A Travellerspoint blog

May 2013

Surfing Dude!

Learning to surf at Gerupuk, Lombok

We chose Kuta Bay Homestay not only for its good reviews but also because the owners were keen surfers and had equipment for us to give it a go. Sarah and I decided we would get some lessons and Ro having already had some experience would rent a board and join us out on the surf!

For beginners the best breaks are at a bay east of Kuta called Gerupuk. In order to get out to the breaks you needed to use a boat and this was included in the lesson cost of 300,000 RP each, along with scooters to get to that part of the coast.

As soon as we knew we would be getting lessons Sarah and I couldn't help but think about a scene from one of our favorite films Forgetting Sarah Marshall. We had to let Ro know of our 'fondness' of the movie. As was the only film we had on our Ipad we had become a little obsessed with quoting it....well ..... I had really! So we needed to prepare her and apologise in advance for all the quoting.

This is the surf lesson scene with Chuck (aka Paul Rudd) and we tried not to use his philosophy of 'Do nothing'.

We got kitted up and hopped on the bikes and headed off in convoy to Gerupuk for an early morning surf.

Soon enough we were mimicking the scenes from the film. When my teacher called out 'pop up' to me during the lesson and I had to stop myself from a chuckle.

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A quick intro into how to get up, twisting your body whilst doing a press up so that you can bring your front foot forward and we were ready to go surfing. It was a nice addition to be joined by Clayton and Meg, who had been staying at the home stay at the same time as us, aswell as the owners Tom and Susie and their son Aidan. It worked out well for us as Susie would be able to take photos of us learning and hitting them waves.

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Sarah and I had two locals guys to teach us, Yin and Yoyo. They were very good at reading the waves and getting us in the right position. As we waited we looked around and saw a large amount of people on the water. I think because the waves are good here for beginners and advanced surfers it gets over crowded. It did mean that when a wave would come the local guys would shout 'PARTY WAVE' as it was perfect for more than one person too ride it.

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It didn't happen straight away for me but Sarah caught her first wave like a pro!

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But a couple of more breaks and I was up too and it was such a rush!

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Ro handled the waves like a pro!

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We even had all three of us having a party wave attempt!

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Clay got this one better than Sarah.

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Later she almost rode right into him, managing to steer out of the way just in time. It was the first time she had been able to steer the board and joked that Clay should get in the way more often so she could improve.

From then on it was 'surfs up' and the conditions were really perfect for learning and we were able to catch more and more waves.

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We headed back to Kuta with a spring in our step, but having all that sun took it out of us. Sarah and I chilled in the shade whilst Ro topped up the holiday tan, and we put the world to right in the evening over dinner at the Bule restaurant.

Stay tuned for more tales

Dan

Posted by doyledan 07:34 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

It just keeps getting better

Scooter fun!

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The only way to really explore the area is by motorbike. We rented a couple of scooters from our homestay, stocked up on petrol and took to the road heading west to see what we could find.

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It wasn't long before we were rewarded with some amazing views.

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Our first stop along the way was Mawun beach.

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With gorgeous white sand and hugged by hills, this horse shoe shaped bay felt like a huge lagoon. Our jaws dropped when it came into view and we stood in silence taking it all in, well apart from Dan who slurped on his coconut :)

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(Thanks Ianthe for my dress :) love it & love you! )

Ro and Dan could wait no longer, bags and helmets were dumped on the sand as they raced to the water, much to the delight of some local teenagers who whooped and cheered as they dived in.

We soon became the 'coolest' people on the beach to hang out with as the boys came over to sit with us.

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Apparently it was a school holiday which is why so many of them were on the beach. The girls were more shy and stayed in the shade of a tree a bit further down the beach but we could see them all giggling and trying to take photos of us on their mobile phones.

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We decided to move on and find somewhere for lunch. The scenery along the road was great as we passed through the hills and villages and then the flats of the rice paddy fields.

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We had to keep our eye for buffalo on the road though!!

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A sign for a cafe caught our eye and we decided to press on to check it out and it was worth going a bit further for as the food was delicious! Although there was a big spider in the toilet! On the table behind us were 4 Australian guys in their 40s/50s who were discussing investing in the area. We heard one of them saying how it would be ideal to hook up with a cruise company that could just drop anchor off shore and ferry in 1500 people a day to sprawl out on these beaches! You can imagine what we thought of that, as that would ruin this paradise. We definitely felt privileged to be here before the tourism really kicks off.

