After spending a couple days recovering from my Mount Rinjani climb in Mataram (the capital of Lombok), I decided that I was done with Bali and Lombok, and so decided to go to Java – by bus. It took me 30 hours of travel.
I’m not sure why I didn’t just fly over. It would have been faster, stress-free, and more comfortable. The only answer I can think of, is that I wanted the experience. And so, 30 hours of travel.
From the Mataram bus station, I catch a 20 hour bus to Surabaya, a city in Java. First, of course, I am forced to wait 5 hours, as the bus is obscenely late. At least the bus station waiting area is comfortable.
Finally, the bus arrives, and we’re off!
Continue reading Interlude: 30 Hours of Travel
While traveling lounging around Kuta Lombok, I overheard a conversation between a fellow traveler and a travel agent: What is there to do in Lombok? Well, there are the Gili islands, the beaches of Kuta and Senggigi, and Mount Rinjani. What if I’ve already done those? Well, then you’re basically done with Lombok.
Challenge accepted, climb Mount Rinjani – at 3,726 meters, the second highest mountain in all of Indonesia.
Since I didn’t bringing any camping gear with me on this backpacking trip, I opted to go with an all-inclusive three-day package of trekking up Mount Rinjani. For $100, I got camping equipment, prepared meals, porters to carry equipment and meals, and a guide – an absolute steal!
Continue reading Travelogue: Hiking Mount Rinjani
While riding my scooter around Lombok, I had my first scooter accident. I was just pulling out of my homestay into a roundabout, moving at maybe 5 km/hour, when I saw a guy driving towards me, but looking elsewhere.
Time moved in slow motion for next few seconds. Should I stop and yell for him to look forward? Should I increase speed and get past him? Should I swerve to one side?
Why had I chosen to get a scooter? Didn’t I hear all the stories of people crashing their bikes, getting massive scars? Oh shit, today is literally the last day my travel insurance is still effective!
In that split second, I panicked, hit the brakes, and yelled out “careful!”. The other guy ignored me. And in faster-than-slow-motion, we had a t-bone crash.
Continue reading Travel Stories: My First Scooter Accident
Traveling Lombok by scooter is freedom.Traveling Lombok by scooter is feeling the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, the road stretching out into the distance. Traveling Lombok by scooter is like nothing else.
Kuta (Lombok) is an amazing village, but it’s pretty small, with most attractions (beaches, surfing, etc) a ways away from the city, so if you want to go anywhere, you’re forced to rent a scooter. This was mine:
When I was in Bali, I dreamed of renting a scooter and biking around Bali. Then I saw the traffic. The traffic, and the lack of traffic regulations. The statistic of 150 people with motorbike accidents being admitted to Denpasar airport daily. So for the sake of safety, I had to put my dream on hold.
Kuta, though, is another story. With its vast lands, small population, and lack of traffic, riding a scooter here is a lot less stressful. But damn, it is beautiful!
Continue reading Travelogue: Lombok by Scooter
From Senggigi, I traveled to Kuta, Lombok. Like its sister city in Bali, Kuta has amazing surf, but that’s where the similarities end. While Kuta (Bali) is a big city full of tourists, traffic, and partying, Kuta (Lombok) is a small, peaceful village.
Here in Kuta, I rented a basic room ($7 / night), scooter ($5 / day), and spent two weeks relaxing.
(Please pardon the mess)
Continue reading Travelogue: Kuta, Lombok
After I had gotten sick of Gili Trawangan, I hopped on a local boat heading to the Lombok mainland, where I stayed for a night at Senggigi. Like all forms of local transportation, the local boat was overcrowded – 50-some people on a boat built for 30:
Senggigi itself was quite boring – lots of tourist-filled resorts, decent beaches, but not much else. But that was okay, I mostly just needed to get away from the insufferable crowds of Gili Trawangan.
Continue reading Interlude: Senggigi and the Expertise Assumption
My next destination was then Gili Trawangan, the largest and partiest of the Gili Islands, and a inevitable destination on the backpacker circuit in Indonesia. Thirty years ago it was a newly discovered gem, surrounded by with amazing beaches, scuba diving, snorkeling, and sunsets:
Nowadays, however, it is a major tourist destination and known as a “party” island among backpackers. And like the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, the entire island was strictly for tourists. There was no local industry. Don’t get me wrong, the place was absolutely gorgeous – especially since there were cars or motorcycles on the entire island – but it was just filled to the brim with tourists.
(Photo taken early morning, while everyone else was still passed out drunk)
Continue reading Travelogue: Gili Trawangan
After finishing up Kuta and Ubud, I spent two days in Padang Bai, a smallish town on Bali’s east coast, primarily known for being a pit stop before boarding a boat to the Gili islands. And so, every two meters, you would see a shop selling boat tickets. Other than that, I found the town quite charming – there were almost no long term tourists, mostly locals and a few travelers stopping over before heading off to the Gili Islands.
Continue reading Travelogue: Padang Bai