A Travellerspoint blog





As we moored at the harbour men and teenagers gathered on the dockside and several pointed up to us shouting 'tourist'. It was clear they wanted to help with any bags and as we saw some getting onboard we all quickly went to the lower deck to get loaded up before someone else picked up our bags and asked for a fee.

We didn't have any problems just a lot of smiles as we walked through the harbour. I think we only got asked once if we wanted transport. Most of the places to stay are walking distance from the harbour and I think they could tell we didn't need a lift. This was a lot more laid back than other places we had been.

The 7 of us headed down the road to find somewhere to stay. Everyone was here to go diving and the others were going to shop around for a dive school to go with in the morning. We were glad we had booked in advance so we could just relax once we found a room to stay in. The first place Gardina hotel only had 2 rooms available so Dan and I said the others should take them and we would meet them in a few hours for dinner. We continued on to Casa Selina which had been recommended by our dive shop. We were glad we did as it was a really cute place with only 3 rooms, nice lounge area and cafe too. Exactly the place to unwind after a long trip.


Exhausted from the journey it was great to have a hot shower and a nap!

We met up with the rest of the group from the boat for dinner at a local warung down the road. It was great to have some company but as Dan and I were the only ones that didn't speak French it made it a bit difficult to be involved. Particularly when you're tired too! We found a gelato place on the way back and enjoyed some ice cream before a skype date home and chilling out with a movie.

The next morning we walked down to Divine Diving who we had booked our liveaboard with to check in and sort out our equipment.


Due to the strong currents in the area which bring in cold water we would be using long wetsuits for the first time to help keep us warm. It was a bit of a struggle trying them on in a hot back room and somehow I managed to rub off some skin on my fingers whilst trying to pull it on! Ouch! With BCD, suit, boots, fins and masks sorted we were told to come back the following morning at 9.15 to head to the boat! We would be living onboard for 3 days,diving 9 times and also would get the chance to see Komodo dragons! Exciting!

With nothing else left to do we decided to have a wander around the town. It was a lot more developed than we had anticipated, and there was quite a bit of building work going on. Tourism is on the rise here and apparently there are now around 20 dive shops in Labuanbajo.


Can you spot our laundry?

We stopped off for a cooling drink looking over the harbour and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.


In the evening we headed to a place called The Lounge for dinner where I had by far the best burger in Indonesia! Delicious!

Having already spotted dolphins from the ferry and hearing other people's dive experiences in Komodo we were pumped up for the next day. The possibility of seeing giants such as Manta Rays and Komodo dragons up close was almost too much. The wildlife enthusiast in me was about to burst! :)



Posted by doyledan 19:40 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

When 18 hours becomes 30!

Travelling from Lombok to Flores.

We had booked ourselves a liveaboard diving trip in the Komodo Marine Park so our next stop would be Flores.


We'd been advised that we should be able to travel from Kuta, Lombok to Labuanbajo in Flores in about 18 hours. However I was a bit dubious about this information as we were also told that one of the ferry sections would only take 45 minutes when I had read it takes 8 hours! Slight discrepancy there!

Knowing how unpredictable travelling can be and some of the timings not adding up we decided to give ourselves 48 hours just incase. Our diving trip was costing over £300 each and so we couldn't afford to miss the departure. Better to be safe than sorry.

Our journey began at midday with a car trip to the bus station in Lomboks capital, Mataram. We waved goodbye to Susie & Tom and settled in to playing a game with another Londoner where you have to identify company logos. Now given we are both in advertising you would think we would be better at this game but just as we started to get into a flow of ones we knew (after going back to an easier level) we arrived at the bus station and were met by a guy called Den who had our tickets.

The bus we would be getting was proudly pointed out to us.

It was new, only a month old with AC and toilet.

Given we were going to be on this until the following morning we were pleased to have chosen this company and not the other one, which oddly was more expensive and their bus didn't look as good.


