Our first time in Indonesia

November 28, 2017

After an amazing month full of discoveries and foodgasms in Malaysia, we made our way to Indonesia. Our flight departed from Kota Kinabalu -wonderful place by the way-, passed by Jakarta, to end up in Lombok. You would think being an international airport Lombok would have the usual border security and usual airport madness… This one got a different type of craziness, they got a local market under the airport. Plus, the custom agents where somewhat cool, not asking questions and simply stamping your passport. Nice, if you are not one to worry too much about airport security.

Kuta, Lombok

Altogether we spent almost 3 weeks on Lombok Island. We lodge in Kuta beach, first at the Kuta Lodge Homestay then at the Kuta Garden Homestay.  After four days, we transferred from the lodge to the garden because they where full for the following days. Eventually, we came back to the Kuta Lodge when they had room. They both offer a double ensuite room for around 12 CAD a night (room & bathroom are extremely clean at all time), 5$/day motorcycle (moppet) and 2-3$/kg laundry. In other words, pretty affordable for all you get. Plus, you even have your own private terrace! We booked through booking.com, and payed at the end of our stay.

Before arriving to Lombok, Kuta Lodge offered to pick us up from the airport for a very reasonable price. It made our arrival smooth and easy, very kind of them to offer that service. Furthermore since we landed at 11PM!

Both homestay where wonderful! They are located next to each other in the luscious greenery, away from the noisy town and the chaos of the main road. At the same time, they are a mere 15 minutes of walk away from the beach. The two belong to the same extended family, who are wonderful, kind and understanding. They have many fruit trees such as banana, mango, papaya and jackfruit, which they will gladly share with you (if you are nice). Every morning we were greeted with a choice of breakfast (omelette or egg with toast, or banana pancake with tea or coffee), by the most beautiful smiles.

Papaya tree in front of our accommodation door

When we finally decided to leave the comfort of the Lodge, they drove us all the way to Sengigi -another area of Lombok- for the cheapest price in town.

What did we do in Kuta? A lot, let see:

Attractions

First thing, we HAD to do even before going  to beaches, was finding a movie theater to attend the premier of Dr. Strange. Geeky, I know, Marvel Universe is worth all the attention thought. We drove the 45 minutes of country road separating us from Mataram -Lombok Capital- to go to the Cinemaxx Lombok. I think this place is by far the best cinematic experience I ever had . For a big 8 CAD we paid for 2 tickets, a large popcorn (caramel & salty, delish) in a Gold room. The Gold room entitles you to a vast menu of snacks, mains and drinks, that can be serve to you during the movie. If you are short on popcorn you can even buzz a waiter by pressing a button on the arm rest of your luxurious leather reclinable sofa. Thank god they provide thick blankets because the A/C is powerful.

Leisuring at its best
Meeting local friends!

Next, we wanted to enjoy our day by spending the sunshine hours on a paddle board. Turned out the place where we got acquainted with the staff the previous night – Lombok/Surf/SUP/Kite– was out of boards. They nicely suggested to take us to a waterfall, as some of them where going there already. We accepted their offer, and both jumped on the back of our “guides” scooters. The drive to get to the waterfall pass through wonderful countryside, where you can admire rice paddy fields and local life. An hour of windy roads later, we ended up at the foot of Mt. Rinjani, paying access to Air Terjun Benang Kelambu and Benang Stokel.

These two waterfalls are part of the Natural Heritage Rinjiani Geopark where there is a ton of activities such as caves, volcano hiking, hot springs and many waterfalls. We did not hire a guide as we where with two Lombok natives. You can always tour around the waterfalls by yourself but it’s pretty interesting to be named the many species of plants and animals crossing your path. They also told us a bit of the Rinjani park stories which was also of interest. Of course, the waterfalls where wonderful to admire and to dip in. The first one we visited, Benang Stokel, was a bit muddy due to the heavy rains on Mt. Rinjani at the time. Benang Kelambu on the other hand was crystal clear even under the clouds.

On to dinner.

On our way back, our new friends invited us for dinner and we experienced some good local dish. At a local price, which you don’t usually get to experience by yourself ( I mean it was 2$ for 2). We had an amazing time with these two guys and to show our gratitude we came back the next day to their shop for a paddle board session. We also spent some nights with them sharing food and laughs. That was true magic.

Relax paddle board day

A bit later during our Lombok stay, we decided to buy some Yoga passes at Ashtari Yoga. Located on top of a mountain, you get a panoramic view of Kuta and its beach while on the mat. They offer session all day, and you can also go to the Novotel with your passes to get a sunset session on the beach. Which, of course, we did. The passes where a bit pricey and I truly felt like a “white gurl” tourist doing so, but it was an interesting activity to experience.

The view from our yoga class

After one of our more active session, vinyasa if I am not mistaking, we headed to the Mana Yoga Studio for an outside movie night. They put out comfortable bean bags, and have snack and drinks available (trust me stay with beer). We attended the latest session of the day at 8:30 PM where we watched “Dope”. The experience was really nice, so was the movie.

