We took the small local boat across the 20 minute stretch of ocean between Gili Air and Lombok. We decided to stay in Kuta, a quiet area popular with surfers for the numerous beaches along the coastline, each offering different sized waves, from small to the more extreme. We were picked up by friends of Adi, the manager of our guesthouse, and driven for an hour via a monkey forest and a brief stop for some Nasi Goreng to our home for the next few days – Heavenly Homestay.
Welcome to Heavenly Homestay – the view from our terrace:
Heavenly Homestay made a great first impression. All of the staff were super friendly, greeting us with “Welcome home!” and the lovely gardens and little pool looked perfect. The rooms were large and clean with big beds and AC. We quickly went for a bit of an explore, walking the 10 minutes to town to check out the area and the beach. We stumbled across some big crowds all watching a football game, people were cheering like crazy and standing on their motorbikes to get the best view.
We then wandered on to the beach for sunset. It was large and lovely but we did get a bit of hassle being some of the only Westerners around. It was mostly friendly though and consisted of kids shouting “Hey Tourist!”. Some girls immediately began striking poses and wanting us to take their photo.
After this we had some dinner and headed back home, tired after our early start freediving that morning. Later on Adi (the manager) came to introduce himself. It turns out he is a bit of a dude on Lombok, not only is he an excellent surfer but he also plays on the island football team, he had been taking part in the match earlier on which is why he wasn’t there when we arrived. We decided to go surfing with him the next day to an area with small enough waves to get started.
That morning we set off on our rented motorbike with Adi’s surfboard in the side rack. We followed him and his friend to a small beach 20 minutes away where we hired boards each and then set off on a small boat to catch some waves out at sea. Our boat parked up next to several others, sheltered at the side of a cove. We jumped in and paddled to the surfing area and waited for some waves. At first it seemed quite serene and I was feeling fairly confident. But then came the waves. At the sight of a big one coming, I turned around and paddled like crazy hoping to just bodyboard in to get the hang of it, but the wave was huge and I got tumbled around underwater like I was on the spin cycle, finishing with a magnificent smack on the head courtesy of my surf board. I just about got up for air when the next even bigger wave got me, spin cycle number two and a lung full of saltwater later I decided that I was not hardcore enough for these ‘beginner’ waves! I paddled back to the boat deciding to have a break and just watch the action for a while. Wimpish I know, but I’m very aware of my back problems and always get worried I’m going to damage something when I get thrown around. I gave our boat driver my board and told him to jump in and enjoy, it turned out he was pretty bloody good at surfing too! So I set up camp sunbathing on the boat, watching Jack and taking photos of him and any other good surfing action.
Waiting for the waves:
Our boat driver in action:
After a few hours Jack was knackered. We went back to shore and drove back to the guesthouse on the bike, stopping to look at some cool beaches on the way.
After this we decided to just use the bike to explore the many awesome beaches around Kuta for the next few days and to hire boards as and when we felt like it. We had heard that Mawun beach was the most beautiful and great for surfing so we drove the 15km there the next day. While it was definitely a lovely bay we only stayed an hour or so before carrying on, following signs to a cafe another 10km away. After all, if they bother to advertise from far away you expect good things, right? We were really glad we did this because we not only found the nicest food we ate on Lombok but our favourite beach of all, Selong Belanak, which we returned to every day after. This beach had everything, gorgeous sand, smallish waves for surfing and stunning views.
Selong Belanak – our favourite beach:
Every afternoon, just before sunset, this guy would bring his horse to the beach for his daily exercise which was amazing to watch:
We also occasionally saw herds of buffalo cross the beach:
Jack went surfing and I took some photos (good wife tekkers):
A big part of our love for this beach was the stunning drive there and back. Narrow concrete roads wind through small villages and paddy fields up and down the hills of the coastline there and back to Kuta:
On our way back one day we rounded a corner to see that a girl had fallen off her bike. I suddenly realised that it was our friend Abi, who we had met on the Tao Philippines trip a month ago. We jumped off and helped her with her bike, luckily she wasn’t badly hurt so we drove back slowly with her and went for a beer to take the sting out of it! Having fallen off ourselves before we know how much it can shake you up. We were going on a day trip the next day with a local guy recommended to us back on Gili T so we invited Abi to come with us.
The next morning we were picked up at 8AM by Hans. We drove to Abi’s guesthouse then carried on to our first stop, a national park and a walk to a beautiful waterfall. We were really lucky to see some black long-tailed monkeys in the trees as we walked, one even carrying her baby as she swung from tree to tree.
These monkeys were hard to capture on camera:
When we left the national park we drove past some paddy fields where villagers were harvesting rice. We asked some questions about how it all worked and Hans leapt out and introduced us to the villagers who laughed and invited us to have a go at it ourselves. As you can see, the plants are picked and cut and then the rice grains are literally beaten out by hand and collected in to sacks. It is hard and hot work in the glaring sun.
Jack helping to collect grains (apparently he did a good job – they invited him to stay):
After this we visited several villages each specialising in different handicrafts. The first stop was to check out some weaving. The lady made us a little ‘Lemon’ sign to put on our wall when we get home:
We also saw traditional scarves and sarongs being made as well as pottery making in action:
Han’s thought it was a good idea to dress us up in traditional wedding attire – I can’t look at Jack in this photo without cracking up:
We finished up with an amazing buffet lunch made for us in Han’s village. My favourites were the gado-gado – a vegetable salad with a peanut sauce, vegetable stuffed tofu balls, gudeg curry made from jackfruit and roasted chicken – all served with some spicy sambal for dipping. Yum:
We got home around 6PM, ready for one last night in Lombok before flying the next morning to Banjarmasin, on Indonesian Borneo, in search of some orangutans.