Lombok Island is one of my favorite destinations in Indonesia. The first time I landed in Lombok was a little over a decade ago. I was amazed. I decided then that I will come back. Well this time was the perfect time to do that and see how things have evolved.
Instead of flying to Bali I flew directly to Lombok airport and then find a transport to the Gilis. After finding a couple of willing passengers to fill out a private taxi, the negotations began. You see, my Bahasa consists of 5 words. Thankfully one of them applies to ’empak orang’ and IDR 250.000 (IDR250.000 for 4 pax in a taxi ). After some haggling, off we go. One of the passengers was a Vietnamese lady traveling on her own. We quickly stuck rapport and when I found out she was only spending a weekend in Gili Trawangan I invited her to stay with me as I had arranged a villa for myself. Boat transfers followed and then before we knew it me and my new found friend were gulping down cold Bintangs on our side of the beach in Gili Trawangan.
So over the ensuing days to come, a pattern has emerged – eat breakfast (pancakes), swim/dive/engage in some water activity/walk/bike, catch sunset and then partying the whole night. Vacation mode on!
When you are feeling lazy there is always the chilling at the beach thing. Bikes abound to explore the rest of the island. I found that the northern side of the island have the best beaches. The western side are where the sunset bars and punters looking to bask in the religion of sunset watching. On the east side is where the ports coming in and going out of the island and where most of the accommodations are and where water activities happen.
Diving and snorkeling is the most popular activity on this island (apart from drinking obviousballs!). I’m a fan of tropical fish and corals so I made it a point to do a couple of diving. It did not disappoint. The green turtles are my favorites. Since most are based in Gili Trawangan, then you can always hire a boat to chill or snorkel at the other Gilis which I absolutely enjoyed doing.
As soon as the sun sets, the night market starts to open. You will find all sorts of food from seafood to crepes and veggies. Once the belly is full, then time to party! Okay I have to say that being a connoisseur of underground dance music, I find the sets a tad too Top40’s in most venues. The exception is the Sama-Sama reggae bar and Ombak Bar where they do beach party like it is supposed to be. Local bars will have their own music all the way to 1AM. After that there will always be one venue where everybody goes for the after party. You will know it by looking at where everybody is going when the bars closed. Usually there is a banner that displays it. Every night it is a different venue. The party comes to a full stop on the island before the morning prayer.
The Gilis of today has certainly changed from what I saw a decade ago. It has become a hectic island from numerous bikes, the depressing state of of the horse drawn carts and tons of people. The irony of mosques blaring calls to prayer while the island is surrounded with people in various state of undress and under the influence. Will I return again? Hell yes. To party.
After a week and a half of partying non stop it’s time to get out from lalaland and do some actual surfing. I based myself in Kuta in Lombok in a nice Balinese villa. Kuta is tame compared to the Gilis. It is something I needed after the craziness a few days before.
I got lucky to meet some crazy local surfer dudes who took me to the nicest spots around the mainland. Of course mad driving was part of the adventure. Luckily no animal or human was harmed and lots of laughter and fun was had.
In between surf breaks, the beach which was a few minutes away from my cottage was a perfect spot to read a book and just chill.
Overall I had the best time in Lombok. I wish I had more time to explore more of the island. That would be another reason to come back no?