Satays, Beaches and More Beaches

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. Get it?) After some haggling, off we go.One of the passengers I found out was spending only the weekend on the islands so I offered to share my cottage. 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.

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For over a week and a half a pattern has emerged – eat breakfast (pancakes), swim/dive/engage in some water activity/walk/bike, catch sunset and then the night begins.

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my home in the Gilis

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.

When you are feeling lazy there is always the chilling at the beach thing.

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Bikes abound to explore the rest of the island. I found the norther side to find the nicer beaches.

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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.

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sunset point

As soon as the sun sets, time to ditch the bikes and find your way to the night market for some delicious meal.

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the famous night market

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fresh catch every day for dinner

Once the belly is full, then time to party!  Every night, a different venue will host the main party (that doesn’t stop you from picking your own bar/spot). Then before closing time which is usually 1AM, ask the locals where the after party is.

Okay I have to say that being a connoisseur of underground dance music, I find the sets a tad too Top 40’s in most venues. The exception is the Sama-Sama reggae bar and Ombak Bar that really does beach party music with good fire dancing even.  Anyway, make sure you are fully inebriated before going to the after party which will usually the Top 40 music. The party comes to a full stop on the island before the morning prayer.

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one of the mosques on the island

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.

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the rare Balinese themed villa in a predominantly Muslim area

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pool a few steps from my room

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.

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one of the popular surf spots for beginners and intermediate level

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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.

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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?

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Sunny Disposition

Nature showing its might can be powerful, amazing and sad at the same time.

As most of you know or have heard by now, the capital city of the Philippines and its neighbouring provinces has been deluged by rains and heavy flooding in the last few days. People were displaced. The damage to properties and livelihood is massive. The whole metro became a big flowing river at some point.

And it is still not over yet. While some parts of the city the flood waters are slowly draining out, other places continue to be flooded. The government, NGOs and volunteers are still busy with relief operations for the displaced and evacuated. Then there is also the business of rebuilding lives and homes. This can go on for months and months before everything is sorted out.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, you can find them here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19160604

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/12/world/asia/philippines-floods/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

The good news is that the badly needed sun finally decided to come out this weekend. Something a lot of us are grateful for. Even if it is just for a few hours (forecasts say rains are still in the horizon). Not only does it help drain the water faster but also helps to dry whatever is left of people’s valuable things in their flooded homes. And more importantly, people are able to come out.

While walking out to the weekend market, my roomie and I passed by the nearby parks (yes, we got a park right smack condominium city) and I was happy with what I saw. Being a rescue volunteer myself, all these suffering and misery can get to you sometimes. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing the sun again, greenery and everyone coming out to play.

a good day for a stroll

play time!

even the birds are having their moment in the sun

the rainbow eucalyptus tree

family bonding