Our reward after the grueling hike up Mount Rinjani was the paradisal Gili Islands. We headed to Gili Trawangan, the most popular out of the 3 islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air). After a wonderful night’s sleep we headed to the beach, ready to rest our minds, bodies and souls. Satisfied by a day lazing by the beach, but wanting to treat ourselves (again), we decided to get a massage before going for dinner. This was by far the most painful but necessary massage in my life – the Rinjani hike had left us unable to climb the dozen steps leading to our room. We headed to the night market for some de-lish local food (it was so tasty that I felt the need to accentuate the deliciousness) and then ended the night at the reggae bar (that’s not a typo – there’s only one reggae bar). The next day we headed to a beach close by that had some really great snorkeling (we saw a turtle!). After another trip to the night market for dinner (seriously, it’s that good), we had an obligatory party night at THE place to be (the island is so small that only one place stays open past 11pm). To get away from the hustle and bustle of the main village, the next day we rented bikes and rode out to the southeastern tip of the island, where we heard the sunsets were the most beautiful. After a bout of rain (and many rounds of bananagrams), we did in fact witness one of the most breathtaking sunsets. Then for dinner – you guessed it – we returned to the night market for yet another delicious meal, and ended the night at a shisha bar. For our last day all together we did a boat tour that would take us to the two other Gili islands for some snorkeling. We had an exquisite banquet dinner (we felt the need to explore beyond the night market) and sent off Gabrielle back to London the next day.
Next stop (for Fred and I): Amed, Bali
MellowYellow rating: 💛💛💛💛 4/5
Travelers tips: We stayed at La Boheme hostel (we avoided Gili Hostel because we heard they had bed bugs). Nice hostel that’s about a 5 minute walk from the main street. We went snorkeling at Coral Beach II on the northeast coast, you can rent equipment there. Ombak Resort has the best view of the sunset and has swings in the water. We booked the snorkel boat tour from our hostel.
Kuta Lombok is the antithesis of Kuta Bali; quiet, remote and virtually untouched. On our way we stopped at a traditional Sasak hand weaving village, where we were able to see women weaving different patterns that were taught to them by their mothers, as each family has their own patterns that are passed down from generation to generation. We also got to try our hands at some hand weaving (pun intended) and don the traditional Sasak marriage outfit.
After an incident involving a giant spider in the shared bathroom on our first night at the hostel, we decided to treat ourselves and book a hotel for the next two nights (a room AND a bathroom all to ourselves! And a hot shower too!)
We rented mopeds and discovered the many exquisite beaches Kuta Lombok has to offer. But the real hidden gem here was the people – unfazed by tourists and genuinely good. There are also swarms of kids selling bracelets everywhere, mastering the art of negotiation and improving their English at the same time. Gabrielle must have bought at least 15 of them (bracelets not kids) and was identified the weakest link.
Once well rested and relaxed, it came time to hike Mount Rinjani – the second highest volcano in Indonesia at 3,726 meters high. We were a little hesitant at first; we had found the collective 4 hour hike up and down Mount Batur to be challenging, so naturally we were wondering whether we were physically and mentally capable of doing a 3 day hike. We ended up booking with an agency and hoped for the best. In the end, in my opinion, the trek was challenging but totally worth it (Fred might say differently). We trekked a total of 25 kilometers over the three days (split out 10/4/11) and camped in tents both nights at approximately 10 degrees Celsius (the temperature at the base must have been above 35 degrees). We were rewarded with breathtaking views that seemed almost unreal, along with an extreme sense of accomplishment – and maybe invincibility – at the end of the three day trek.
Next stop: Gili Islands!
Mellow Yellow rating: 💛💛💛💛💛
Travelers tips: Our first night in Kuta we stayed at Full Moon – OK rooms but very “rugged” bathrooms. We stayed at Kuta Cove for two nights – highly recommended. You can rent mopeds almost anywhere. Sonya’s restaurant is delicious – local food at local prices. Every weekend there is a beach party with a 50/50 ratio of locals and tourists – good live music, fire shows and cold beers.
As for Rinjani, you can book with an agency for ~$130 or book a porter for cheaper but have to take care of supplies yourself. Ask yourself the following questions before booking:
- Do I like trekking and/or rock climbing?
- Do I like nature?
- Do I like camping?
- Am I physically fit?
- Can I handle 10 hours per day of walking/climbing/being constantly on the verge of death, not showering, and going to the bathroom in the wild for three days straight?
If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, then Rinjani might be for you. Good luck and godspeed.
Getting to Kuta from Ubud made me feel a little bit like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz – gone were the chilled out vibes and local culture of Ubud, replaced instead by the sensory overload and domination of Western culture in Kuta. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. A few people had already told us to skip Kuta altogether, but we had also heard there were some nice beaches (which we are big fans of).
So off to the beach we went, very crowded but also very beautiful. After experiencing our first breathtaking Kuta sunset we hit the town with two girls we met in Ubud (Katie from New Zealand and Fauve from Belgium). We danced and drank away until the wee hours of the night.
The next day we made our way to Seminyak – the older, more refined sister of Kuta. This took quite a while as we were paying the price for the fun we had the previous night. We ended the day with dinner on the beach, listening to live music.
For our final day in Kuta we went to Uluwatu. Here we saw the breathtaking cliff side Uluwatu Temple as well as some gorgeous beaches (Balangan and Suluban/Blue Point).
Next stop: Lombok!
Mellow Yellow rating: 💛💛💛💛
4/5 (only if you have time to spare)
Travelers tips: If you are going from Ubud to Kuta (or vice versa) it is worth stopping at the rice terraces (Tegalalang)on the way. In Ubud a taxi to the terraces and back will cost you 200,000 and Ubud-Kuta will cost 300,000. We got the cab to take us to Kuta with a 1 hour stop at the terraces for 330,000. We stayed at Kayun Downtown Hostel and would highly recommend it. If you’re not into the club scene go to AlleyCats. If you’re not into the party scene, do yourself a favor and go to Seminyak instead.