..over to Lombok and back again..
01.10.2009 - 12.10.2009
We have moved about a bit since the last blog, so thought we'd start with the map...
From Ubud we headed back to the coast and the public ferry from Padangbai to Lembar in Lombok (the next island in the archipelago). The boat was VERY slow and took almost 5 hours to make the crossing, something our guidebook failed to mention, leaving us hungry and devoid of snacks but glad to be on the high sea for the first time.
After a brief stopover in the Lombok capital, Mataram (Not Matalan, but almost as exciting) we headed south for the sleepy surfer town of Kuta. This was a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle we had seen pretty much everywhere in Bali, with literally just one short street of hostels, vagrant chickens, stray dogs and warungs (roadside restaurants) facing onto a vast, deserted beach. Here we enjoyed simply losing a couple of days finding our own secluded private beaches to laze on in the day before tucking into comfort food over pirate DVDs with all the spaced out surfers after dark.
We did, however, manage to rouse ourselves eventually and hire a moped for a bit of exploration. Everyone here does it but until now we had been pretty wary of the Indonesian roads. Lombok's roads seemed much wider and quieter though so we decided to take the plunge, but not without ensuring we also received helmets with our rental. At such an apparently odd request (we were the only people on the road even with shirts on a lot of the time), the proprietor managed to blow the dust off a couple of ancient circa 1985 specials that left us looking like extras from Top Gun (and loving it i might add, though the matching outfits were purely coincidence!).
Once we got the hang of it we were soon zipping around and having great fun. We made it to an industrious fishing village to the east, pausing to watch the fisherman fixing their nets, before heading north and climbing for lunch at a hilltop restaurant with amazing views fo the bay below.
Finally, in the afternoon we made it up to a traditional Sasak Village (indiginous Lombok tribes), where one of the village youths gave us a guided tour for a small tip.
Leaving Kuta behind we again hit the road north to Sengiggi and the boat to the Gili Islands. These small palm-fringed islands off the coast of Lombok sit amongst coral reefs and turquoise waters, with simply the most stunning beaches either of us have ever seen (and we have seen a few!). We chose to settle on the largest island, Gili Trawangan, with the intention of staying as long as we could with the cash we had remaining (there are no ATMs, and no motorised transport of any kind).
We did splash out a little amongst the plethora of 'luxury' traditional bungalow-style accommodation, determined to make the most of it. The result was 5 glorious days, taking every meal on the beach, from enormous banana pancake breakfasts to fresh BBQ'd Snapper and King Prawns for dinner. We watched yet more DVDs and drank icey cold Bintang Beers in the many 'DVD booths' attached to many of the bars, before strolling over to the west side of the island to catch a spectacular sunset without another soul in sight.
All good things, as they say, have to come to an end though and reluctantly we hopped on the (much faster and much more stomach churning) speed boat back to Bali before our flight over to Kota Kinabalu and East Malaysia on Thursday.