20.10.2014 - 26.10.2014
After taking the locals' ferry from Padang Bay in Bali to Lembar in Lombok, we received our second and final rental car, but this time we got a Daihatsu Feroza, early 90's model with almost 400,000 km on the clock... still pretty shitty, but definitely an upgrade compared to the Jimny.
Lombok is like a breath of fresh air compared to the craziness of Bali! It is much more under-developed than Bali, so there is a lot more space and the roads are less congested. The roads are also in MUCH better shape and quality, giving us a wider and smoother drive. You still get people cutting you off and everything, but much more civilized. People will still try to sell you stuff too, but definitely not as much compared to Bali... when you say "no", they will actually leave you alone. It is very dry in Southern Lombok... dry heat and dry land, so there is less vegetation and more brown everywhere. The beaches, however, are really incredible! We first stayed in Kuta, which is located on the southern coast of Lombok, so we were able to drive along the coastal road visiting a few of the beautiful beaches tucked into the cliffy bays... Tanjung Aan Beach, Mawun Beach (our favorite for swimming!), and Selong Belanak Beach (more out of the way, but worth the drive because it was basically our own private beach... hardly anyone in sight!). The water is such a pretty turquoise blue and the sand is so fine... so ideal for some fun in the sun!
Since we started our trip, it hasn't been all fun and relaxation for us because we are still having to deal with our relocation and greencard processes back at home (all three of our homes...Germany, Switzerland and California). We have had some obstacles here and there, and since we no longer have any service on our phones, we rely heavily on wifi in order to do our business. You can imagine our frustration when most of our homestays, which advertise free wifi, don't have it working properly and we cannot connect to the outside world. Needless to say, when we got to the beaches, we were finally able to let the stress roll off our shoulders. It was so refreshing soaking in the cool water... this was the first time we felt like we could really relax!
After spending a few days in the south, we drove up north to Senggigi, with a little scenic detour through Tetebatu to see Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second tallest mountain. Unfortunately, though, it was hidden behind clouds, so we didn't stay too long. We didn't have much time to spend in Senggigi, since it was just a stop over for us to return our rental car and catch the ferry to the Gili Islands, but supposedly this is a really happening town with lots tourism. We did, however, have enough time for Jens to get a haircut, so that worked out! ;-)
The next day, we took a ferry to one of the three Gili islands off the northwest tip of Lombok called Gili Air... and by "ferry", I mean a simple, long fisher boat PACKED with locals, tourists and supplies, where there was no space for our feet, except for on top of said supplies! Thankfully, it was only a 20-minute ride before we set foot on the pristine beach. Supposedly, Gili Air has the best beaches of all the Gili Islands... even though we didn't visit the other two, we would probably have to agree with that statement. The stretch of sand is beautifully white, and you can access the reef and snorkel straight off the beach on the eastern side. Since it is closest to the mainland, you can see the green rugged coast of Lombok and Mount Rinjani in the background.
Throughout the past 4 weeks of our trip (still can't believe how fast time flies!), we haven't consumed that much alcohol... a beer here and there (maximum one a day), but nothing beyond that. So on our first night, we decided we deserved to get a little buzz on, which meant about 3 or 4 beers instead of one... our tolerance has already diminished! ;-) We have been sticking to only beer, since we don't want to risk drinking any hard alcohol after hearing those stories on the news. Towards the end of our "big night out", we were lucky enough to benefit from this birthday party's entertainment of live music and a traditional fire dance called Kecak. We had missed that on Bali, so it was such a treat to actually be able to see it!
The next day, we took a nice stroll around the whole island, which took about 90 minutes, but not sure I would choose to do it again in this humid heat! We snorkeled the next couple of the days, which was so great... you can see thousands of fish of all sizes and colors through the crystal clear water!! It's hard to leave such a beautiful world!
The few days we spent on Gili Air were really lovely and relaxing... we are sad to say goodbye, but now onto a real adventure in Java!