With over 13,000 islands, Indonesia has something unique to offer for all sorts of visitors. From the cool white sands and raucous volcanoes of Bali, to the vibrant capital city of Jakarta, to the untouched lands of Sumatra, you can always find something different here. Indonesia is home to a vast array of indigenous animals too (including the Komodo dragon). With extremely inexpensive local food and reasonably-priced accommodation, it’s no wonder Indonesia is a popular turist destination. If only it was easier to fly to!
So… We are going back to Indonesia after 8 years. With two kids and a friend this time. The Emirates flight took us from Venice to Dubai and then to Singapore. There we only had 45 min to catch the KLM flight to Denpasar. Thankfully we checked our bags in Venice directly to Bali so we were escorted directly to the gate without emigration clearance; otherwise we would never catch the flight. At 8 pm, 24 hours after we left our home in Slovenia we’ve finally landed in Denpasar, Bali. Was it exhostfull? Yes and again yes, but we had a good night sleep before heading back to the airport for another short flight to our first destination on Lombok.
Due to some bad reviews about boat transfers from Bali to Lombok we decided to take a good 20 min flight with Wings Air instead. The flight was short and sweet with Mt Agung on horizon almost entire way. The driver who picked us up at Lombok Int Airport fist took us to Praya, small town where we took care of our Bintang stock. Lombok is a Muslim populated island so beer during Ramadan is not that easy to find. We chose our destination at Salong Belanak beach. It’s about 40 min form Kuta and a good hour from the airport.
And as we soon discovered we chose wisely… the view was to die for.
So for next 6 days we spoiled ourselves with laying around the pool in the mornings while the afternoons were spend on the beautiful white sandy beach that was just perfect for the kids.
Going to Rome and not see the Pope? Of course we had to try to surf, it is Indonesia after all. At the end…it’s not as easy as it looks on TV
Let’s not forget about our regular daily visitors…a bunch of monkeys who stole Svit’s inflatables and his beach ball. They were cute anyway.
Six days went by so quickly and before we knew it was time to pack our bags and leave to Gilis.
Check HOTELS IN LOMBOK HERE!
FACTS ABOUT LOMBOK
Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Barat or NTB) province, Indonesia. It forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands.
The provincial capital and largest city on the island is Mataram. It’s surrounded by a number of smaller islands locally called Gili.
Lombok is one of the 17.504 islands of the Indonesian archipelago and is part of the province Nusa Tenggara Barat. Located in the east of it’s popular neighbour Bali, Lombok is a currently largely unknown paradise which offers a lot of different sights for tourists. With a size of 4,725 km2 (approximately 80km from North to South and the same from East to West) and about 3.16 mio. inhabitants it is much less crowded than its neighbour Bali. This makes it a perfect place for everyone who is searching for a quiet holiday destination with untouched nature. But that’s just one of Lomboks numerous sides.
Lombok is also an attractive place for everyone who is looking for adventure. With Indonesia’s second highest volcano „Gungung Rinjani“ Lombok offers a perfect setting for trekking tours or a walk to magnificent waterfalls. The breathtaking white beaches in the south of Lombok are not only a great place to chill out, there are also several spots for those who are looking for the perfect wave. Moreover, there are a lot of beautiful things to see under the water. Especially the small islands off the coast, known as the „Gili Islands“ offer spectacular diving and snorkelling spots. The three most popular Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air) are located in the northwest of Lombok. These magical islands are not only worth a visit by day. During the nighttime, a variety of restaurants and beach bars come alive and serve great food and amazing parties. But also those who don’t want to leave the main island to go out for dinner or a party, will find great locations in Senggigi as well.
We stayed at Gili Air bungalows ( http://www.giliairbungalows.com/). At first we were a bit worried because the rooms were next to each other and if Nia would decide to get vocal this place would get pretty lively. As usual she was a good girl so our worries were unnecessary.
Most of the day we just laid around on the beach, we had our daily dosage of Lombok coffee and beer.
We also discovered that those cakes from La Cirque pastry shop were just delicious.
If you have the time take the bike around the island. It will take you a good hour to go around it, including almost 1/3 of the way that you have to push the bike since the sand is too deep to ride the bike.
We also took a day trip to Gili Meno – no turtles btw, which kind of saddened us since we agreed that it was much prettier than Air and that maybe we should have stayed here.
But… regarding Trawangan we didn’t wasted time to go there since we were there before and it’s a bit too lively for the kinds. Or us for that matter.
ABOUT GILI ISLANDS How to get on the three Gilis? Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air are accessible only by boat from either Lombok or Bali. Gili Air is closest to Lombok.