The staff were friendly and interested in where we were going and what we were doing. Admittedly this was their way to find out if we needed further tickets or if we would be interested in booking other trips, but they were helpful and we got a cheaper return ticket from them directly and also a quote for climbing Mt Rinjani which Dan was considering. It did take a bit of a while to persuade them we wouldn't book the Rinjani part until we had thought about it.


The bus wasn't leaving till 3.30pm so we had time to get some water and a few snacks whilst taking in the bustling bus station. As well as all the stalls selling food, drink and cigarettes there were also lots of people walking around with open suitcases full of watches, sunglasses and jewellery. It was interesting to watch the haggling that a local guy sitting on a motorbike did for a watch, he definitely had his haggle face on, trying it on for size, putting it back, trying it on again, pulling a few not so sure faces...I reckon he got a good deal and far better than anything Dan and I would've got!

We clambered on the bus and found our seats along with 4 guys from France and Morroco. We were the only backpackers on the bus and soon it was full.

We were ready to go....but we didn't!

For another hour we sat on the full bus whilst we waited for every seller in Mataram to come on board to try and make a sale. Bottles of water, crisps, fruit and Nasi wrapped up in banana leaves were all shoved in front of us. One guy came on the bus with his guitar, walking up and down the aisle 'singing'. We were a trapped audience so had no choice but to listen as his friend trotted behind shoving an empty crisp packet at your for a 'donation'. There was also a bit of commotion over seats and after a lot of shouting, pushing and shoving, the guy in the 'wrong seat' finally relented and moved to the next seat over. Not sure what all the fuss was about as all the seats are the same and going to the same place.

Finally closer to 5pm we pulled out of the bus station and started the 2 hour journey across Lombok. We were on our way! But not for long as we soon found ourselves in a long traffic jam. There was some kind of political rally going on for the elections which was holding up the traffic. Convoys of open trucks full of people, mainly teenage boys, waving flags and wearing head bands of the party they were supporting went passed us. Lots of people were standing on the roadside and as our bus crawled along at a snails pace I noticed that a lot of people would suddenly point at us through the window, nudging their friends to make sure they got a good look. Some waved, others just stared, it was a very surreal experience.

We were starting to get a bit anxious about whether we would miss the ferry to Sambawa as it had already gone 7pm and so we expected to be rushed on board once we got to the harbour. This wasn't the case as for some reason we did an odd circuit through lots of food stalls where people would get on and off to buy pineapples and have a smoke. No one seemed in any rush.

Suddenly there were seemingly annoyed shouts of 'Get off the bus' 'Quickly to the ferry', as if we had been holding things up! A bit bemused as the bus should also be coming on the ferry too we grabbed our valuables and trusted our big bags would be fine in the hold and followed the crowds on board.

I went to find us a seat whilst Dan kept an eye on the vehicles being loaded on the ferry to make sure our bus was on it! The seating area was really busy and women and children with baskets of food and water again tried to make a sale with cries of 'Mister, mister, water mister'. I tried not to take offence at being mistaken for a man :) A group of teenage boys gathered at the front of the deck and began singing along to the guitar again trying to fill empty crisp packets. All the noise, bright lighting and cigarette smoke was a bit intense so when Dan found out there was seating on the upper deck which was outside we made our escape.

As the ferry pulled out of the harbour all the lights on the upper deck were put out so as not to distract the captain. It must have been closer to 9pm when we finally left and it would take another 2 hours to the other side and we still had to drive all the way across Sambawa to make the 8am ferry to Flores!


After having a bit of a dose and also watching a random Indonesian rom-com we arrived in Sambawa and walked off the ferry to meet our bus. We were all shattered and tried to find a comfortable sleeping position on the bus as we would be driving all through the night.

