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confusemuse Lombok - A travel report by Bebe
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Lombok,  Indonesia - flag Indonesia -  Nusa Tenggara Barat
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confusemuse's travel reports

Getaway to the \'Other Bali\': Lombok & its Gili(s)

  6 votes
It was a trip planned out of \'having enough of the chaotic big city\' and when plane tickets to Bali were just too expensive. It turns out to be a good decision, because Lombok & Gili Trawangan definitely have things up their sleeves ;)


The mainland, with Mt. Rinjani, viewed from the harbour in Gili Trawangan
The mainland, with Mt. Rinjani, viewed from the harbour in Gili Trawangan
Lombok is a small island 'next' to Bali. It's a 1 hour 40 minutes plane ride from Jakarta and is famed for, among others, its Mount Rinjani - an active volcano, 2nd highest mountain & one of the top destination for mountain climbers in the country; boasting glorious peaks, and the crater lake 'Segara Anak'. The main island is surrounded by smaller islands, called Gili in the local Sasak dialect (the island's native tribe). Gili Trawangan is the most popular of all the Gili(s), about 30 minutes ride by slow (small engine) public boats from the Bangsal Harbour in the mainland. It is arguably Lombok's most popular tourist destination & once an island synonymous with backpacking. Nowadays the island feature more 'luxurious' accommodations but still remain very laid back & life feels somewhat slow. Gili Trawangan has no motor vehicle apart from the boats. You either get around the island by walking, bicycle or horse-drawn carriages called 'cidomo'. So the air is very clean. Gili T (as it's often called) has a good variety of western food available which taste good and fairly priced. Some hotels has fresh water (though admittedly can still be a bit saline) for bathing & other use. The hotels/inns/B&B on the 'sunset' side of the island is relatively quieter and often offered a lower price. Most booking for accommodations can be done online and information are quite easy to find on the internet. Do bring a local (Indonesian) phone SIM card to the island for convenient communication, as signals are very good there. Most hotels also provide free wifi connection.

Favourite spots:
The view from Tir Na Nog restaurant in the afternoon
The view from Tir Na Nog restaurant in the afternoon
Gili Trawangan is surrounded by sea, of course. So, if your hotel/inn/B&B does not have a private beach, just walk/cycle around and you should come to a stretch of 'no-man's' beach where you could take a swim, sunbathe or just hangout. My favorite is the one right in front of the police station & electricity substation. It has a small bar managed by a group of local islander, which is convenient to get drinks because the island's climate is notably drier, hotter than the mainland. The beach is pretty quiet and if you walk/swim a bit farther from the beach you can already find colorful fishes - so yes, bring your snorkels & fins :) Another is the two restaurants: Tir Na Nog & The Beach House, they have table right by the waters and in the mornings till late afternoon the view is breathtaking, with a glimpse of Mount Rinjani in the distance - you'll take time w/ your meals. Oh, also great for sending that e-mail home ;)

What's really great:
My favorite stretch of beach - in front of the police station & the island's electricity substation
My favorite stretch of beach - in front of the police station & the island's electricity substation
You've got to like the vibe of the island. People do go here to get away and therefor most people are in a pretty good mood. The locals are also not as pushy as ones you may encounter in Bali. But then again, since I'm Indonesian, I couldn't really say they'd behave the same way towards foreigners or not. I also like that when you're swimming in the oceans, some spots can be totally serene -- you can just float about, no care in the world and in front of you is the view of the mountains. Greens and blues as far as the eyes can see. Most places will also let you hang out on their beach with just a purchase of a couple of Cokes. And the air! After big cities pollution, the clean air is such a welcomed break.

In the mainland, the local government has invested in building new roads, so getting around is definitely quite pleasant, especially on the outer ring road passing Senggigi.