Public boats run from the harbour in Bangsal, Lombok to Gili Air and take 20-30 minutes depending on the weather. If the sea is too rough boats may not operate at all. You’ll need to take a shuttle or taxi to Bangsal, which is about an hour from the capitol of Mataram. If you’re coming from Senggigi you can arrange private boat transfer for about $15 through an agency in Senggigi. We arranged our private pick up with Dream divers from Teluk Kode and everything went smoothly.
From Bali Travel agencies throughout Bali book fast boats that take about two hours from Padang Bai in Bali to each of the Gili Islands. They may quote exorbitant rates, but negotiate to pay between 200,000-300,000 rupiah each way which is about $15-25 and include transfer from many places in Bali to the harbour in Padang Bai. The trip can be rough and sickening if the weather is bad. Ticketing agents may sway you to book round trip saying that booking is more expensive in the Gillis. That is not true and sometimes the fast boats stop operating altogether due to weather. Getting around: Walking You can walk the perimeter of the entire island in about an hour and a half. I recommend doing this at least once to find your favourite beach. Walking is pleasurable, but with two small kids we didn’t do it this way, we did it with… Bicycle You can find bicycle rentals throughout the island for around 30,000 rupiah ($2.50). Bear in mind that some roads are very sandy and difficult to peddle down, but inside the village there are paved roads to cut across. Knowing that we were prepared to push our bikes for almost 1/3 of the way.
Driving around with a horse carriage The only other form of transportation on the island is by horse. When you come off the harbour with a lot of luggage it might seem like a godsend. The price is 100,000 rupiah flat rate ride but really, unless you absolutely feel you must use it, as we had, because of the two kids, lots of luggage and quite far bungalows the equation wasn’t working for us, get some exercise and rather walk which will save you money.
Where to Eat on Gili Air Le Cirque $3-10 for lunch and dinner We discovered great pastry shop here and for two day in a row we were feasting on their cakes. Next day tour bellies gave up on sugar overdose. Le Cirque may have the best Western food on the island. Homemade bread, elegant pastries, and a European fusion menu is a nice break from traditional Indonesian fare. The beachfront location is likewise wonderful.
Chill Out Bar $3-5 for lunch and dinner This is the place we had most of our dinners while on Air. In the busiest part of the beach many restaurants serve up BBQ and kebabs at lunch and dinner with offers of extended menu featuring classic Indonesian cuisine like nasi goreng . For the price, the setting and the food, Chill Out Bar was our favourite.
There are two ATMs on the island which sometimes run out of money or stop working. Some of the higher end establishments accept cards but for the most part places are cash only. You can always go over to Gili Trawangan and use the ATM there if you have problems. When you first come off the harbor people will try to take you to stay somewhere. This can be tiring and inefficient. It’s better to just explore on your own, north or south, and negotiate a price. Many people living on the island, especially in the village, are conservative Muslims so try to cover up when you’re off the beach.
The ocean can be full of sea urchins and rocks. The best part of the beach is in front of Chill Out. You can also snorkel right off the beach but you have to be carefull with your kids because the currents can get pretty strong and they basically take you right down the beach in front of Chill out Bar. In general the sea around the island isn’t always calm so you can never be too carefull.
Most hotels have cold/hot water showers consisting of saltwater mixed with freshwater. If this is a problem for you, make sure to ask the hotel what kind of water they have before booking.
Bali was not in our list of destinations for a family vacation because it sounded more like a place for honeymoon goers and romantic couples to enjoy spas and massages, or for the culturally rich to learn about arts, history and heritage. So as parents who are not really fond of visiting museums and temples, a preschooler who prefers living creatures to architecture, and a baby who doesn’t really know anything except demand for milk and carry, well, Bali just didn’t sound like the perfect choice for a family-friendly holiday.
Bali, the “Island of the Gods”, is one of the 17,500 islands that make up Indonesia. Because of it beaches, Bali is the archipelago’s main tourist destination. Bali is the only non-Muslim island in the archipelago. Its inhabitants practice mainly Hinduism. The country lives on tourism, which accounts for 80% of its GDP. Agriculture, mainly rice cultivation, comprises the rest of Indonesia’s GDP.Although football is popular in Bali; cockfighting continues to be the traditional national sport. When it comes to surfing, Kuta is the most popular beach in Bali. Canggu Echo, located further north, is also known to have great waves. The local food is a mix of Indian, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. Popular ingredients include ginger, chili, palm sugar and tamarind… Ubud, the most cultural city on the island, is said to have the best spas in the world.
Our Bali adventure started with flight delay on Lombok. Since this is Asia after all we took this into account. At least Nia and Svit sure did.
