After a few days in Gili paradise, I continued eastwards to Lombok. I hopped on the boat, which was a quick 15-minute sail over to Bangsal. I wandered around the corner to find the meeting point for my onwards shuttle, and waited a little while for my minibus down to Kuta on the south coast of Lombok. The public ferry from Gili Air to Bangsal is very cheap at 12,000Rp, but doesn’t have a fixed leaving time – it just waits until it’s full (around 40 people), which is usually quickest first thing in the morning. I’d researched into public transport Lombok side and there aren’t any public buses from Bangsal down to the south coast. Grab, Go Jek and Uber don’t operate on the island either, and metered taxis cost from 350,000Rp down to Kuta. As a result, I ended up booking a shuttle from Gili Air all the way to Lombok, which included the ferry and minibus to my hostel for 200,000Rp. This is the cheapest I could find on the island, but I noticed some as cheap as 120,000Rp going the other way from Kuta Lombok.
It was about a 2-hour drive from Bangsal to Kuta, and I arrived to a very nice little hostel hidden off the main road. The dorms were little bungalows in a row through the garden, facing into a lovely little pool and table area. Botchan was a great base camp for Kuta; as well as the great outside area the rooms were spacious and comfortable and the included breakfast consisted of the most delicious banana pancakes I’ve had on my whole trip. You can also rent scooters from the hostel, and the staff are very friendly (though not that organised, so reconfirm your booking before you arrive…) I set up camp on a sun bed to wait for my brother Will, who was coming over from Gili T with one of the girls we met there.
When they arrived, we had some lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon taking advantage of the quiet pool and exploring the town down the road. We met up with one of the girls we’d been staying with in Canggu and had a tasty Burger Zone for dinner.
The next day we chowed down on the top notch banana pancakes for breakfast and went and got some scooters (50,000Rp for a day – ending at 6:30pm. Weirdly we couldn’t find anywhere in Kuta which rents them for a full 24 hours). The four of us drove out west of Kuta which was a really beautiful drive through some lush greenery. We drove for about an hour to a beach called Mawi which had been recommended as a good place to go. It was very pretty and quite quiet, but a bit of a pig to get to from the main road! There was a track about two miles long of potholes, muddy puddles and sand mounds, which our scooters just about managed to handle… We spent a couple of hours on the beach, swimming, basking and watching some surfing, before getting back on the Honda steeds for the journey back. There were some black clouds lurking ominously and we were worried that if it started raining whilst we were there the track down would become a quagmire we’d never get back up!
On the way back, we stopped at Ashtari, a café restaurant place up on the ridge overlooking Kuta Bay. They also do yoga and cooking classes. We enjoyed a smoothie with the glorious view before scooting back to the hostel for a shower. We got back to find our friend John had checked in so it was good to reunite with him. For dinner we actually drove back up to Ashtari as they do a pizza happy hour (2 pizzas for 95,000Rp at 7pm) – and they’re delicious!
The following day we got out on the water. We found out there weren’t many waves going on so we didn’t surf, but five of us went and rented some stand-up paddleboards instead (100,000Rp each for 2 hours from What Sup). Between us we had more balancing skills than I think we were expecting, so we decided to up the ante and try a bit of acrobatics – I promised a Bintang to anyone who managed a headstand on their board. No headstands quite accomplished, but John had a few press-ups going and Annie nailed a yoga balance. Feeling a bit bruised from the paddle boarding trick pursuits, we paddled over to a beach for a bit. On our way back into shore, we decided to do our bit for the planet and pick up any rubbish we passed. There was a depressing amount of plastic floating just in that small piece of ocean, in an otherwise beautiful bay. Between the five of us, we must have picked up maybe 1kg of plastic rubbish. Really quite sad, when you think about the turtles and other marine life living in these waters.
We scootered back to the hostel for some lunch and an ice cream, and spent the rest of the afternoon basting by the pool and playing volleyball. In the evening we headed to The Mexican in Town for a smorgasbord of tasty tacos and a Margarita or two (they have different specials on each night) – and also had the pleasure of bumping into a Dutch guy we’d met in Yogyakarta. We headed back to base camp to play some cards and listen to some music before hitting the hay.
The next morning, Merle and John headed back to Gili Trawangan on their way back to Bali, where they end their respective trips. Will went surfing with some guys from the hostel and Annie and I set up camp by the pool for a bit of an admin day. We both had visas, flights, job applications etc. to sort so thought we’d try and motivate each other to crack on with the tasks! It wasn’t the most exciting day of my trip so far, but it felt good to engage my brain and be productive. In the evening we went for a delicious chicken satay dinner – an Indonesian speciality – at a local restaurant. For local grub, it doesn’t get much better than Nuggets Corner.
The following day was our last on Lombok. Will had his own admin day planning for his trip to New Zealand, so Annie and I set out on a scooter adventure to a waterfall we found on a map. It was 50km away so we got up early, had our fill of banana pancakes and set off. Some of the roads were a little hairy (red lights are only a suggestion and they don’t actual bother with the going ‘round’ part of a roundabout…) but on the whole it was a fun and really pretty drive. We passed a lot of rice paddies and little villages, and did a lot of waving to locals curious to see two white women on mopeds in rural Lombok! When we got to the waterfall zone, however, our plan went slightly pear-shaped. We parked up and then found out that the waterfall was actually a tough 4km hike away up through the jungle – so in flip flops and without a ton of bug spray and extra water, we weren’t equipped for it! I’d advise you to head instead to Benang Stokel or Benang Kelambul waterfalls which are easier to access by road, but do take good shoes as apparently they’re still a bit of a walk! We decided against traipsing into the jungle ill-prepared, so walked back to the scooters and started the long drive home. With an additional few kilometres for a maintenance run for Annie’s bike, we drove 130km in total – and didn’t get our dip in a waterfall. Ah well, it was a fun trip and at least I’ve seen my fair share of waterfalls in the last 5 months!
We stopped for a delicious sandwich and a very cold drink in town, then returned to the hostel and jumped straight in the pool. Bliss. We packed ready to leave early the next day, then made our way into town to a little restaurant-bar run out of an old VW van called the Bus Bar – all very east London. We had a great pizza and beer, and hit the hay.
My time on Lombok was definitely less active than it could have been. Not only is Kuta a big draw for surfers, but there’s a lot of trekking in the National Park in the north of the island. Originally, my main reason for going to Lombok was to climb Mount Rinjani. It’s a tough 3-day trek you have to do with a guide, and we found out a few weeks before arriving that in rainy season they advise only really experienced hikers do it – and that you can’t get all the way to the peak anyway as the most dangerous trails are closed. I’d like to do it properly (perhaps when I’ve also been back in the gym for a bit!), so I plan on returning in dry season.
Until next time,
Number of people I’ve spoken to today: 9, including a German guy who looks EXACTLY like Hugh Jackman.
Interaction was: disappointing. He was unnecessarily rude/sassy, and didn’t even have any Wolverine claws. I guess it’s true, never meet your heroes.
One Woman and her Backpack x
Follow me on Instagram @elliestravelstories