Wiki Info Nusa Tenggara
Indonesian buses like to invite guitar singers on board just before leaving to serenade passengers for $$. Very nice, unique, and better than the blasting of music usually on their speakers but still just another example of how they try to suck $ out of every experience we 'tribal travelers' are involved in!
At the ferry crossing 7-8 local women piled on the bus all with the same snacky goods as well as fruits - strawberries - in season and drinks. We got off the bus at Sumbawa Besar on the highway across from the Terminal Sumur Payung. The LP said there were 7 AC bus lines operating from here to Bima. We asked at the terminal and to a man they said only minivans which all leave at 8am! We got a bemo into town (ripped off big time again even tho we paid less than half of what he first wanted) to Panca Sari Tours and Travel - from LP. They were very helpful in that they called the Lombok Wisata fellow who sold us the ticket to here and let us think we could easily get a morning AC coach. He was no help other than to suggest we go back to the highway where we got off and flag down a night bus going by. We headed to a Chinese restaurant the travel people suggested but it was closed. Next stop across the street was Hotel Suci -LP recom - but their prices had gone up way beyond what we were willing to pay. Across the street was the only food place nearby, YFC, a KFC knock off, where we happened upon a cross cultural birthdayt party experience, ha! (see photo) After greasy Yummy Fried Chicken we took the advise of the ticket salesman and flagged down a bemo to go and flag down a passing bus which was supposed to be coming by 8-9pm on it's way to Bima.
The serendipity of the occasion gave us a young bemo driver who contacted someone who met us at a restaurant where Dunia Mas buses stop in the eve. Being a sure thing, not just hoping to flag a bus down on the highway, we jumped on it but again it was twice the price the bemo kid told us it would be! A bird in the hand as they say and assigned seats not the potluck off the highway! All this took place between 3 and 5pm. It's been a good day in all, richer in experience altho poorer in the pocketbook.
Advice to others traveling this way...go straight thru to Sape from Mataram, a long ride but no hassles...you miss the cross cultural experiences, however! Indonesians are very quick to smile, especially if you smile at them first. Just seeing them on the street, their demenour and look is very serious. If I just crack a little smile their faces light up! They also love to laugh and joke a lot, I think it is one of their favorite past times.