Trip of Wonders: Lombok & Gili Islands
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Lombok is an island in Indonesia that’s relatively less known than its neighboring island of Bali. However, it is gradually attracting a large number of foreign travelers more recently. In fact, the moment we landed, we were immediately transported to El Bazar café for a refreshing Mediterranean lunch, which got me wondering where all the local travelers were.
We flew in from Yogyakarta via a connecting flight in Bali. This was day 5 of the Trip of Wonders 2016, a 12-day trip on several key destinations organized by Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism with 40+ travel bloggers from all over Southeast Asia. We were already having a blast during our visit to Bandung and Yogyakarta over the last couple of days but our energies showed no signs of running out.
Soon after lunch we headed to the town of Sade Village. The Sasak people, as its locals, are called, warmly welcomed us into their community by offering beautifully woven scarves to be hanged around our necks. Some of us girls got creative and decided to wear them around our heads in varying styles. All while a cultural performance was unfolding right before us. It was a mix of various traditional instruments being played, coupled with some dance shows as well.
Similar to a lot of the other regions in Indonesia, farming and handicraft making are the main sources of livelihood amongst the Sasak people. While it is said that developments on the island are under way, their heritage are seemingly still well preserved. Hopefully, though, the changes that will eventually be made here will only uplift the locals and benefit their environment in a positive way.
That evening we finally got to take our much needed rest at the Golden Tulip Hotel Mataram (hotel info). Our rooms were incredibly spacious and they came with a beautiful view! Their breakfast and dinner buffet consist of both western and Indonesian food, and they sit quite well with our palettes. By this time of the trip, we were just eating healthier than usual – loads of veggies thrown into the mix of meat. At least, that’s how my plate was beginning to look like from the selection of food available. Plus, my body clock seemed to be rising earlier than my set alarm!
The next day, we set out to explore the Gili Islands – the sun, the sea and all the salt air that came with it!
The mainland of Lombok is situated at Indonesia’ West Nusa Tenggara province, surrounded by white-sand beaches, breathtaking azure waters, lush forests and surfing spots. There are three small islands off its northwest coast that you should take note of. Gili Trawangan, the biggest of the three, if you want to check out the local party scene. Gili Air, if you want to stretch that cultural immersion with the locals much further. Gili Meno, is just that perfect spot to laze around and bask under the tropical sunshine. We did all three of that.
From the base camp where we got dropped off by the bus, we boarded a small ferry that took us to Gili Trawangan. There we picked up our snorkeling gears and got on a smaller boat to sail to our first snorkeling spot.
We passed by Gili Meno, which is dotted with these traditional cabana huts and sun beds but I was having too much fun in the water that I took the time to just film underwater footages instead of experiencing the place!
Our next snorkeling spot was the Gili Air, which is yet another stunning scenery of turquoise water under the bright blue sky. We only stayed there briefly but I took the time to dive right in, yet again, in search of some nice corals to film.
By 12 noon we were back at Gili Trawangan for some lunch buffet at the beachfront restaurant of Villa Ombak Hotel. There was a bit of free time to explore the island on our own and there were options to rent a bike and go around, or to ride horse-drawn carts called cidomo, and get to the famous sunset swing on the beach. Well, I chose the latter, of course! The rest that happened afterwards were just lounging by the beach and enjoying the afternoon breeze.
Islands like these won’t be hidden gems for long, especially with Indonesia gaining a steady flock of new visitors right now. I do hope that the place remains to be as well-maintained as it is now, and perhaps eve better. Spending half a day wasn’t enough but that is definitely a reason to come back for the next trip. I’ll be sure to make it longer the next time though! Meanwhile, we are gearing up for our next destination – Labuan Bajo (where possibly the only living dragons could be found)!