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Part 9 - Lombok

Exchange Rate: 1US$ = 7500 - 8000 Indonesian Rupiah

Senggigi | Gili Trawangan | Gili Meno | Gili Air | Senggigi | Tetebatu Tour

Senggigi Beach (Monday 4th - Tuesday 5th January)

It was up at 7am today which felt like the crack of dawn after all the long lies we've been having. We'd booked the bus/ferry to Senggigi yesterday (30,000rp each) and the bus came to pick us up at around 8.00am for the half hour journey to Padangbai where the ferry leaves for Lombok. When the bus stopped a group of guys clambered in and grabbed our rucksacks, to carry them to the ferry for us (for money). As we were sitting at the back of the bus and our bags were at the front we didn't have a choice in the matter and couldn't do anything about it as they started speeding off to the ferry, our backpacks on their backs. On the ferry they demanded 40,000rp for their trouble. It doesn't equate to that much in our money, but you can get a room for the night or a nice meal for two people for that money here. The fact that we didn't want to have our bags carried and didn't have the chance to carry them ourselves annoyed me a bit. We ended up having to give them about 30,000 just to get rid of them as their were five of them shouting at us and getting upset at our offers of less money.

The ferry journey took just over three hours and our Perama bus met us at Lembar (the port) to take us to Senggigi, just over an hour away up the coast. In some ways, Lombok is similar to Bali and in others very different. The land seemed a lot flatter (apart from the mountains), not as many rice fields, the roads were much quieter and the architecture quite different. In Bali there are a lot of buildings resembling the Hindu temple structure, but Lombok is mainly Muslim, the buildings are not so fancy and there were a few mosques dotted around here and there. We drove through the busy capital of Mataram, then up to Senggigi Beach ("Lombok's Premier Tourist Resort"). We went into Dharma Cottages but their rooms for 60,000 were small, dreary, not very nice and the next step up was 200,000. I don't think so ! After that we went to Lina Cottages and took a room for 75,000. It's quite small, but very clean, with a shower (cold water)/toilet and air-conditioning (bliss !). They also have bigger bungalows facing the beach for 150,000 (hot water and mini bar). The beach here is quite quiet (apart from the sarong/pineapple/watch/jewellery/massage and magic mushroom (!) sellers) and it's more pleasant than any of the beaches I've been on in Bali. The main street is wider, there's hardly any traffic and the atmosphere is quite nice. We've spent our two days here relaxing - sitting on the beach, reading, swimming in the sea, looking at the shops and we've had some nice cheap food at the hotel restaurant and the Chinese place next door. Tomorrow we;re taking a boat to the Gili islands - three small coral fringed islands to the north-east of Lombok.

In Senggigi there are a lot of upmarket hotels and the accommodation seems to be more expensive than in Bali for what you get. There are lots of arts and craft shops, restaurants, bars and places which organise tours of the island. The place across the road from us belts out live music every night which is good when they sing Reggae, but not when they try to sing Alanis Morrisette. It makes it harder to get to sleep at night but we were warned by the hotel staff, so I don't mind too much. I even get to use my earplugs for the first time on this trip !

Gili Trawangan (Wednesday 6th - Thursday 7th January)

Beach on 
Gili Trawangan On Wednesday we took the 9.00am boat to Gili Trawangan (12,500rp). The main way to get to the Gili Islands is by bus to Bangsal, then by boat from there, but we noticed yesterday that there was a boat directly from Senggigi beach by Sunshine Tours at the next door Chinese restaurant. It was advertised as a "Big Safe Boat", but was actually a small wooden boat with 25 of us crammed in along with lots of backpacks. It got us there safetly though, but a bit wet, in under an hour.

We're staying at Dua Sekawah which is OK, for 50,000rp including breakfast. The last couple of days have been spent mainly on the beach, snorkelling and swimming. The beach is the nicest we've been to in Indonesia so far - fine white sand, clear water and a reef just off the beach for snorkelling. A lot of the reef has been damaged because all the boats anchor on to it and chunks have been broken off. Despite that, there are still plenty of fishies to be seen. Another good thing is that there are no hawkers on the island, so you don't get hassled on the beach constantly. There's also no motor vehicles, only bikes and horse & carts.

There's not much else to write really as we came to the Gili Islands for fun sun and snorkelling rather than sightseeing and culture. This island is the busiest of the three Gili Islands and it does seem quite full of tourists, unlike everywhere else we've been in Bali and Lombok. Tomorrow we're doing an island hop to Gili Meno, the smallest and most peaceful of the three islands.

Gili Meno (Friday 8th - Saturday 9th January)

Gili Meno is a nice little island and very quiet. We There's only a couple of restaurants here, although there are plenty of shut down restaurants, a bit like the place that once was or maybe never has been. Either that or it gets very busy in July/August. We're staying at the Kontiki Cottages and (closed) restaurant in a nicely decorated bungalow for 60,000 (no breakfast). Threre are also more basic bamboo bungalows for 30,000. Electricity is turned on between 6pm and 9am, also outside that time there's no fan !