It was now 11pm and we were behind schedule, but the driver was not perturbed he would get us to the morning ferry on time. In another life this guy would have been a rally car racer bombing across the island and slowing down for nothing. Punctuated by the blasting of the horn and the bus tipping at such acute angles that if you were asleep you could find yourself waking up on the aisle, it wasn't the most relaxing journey. If you were brave enough to open your eyes and look out the window Sambawa was zooming past in a blur and I dreaded to think what would happen if a buffalo suddenly walked out on the road in the dark.

Miraculously we arrived in Bima just as the sun was rising, in one piece although a little bit shaken. Here we had to swap onto a smaller bus as ours was too big to make it down some of the smaller roads to Sape. Again we were shouted at to change bus with some urgency only to then just sit on it for about half an hour whilst we waited for it to fill up. I don't remember much of the journey as this is where I finally managed to crash out but in two hours we were at Sape harbour.


This was as far as the bus went so rucksacks and our weary group went up to the harbour guards to show our tickets only to be told we needed to swap the ones we had for a ferry ticket. We hurried back to the bus to swap our tickets which for some reason unknown to us seemed to annoy the bus staff. Bewildered at this we finally made it onto the ferry and looked for somewhere to sit. There are two areas in the ferry, one was full of rows of bunk beds which seemed a bit reminiscent of a communal cell of a prison and the other had seats with a couple of TVs blaring out.


We decided to sit on our bags in the later and were soon surrounded by kids asking us questions and trying to sell us water and Nasi Ayam (rice with chicken). This is where we met Melody a girl from France who was travelling on her own and asked to sit with us. We had not seen anyway to get on the top deck to be outside and so were relieved when one of the guys from the bus came to find us to say they had found a way up. We stacked our big rucksacks together in a corner before going through a door and up a ladder on the side of the ferry. It was great to be out in the fresh air as it was hot and smokey inside and the idea of sitting in there for 7 hours was not ideal.

We took in the views of Sape as we waited for the ferry to leave...


And waited some more...


Until finally we left 2 hours after the boat was meant to!


We had a nice group of people on the deck with us and as there was limited shade from the beaming sun we soon were all sitting together chatting.


Dans guitar is always a crowd pleaser.


The next 7 hours were spent on the top deck, snoozing in the shade, reading, chatting, singing...

And taking in the amazing scenery as we went through the Komodo islands on our way to Flores.


As we pulled into Labuanbajo just after 5pm we even had the treat of spotting dolphins!! Can you see it jumping out of the water?


We had finally made it to Flores! Woohoo!



Posted by doyledan 20:37 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Last days in Lombok


With our main activities in the bag we slowed down a bit for our final days in Lombok.

Dan and Ro went back to Gurupuk to catch some waves. I wasn't confident to give it ago on my own without an instructor and didnt have budget for another lesson. I think I made a good decision as the waves were larger than the day before. Easily 6ft, Dan gave it a good try but couldn't get as many times as the day before but Ro was flying....

In the afternoon we hopped back on the bikes to see if we could go further west than the other day.


It took all my efforts not to take photos of all the beautiful views we were passing through again


We thought we would end up at another beach but the road turned inland through more villages agricultural land. We had to dodge a few more buffalo and also a few runners (this is one of the first places we had been in a long time where you saw local people running for exercise).


However no beach materialised and as we passed a cross roads we stopped to ask group of lads hanging out on their bikes by the road. They said we should go back to the crossroads and take the left. We thought this meant going down a lane, when I think they actually meant just go back the way we had come, which would lead us back to the beaches we had already seen, because we ended up on a very dodgy road... which was still being built!


The only choice when met head on by a steam roller is to turn round! So we decided to keep going passed the group of lads again and see what came up next. As we stopped to take in a view of the sun shimmering on a rice paddy field Dan managed to flag down a couple of runners who said the next beach was only 3kms away, so we pressed on.


I think what we asked was lost in translation as again a beach didn't appear and we were going further and further inland. When we stopped to decide if we would turn back it was clear that not many tourists stopped here as we seemed to draw quite a bit of attention. One man even went inside to get his little daughter, picking her up so she could get a better look at us. It was all friendly though and after a lot of smiles and and few cheeky kids chancing it by asking for cigarettes and money (I'm not sure they understood us saying they shouldn't smoke) we were back on the road again.

