did, but i'm not sure if i can. i never know that is really tough become a traveler in Bali and Lombok as a foreigner.

    i feel sorry to our people whom treat you bad when u both in Indonesia.

    we'll miss u to come to our country again! Sampai jumpa lagi!


  2. what a great write up, such a nice sharing, i love it! Keep it up!

  3. I'm afraid in France, there are a lot of people who kick the strangers outside. If there are tourists, there take there money and kick outside anyway. When I read your post, I remember I want to be a good personn, and I want to keep it in my mind.
    I like this blog. Good travel you two.

    1. Hi Ansofie ! We live partly in France and we now how hard it is for foreigners in Europe, however there are always good people to make it up for the others, people like you and us. Thanks for your comment and keep following us.