Lombok and the Gili Islands


Niki and I left Ubud and took the slow ferry to Lombok, the island just east of Bali. We had heard rumors of how awful this ferry was – people vomiting and really tumultuous waves. But, we were in luck – the seas were calm and we had a great experience. We were invited to the captain’s area and offered food and coffee. After chatting with the crew for awhile, we each got to steer the boat for awhile, so that was kind of fun. We spent the remainder of the day lounging on deck with some Dutch surfers.

Then, we arrived in Lombok and our driver immediately spotted us and ushered us to his waiting van. Transportation and how it happens is one of the differences between the US and developing countries. In the US – we’d have to go to the ticket counter of our shuttle company and track down the next steps on our own. Here, 10 feet off the ferry, some guy just knows that we’re the two people he’s looking for – clings to us, and voila, we’re on our way to the right spot. The system is totally different from home, but it works.

We got to our guest house in Sengiggi and the owner wanted $15 for our room. But, Niki and I have mastered the poor traveler act and we got our room for $6. Now, this is probably our proudest negotiating yet, as our bungalow was stunningly gorgeous. Two twin beds with clean, fresh smelling sheets. Towels that smelled like laundry detergent and flowers. An adorable bathroom that was half outside so you could look at the moon while you showered. A garden in the bathroom. Toilet paper. Soap. My goodness, it was SO nice. Such luxuries. We talked with the men who ran the place for a bit and they wanted us to stay an extra day so we could barbeque. We decided to spend a day on the island exploring and then partake in the barbeque, instead of heading off immediately to some smaller carless islands offshore.

So, the next day, we woke up, hoped on our bikes and headed north. We went by stunning vista after stunning vista and stopped off at a couple of completely deserted beaches to swim. It was awesome. We kept saying how lucky we were and how it was such a great day – it was. I felt like I was in a movie – you see two girls on bikes, looking for a deserted beach – and well, we did that, but we just didn’t have to look to far. I feel like Lombok is what everyone comes to Bali hoping to find, ‘cause man it was gorgeous. Bali is so overcrowded, but Lombok – it’s like no one has gotten the memo that this untouched paradise exists… and that worked out to our advantage for the day. After cruising and swimming in deserted beaches, we decided to check out some of the expensive resorts. We stopped by a boutique hotel and found the honeymoon suite – you know the type – the pool that looks like it pours into the ocean – the private fenced off villa. Yeah, well we decided to take a dip in that pool and did so for about 10 minutes before a woman who worked there came over to tell us that it was a private villa, and occupied to boot. Thank God Niki was able to keep her composure, because I was a giggling mess. Niki just calmly stated that we were wanting to check out a room, but didn’t find anyone, which is just funny, because why would we automatically just stop and swim in a private pool? So, then, we humored the staff and checked out a room – not a bad deal – $95 for a really nice room, free wi-fi, satellite TV, oceanfront view, so I get why people honeymoon in places like these. But honestly, I don’t know if I’ll need a nice honeymoon, if I know I can get the experience for free. Ha!

Then, we checked out the Sheraton – this time, we swam in the communal pool, which was amazing. There was a slide and tons of places to lounge and sit comfortably while still in the water. We swam all around – the only people in the place swimming, mind you. All the rich guests were just sleeping in their lounge chairs – how boring. When I spoke to a passing waiter in Indonesian, I realized that I probably should’ve just spoken English, as my attempt at Indonesian probably gave my non-guest status away. And we were starting to be eyed at a bit, so we headed off.

We went back to town and went to the market. For dinner, my task was going to be to make brownies, but the oven wasn’t working, so I made chocolate mousse instead – which was interesting, b/c I had no way to measure anything and while it turned out chocolate-y and delicious, the consistency was completely off. The men at our bungalow made grilled tuna, Niki made a delicious salad and Chanti, a woman that we met, made some garlic bread. So, it was nice to be in the kitchen and cook, especially since that’s probably the thing I miss most about home – cooking. It was just a fun day and we had a great meal to top it off at the end of it all.

Now, we’re headed to Gili Trawangan – a small island offshore, dubbed the “party island” by the locals. Chanti, who we met last night promised us calm days and nights though, so we’re looking forward to just relaxing and swimming and snorkeling for awhile. We convinced Chanti to turn around and come back to the Gili’s with us, so now our duo is a trio.

We took a local ferry to Gili Trawangan, on which we got absolutely soaked. We landed on the island absolutely shocked at the prices they were wanting for a room – $30 was there starting price! Crazy. So, we eventually succumbed and booked a room for $12 for the three of us. Fortunately, we only had to pay such an exorbitant price for one night as the next day, when we were wandering around, Niki and I saw a poster offering lodging for $7 a night with a dive instructor. So, we moved into Pamela’s home for the next couple of nights. Niki’s really great, because she’s willing to traipse around for up to an hour just to save a buck or two. I know it sounds like nothing, but we’re each traveling for so long, that over time, it really adds up. And a dollar here or there means a massage or a beer later on, so it’s totally worthwhile. The Gili Islands are 3 small islands off the shore of Lombok, which is the island just east of Bali. It’s super relaxing – we’re on the largest island and it’s only 6km around – we’ve run around it for exercise the past couple of days. And, there are no cars, so it’s really nice and chill. Days have been passed calmly – just swimming in the clearest water, snorkeling, laying out and socializing at night. It’s certainly not a bad lifestyle. We were initially only going to stay here for a few days, but ended up meeting some nice people and now will stay here for a week or so in total. There’s not exactly a huge amount of stuff to write about as our days have passed so calmly and similarly. As Anna, a Danish girl we’ve been hanging out with says, “This place is paradise!” It truly is. We’ll head back to Bali in a few days. More then!

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