We were back on the bikes and headed to find the next beach, Selong Belanak. After reaching a dead end some local lads pointed us to a small path which was a bit off road in places to take us to the beach. We paid to park up our bikes and walked past a few stalls located on the far end of the beach. But the rest was ours!!

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Again we were stunned! I couldn't help but jump and dance around in the surf, it was so amazing!

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In the middle of the beach we saw an entrance that led back up to the cafe we had come from! And next door to it was just undeveloped land and we spied the 4 blokes from earlier looking at it. You could definitely see why this would be an investors dream and with the new international airport it won't be long before things start to build up here.

We hit the sea and played about in the waves and practiced a few surf moves as we were going surfing the next day.

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Who needs a surf board!

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With the sun beginning to set we started to make our way back to Kuta, we didn't want to be bumping into buffaloes in the dark!

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Can this place get any better!

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 04:36 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Who wants to go Snorkelling!!

Gili Nanggu

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When reading about Lombok one of the other places we were keen to see was the South West Coastline which has 12 islands off of it, most of which are uninhibited. It is meant to be stunning and a relatively underdeveloped gem. So when we saw we could do a snorkelling day trip to Gili Nanggu, one of these islands, and see this coastline from a boat we jumped at the chance. Although not before Ro negotiated a good price :)

We were picked up early and started the 2 hour journey from Kuta to Lembar harbour on the West coast.

As we passed through the bustling local market Dan and Ro were both soon asleep, with me in the middle.

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Our driver mentioned that if we had time after the snorkelling trip we could stop at a local Sasak village. He is Sasak and told us that we would learn that somethings are done very differently in their culture. For example if you want to marry a girl you don't ask her, you steal her! The man has to sneak into the village and steal the girl and they normally do this when the man is around 20 years old. He found it quite funny that Dan had asked me and not stolen me and that we are in late 20s and not actually married yet.

We were soon at Lambar harbour where our driver made the odd decision of going down the lane for traffic coming the other direction so we all held our breath as we tried to squeeze past lorries and trucks that were trying to leave. It seems we were just picking up a guy before going back out of the harbour to the village around the back. It turns out he owned the boat we were using and after getting a few supplies we walked to the back of his house out to the water.

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Going this way was a real eye opener into the conditions that some people are living in. It was hard to see children crouched in the rubbish by the waters edge, some sitting right next to piles of burning rubbish breathing in all the fumes.

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I'm a bit cautious on small boats ever since being on one that sank in Borneo so after double checking there were definitely life jackets in the hold I was happy to set off. As we went through the harbour our boat seemed even smaller compared to the huge ferries we shared the water with, many of which were making the journey back and forth to Bali.

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We were soon out of the busy water and making our way to the islands.

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The views from the boat were great and we had plenty of time to take it all in before we pulled up on the white sands of Gili Nanggu.

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This tiny island was beautiful and only has one resort on it which at the time was being used by a school holiday camp for children whose families now live in Bali. Fortunately we arrived a bit early so there were only 2 other people snorkling, so there was hardly anyone else on the beach.

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With snorkels at the ready we got into the water and were almost instantly surrounded by fish. Here the snorkel tours hand out bottles filled with bread so you can attract the fish and it seemed they had learned this well. Although this makes it fun for us to have so many fish around it ultimately is bad for the fish as they start to depend on the bread rather than seek their own normal food.

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There were lots of fish to see and as we went further out passed the sand there was even more variety once we reached the coral. As snorkelling goes it was pretty good but I never been a massive fan for some reason, which is odd given how much I love diving, maybe its being on the surface of the water I don't like? Or water getting in the snorkel?

Leaving Dan and Ro to explore, I had my own fun trying to photograph crabs on the beach. They are fast!! Eventually I succeeded.

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We decided to go for a walk around the island to see what else we could find but could only get half way round due to rocks blocking our way.

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Check out this caterpillar...although don't touch it as its poisonous!

