MOLDIVWe just came back from a splendid beach holiday in Lombok, an island in Indonesia, and boy, is it harder to come home than to go on a getaway! Post-trip blues are real. I’ve been procrastinating on this post since we arrived, but I finally summoned enough motivation to write. I’m so glad to be back here in this space, to share our experience with you.

We flew via Cebu Pacific for the first time. Truth be told, I was a bit anxious, having read some unfavorable reviews online, but everything went surprisingly well.

Cebu Pacific has great airfare deals, almost unbeatable, and they offered a direct flight to Jakarta, saving us time, energy, and all the other hassles of transiting. Our flight was on-time both ways, and the service was great for a budget airline. Given the latter, don’t expect caviar, champagne, and enough legroom, of course! The downside is they don’t have onboard entertainment so you might want to download some movies and games if you’re travelling with kids. You also have to buy food and beverage on board. Flying time from Manila to Jakarta takes four hours.

As a Kenyan national, I didn’t require a visa prior to travelling to Indonesia. But for those not exempt, you can apply for a single-entry tourist visa on arrival. Application is free of charge, and the visa is valid for 30 days.

We stayed in Jakarta for one day before flying off to Bali’s eastern neighbor, Lombok. Flying time from Jakarta to Lombok takes two hours.

Unlike the once upon a time tourists’ most coveted island, Bali, Lombok is unspoiled, laidback, has less tourists, and has more natural attractions. It’s a blissful paradise. We stayed at Novotel Resort located on Lombok’s southern beach, Kuta, which we chose specifically because it is still underdeveloped. The beaches were less crowded, giving visitors the opportunity to truly soak in the stunning nature that surrounded the magical island.PSX_20170421_155553PSX_20170421_155613NOVOTEL LOMBOK RESORT AND VILLAS [KUTA]
Our three-night stay at Novotel was relaxing, and met the top objective of our trip, which was to rest. We were literally away from all the hustle and bustle, which was nice, for a change. Our room was spacious, and equipped with all necessary utilities that made our stay comfortable and enjoyable.PSX_20170427_131543PSX_20170427_131438PSX_20170421_155140PSX_20170427_135118PSX_20170427_135041Mornings and evenings were my favorite. We had breakfast with sublime views of sunny skies, crystal blue seas, and fringed palms lining the beach; and with feeling of warm sea breeze kissing our faces. It was something to look forward to each morning. Sunsets were glorious with flaming skies. It was splendid watching what was probably some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.PSX_20170421_155036PSX_20170421_155005PSX_20170415_185815PSX_20170421_155433PSX_20170414_205203Novotel is a family-oriented hotel, with tons of activities and toys for children at their kiddie club. They even have caretakers, if you needed to leave your child for an hour or two. Our son enjoyed feeding rabbits and playing with other kids so much that we literally had to pull him out for meals and naps.

In the evenings, at around seven, the hotel set up a mini movie theater on the beach, with comfy puffs around. On our last evening, we all snuggled up and watched Moana. That was fun!

Novotel tries hard to please its guests, and in most areas, they do excel. But there are some that still need improvement. Their cocktails are tasteless. Even their take on the classic mojito tasted liked infused water with only a hint of lemon and mint. In a nutshell, sundowners were very disappointing! Other than that we had a great time. Sunset yoga on the beach was always a good way to end the day. As I mentioned earlier, Kuta is still largely underdeveloped, so to help the local community, Novotel organizes a night market once a week, where local vendors come to sell their items. To give back to the community, I bought myself two pieces of Indonesian batik textile that I can’t wait to turn into something wearable.

We really enjoyed our stay at Novotel, and would recommend the hotel to anyone planning a trip to Lombok.

Gili Islands
The picturesque trio of islets surrounded by turquoise sea, Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno, should definitely be on your must-visit list. Each one of these islands has its charm. Gili Meno is the smallest, and is the perfect getaway spot if you want to escape the crowds, and just relax. Gili Trawangan is crowdy and has a lot going on, but here, you’ll find a variety bars and restaurants. It’s ideal for those looking to party hard, and dance to some reggae beats.

Horses and bikes are the only mode of transportation on the island, however, but it seems the horses aren’t well cared for. It was heartbreaking to see tourists going around the island on horses that look tired and dehydrated.

Unfortunately, too, the sea life is slowly dying. The 3,500 species of marine life that attracted divers and snorkelers will eventually be no more. The garbage on the beaches are piling up. Plus, everything is overpriced compared to Lombok and Bali. If no one takes action, the future of The Gili Islands is definitely at stake. Go visit while the place still has some charm.

Pantai Tanjung Aan
Pantai Tanjung Aan is well known for white sandy beaches, and crystal blue sea. We enjoyed a lovely day here, swimming and enjoying the amazing view of the waters. It was not crowded, hence very relaxing. There are one or two beach side cafes where you can enjoy lunch. Otherwise you can sip on coconut water while soaking everything in.PSX_20170415_094628PSX_20170421_155940PSX_20170415_094744Mount Rinjani
This is an active volcano in Lombok. If you are a trekking enthusiast and fit enough, then you should consider trekking up the mountain. Sunrises and sunsets from the Rinjani summit are among the most beautiful landscapes. On clear evenings, you may even see the Milky Way. For some inspiration, read Trekking Mount Rinjani As A Beginner by Girl Eat World

Tiu Kelep Waterfall
For a refreshing dip and amazing jungle scenery, visit Tiu Kelep, which is one of the most spectacular waterfalls found in Lombok.

Eat like a local in a ”Warung”
To experience authentic Indonesian cuisine, skip a meal (or two) at the resort and eat in a family-run “warung”. It’s not your typical restaurant, and definitely does not offer fine dining, but here, you’ll get to experience the local vibe, socialize at the local bars with a bottle of Indonesian Bintang beer, and enjoy great food.

Senggigi is the best place to go as the nightlife is lively, and it offers a variety of restaurants, bars and shops. Many visitors also use Senggigi as a base to explore Lombok because of its pocket-friendly accommodations. Some of the best Warungs in Senggigi are: The Ballroom Restaurant, Asmara Restaurant and Bar, Warung Paradiso, Square Restaurant and Warung Amalia.

I can’t say enough how beautiful Lombok is, and how warm and friendly the people there are. I will always remember swimming in the sea, and having a bunch of girls flock towards me. They were young, beautiful, and curious. We spent a few minutes playing rock-paper-scissors. They thought I was 16, and I thought they were being too nice. Their faces were so bright with smiles, and I remember thinking they have very little, and yet they were so happy. I guess there really is truth to the saying that the happiest don’t have the best of everything, but they make the best of everything.PSX_20170421_155514

Lora by Lora


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