In 2014 my boyfriend and I went to Indonesia. We did a three week trip to Bali, Gili Islands and Lombok.
Day 1-3 Ubud and Central Bali
Our holiday starts in Ubud, the cultural center of Bali. Ubud has a local market with a lot of arty stuff and souvenir shops. Later on we walk to the Monkey Forrest. No surprise if I tell you this forest is full of monkeys. They are so adorable! But no one told us they could be brutal as well. We walk around the park and sit down to eat some cookies. One monkey spots us. He gets agressive because we don’t want to give him our cookies. He bites my elbow! Woooot. I am so lucky it doesn’t get through my skin. This would mean the end of our holiday. These animals are full of bacteria and diseases you need to go to the hospital if you are bitten. So my advise to you: these monkeys may seem cute, but they can be very agressive!
In the evening we go to a typical Balinese dance show called Kecak. The Balinese men sing special noises and actors who mimic a traditional story.
The next day we book a guide and a car (who you can find on the streets in Ubud) for a whole day. The first activitiy is another typical Balinese act: Barong dance. I must say, Kecak and Barong seem not that different to me. Only the music and the singing is different. Next, we visit the Bali Bird and Reptile Park because my boyfriend is fond of reptiles. It is like a zoo but with many exotic birds and big reptiles. After a few hours we are ready to leave the park and go to a silversmith. He learns us how to make silver jewellery and shows us his little shop.
One lovely activity if you like coffee or tea, is visiting a coffee plantation. You get all kinds of different coffee and tea they make at the coffe plantantion which you can try. The special luwak coffee is made of beans eaten and defecated by the luwak animal. yum yum tasty. Our last stop this day is at Goa Gajah (The Elephant cave). The cave is surrounded by beautiful nature. In the meanwhile our guide teaches us everything about Hinduism.
On our last day in Ubud a guide from a cycling company picks us up to go downhill cycling. But first, we come to relaxation in hot springs on top of the Mount Batur. We thought these would be natural hot springs, but it looks like a normal swimming pool. Darn. Not what we expected. In the afternoon we jump on our mountainbike. Ready to go! We ride through local poor villages and visit a small house to see how Balinese people live. On our trip we see a lot of orange trees and fruit plantations . We also pass Tegalalang: a beautiful district with a lot of rice terraces. Definitely worth doing!
Day 4-6 North Bali
We arrange a driver to bring us to our next destination: Lovina. Lovina is a great base to explore western and northern Bali. On our way we stop in Jatiluwih. Jatiluwih is known for its gorgeous rice terraces amidst the mountains. At around 13pm we arrive in Lovina. We explore the black, volcanic beach. Only the southern of Bali has white beaches. That’s why there are more tourists in the south. We are going to bed early, because tomorrow morning at 5am they will pick us up to see the dolphins! For this reason there are many tourists in Lovina.
So the next day, at 5am, one guy with a scooter is bringing us to his boat. We are so lucky we booked with the right guy. Our boat is the fastest of all the other boats with tourists. Meaning: we were ahead of all other people and could see the dolphins from real close. There are so many! After our dolphin trip, we rent a scooter to Taman Nasional Bali Barat, a national park in the west of Bali. The park exists of rainforest and mangroves. Our guide is very interesting. He knows everything about mangroves and Balinese wildlife. We see a monitor iguana, macaque monkeys, black monkeys and a snake where I almost stood on.
Today we are going to see waterfalls. We don’t want to go to the famous Sekumpul, Gitgit or Munduk waterfall. So we find a guide who promise to take us somewhere else. A hidden place with 3 waterfalls and almost NO tourists: Sambangan. We jump from the top of the waterfall and use one as a natural slide! Whi! Here is the website of our guide where you can book your trips.
Next on our list is the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, THE water temple you see on every image of Bali. The entrance fee is high and it looks more like a tourist attraction than a temple. The temple is much smaller than you think as well. Can’t say this is worth a visit, except you get some nice photos afterwards. Hehe.
Day 7 – 9 East Bali
We leave Lovina for Amlapura. It takes 3 hours to get there. On your way you can see a glimpse of the collosal Mount Agung. We want to do a trekking to the top of this volcano, but it isn’t possible because a village on the route is having a ceremony. Therefore we cannot pass and get to the top. I am a little sad because this is something I really wanted to do.
In the afternoon we rent a scooter to visit Taman Ajung (a water palace), Candidasa and Goa lawah. Taman Ujung is surprisingly stunning. It is much cheaper than Tirtagangga and less crowded with tourists. Goa Lawah temple is famous for its cave filled with thousands of bats. There is a weird smell around the cave. While cruising around on our scooter, we also stop at White Sand Beach bay in Candidasa. Normally Candidasa has only black volcanic beaches.
This morning no alarm to wake us up. It is noon when we leave our B&B. Close to our lodge is a warm water hole. It is hidden between rice paddies so it takes us a while to find it. But it is worth searching. After this dive we drive to Padangbai to buy boat tickets to Gili for tomorrow. We also visit Purah Besakih. This is the mother of temples in Bali. It is the biggest one and is located at Mount Agung.