Sights:
A 'cidomo' to get around Gili Trawangan
A 'cidomo' to get around Gili Trawangan
In the Gili Trawangan, it would be great if you are a diver, dive sights are pretty recommended. If not, then do try some snorkeling, near the harbour at the Gili there's a tour operator offering snorkeling trip around the 3 gilis: Trawangan, Meno, Air/Ayer from 11 am to around 4 pm for Rp 100.000,- (about USD 10), so it is really good value. Be sure to book a day in advance. As far as beaches go, it's in abudance, so go cycling around the island (it will take you about 2 hours - already w/ dragging your bike across the sandy bit of road and stopping for a drink break) and find your favorite stretch of beach. On the mainland, do visit the Sasak villages for authentic Sasak cloth & pottery. On the way to Senggigi from Bangsal, if you pass thru the outer ring road be sure to check out the Malimbu bay with its gorgeous water front. A Mt. Rinjani trekking trip is also worth a go if you have time on your hand (an extra 3-5 days kind of time) for that extra itinerary.

Accommodations:
The walkway from my room to the front of the hotel
The walkway from my room to the front of the hotel
I stayed at the Tir Na Nog at Gili Trawangan & at the new boutique hotel 'The Chandi' in Lombok mainland. Both have really good, spacious, clean rooms. However, both the mainland and the Gilis offered a variation of accommodation to suit a variety of budget. I would suggest checking customer's review on travel sites i.e Trip Advisor - they're mostly on the money & offer good insights.

Nightlife:
Gili Trawangan has been dubbed the party island for many years -- and true to their reputation, a couple of bars hosted parties on their designated nights. Tir Na Nog's being one of the most popular and 'legendary'. Dinner are normally a bit harder to find after 10 pm, but bars - which are plenty in Gili T - opens as late as 2 am or till the last guest left (which is pretty much the policy around the island). The same goes w/ the mainland, but because distances are quite far and public transport apart from taxi is hard to come by, I can't really recommend.

Hangouts:
Supposedly the island's best mojito (it is actually quite good)
Supposedly the island's best mojito (it is actually quite good)
On the sunset side, there's a couple of beach bar with bonfires which offer good value drinks, and great 'party' ambiance - patrons are mostly younger people in their 20-s. I'd also recommend Queen Villas & Spa, with great beach front deck, friendly staff and a friendlier environment for family on the sunset side. On the sunrise side - which is the heart of the island - Tir Na Nog, Scallywags & Rudy's bar are some of the most well-known hangouts. The Beach House offers great lavish barbeque in the evening that comes w/ free salad bar and great homemade bun. Do make reservation for the seaside seat if you're coming later in the evening.

Restaurants:
Most restaurant have decent food on the Gili Trawangan, some popular one include Tir Na Nog, The Beach House, Trattoria and some local food like Warung Ibu Dewi (lunches only) and some food stalls in the island's market where you can find local delicacies such as satay, ayam taliwang, martabak even Padangnese cuisine. Some hotel also serve a western version of basic Indian food. A meal for one can cost up to Rp 100.000,-, more on the fancier hotels. On the mainland, do try to have some of Lombok's signature ayam taliwang, one you could try is Ayam Taliwang Irama.

Other recommendations:
The beach at the hotel in Senggigi - notice how rocky it is
The beach at the hotel in Senggigi - notice how rocky it is
Although popular, the beach at Senggigi can be quite disappointing compared to the beaches at the Gilis or to Bali - as it is not at all pristine or very clean. However, closer to the new airport (now in the Praya district), you have the options of going to Lombok's Kuta beach, Tanjung Aan & Selong Belanak - which has awesome beaches with very soft sands. Apart from the Novotel, I can't really comment on accommodations there. For other sightseeing spot on the mainland, try checking out local travel websites such as valadoo.com or just Google it, you should pretty much find what you are looking for :)

Published on Tuesday May 1th, 2012


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Fri, May 04 2012 - 02:13 PM rating by mistybleu

A truly lovely report. It really sounds idyllic

Tue, May 01 2012 - 05:17 PM rating by porto

Clean air and cycling, sounds like paradise, and looks like it as well.
Wonderful report.

Tue, May 01 2012 - 06:58 AM rating by pesu

Thanks, Bebe, for this great report full of interesting information. I love to imagine the 'greens and blues as far as the eyes can see'!:) Beautiful pics as well!

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