After staying in Kuta years ago we decided on more secluded place this time. We chose Crown Villa on Purnama beach (north of Sanur). http://crownvillabali.com/
Purnama Beach is located in Banjar Mortar Telabah, Sukawati village, Ubud district, Gianyar regency, about 11 km from Denpasar city. Some activities that you can be do include relaxing, sunbathing, surfing, or fishing. Purnama Beach is also often used as a place of religious ceremonies by the locals, such as Melasti and Melarung.
Purnama Beach deserves it’s place on your priority list while on holiday in Bali. The beauty and charm will attract and amaze anyone. This beach has black sand-like crystals, big waves and a beautiful view from the green paddy fields.
This place offered us a great escape from Gili crowds. The location is half way from Kuta, Denpasar, Pantagbai, Ubud, or Mt Batur so you’ll need to stock up your fridge before arriving since there’s nothing around. The waves were just what we needed to sleep us away at night, though sometimes the sounds of hitting the beach were almost scary.
Kids were running around the pool, or on the beach which was sadly unswimmable due to rocks and waves.
Besides launging around we also did few trips.
KUTA:– what to say about it? Either you love it or you can’t stand it. We are firmly leaning towards second choice.
A cultural hub surrounded by verdant rice paddies and lush rain forest, the city of Ubud is a must for any visitor to Bali. With great food, authentic Balinese culture, arts museums and performances, Ubud romances its visitors, making them fall head-over-heels in love with its charm.
Ubud lies 36 km from the resorts on the southern coast. The name for this royal village is derived from the Balinese word ubad (medicine), the moniker of a herb with healing properties which grows along the nearby Oos River.
If you aren’t interested in overpriced tourist hype but want comfortable accommodations at good prices, a central location, and all the facilities in a less hurried rural environment than the south, the Ubud area is for you. Despite the bumper-to-bumper traffic, too many loud motorcycles, and thousands of tourists during Bali’s peak tourist seasons, when it’s difficult to find a parking space, Ubud still shows glimpses of its basically rural character.
The stars over Ubud almost crowd out the sky they’re so bright, and during the day the heavens are crowned with fluffy cumulus and wispy cirrus clouds. Wandering around in the crisp night air is pleasant and safe. Candidasa, Denpasar, and the airport are all only an hour’s drive from Ubud, and beautiful landscapes and historical sites-Pujung, Gunung Kawi, Goa Gadjah, Tirta Empul, Yeh Pulu-are within easy reach.
Ubud is also the expat capital of Bali. A permanent Western community resides here because cultural and natural attributes make it the ideal place for those who wish to stay for any length of time on Bali. From your ‘losmen’ or homestay family you can learn how to make a bamboo mouth harp, study painting, maskmaking, and ‘gamelan’, or learn the art of the ‘dalang’.
We were »fortunate« to experiece the only rain that we had in all over Indonesia travel. And when I said rain I meant rain.
On the way we also stopped at Hindu Elephant temple, Goa Gadja
And of course rice terrace near Ubud – you have to pay 10000 IDR just to stop on the curve of the road and take a picture.
Mt BATUR sunrise climb:
Edita and I woke up at 2 am, with our shoes and extra clothes on. While waiting for our pick up my dear Nia woke up and started crying and calling her daddy. Since she was in the middle of her »daddy phase« Tina couldn’t calm her so…I stayed home and the rest is Edita’s story.
The sunrise is worth all the effort, but be aware the place is packed with tourists, I would estimate that about 60 other people made the trip the same morning. And you really see everything on the people from sandals to shorts and short sleeve shirts. Please be aware that it gets cold on top since this is 1,717 m tall mountain and the trail during the night gets pretty slippery too. The walk to the top was not all that difficult although that really depends on individual but since my friend encountered quite a lot of children (age 10 and up) during her climb, this really is something for the whole family.
For those of you who don’t know what Luwak Coffee is, here is a little summary. Luwak is a “musang “ a so called fox in Bali which eats only the best coffee fruit! Yes the fruits which contain coffee beans, and after going through their intestines they would discharge their feces in a shape of coffee beans! Interesting isn’t it? These fox only eats the best fruits and nothing else, thus the coffee bean produced by them is of top quality. The still-intact beans are collected from the forest floor, and are cleaned, then roasted and ground just like any other coffee. Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world and can sell for some very ridiculous prices. A pound of kopi luwak can cost you anywhere between $150-$600.
Initially I find it quite gross to drink coffee made of Musang feces but as a coffee drinker it was worth the try, I would say the coffee tastes a little watery but reminds me of Brazilian coffee beans, it has a little sourish taste to the coffee.