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We would be having lunch at another small island called Gili Sudak and it was the right time to leave as a boat with 10 snorklers had just arrived. When the boat came back to pick us up we were shown that boatman had also been finding fish too to take back for his dinner!

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The short journey to the next island was beautiful and along the way the pearl farms were pointed out to us and we were told it takes 4 years to produce a pearl.

This is where we had lunch...

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With stunning views

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WOOHOO!!!

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Multi tasking...

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We were starving and decided to share several local fish and veg dishes between us and when asked how many fish we wanted, we replied 3. And much to our amusement we were told that there were only 2 left on the island. Another couple joined us on the island a few minutes later and they also ordered fish and miraculously 2 more had materialised, maybe they had someone fishing out the back.

It was delicious though!

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We discovered Ro's talent for volleyball...

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and the boat owners son, who had skipped school to come on the boat, seemed to take a shine to Dan taking him out on kayaks, showing him fishing and also offered to go surfing with him.

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He was also a music lover and almost constantly had his headphones on and we were treated to him singing along to Gangnam Style on the way back. He particularly liked to shout out the 'sexy ladies' part.

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We chilled out after lunch and were taken back to the first island incase we wanted to snorkel some more. The weather had started to turn though making the water more choppy and we could see rain clouds over the mainland. It was time to head back and hopefully not get caught in bad weather.

We spotted a beached ship on the way back, turns out its engine had failed 4 months and so all they could do was beach it.

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It had been another great day although maybe a bit too much excitement when you have jet lag too :)

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 03:04 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

100th entry!!

Reunions, scorpions, chocolate and general amazingness (Kuta, Lombok)

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Wow this is our 100th blog entry of our trip!!

It goes without saying we didn't get much sleep because we were so excited about having a friend from home joining us. Unfortunately it was also because the room was so hot! The fan wasn't going to be enough this time and definitely wouldnt cut it with three of us in the room, so we decided to upgrade to an aircon room which so was much better all round. This was one of Kuta Indah's newer rooms with not a broken window in sight! We found out that 'Indah' means beautiful and it wouldn't be long before we saw just how beautiful Kuta is.

With the day to kill before Ro arrived that eve we decided to just make the most of the pool so the three of us could explore the rest of the area together later.

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When it was finally time for us to head to the airport we still didn't quite believe she was coming and I think I had to pinch myself several times just to make sure I wasn't dreaming. It took about an hour to get to the airport which is just out of Praya and despite this being the new intertnational airport in Lombok, it felt a bit more like a bus station with all the sellers everywhere.

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We were a bit early but were kept entertained by some kids who were amazed at how tall a group of guys were that had arrived at the airport. It was a mixed group of Aussies, Americans and think a few Brits all around 6ft so they towered over the local men. They must have seemed like giants to the kids who kept trying to see who was brave enough to stand near them before giggling and running away. After being in SE Asia for so long even we stared a bit!

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We waited for what seemed like an age after Ro's flight landed from Singapore but saw no sign of her. Then we realised there was another exit and maybe she would come out of that one. I joined the throng of drivers leaning over the rails to get a better look. They were all shouting and waving signs for their hotels and guests. I felt like I should have had my own board with her name on!

And finally there she was!!

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The biggest reunion of 2013 so far...

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We practically danced out of the airport and were soon back at the hotel catching up on all that had been happening back at home over some bintangs and also Smirnoff vodka!! So good to have a decent vodka and coke and so good to see a friendly face!

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...

As we packed our bags the next morning to move to the home stay, Ro and I suddenly heard Dan cry out "Shit! I ve been stung by a scorpion!!"

The little buggar had been in Dans bag and clearly wasn't too pleased about having clothes rammed in there with him. Not knowing how poisonous scorpions are I quickly grabbed a glass and a laminated menu from our room and set about catching it incase we needed to take it to be identified for anti venom or something! I think I had read somewhere that its the ones with small pincers that are most harmful but I didn't want Dan to worry to so kept those thoughts to myself till we had got some local advice.

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We went to show it to the staff at the hotel and they gave Dan some alcohol to put on it and said he only needed to go to the hospital if he had an allergic reaction. I googled the symptoms so we would know what to look out for and decided best to sit and chill out a bit before moving to the homestay.

