Welcome to Indonesia! As many of you know, I have recently started a new job in Surabaya, Indonesia so there will be many an Indonesian blog post in the future of Grace Goes Global. Well, we’ve gotta start somewhere and the island of Lombok seems like a pretty swell place.
I had a long weekend at work so a few of my fellow teachers and I jetted over to the south of Lombok to an area called Kuta. You may or may not have heard of Lombok before, so allow me to explain about it for a minute. It is located directly next door to the famous island of Bali, but has far fewer tourists, which is good and bad. Lombok is probably most recognized because of the adjacent Gili Islands, three very popular destinations in Indonesia. Not as many people stay on the mainland of Lombok, but that’s just where we ended up.
Upon arriving at the Lombok airport we immediately hired two taxies to take us to our homestay, Heavenly Homestay. Kuta is about a 30 minute drive from the airport and is filled with small homestays and places to eat. We rented enough motorbikes from our homestay for the group of us to get around and immediately headed to a beach. Now, a few of the gals that I was with had been before, so they knew exactly where to go. I’ve heard that on Lombok, no matter where you end up there will be a beautiful beach waiting for you, so don’t be to concerned about directions.
At the beach we rented paddle boards for 50,000 rupiah and hour and paddled to our hearts content. I had never paddle boarded before but was super excited by the opportunity. It’s much more challenging than it looks! Balance is not my strong point, but really, just call the board a struggle bus because some of us couldn’t even stand. I also got horribly (HORRIBLY) sunburned because my suncream turned out to be crap. Although it’s more expensive, in Indonesia, don’t buy off brand suncream. Splurge and get Banana Boat for the love of all things that are good in this world. Learn from my mistakes! After the beach we went back towards our homestay and had a delicious Mediterranean dinner from one of the many hipster-esque restaurants in Kuta.
The next day me and a few of the other gals wanted to go and do something that didn’t include hours at the beach due to our painful sunburn. We booked a waterfall tour from a touring company on the streets of Kuta and headed out an hour later. It was about 150,000 rupiah each. It took about two hours to get to the center of Lombok where the waterfalls were located. The waterfalls are located at a higher elevation which meant it was much cooler upon arrival. We hired a guide to take us to all five waterfalls. You could choose how many you wanted to see with three of them being easily accessible but much more crowded. We wanted some peace and quiet so opted to see all five. We were told that the hike would be easy and flip flop friendly. Um, nope! Big fat lier! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but it was much, much more challenging of a trek than they explained.
At the beginning we followed our guide down many rough and oddly shaped steps until we came to the first two waterfalls which were adjacent to each other. The very first waterfall was the only one to offer an area to jump from. The cliff was probably about 40 feet and I would have loved to have made the jump (y’all know I love a good jump) but fearing for my already throbbing skin I decided it probably wouldn’t be the wisest decision. If I landed wrong, which I probably would, the pain would have been immeasurable. So, I just admired the water from above. The other waterfall was above us and offered a number of smaller falls all collecting in a shallow pool. It was then that we began the real trek, away from the lowly tourists not willing to brave the hike ahead…
It started with a crazy amount of steps up and then it turned slippery and steep and we were drenched and muddy by the end. I was much more worried about encountering a tarantula than anything else since we were now deep in the jungle but I never saw as much as an ant. I took the lead as our fabulous guide stayed behind to make sure none of us slipped. Finally we arrived at our own personal, powerful waterfall which was pretty spectacular. The water was freezing, but I was determined to experience it all and test out my new waterproof camera. We stripped down to our swimsuits and braved the temperature for a few minutes of laughter and shivers. Our guide stripped down to his skivvies and jumped in with us while he clamored on about “shower.” I’m pretty sure this was considered his actual “shower.”
We were then soaked to the bone and were told by our guide not to bother putting our clothes back on and we proceeded to hike through the jungles of Indonesia in nothing but our swimsuits. Yet again, all I was concerned with was a run in with an eight legged creature. I took the lead again and led us through until we reached the next waterfall, also to ourselves. We once again jumped into the water but this time took silly photos balancing on rocks – first demonstrated by our guide.
On our way back we were met with deep mud which proceeded to brake on of the girls’ shoes. Most of us were going barefoot at this point. We balanced along an old pipe to avoid anymore run ins with hostile mud. The path lead us through more streams and up rocks, it’s a wonder none of us twisted an ankle, but finally we reached the last and most unique fall of them all. This one was also frequented by tourists but the shear beauty drowned it all away. The water trickled down behind lush, green vines and collected in a large pool below. Let’s let the photo do the talking, shall we?
Our next day was spent at the beach again, this time with a shirt and proper suncream in an attempt to save my poor, red-hot skin. On the beach we were greeted by a heard of cattle that decided they deserved a day on the beach as much as we did. This beach involved a half-hour drive through the wilds of Lombok. Now, I’ve been driving a motorbike in Surabaya traffic for about three weeks at this point but traffic and hills have nothing in common. I was actually more terrified driving up and down hills than dealing with the insanity that is Surabaya traffic. The views, however, were stunning. Breathtaking. I only wish I could have snapped photos for you as I drove.
For sunset we climbed up a hill overlooking a beach and rice paddy. The clouds obstructed our view a bit, but not enough to shade all the colors of pink and purple from our view. I understand why people call this “paradise” now…All it needed was a Taco Bell and all would be well.
Kuta is a good alternative if you are looking for a less touristy version of Bali but still easily accessible with many things to do. The area is good for peace loving nature lovers and late night partiers alike.