Day 10 – 13 Gili Air
We take the boat from Padanbai to Gili Trawangan. We are still in doubt on which island we want to stay. Gili Trawangan is the largest island of the three. It is also the busiest. If you would love to party on an island, I recommend Gili Trawangan. It is packed with youth. Gili Air is the second biggest island. If you prefer some rest, but still want to have facilities like restaurants and bars and some sort of entertainment, this island suits you best.
The smallest is Gili Meno. This island is the quietest and least developed of all three. Here you can find complete rest. There is one thing those islands have in common: no motorised transport allowed. Transport option are by bike, foot or horse and car. You can imagine this gives a chill atmosphere on the islands. We opt for Gili Air. So we arrange a local boat with four other tourists who want to go to Gili Air as well. This boat trip is quite an adventure! The wind is so strong, it causes giant waves and our boat swings hard. BUT, we managed it to get to Gili Air alive.
The next day exists of chilling at the beach. Why not? We are one vacation, right.
Today some fun stuff coming. The wonders of the under water world will be discovered. Snorkeling time! Our snorkeling trip has 4 stops around the Gili Islands. On our first stop we already see sea turtles! They are gorgeous! The tropical fish and corals are stunning too. We meet Dora. Hope she gets to Australia safely! Hihi.
While we’re on Gili Air, we are planning where to go after. We want to go to Lombok, and therefore we need to book a boattrip to get off the island. The tourist office where we get more information, is also offering trekking trips to the summit of Mount Rinjani in Lombok. Rinjani is an 3700m high active volcano. Because we couldn’t do the trekking at Mount Agung in Bali, we decide to do a 3 day trekking at Mount Rinjani. A tent, sleeping bag, food and so on to survive for 3 days is included in the package. Oh man we are so excited about this! Let’s do this!
Day 14-16 Mount Rinjani Lombok
So today we leave the tropical island Gili Air. The boat will bring us to a village in Lombok. From this point our trip to Mount Rinjani starts. We start with four other tourists. The first day we are going to hike for 5 hours. Every 2 hours there is a resting post where we can take a break if necessary. This hike is very diversified when it comes to vegetation. We started in a forest, walked through a jungle and passed burnt landscape. At 17 pm we arrive at the rim of the volcano. This is our final stop for today as well. The view is amazing. You see a crater filled with water and forest. And in the middle there is even a smaller volcano! Great views to end our day and go to sleep with.
On our second trekking day we walk down towards the crater lake. The water is freezing cold so no little swim for me. Few hours later we arrive at natural hot springs. The water is yellow coloured and is 38°C. Time for a bath!
After lunch, the hard part of today’s hike is waiting for us. In 2 hours and 30 minutes we climb 700m high. We are 2700m above sea level when we arrive at our tents. Tonight at 2am we leave for our final hike. Why this early? So we’re on time to see the sunrise at 6 o’clock in the morning from the summit of Mount Rinjani. We will rise another 1000m above sea level. Some people don’t do the final hike, because they are already too tired from the last two days. This proves you need to be a little bit in shape if you want to do this 3 day trekking.
At 2pm my boyfriend and I are ready to go. The pathway consists of loose stones. Every step we do, gets us two steps back! This is really tiring. Together with Kyle, a Scottish guy, we managed somehow to reach the top at 5am, one hour before sunrise! Other tourists have given up. And I feel sorry for them they didn’t see the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. I could cry while watching the sun goes up.
We saw the sun risen above Bali, now it is time to get back down. It takes 6 hours to get back to civilization. This experience is something I will never forget.
Day 17-19 Kuta Lombok
We slept like babies previous night. Sleeping in a normal bed, after two nights in tents, is heaven. Because we are still a little stiff from the hike, we decide to take it easy today. We rent a scooter and discover the south of Lombok. We drive to Gerupuk, a little surf village, to book a boat and surfboards for tomorrow morning to catch some waves.
The next day we follow a cooking class. I like Asian food so I definitely wanted to learn how to cook traditional Balinese food. Ani is our cook. She teaches us how to make mouth-watering Soto Ayam, Olah-Olah and chicken curry.
On our last day in Lombok, we visit a traditional Sasak village. Sasak are the original people living at Lombok. Afterwards we drive to East Lombok: Tanjung Luar and Labuhan Haji. There are no tourists here because there is actually not much to see in the east haha. Local people can’t speak English so if you get lost, it will be hard to find your way back! But those people are so happy to see you. They’ll do everything to get your attention or a smile or a wave.
Day 19- 21 Kuta Bali
The end of our holiday is near. At home we booked our last three days in Kuta, Bali. To perfectly end our vacation, we stay in a ‘more expensive’ hotel close to the beach. We mostly spend our time at the beach sunbathing and surfing. We also visit two special temples: Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Uluwatu. Pura Tanah Lot is special because it is a temple on a rock formation in the sea. You can only go inside the temple when it is low tide. Pura Uluwatu is cool as it is build at the edge of a 70m high cliff.
This holiday was our first real big trip which we planned ourselves. And I can’t say I would do it different. Indonesia is a perfect country for beginner travelers and I recommend it to anyone who likes nature or culture.