Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Asian Adventure 10 :: 16-19 Oct'09 :: Lombok and Gili Trawangan

L is for laid-back, lavish and luscious in Lombok. We arrived in Bali and had a few hours to kill so headed for a delicious lunch at Biku. There's nothing quite like a fresh gazpacho sitting under a parasol in the searing heat of the Balinesian midday sun.

After returning from the up-and-coming Petitinget area, next up was to survive the challenging experience of Bali's domestic departures airport (complete with stinking, puddle-ridden squat toilets). It was in the poor man's version of the international departures airport (even the ice cream freezer was empty) that we decided that should we return to Lombok from Singapore, we would fly direct if at all possible. This would avoid the utter chaos of navigating the row of fledgling carriers operating ancient aircraft who seemingly share out customers between them. This causes queues, confusion, cancellations and a poor beginning and end to what otherwise is a thoroughly relaxing getaway in an idyllic sand and surf location.

It is hard to imagine that our choice of accommodation could be surpassed in the setting, service and gastronomy categories. Qunci Villas offered us an ocean view poolside villa complete with an exquisitely comfortable king-size bed and breakfast served on our spacious balcony.

View by night

In the evenings, we dined al fresco listening to the sound of the waves lapping gently at the white sand shore lit with over-sized spotlights for night-time swimming.

By day, we lazed in and by the infinity pool looking forward to Happy Hour cocktails from 4 - 7 p.m. to accompany sundown. I interspersed my reading and relaxing one day with a one hour session of being covered in a chocolate and coffee bean paste which exfoliated my sun-kissed skin and made me smell good enough to eat.

We also took two trips out to Gili Trawangan - one for exploration and one for diving with Dream Divers. The island is very small and easily navigable by horse and cart, bicycle or on foot. Once a day, the boat docks from Bali bringing a sudden influx of backpack clad Westerners clutching travel-beaten guide books in search of accommodation. We watched the world go by sipping jaw-clenchingly sweet Lombok coffee and speaking to a local glass-bottomed boat owner who marvelled at the increase in the number of Westerners who had, over the last twenty years, chosen Gili Trawangan as their home. You could tell that he was undecided on the change.

Wooden cart + horse + tractor tyres = Lombok taxi

Diving at the Coral Fan Garden and Basket Coral Garden was a real treat. A green turtle graciously swam by, schools of fusiliers were suspended in the currents along with pipe fish and of course, our favourite clown fish nestled and played in the brightly coloured anemones.

As there is little in the way of "nightlife" in Lombok, this allows for the ultimate in relaxation. There really is nothing wrong with slipping beneath the bedsheets at 9 p.m. after a hard day's chillaxing, so it is thoroughly recommended for couples and families with young children. For the thrill-seeking among you, there's still always the lure of careering round steep mountain bends on roads lit only by the bulbs of the ubiquitous street-side stalls (just jump in any taxi after sundown) or the challenge of climbing Mount Rinjani. Verdict: Lombok rocks.

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