Okay so I’ve finally found some time to post about my recent new year break. After two miserable years of being stuck at home for new year, I was determined to make a break for warmer shores to remind myself what it feels like to have the sun on my skin. I settled for the Indonesian island of Lombok, which is right next to the more well know island of Bali.
The first thing to say is that the journey was a painful one – 23 hours door to door including a 5 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur and a 3 hour flight from KL to Lombok, a 2 hour drive to the pier, a 30 minute ferry ride to the smaller island of Gili Trawangan and a horse drawn cart known locally as a Cimodo, for the final leg.
I spent the first 5 nights out of 7 on Trawangan, which is a tiny island without any cars and just a short strip of hotels, bars and restaurants, almost exclusively owned and run by westerners, as well as a few dive centres. My home for 5 days was the relatively plush Kokomo Resort which has eleven one, two- and three-bedroom villas, with private facilities ranging from a Jacuzzi to large swimming pools. It also has one of the best restaurants on the island, serving excellent Italian food.
For more modestly priced food, the excellent Scallywags seafood grill is in my opinion the best option on the island, despite several very blatant imitators. They have a great selection of daily fresh seafood BBQ with complimentary salad bar, as well as regular menu options like hamburgers and even Indonesian options. I made the mistake of going somewhere else on my first night and ended up with diarrhea for the next few days. Scallywags also offers accommodation if you’re looking for an alternative to Kokomo on the island.
The highlight of my stay on Trawangan was the 3 day open water diving course. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years, but finding the time was never easy as I’ve rarely been in one beach resort for 3 or more days, if ever.
You basically spend one day in the pool to learn the basics and some theory and then the 2nd and 3rd days are spent in open water (ie the sea) where you do a total of 4 dives, each lasting around 45 minutes. There’s also an exam to sit and then you’re a certified open water diver.
As we were about to end my 4th and final dive, still 10 metres below the surface, my instructor pointed to my vest pocket. I didn’t know what she meant at first but reached in and found a plastic card had been placed in the pocket. I took it out and realised it was my diver certification card which she had had printed before my final dive (I admire her optimism!). She then gave me an underwater high 5 and we then swam up to the surface.
And that’s about it for Gili Trawangan. My next post will cover the second half of my holiday, which was spent on the main island of Lombok and like Trawangan, was truly amazing, but for very different reasons.
Travelers tip : The only unpleasant part of the holiday was arriving at the pier in Bangsal and trying to negotiate with what can only be described as bandits to get a boat to the small island of Trawangan. We were eventually charged an extortionate amount and were put on what was basically a cheap boat full of locals who I imagine all paid a tenth of what we paid if that. I’d suggest avoiding Bangsal at all costs, or make arrangements with your hotel to be picked up. There are also a lot of lurkers around the pier who will grab your bags and carry them on to the ferry and then demand payment for helping, whether you wanted help or not. More helpful details on Bangsal can be found here.