Beaches

You probably already know but Indonesia is well renown for surf and beaches. We didn’t go crazy over beaches and only visited a few carefully selected ones.

1. Kuta Beach

Closest one to our accommodation and full of attractions. We first went there to try some stand up paddle, but the shop we choose was out of boards for the day and we ended up going to waterfalls with one of their staff and his cousin. The next day, we came back to Lombok Surf/SUP/Kite Kuta and the kind staff showed us the basic of stand up paddle. Then they went on fishing with a spear on their board. We enjoyed our day paddling and relaxing on our board. Just before sunset, the waves were getting bigger and our friends showed us how to ride with a SUP. Wyliam succeeded in catching a few waves and stay up. Champion!

Other than for water sports and the picturesque wood swing, I would not linger on the central area of this beach as there is a lot of vendors and it gets a bit annoying. Be careful to bargain if you decide to buy something (usually the first price they offer is between 3-4 times higher than you should pay according to locals).

2. Mawi Beach

You get to that beach by a sinuous and steep road passing by the mountain where Ashtari Yoga is located.

My advice if you decide to go there by yourself is to be sure you are comfortable on your scooter first. Look at the people walking around Kuta in Lombok and you will see a couple bandages here and there. I don’t need to say how that happen, right?

Scratch that, I would not go there by myself! Call me squeamish, but that road is real quiet and doesn’t see much traffic. Robbers loveeee that. Look out on the net and you will see that a bunch of people where attacked on that road. So be careful, and don’t make yourself a target. Drive as fast as securely possible, where long gear (and a helmet duh) and put your bag & any valuables in the trunk.

Anyhow, that beach is beautiful! You get there after turning on a side road, and paying “access” (around 1$). The road is real bumpy, and generally in terrible condition there, but it is funny if you are with an experienced driver. We got there a couple hours before sunset and had the pleasure to watch a couple of surfers taking some good waves on the small beach.

On to the second beach here.

After that, we made our way through the little hill on the right of the beach to reach the bigger beach. On that one, there was a lot of locals fishing in the shallow waters looking for shell fish and other fishes. If you look at them closely, you will see they are all wearing flip-flops. For a good reason as well. There is sharp rocks and degraded coral, so it is real nasty for your feet.

Other than the fishers, there was only one couple beside us. I guess the awful road is enough to scare more than one tourist away. The ones that make it, stay in the small beach where the surf is. All the best for us!

3. Selong Belanak Beach
Horrible picture, but you get the idea

You can either get there by going further down the main road from Mawi beach or take the less awful but longer option. We took the longest one to go and the steep one to come back. On arrival, we had to pay to park our scooter in the lot ( 1$). Than we had to pay again to have beach chairs (5$ for 2), and again for a surf board (5$ each).

Beside all the expenses, this beach is ideal for the surf beginners. Small waves give you a good opportunity to get acquainted with the basic surf movements such as passing from laying to standing. If you keep your ears open, you can hear the many guides around telling their student tips, and which waves to go for. Also, don’t be afraid to socialize, people around you might have some good piece of advice to share.

While Wyliam went for the surf experience, I read a book on my chair. Nothing like a virgin white sand beach to relax all your senses, and immerse yourself in a book. When you look around, all you can see is hundreds of meter of clear beach untouched by industrialization. Beside the few warungs (small restaurant) with surf rental and beach chairs there is nothing. Truly amazing to experience that beach which has just the right amount of people. When it got a wee bit too hot, I went for a swim in the warm crystal clear water. Total bliss!

But wait, there’s more!

At the end of the afternoon, stay a bit even if you are tired. Go get some drinks and snacks at one of the many warungs on the beach. And get your camera ready. A herd of horned cows and their owner will do their daily walk on the beach and give you plenty of picture opportunities (hell, yeah I am now a tourist).

Food, drinks and such
Fruit juices at Café In, Lombok

All these activities and beach leisuring, open your appetite like no other. Okay, the heat helps a bit in the matter too. We experienced a lot of different restaurants while there, and only went back to a few, as they offer the best quality/price value. We generally sticked with Café’In (try the gado-gado, or Greek salad, so good), straight in front of Kuta beach, or to Boom Burger located 2 minutes from our accommodation. They both have an extensive menu of both Indonesian dish and Western classics at a fairly cheap price.

The setting of Cafe’In is a bit better and the decor as well, plus there is a silversmith there where you can take jewelry making classes (I bought a beautiful ring there). On top of that, you have access to a good quality Wifi and some invaluable guarded parking spots. The owners also rescue turtle eggs and release the baby turtles when they can take care of themselves. Have a look around the restaurant to spot them.

Boom Burger, on the other hand, offers a large range of good meals and juices, but there was improvement work going on on the main road where it is located. Hopefully, it will look better when the road work is over! Look out for their upcycled tire chairs, they are a work of art.