As the sun was lowering in the sky we decided best to make our way back to Kuta. With two of us on the bike, we were guzzling petrol so pulled over to get a bottle full on the way. The lady who sold us the petrol found us quite amusing, Ro in particular, laughing and giving her arm and leg a squeeze. I think she found the blonde hair and fair skin a novelty. Us showing up brightened her day at least :)

Despite not finding a beach we had a great day out on the bikes


And got back in time for some birthday cake! One of the boys was turning 6 years old and Ben had organised a chocolate and banana cake to celebrate from a cafe up the hill called Ashtari. Now as I don't eat bananas and Ro doesn't eat chocolate we had to miss out on this occasion but the boys (all of them!) got stuck in, and Dan tried to tempt Ro to eat some cake.


We'd decided to have a chilled night in with some movies. We had swapped rooms and now were in one with a TV! Result. Earlier that morning we had found a large spider in the bathroom and decided to leave it shut in there hoping it would go out through the vent. Gingerly opening the bathroom door to check I was ambushed by the spider who ran round the doorframe at head height into the bedroom. I ve never moved so fast! It clearly was waiting to make its escape. Now we ve had some big spiders in our room before and have kind of got used to them if they re not moving. Ro wasn't used to them though and this one wasn't staying still either, running all over the place until he finally settled on top of the AC unit, that was above the mattress Ro would be sleeping on! What followed was one of the funniest scenes of the trip as after hearing of our plight the guys actually brought a ladder into the room to reach the AC unit and I stood on the bed with a torch to try and show them where it was. After a few bashes of a broom and a few squeals from us the guys successfully managed to get it out of the room! Job Jobbed!


After all that excitement we needed a Bintang to calm the nerves!


After hearing about Ashtari, its good food (especially the cakes) and the amazing view we knew we had to check it out for ourselves.


You could easily spend hours hanging out here, and the white chocolate and coconut cake is Amazing and even that word doesn't give it enough justice!

When we got back to the homestay we saw one of the cutest things which was the boys reaction to being brought home a McDonalds from Mataram! As they ran down the path excitedly shouting 'YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!!' we couldn't help but smile! Now that really is a Happy Meal!

It was Ros last day with us and whilst Dan had an afternoon nap Ro and I headed out to take in the beach one more time, as well as sampling a few cocktails too. We met up with Dan for dinner and continued the cocktails by a bonfire on the beach. Needless to say we ve become lightweights and the cocktails soon took affect. Think we must have been quite a sight as we staggered home particularly as my flip flop had broken so I was only wearing one shoe.

It was sad to see Ro leave the next morning. It had been so wonderful having her with us and we'd had so much fun :)

For the next two days Dan and I chilled out and made plans for our trip to Flores. Three girls from Canada had arrived at the homestay and the group had some great dinners at Bule and Jalan No2 with some very entertaining if not unusal stories being shared. Some maybe sharing too much :) lets just say one of the things we found out was that a husband should not annoy his wife as you never know what might end up in his soup! Which set the tone for the rest of the eve...

It was definitely hard to leave as we felt so settled here but Flores and our next diving adventure was calling us.

A huge thank you to Susie, Tom and the rest of Kuta Bay Homestay for making us feel at home.

Clay and Ben, great to meet you both! we look forward to seeing you guys down under :)

Finally Ro you are a legend for making the trip to see us, we miss you and love you loads!



Posted by doyledan 09:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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.


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.


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.


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


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


Ro handled the waves like a pro!


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


Clay got this one better than Sarah.


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.


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


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

It just keeps getting better

Scooter fun!


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.


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


Our first stop along the way was Mawun beach.


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 :)

(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.


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.


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.


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


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!!


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


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.

Who needs a surf board!


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!



Can this place get any better!


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

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