Gavin is not feeling well - stomach cramps, a temperature and he's spent all day Saturday in bed after taking some antibiotics from our trusty medical kit. I'm worried about him (as I usually am when he's unwell), but hopefully he will be feeling better tomorrow when the antibiotics kick in. The beaches here are nice and quiet when you get further away from the harbour with the exception of a few kids going "Pineapple, Mrs ?". The sea is clear blue and it's all very pleasant, but I think two days is enough for me !

Gili Air (Sunday 10th - Monday 11th January)

The actual island of Gili Air is quite nice. There's a few places to stay and eat - not as many as Trawangan, but much more than Meno. From what I've seen of the beach though, it's the worst of the three. On Saturday I walked Half way round the island on the beach and most of it is covered in large chunks of coral, rocks, seaweed, plastic bottles and other assorted rubbish, which is a pity. We're staying at Gili Indah in a nice big bungalow which has a huge double (or maybe triple) sun lounger on the veranda. It's 70,000rp a night including breakfast and they also have smaller bungalows without a fan for 45,000rp. The extra 25,000 for the fan is worth it in my opinion for those hot sweaty nights !

On Monday it poured with rain for most of the day and we discovered that there 'aint much to do in the Gili Islands when it rains apart from eat, sleep, read and drink. We walked all the way round the island (our first exercise in weeks !). We spent the rest of the day lazing in the shelter of our veranda, reading. I've managed to get bitten on the soles of my feet and all round the sides - I don't know how, but it itches like mad. At night we had lots of fun watching the gheccos and lizards on the ceiling by the light catching all the beetles and flying insects - great entertainment. Tomorrow we're back to Senggigi. The Gili Islands have been nice and relaxing and the beaches beat anything I've seen in Bali, but not quite as nice as the beaches of Fiji's islands.

Back to Senggigi (Tuesday 12th January)

We got up far too early for my liking today (7.15am). It rained so hard last night that water poured through our leaky roof on to the floor and through our mossie nets onto the bed. Breakfast was the traditional fruit salad and banana pancakes, then we took a boat to Bengsal at 8.30 (3500rp each). Our boat was met by the usual crowd of local boys trying to carry our bags, but this time we knew better ! It was quite difficult to stop them grabbing our bags. On the beach there were little kids wanting money for pouring a bottle of sea water over our sandy feet. What next ? It's actually really sad though, because there are a lot of little kids selling things, when they should be at school, but their families can't afford to send them. We got the bus from Bengsal to Senggigi which took about an hour, over lots of steep and winding roads with lots of lovely views of rice fields and bays. We could even see the volcano in Bali in the distance, poking through the top of the clouds.

In Senggigi we went back to Lina Cottages for air-conditioned bliss, and our room was much the same as last time except further away from the noisy bar with the band. Today we bought ourselves a couple of nice T-shirts at the supermarket, booked a tour for tomorrow, our ticket to Ubud on Thursday, arranged to get our laundry done, visited an internet cafe (25,000 an hour), then attempted to lie on the beach. The sand was burning hot, too hot to walk on and sore to lie on even with our sarongs on the top, so we gave that one a miss.

We had a nice dinner in the Chinese restaurant next door again tonight - two spring rolls with sweet 'n' sour sauce each, Cap Cay, Hot Chilli Tempe, two steamed rice, two large beers and a large water, all for 38,000. Yum Yum. I look forward to some nice air-conditioning enduced sleep tonight.

Tetebatu Tour (Wednesday 13th January)

We decided to do another tour today and see a bit of East and Central Lombok's countryside. This tour was different from other tours that we've been on as our guide actually spoke to us ! First we went to the Mandalika market in Mataram for a look around. Market in
Mataram The colours and the smells were very interesting, but we didn't buy anything. After that it was Karang Bayan, a traditional village of Sasak Lombok with interesting houses and villagers making crafts with bamboo. It was very different from being in a tourist centre like Senggigi and the people were very poor. Later we went to the Suranandi Temple, the oldest Hindu Tenple in Lombok, containing springs of fresh water with "sacred" fish and giant eels. The temple guide also took us to the gardens next door where there were two large elephants (much to our surprise !). We took a few photos and fed one of them by putting nuts down their large slippery trunks, but we turned down the offer of riding the elephants. Sounds a bit scary to me !

We had lunch in a cafe in Tetebatu which as usual was served up one meal at a time (there were 4 of us - Gav and I and an older French-Canadian couple). It was very rainy and cloudy outside and , so we never saw Mount Rinjani, much to my disappointment as I was looking forward to that. The afternoon wasn't as interesting as the morning as we went to various different craft/weaving villages and shops. We didn't want to buy anything as our backpacks are stuffed full as it is. The tour was altogether fairly interesting, apart from the shopping part, but it nice to see the lush green countryside of Lombok. Our tour cost 50,000rp each with Perama, (not including a 15% discount we got with our trusty Perama discount card.)

Tomorrow we're leaving Lombok for Bali - back to Ubud for a couple of days before flying out on Sunday. I've enjoyed Lombok a lot. I'd say, more than Bali.

Round the World Journal Index | Pre-Trip | USA (East) | USA (West) | Fiji | New Zealand 1 | New Zealand 2 | Australia | Bali | Lombok | Bali 2 | Singapore | Malaysia | Thailand 1 | Thailand 2

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