Hello beautiful souls♡
I have always dreamed of visiting the surrounding islands of Bali.
Exploring the landscapes, seeing incredible scenery, swimming in crystal blue waters, watching breathtaking sunsets, giving back…this is a definition of happiness and fulfilment for me.
After my trip to Thailand, and flying back to Bali to stay in Sanur for a little over a week, on the 1st of July I made my way over to Lombok and it’s beautiful islands with just a backpack.
Previously, I had heard a lot that Lombok island is like the untouched version of Bali. About 2.5 hours away by fast boat from Sanur, I got to experience this island for myself, and it truly did feel like that. Lush, green, and mountainous- Lombok had it all, and while the tourism is growing slowly there (which is great for the local economy), it certainly provides for a great place to explore, relax, and be with nature without the feeling of being over-touristy.
This was also the most spontaneous trip I went on during my 5-month travel journey, as I also visited the nearby Gili Islands (part of Lombok) without much of a plan at all. One of the greatest lessons I learned during this unforgettable week in my life, was the gift of spontaneity, and how we invite in more joy and fun when we let go of control. As someone who used to plan out trips to a tee and want to control a lot of things outside of me, I realised that I really moved on to a new version of myself this year. And now, I LOVE travelling to places without any stringent plans, just going with my intuition and exploring freely.
If you watched my YouTube video from my time on Lombok Island, you may know that aside from visiting a new part of Indonesia (this time being my fifth trip), my main intention of going was to give back through staying at Lombok Volunteer Homestay, located in Lembar. For a long time, I have always wanted to volunteer with children overseas, and knew that this was going to be something I’d do during my travel journey.
One day, I somehow came across this homestay experience when searching for volunteering places around Bali, and I instantly felt drawn towards it. I truly believe it was guidance from the universe, and after contacting Guy (the organiser), it was very casually organised, and I made my way to Lombok to begin the month of July via a fast boat from Sanur. At Bangsal Port, I met Andar- the host of the volunteer homestay- and he picked me up with his scooter. When I arrived 2 hours later, I was excitedly greeted by the village children, and met 4 other volunteers who were all around the same age as me. Andar said this was a rare occurrence, but I felt it was a divine synchronicity.
Over the 4 days I was on Lombok, I had no plans and simply went ‘with the flow’, and it turned out to be some of the most enjoyable days of my travels. The village was very small (around 10 houses), remote, located right upon the beach and surrounded by coconut trees, so it was very quite and truly peaceful. Andar took us one morning to hike up a hill, and we saw an amazing sunrise that looked as if it were a painting. We had a direct view of the sunset everyday, and the pink and orange colours are a memory ingrained in my heart forever. We played with the children, taught them English whenever they felt like it and gathered at Andar’s house (it was like an open space for all of the village children), swam in the ocean, and also took a day trip on a small boat to the nearby Gili Nanggu, soaking in the sun and snorkelling with little fish.
Even though the facilities at the homestay were very basic (e.g. no proper toilet or shower), I got by perfectly fine, and it showed me just how little we actually need to be happy. The village had a very peaceful and joyful atmosphere, and while they didn’t appear to have much externally, they were rich in relationships and community. And that’s what I loved most about my stay here. You felt like a part of the family.
After my forth day, I decided to continue my journey to Gili Air, part of the well known Gili Islands just north of Lombok and a 10 minute boat trip from the port. Something pulled me to stay on Gili Air instead of Gili T or Gili Meno, but I would still love to visit one day. They are all similar in a way, known for its diving and snorkelling, and also not having any motor vehicles on the islands at all. The only way to get around is by walking, biking (the best way) or horse cart (which I do not advocate for due to animal abuse).
I also stayed on Gili Air for four days, and I think it was the smallest island I had ever visited. You can cycle all around it, and it just felt very peaceful. There is a village in the middle of the island, and along the beaches are mostly resorts and restaurants. To my surprise, there was quite a number of plant-based cafes here too! Again, I didn’t have a plan while I was here, and just followed my curiosity to explore and bike around the island. The Gili islands are among my favourite places to visit now, and I’ll surely be back with my family to do some diving in the future.
My trip to Lombok taught me so much, and I am endlessly grateful for these experiences. Really, anything is possible. It doesn’t take a lot to travel to somewhere new- I stopped overcomplicating things, bought some tickets, found an accommodation, and enjoyed the present moment. I still endured some challenges such as sea sickness, but with my mantra “this too shall pass”, I was still able to have a great time.
(For the boat trip, a week earlier I had been walking around Sanur beach and came across a stand run by Scoot Fast Cruises. In about 10 minutes, I had my entire boat trip (from Sanur to Lombok, Lombok to Gili Air, then Gili Air back to Sanur) booked and paid a total of Rp 1,500,000. When I wanted to take the boat, I just went up to the Scoot Cruises stand at the port, and was given a spot for the boat.)
In this post, I’ve put together the brief summary of where I stayed and what I did, which can hopefully be a great guide for you if you also choose to visit Lombok- a destination I highly recommend in South East Asia.
Sending my love,
When: 1st July 2019 – 8th July 2019.
On Lombok, Andar took me around on his scooter.
On Gili Air, you can walk, rent a bike, or take a horse cart (which I do not recommend due to animal abuse).
I highly recommend bringing cash with you, as not many places will accept card. There are several ATMs you can find in Lombok and Gili Air.
When I visited in July, it was the dry season, so I didn’t experience any rain at all during the 8 days. As Lombok is located in the tropics, it was very hot and humid all day.
While the official language of Lombok is Indonesian (and the local dialects), you will be able to get around just fine with English. That being said, it’s important to not assume every local can speak English, and it would be great to learn some basics before you go too for respect and convenience.
Lombok, being a ‘muslim’ island, is overall a conversative culture when it comes to clothing. I noticed that women tend to be covered up, especially around the chest, shoulders and knees. While as a tourist you don’t ‘have to’ do these things, and it’s okay to wear bikini at the beach (especially in tourist areas), it may be best to follow the customs as a sign of respect to the local culture. As it’s also so hot, wear light clothing and shoes that are breathable. If you plan on visiting temples, you’ll definitely need to have your shoulders and knees covered, even if it is a sarong or light scarf.