After 2.5 years I was back in Indonesia and this time with Peter and Andrew. The last time I was here I fell in love with this country for all its endless beauty, the laid back and spiritual vibe, and the Indonesian smile that exudes positivity and joy. I was thrilled to be back.
We landed at the Denpasar airport in Bali after a 4 hour flight from Bangkok.
The weeks leading up Peter tried to book us a domestic ticket on a low-cost carrier, LionAir, that has a number of short flights from Bali to Lombok. Incompetent staff, websites that wouldn’t except payment and hours of shenanigans meant we arrived in Bali without a ticket. Our plan was to try to buy a ticket at the sales office for the next flight. Thankfully, they still had availability and we purchased a laughably cheap ticket for $16 per person to Lombok’s new International Airport.
I was excited to be back. Even the airport put me in a good mood. Just look at the aesthetics.
We touched down in Lombok and our island adventure had begun. While waiting for baggage, a young group of backpackers approached us looking to see if we wanted to share a ride into town and search for hostels. Unsure if we should be flattered or offended by the suggestion, we declined and left baggage claim only to be immediately accosted by a flock of Indonesians yelling with taxi offers. It was one of the more intense arrival experiences I’ve had walking out of an airport, expecting an “island vibe,” but to be confronted with such intensity. Maybe it was due to the fact that the airport just opened and Lombok is beginning to surge in popularity that the locals are eager to make money. We opted to walk past the crowd and locate a quiet and peaceful taxi driver to hire.
We took the 30 minute taxi ride to our Airbnb where we were staying at Kuta Beach (not to be confused with Kuta, Bali). This Airbnb was one of my favorites and at the top of the list of most unique rentals we have stayed at. It is located a rocks throw from the beach and is open-air. You can sit in the hanging chair in the living room and watch waves crash, loose chickens and stray dogs walk by and catch the sunset in the evening. There was a projector that you can use to display movies on the living room wall making for a fun evening.
We got settled in and walked over to the beach to enjoy one of the best things about Indonesia, the glorious golden sunsets.
Mother nature at it’s finest.
We purchased our first Bintangs of the trip and sipped beers while sitting at a makeshift bar on the beach playing Mac Demarco. Relaxation set in after a long travel day that started with a 3:00am wake-up call in Bangkok.
Kuta Beach is a small area of Lombok where most of the restaurants, bars, and place to stay are located. To give you an idea of the size it would take about 15 minutes to walk the dirt roads of the entire village town. Nearby are about six beaches where the surfers go to catch world class waves.
On any given night the small town has one bar that hosts the “party” for the night. Live music is played, cheap drinks are offered, and it’s where everyone goes. We arrived on a Monday night and the party that night was at Surfer’s Bar which was conveniently right next door to where we were staying. It took all of 30 seconds to walk over and order an ice cold Bintang. We observed the scene which was a mix of young male locals hitting on young female foreigners and Australians getting drunk. Tiredness set in early due to the 3:00 AM wake up call we had that morning so we called it a night. Before entering our rental we did have to clear out the small path of party goers who had made themselves comfortable on our rental’s patio and front doorsteps. Good thing I had ear plugs to drown out the noises of the rager next door.
That was our only night out on the town. After a week in Bangkok we were all ready for a detox of surf, work, eat repeat.
The guys were machines with their sunrise morning surf sessions, then working all day only to go back to surf at sunset. Dinners were quick then it was back to work with a surf-movie projecting in the background before bed.
Peter and Andrew came back every day beaming with happiness from what they claimed was the “best surf conditions” for their skill-level. Honestly, Peter is at his happiness after a solid surf session in the sea. He comes back calm, soothed, uplifted and happy. Its such great therapy for him. And Lombok was providing the best therapy around.
The transparent blueish-green water was 80 degrees. The pristine white sand beaches and dramatic scenery were treats to the eyes while waiting for sets. The lack of crowds and glassy reef breaks all combined for a surfer’s heaven. There were times when Peter and Andrew would find surf-breaks down long dirt-paths on their motorbikes that opened up into world-class waves all to themselves. There were other times where they hired a outrigger to take them to off-shore breaks for just a couple bucks.
You don’t have to be a surfer to know that days like that will sooth your soul and instill zen into any living creature. Lombok was a treat for them.
While the boys enjoyed their version of nirvana, I took time to relax, read, blog, do yoga, and go on some really hot, sweaty runs. Lombok offered some of the most uniques views I’ve encountered while running.
Such as water buffalos.
Nothing on my runs compared to the scenery of the beaches though. Lombok, along with being a surfers dream is also a photographers dream with all the vibrant shades of color and dynamic landscape.
One day I treated myself to a pedicure. To date, this was the most unique pedicure experience ever. There was a sign on the side of the road that read “pedicures” with an arrow. I followed it. I inquired about the sign and within minutes I was laying on my back on a cushion in someones hut. I batted away flies and played with the nail lady’s daughter as I laid on the floor getting my toes painted. Not quite like the nail spas back at home, but the results were just as good.
In the early evenings we would all reconvene, sometimes watching the sunsets from our patio while sipping fresh coconuts.
After sunset we would grab dinner at one of the restaurants in the area. Since we were there for 5 nights we were able to sample a variety of different establishments.
One night while we were enjoying delicious crab at popular dinner spot, The Chili, I was getting attacked by mosquitos so a staff member kindly left to buy mosquito spray for his customers. When he returned he threw a clear ziploc bag on the table. I picked it up and examined the contents wondering if it was some sort of edible mosquito repellent. Upon further investigation I realized that the bag had nothing to do with mosquitos, the guy who threw the bag on the table wasn’t the owner and the huge bag was filled with magic mushrooms for sale. We kindly declined the offer, but had a really good laugh at my confusion and the fact that having someone throw mushrooms on your table is seemingly normal where we were. Interesting fact: magic mushrooms are legal in Lombok.
On our last full day in Kuta Beach Peter took me on a late afternoon date. I think he felt like he had been neglecting me due to the aforementioned surf, work, eat cycle he had adopted, but I was honestly really happy he was doing what he loved. Nonetheless we headed out by way of scooter to explore some of the beaches him and Andrew had discovered.
First up, Mawun Beach. On our way I couldn’t help but be inspired by all the beauty that surrounded us. Lombok offers a combination of stunning coastal views intertwined with lush thick forest as far as the eye can see and the mind can dream. The hues of greens contrasting with blues found all over Lombok are delectable and other worldly.
We made a pit stop at Mawun beach where we purchased coconuts, sat and watched the surf, and counted the varies shades of green and blue we could spot. It felt like a mix of Irish green and Tahitian blue. In the pictures below the scenery is so beautiful it almost doesn’t look real.
Next we headed to the most popular surf beach in Lombok, Seger Beach. Andrew was out surfing so we found a perfect hill top to catch the sunset and try to spot Andrew in the surf.
From our perched position we were able to spot Andrew riding waves while simultaneously being spoiled by a rose gold sunset.
While on Lombok it’s pretty easy to set up a perfect date. That type of surroundings and sunset will make any night instantly romantic.
The next morning we packed up and took an hour-long taxi to a harbor on the opposite side of Lombok. We were scheduled to take a short boat ride to Gili Trawangan (Gilli T). I wasn’t sure if anyone of us really felt ready to leave the paradise at Kuta Lombok, but it was on to the next adventure.
Cheers to unforgettable and stunning rose gold Indonesian sunsets.