There was a complimentary 7 types of different drink from the factory – ginger coffee, vanilla coffee, ginseng coffee, lemon tea and many more… Best of all, it is refillable for free (accept Luwak coffee which is the only drink you have to pay for). Word of advice: if you are planning on buying this coffee do so in the supermarket. Buying it here, will cost you almost twice of what you pay in the store.
The word Tanah Lot is consisted of two words. Tanah word is interpreted as a reef looking like gili or isle. Lot or Lod word means the sea. So Tanah Lot actually means the small island floating on the sea. Tanah Lot Temple is different from other temples on the island of Bali, Tanah Lot doesn’t have a few pages because it’s built on a plain of coral that irregular corners of his home. Inside the actual temple compound itself there are tiered shrines that follow the fundamental elements of Balinese design where the number of levels constructed are symbolic to the complexities of the faith. There are other formations within the area that indicate that the site is not only of great religious importance, but also maintains archaeological value. Temple nestled in the ocean has a ritual or ceremony which takes place every 6 months or 210 days. At that time all the Hindus from different areas in Bali will come to worship in peace and harmony to invoke.
The most popular time to see Tanah Lot is late afternoon when the sun starts to settle over the horizon. Of course that means that the crowds are even bigger than the rest of the day. But hey what must be done…
So we only had around 2 hours left to reach our final destination of this day, Uluwatu temple, which is on bottom left side of Peninsula. Since the kids were getting uncaptioned the race for the sunset was on. Of course we reached it only few minutes before sunset and it was worth it. Balinese Hindu Temple is located right on the petrifying hill with the crevasse exist in the right and left side. Uluwatu Temple is one of Sad Khayangan (6 biggest temple in Bali) owns magnificent view of the Indian Ocean and sunset as a backdrop. This temple is amazing where the location is right on the narrow peninsula.
Initially, we thought it was just a temple but as we walked up the temple, there was a LOVELY scenery right in front of us. Uluwatu is famous for its edge-less ocean view and it sincerely took my breath away. After all the photo taking, we just stood at the edge, and allow the breeze to flow along our hair, it smelled perfect and felt amazing. Well, until the monkeys chased us away:)
There are also lots of monkeys running around and they can get pretty annoying. My wife encountered a brief fight with one of them over her flip flops. Happily she is still the proud owner of her sandals.
FACTS ABOUT BALI:
Bali, a beautiful island paradise in the Indonesian archipelago made international news when the island was rocked by suicide bombings in 2002 and 2005. However, the island is better known as an excellent vacation holiday destination and a major tourist attraction.
Tourists who have visited this South East Asian island will tell you that Bali exudes a certain magical charm and that is why, some people call Bali, the Island of Gods. After all, gods live in paradise don’t they?
You will be pleasantly impressed by the many stunningly beautiful tourist attractions and the charming local people. If you are a scuba diver, you will be pleased to know that Bali is one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world.
Bali presents itself as a modern paradox because its ancient and traditional culture is still very much alive amidst modern living. While the basic conservatism of the Balinese people has enabled them to preserve many of their ancient customs, culture and religion, it has never hindered the acceptance of the new and innovative modern technological advancement.
The island is indeed a feast for the eye for tourists on holiday vacation in Indonesia. As the island is situated near the equator, it has almost equal amount of time for rain and sunshine making its environment very suitable for human inhabitation and as a result, Bali has been inhabited and civilized since ancient times.
Bali is also the only island in “middle Indonesia” that has more or less uninterrupted cultural continuity for hundreds of years. It is of this reason, Bali is the only part of Indonesia that remains “Hindu” and is still retaining elements of fusion of ethnic and Hindu cultures of more than a thousand years of cultural tradition.
When the island was colonized by the Dutch at the beginning of last century, the Dutch colonial masters were so impressed by the traditions of the Balinese that a concerted effort was made to preserve the island’s mystical culture.
The Balinese society is a strong and cohesive one because the local people promote communal and family values. Feelings of alienation from parents and friends which are common in the western world are almost unheard of in Bali.
Children are carried everywhere or strapped to their mother’s back until they are at least three months old. Religious rituals are performed regularly to keep the children safe, healthy and to protect them from harmful spirits. Every aspect of village life is organized in such detail that the individual’s responsibilities and rights are meticulously defined by the Balinese tradition.
The Balinese are emotionally strong people and take the unfortunate incidents in their stride. The people are eternal optimists and believe that their Island of Gods enjoys a special place in the grander scheme of things. This is another reason why the local population can bounce back from the tragic terrorist attacks so quickly. Want to visit paradise? Then include Bali as your next holiday vacation destination for its many tourists attractions.