Lombok or Gili Air? – male’s intuition rocks!

Chaos in Bali made us to find better and quieter place where we could chill out on the beach in the shadow of the palms. Our friends, Nina and her Czarek had a flight from Lombok, the island neighboring with Bali. We thought it would be nice to travel together, so instead of going to Java we went with them. We heard a lot good things about small islands located northwest of Lombok. We were curious about Kuta Lombok too, a small village on the south coast of Lombok. Chev and Czarek preferred to go south to do some surfing and girls could enjoy water, sun and the beach, but Anna and Nina wanted to see paradise islands. We had 4hrs to make a decision- that’s how long it took the ferry to reach Lombok. Finally, we choose Gili Air (boys agreed for peace of mind ;P).

 

On the way to Gili Air

It was after sunset when we reached the port in Lembar. We still had to go to Senggigi to find a hotel for one night and then go to Bangsar to catch a boat to Gili Air… It was too late to get to Gili in the same day and it turned out it was too late to go Senggigi by public bus too. We had no choice but take a car from taxi cartel. How does it work? When it’s late and the public bus doesn’t operate, there is only taxi you can take. Drivers set silly high prices for their service and there is no or very low chance to knock it down. There isn’t a single hotel within a walking distance (walking distance = up to 1 h walk) so you could wait till the next day and take a bus. The taxi took us to Senggigi and the next day another one (cheap metered one) to Bangsal where we took a boat to Gili Air. The boat was a little bit overloaded… It was ok on the move, but when stopped the water was getting inside.

 

Gili Air

Without beating about the bush: Gili Air was a big disappointment. We wanted a nice and quiet place and we got into something completely opposite, the place with loads of tourists. Beaches were narrow and dirty. Food or hotels very expensive comparing with the rest of Indonesia. Water near coastline was very shallow and with low tide, there was the only reef showing so no chance for fun in the water and no chance for surfing. Moreover, the island itself was a dirty place with rubbish around, but there were a few nice spots for contrast:

We’ve seen many beaches and now have higher expectations… We split into two groups when looking for a hotel. Nina and Czarek went one way and us the other way. They had more luck and found nice and hidden away bungalow so we stayed there for the next two nights. Boys were right about going straight to Kuta Lombok… 😉

 

Kuta Lombok

Kuta Lombok is a small village by the ocean surrounded by scenic mountains. It is a great place to stay and visit beaches and surfing spots nearby. There is a big choice of restaurants (called warung sometimes), hotels and homestays. On the way to Kuta, we met couple from the UK, Marcus and Lucy, so it was 6 of us and taxi for 6 people worked out to be a similar price what we would pay for a bus, but with less hassle. When we arrived at the village, girls stayed in a restaurant with all backpacks and boys went to search for a place to stay for a couple of days. Marcus managed to find very nice and super cheap place (120.000 rupiahs [£5.5] for a double room with breakfast!) in the middle of the village. And that’s how it looked like around:

And spots further away from the hotel:

Handmade wooden bike spotted in the front of a shop:

And this is how ”petrol station” in the village looked like:

West part of the beach was occupied by fishermen’s houses. They had boats painted in their favorite pastel colors:

 

East part of the beach had a little mangrove. Those spikes are roots that show at the low tide.

Right before sunset locals are ”hunting” for crabs and collecting mussels.

The best surfing spot for a beginner was Selong Belanak beach (no reef, just sand) 12 miles west from Kuta. Can be reached on a scooter with no problem. Boys took surf oards and tried surfing when girls stayed on the beach.

Scooter for one day cost about £3 and fuel only 40p/litre so we decided to keep it for a while and check other places near Kuta. To the west from Kuta, there was beautiful beach Tanjung Aan.

After more riding we found a hill with great views.

We went as far as peninsula had its end and we found the place like Portuguese Algarve. 😉

While wandering around the coast we found a huge lobster farm. 🙂

After a couple of days we said “goodbye” to Lucy and Marcus and then, the next day, we had to say it again but to Nina and Czarek. We stayed in Kuta two more days and then went to Bali again. It wasn’t easy to get out from there. The only public transport was bemo (minibus), but because it was the last day of Ramadan, Eid-Al-Fitr and they were not operating. We could go to a travel agency and take a car from there, but whatever worked for six people it didn’t work for only two of us. So what we did in that case? Hitchhiked of course and again, we didn’t have to try too hard. We walked to the main road. On the way some guy said “hi” and asked where we were going with that heavy backpacks. Turned out that he was coming back home to Mataram which wasn’t far from Lembar. Hitchhiking in Indonesia isn’t free and locals expect you to pay for a lift so we asked for the price, most of the time answer would be a crazy, high amount, but he said we could pay whatever we felt like to pay. His name was Ketut and he was police officer coming back home after a night shift. He was knackered after work, but that didn’t stop him from chatting with us. He must have liked it so much that he did an extra trip and dropped us right in the front of the ferry terminal.

Again, we had to spend at least 4 hurs on the ferry from Lombok to Bali. It was the most boring place we could be, so what to do for that long? Refreshing nap for next few hours of journey to Ubud. 😉

From ferry terminal in Padangbai to Ubud there were still 23 miles to do. No luck with a public bus there too, but we are lucky with hitchhiking so we tried and caught… a taxi. The driver was ok and didn’t try rip us off so agreed to take us for 100k rupiah, around £4.7 (if he wasn’t in a good mood that would be 200-300k easily).

More travel stories about Indonesia you can find here: Travel stories about Indonesia