Published: December 12th 2011October 29th 2011
Our new adventure to Lombok and the Gili Islands started with a 2 hour speed boat ride from Bali to Lombok. On arrival at the ferry terminal, a basket of individually wrapped seasickness tablets (soon to become known as 'pink pills') was offered around to all with a warning that they could make you sleepy and one was more than enough! I think my experiences in Oz on the racing yacht and the liveaboard dive trip cured me of any seasickness that I did have so politely declined. Once on board and on our way, the rest of the group all seemed to go into a comatose state for the next two hours with some of them only waking up as we were arriving at Lombok!
We jumped off onto the beach and got all our bags together before tramping up the beach to our bus. The bus seemed to struggle a bit to get onto the road but after some serious revving, lurched on its way. We'd been on the road for about 10 minutes when the bus made a spluttering noise and came to a slow stop.Yup, you've got it...two breakdowns in two days! This one seemed to be
beyond roadside repair too but a passing bus took us to a local beachside cafe whose waitress looked a bit shocked as we all trooped off the bus but did a grand job at catering for all of us. After a leisurely lunch and some hammock time (long enough for them to locate us a new bus, swap all the bags on to it and get it to the cafe) it was back on the new bus with everything crossed. Our fears were unjust though and we made it to our two temple stops without a problem.
It was immediately obvious to me after the first couple of hours, how different Lombok was going to be in comparison to Bali; for a start, it is virtually undeveloped apart from the big towns such as the capital, Mataram, and the locals aren't as used to seeing tourists (or for that matter, chasing after them with sarongs for sale!!) Our first night was spent in Tetebatu and our accommodation was right next to the village Mosque so we were given a 4.30 wake up call each morning (Kate, it took me straight back to Shark's Bay!).
The next morning we set out
early to have a walk through the local padi fields and village, up to a waterfall and to an area of forest which was good for spotting black monkeys. It was on this fateful morning that I sustained my first travelling injury (the first of many I suspect!); we'd only been walking for 5 minutes on our 4 hour exploration and unknown to me we were walking over concrete pipes which had corroded in areas...my foot seemed to fit perfectly in one of these corroded bits that was covered with grass and suddenly I was on the floor in a crumpled heap! I was left with a gash on my leg, a soggy foot and a big old bruise on its way but manned up, cleaned it and carried on! For the rest of the walk (and the rest of the week) there were frequent shouts of "Hole!" or "Mind the gap!". Walking through the padi fields, there were lush, green expanses fringed by palms as far as the eye could see with little houses dotted along the way and locals working. From here we walked into the local village and then down to a waterfall; it was bigger than
the one in Bali (although to be fair, so is a power shower!!) but still not impressive enogh for me to get my feet wet. We had been assured that the waterfalls at Senaru would hit the spot. Our route then led us in search of black monkeys which we quickly spotted (with the help of our guide) high up in the trees, eating and resting from the midday sun.
The afternoon saw us heading out to local villages to see weaving, pottery and basketry all taking place. To get there we used the local transport (horse and cart) and two of us climbed into each cart and set off. I think Stania and I picked the horse that had had a bag of sugar cubes for lunch; it seemed very eager at the beginning, going very close up behind the cart in front, then all of a sudden we were overtaking them...and every other cart in front of us until we were tearing along and leaving the others behind! I was shocked to find out just how long it takes to weave a piece of material for a scarf or sarong - it can take up to 1
The group watching the sunset over Bali and Lombok
month if it is a complex pattern and flawless weave!! After seeing the work that goes into each piece, I happily bought a beautiful scarf which will no doubt make endless appearances when I get home. Some of us had a go at various parts of the processes and quickly concluded we should stick to our day jobs and leave these ones up to the pros!
Senaru was our next stop; it is sitated at the foot of Mount Rinjani with stunning views of the mountain from our hotel although the views weren't so spectacular on arrival - it was difficult to see anything through the torrential rain! We grabbed lunch and kept our fingers crossed that it would soon pass. After an hour or so, it had stopped and dried out enough that we could set off in search of more waterfalls. Halfway to the first one in started again but we were all prepared and pac-a-macs were flying out of bags left, right and centre. Only Shane and Rogelio braved going in to the first waterfall although by this stage we were all pretty soggy. The walk to the second waterfall was a bit more challenging with climbs over big boulders and wading through the river. All of a sudden I heard the roaring sound of cascading water and about 5 minutes later we rounded a bend and stumbled upon the most breath taking waterfall I've ever seen. Even from where we were (about 300m away) you could feel the spray as the water came crashing down. This seemed worth getting my feet (and the rest of me) wet and soon we were all clambering down there and venturing in. It was an amazing experience; the deafening sound of the water cascading around you, the feeling of being sandblasted from the spray and actually being pummelled by the falls themselves once we got in under them...unbelievable.
The next day it was time to hop on another boat and head over to Gili Meno (one of the 3 Gili Islands - Trawangan, Air and Meno). Rather randomly Gili actually means island in Indonesian so they are the Island Islands!! Meno is the quietest of the 3 islands and as we arrived at the beach it looked liked we'd just landed at Paradise - white sands, crystal clear blue waters and cute, thatched buildings. Scuba was the first thing on my agenda and was soon booked in for a dive that same afternoon. There was loads to see with sea turtles, colourful corals, anemone crabs & shrimps, huge boxfish and of course, plenty of nemos! That evening we all wandered over to the other side of the island to watch the sunset over Lombok and Bali with Mount Agung and Batur visible in the distance before walking back across by torchlight for a fab dinner of fresh fish that we picked and then was cooked for us.
I had the scuba bug and was back in the water at 9am the next morning for another 60 minutes of underwater discovery. We were really lucky and saw 9 sea turtles (8 of which were all in the last 15 minutes of the dive!) along with lots of other cool stuff. I had forgotten how peaceful and relaxing it is gliding around in a huge aquarium with your slow, steady breathing as the soundtrack. The rest of the day consisted of a combination of napping, reading and playing volleyball...all on the beach! Dinner was a beach barbeque and had a very chilled out vibe to it which led fluidly into most of us going down to Rust Bar to continue the night.....which ended a good few hours later with us dancing on the circular bar!
The following morning we dragged ourselves out of bed bright and early to wave some of the girls off before having a lazy day on the beach with the odd trip into the water to snorkel and the odd trip to the restaurant to rehydrate. By the afternoon we were ready for 'the beach volleyball challenge'which seemed to beentertaining and amusing in equal parts for the locals who had already shown us how it was meant to be done!The eve was rounded off with another scrummy meal and a round of tequila to toast the end of two fabulous weeks.
The boat trip back started well but soon turned rather more choppy and there were green faces aplenty!After an hour of being bumped about and bounced out of our chairs, I think most of us were ready to get back on to dry land. It was then time to say our final farewells and for me to set off on my "proper" backpacker trail i.e.slumming it! Borneo, here I come...