Be careful of the tourist traps

Other than that, we tried a few warungs around Kuta, but they are more intended for tourists so they are more pricey. One night, we had a delicious seafood chowder at a restaurant called Sticky… After some research to find you a good link for that one, I found out it closed and a french styled restaurant replaced it (somewhere in early September according to their first Trip Advisor review).

Sengigi & Mt. Rinjani, Lombok

After 2 weeks and a half of fun in Kuta, we took the road aboard our host vehicle at the Lodge to go to Sengigi. Over there, we stayed at Belaku Sengigi (15 CAD for a double room, ensuite) which offers the comfort of a pool and free breakfast. On arrival, Wyliam sat down with one of the guesthouse staff to arrange a 3 days, 2 nights hiking trip to Mt. Rinjani volcano.

The first morning of our stay, Wyliam woke up really early to take a taxi to the departure point of his trek. He had loads of fun and met nice people over there.  I will make a future post on his entire trip as he took many pictures to show you. My better half loved it so much, it would be a shame not to write down a summary and give you the desire to hike it too!

While he was having the time of his life climbing, I relaxed at the pool where I met a french girl with who I spent the next 3 days with. Because she is from a small town in Provence, she has such an interesting french accent, I love it. We enjoyed many dinners together. When Wyliam came back, we even went dinning all together.

Gili Air

Sengigi being so close to the Gili Islands meant we had to visit at least one. We choose to go to Gili Air as it is apparently more relax and prompt to chill, according to our research. Not in the mood, we preferred not getting involved in the party on Gili Trawangan. The main attraction on Gili Air is diving classes, which we did not attend to, but apparently it is a really interesting environment to do so.

On arrival, we dropped our bags at our accommodation and rented some bikes to tour the island. After about 45 minutes that was done… that’s a real small island if you think we took our time as well. Later, we joined some friends Wyliam met on Rinjani for apéro and supper. The next day, we walked the coast to admire the many beaches and booked transport to Ubud, Bali. For sunset,we had drinks at the Marina bar, before meeting Wyliam’s friends for a Mexican dinner.

At 12 the next morning, we hopped on the ferry to Bali.

Ubud, Bali

At our hotel in Ubud

Three hours of ferry and one hour of taxi later, we arrived in Ubud. Over there we stayed at Hotel Warsa Ubud (20$/night for private bungalow with double bed ensuite and breakfast), which is located in the middle of Ubud and has a decent size pool.

Ubud is a great place to get massage (and get Wyliam waxed hehe), enjoy copious food and have a look at the many shops. There is also a monkey forest, many art markets and palace. We found it a bit too touristy and over priced, but managed to still enjoy it. Wyliam even found a decent barber where he got a beard trip and shaved his head (for the first time)! We also got to eat our first bagels in months (since then I have found this incredible recipe and I can now have bagels whenever I want) at Bali Buda. They were fresh and hot, and the dips they are serve with are delicious!

On a few occasions, we drove a scooter down to Cangghu and Seminyak to visit our fellow tourists. I mean that as a joke, but it’s JAMPACKED with tourists over there, even worst than Ubud. If you are into shopping, resorts and western food, that would be for you.

In Canggu, we met with Wyliam Rinjani’s friends at the Deus Ex Machina- Temple of Enthusiasm. It’s settle amongst the rice paddy fields and has a shop attached, showcasing custom bikes & surfs (that’s what they do) and merchandise. In the bar area, there was a band playing and tons of people enjoying drinks and meals. We sat down in the cozy atmosphere and enjoyed some great sangria in good company.

Time to leave paradise.

On the morning of our departure, we arrange a Uber (do that if you don’t want to spend too much money on tansport) to ride to the airport. It costs us 16$ for the hour ride. Basically nothing compare with the mini-bus and taxi fares. We had to walk the 5 minutes separating us to Monkey Forest, because our driver did not want to risk picking us up at the hotel… The taxi drivers are like mafia over there, and set the prices. They might attack a Uber driver and his car if they see him, as for them it is like stealing business. Eumm hello, your prices are way too high guys!!! Same things go for anything at the Denpassar International Airport. The prices are sooo high. It cost us 30 CAD for 2 sandwiches, a salad and 2 bananas…no table service included, just as takeways. Anyways…

All things considered,

Indonesia was really good to us. We met some amazing people, discovered splendid quiet beaches, did wonderful hikes and, most of all, relaxed. As usual, we had nothing planned when we arrived and still ended up having an awesome time. Next time we go, we will plan ahead thought, to make most out of our time there.

Have you been to Indonesia yet? It’s truly a must do for all the wonders there is to discover! We would like to hear from your experience there, or from your thoughts on Indonesia. If you are making plans to go, let us know what you musts are, so we can include them in our list too!

See you next time for a Roady in the South West of Western Australia !

À plus,ZCM

Don’t forget to Pin me before you go!

By Lea Tess

Right after graduating from a Arts & Science Bachelor in 2015, I took the first plane to China with my partner. Since then, we have visited many countries, lived in Australia and, currently, in New Zealand. I am passionate about food and making memories!

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