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Fortunately Dan didn't have a bad reaction to its sting although his finger did swell up a bit. It was quite a shock and definitely one way to wake yourself up in the morning!

Susie the owner of Kuta Bay Homestay came to pick us up on some bikes and soon we were getting settled into what would become our home from home for the next week.

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Ro produced 2 bags full of treats from home, which definitely helped us to get over the dramas of the morning! It was like being kids at Christmas again!

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Now you can find dairy milk over here but its just not the same as it is made in Malaysia and think they use a different recipe so it tastes different. Then most will have melted and re melted so many times they start to crumble. So you can start to imagine just how good it was to have chocolate from home!! YUM!!! And Jaffa cakes, chocolate fingers....the works! Thanks Ro! :)

It was time to explore!! We decided to walk along the coast and see how many bays we could check out. This area is 10kms pristine beaches, one bay after the other.

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We were staying at the west end of Kuta beach and so it took us a good 40 mins to walk the length of the first bay, as Dan and I had walked this part the day before we decided to see what the others had to offer.

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As we came around the headland we arrived at the next beach and were literally the only people on it!

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Only problem was that walking in the sand in the heat is thirsty work and there was no hut or stall to buy one from or to take shelter from the sun. The sand here is a bit like couscous and as you walk you sink a bit which makes it harder, felt like was back trekking the Sahara at one point!

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We decided to keep on going to the next bay where Novotel, the only resort so far on this coastline is, and thought there would be other places nearby it on the beach too. Literally it is just the Novotel and then gorgeous beach so decided to throw the budget out the window and stop for some cocktails!

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After cooling off we continued to the end of the bay and came to a stop at one of the dodgyest bridges we have seen on our trip so far.

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Against my better judgement I followed Ro and Dan over the bridge not without a few squeals at any creak it made as I was almost certain it was going to collapse with me on it! Fortunately it didn't!

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On the other side we had to go off road a bit to find a path to lead us over to the hill to the next bay. By this point we had a dog companion who seemed to have taken it on himself to lead the way or he may just have liked the music Dan was playing on his guitar.

Stunning!!

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Again we had the next beach to ourselves apart from a handful of local sellers, surfers, fishermen and kids playing. Looking back over the map I think this must have been Segar beach.

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We took in our surroundings with a few Bintangs, it is so peaceful here that definitely an awesome place to relax. As the sun began to go down we decided to head back as we still had that bridge to contend with...

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Needless to say I bottled it this time and preferred to wade through the water instead!

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We headed back to Shore bar to have dinner on the beach. When it got completely dark we could see loads of lights far out on the water. Initially we thought they were fishing boats but if you looked hard enough (and had a zoom) you could see it was people out in the low tide. Turns out that they were all hunting for octopus!

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Not a bad first day of adventuring!

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 00:10 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Lovely Kuta Lombok

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Kuta, Lombok was to fast become one of our favourite places on this trip (which is saying something!) and the following blog posts will hopefully show you why. I just wanted to flag from the start that this is NOT Kuta, Bali. If like us, and most other people we have met, and find that Kuta Bali is a massive turn off then do not be put off that Kuta, Lombok has the same name as seriously it is AMAZING! Beautiful with almost untouched and pristine coastline, friendly people and so far it has managed not to be so consumed by tourism to have lost its charm. Definitely get here before this changes!! Although not too many of you at once!

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We had booked a Bluebird Taxi to come and pick us up from the hotel to take us Kuta, Lombok which would take about an hour and half. We definitely would recommend using Bluebird as they use the metre and are cheap, the difference in costs we have been quoted from hotels or on the street versus bluebird metre have always been higher.

Despite the amazing hotel we were happy to move on from Sengiggi as we felt as it was predominantly resorts that we hadn't got a feel for Lombok yet and as soon as we got on the road we started to see more of it out of the window. There was one gorgeous moment where I saw a man washing his white horse in a river in the morning sun. I wish I had had the camera out to have caught that moment.

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I not sure if these guys were all heading to McDonalds but the outdoor advertiser in me clocked the 8km directional. Think this may be a bit far out to work but then on the other hand maybe it is the only one on Lombok as have since seen another one that was 15km out!!

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On the way down to Kuta we passed this roundabout which appeared to have a mosque in the middle. We would find out that Lombok is also known as the land of 1000 mosques and this roundabout was tribute to that. As when we were on the Gili islands the call to prayer from the local mosques would regularly be in the background during our time in Kuta.

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We had found another deal online for a hotel with pool for two nights in Kuta and so we decided to go with that to give us a base whilst we scouted out somewhere cheaper for us to stay when Ro arrived. It was on the way that I suddenly realised that I had got my days and dates mixed up and that Ro would be arriving tomorrow and not the day after!! Whoops! We had already booked the hotel but fortunately they said that for a small charge we could have an extra mattress for Ro the next day and they helped us organise pick up from the airport and weren't going to charge us extra to go along too.

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The grounds to the hotel were lovely with a nice pool but the room we were shown to had seen better days, dingy with broken windows stuck back with tape and part of the bathroom door falling off. This is sometimes the problem with online deals as they try to fill up their empty rooms which can be the ones no one else wants. Despite this we decided to keep the room as maybe we had been spoilt at the last place and it was a cheap deal.

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Rather than being tempted into the pool we headed out to check out the other accommodation the area. We had been warned by the owner of our homestay on Air to be careful with cheap accommodation right on the beach itself as it might not be safe and also to be careful renting bikes to get to other beaches, basically just keep an eye on your stuff and be aware (FYI we had no problems whilst in Kuta). Baring this in mind we started our search, I had already done some looking up online and had some places I wanted to check out the first being Kuta Bay Homestay which was just down the road. It had great reviews and also was able to sort out surfing lessons and boards, knowing Ro was keen to surf it was top of the list.

We didn't want to jump the gun though and so kept on our search. The lane lead straight down on to the beach and so we decided to take a walk that way to get further into Kuta. It took us out to the fishing part of the beach and it was great to see all the local people going about their daily lives.

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One thing we noticed straight away was how many dogs there were on the beach. We didn't have any problems with them at all but if you ve never had a pack of dogs run in your direction whilst barking at each other it could be quite intimidating. They definitely could use a BAWA here as we saw several with nasty wounds and clearly there is a problem with population control. We have since found out that BAWA visited Lombok a week or so before we arrived to help sterilise/neuter dogs & cats as well as treat any medical problems but were only able to touch the tip of the iceberg.

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Check out these gorgeous puppies that we found whilst having a drink at Shore Bar!

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Whilst we took in the view over a Bintang and grabbed some lunch we soon had several young boys around us wanting to make conversation. One called Tom was a really cheeky character but we liked him a lot. As we thought after a lot of chat on where we were from, what they learnt at school etc they soon were trying to sell us bracelets as a souvenir from Lombok. When I told Tom that I had my souvenir from Lombok as I had bought some flip flops in Sengiggi the day before. He put my flip flops on, looked at them and said very seriously after a lot of contemplation "but these aren't from Kuta, these are Sengiggi souvenir, you need Kuta souvenir!" :) This guy sprung to mind!

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We had got distracted by the amazing beach which had hardly anyone on it that we decided we needed to walk along the road if we were to actually stop and check out some other places. Can you blame us!

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We must have checked out at least 7 other places. The plan was for the three of us to share a room so once you factored in the extra bed/mattress a lot of rooms we saw wouldn't be big enough, out of our price range or not as good as the room we had seen at Kuta bay Homestay. Decision made we cut back down to the beach to walk back to our hotel at the other end.

We met this family along the way that as soon as they saw that I was carrying a camera asked me to take photos of them and I spent a good 20 mins entertaining their inner models. Its been a while since we have had people so mesmerised seeing their own image on a camera, this shows how relatively few people come through here compared to the resort areas or Bali.

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As the tide had gone out families had come down to the beach, scouring the shallows for shellfish.

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We met these kids that were playing with crabs. I think they may have been trying to make them fight each other but I was amazed they had been able to catch them and tie string on them given how fast crabs can move!

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Others were playing football in the surf and these two girls had a giggle as they copied movements that Dan was doing.

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Traipsing round had been hard work and we were definitely appreciative of the pool when we got back!

We couldn't believe Ro would be with us tomorrow! :)

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 06:29 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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