Taking it Indon'easy'a (Bali, Lombok, Gili)

Trip Start Jul 11, 2010
Trip End Jul 11, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Sunday, August 15, 2010


In the first month of our trip we covered a lot of ground and visited some pretty cool places. But by the time we arrived in Tokyo we were starting to feel a little 'citied out'. Some beach action was needed and, with the rest of South East Asia in monsoon season, we headed to Indonesia where the weather was best.

Things didn’t exactly get off to a good start in Bali where the first night we got food poisoning and it felt a little bit like we were in Magaluf. Two days later we left for Nusa Lembongan, a smaller island where life was more mellow. Yet I (‘Horizontal Horse’) was finding it difficult to be the same. After years of routine it was weird waking up and not having a plan for the day... I can’t believe how alien it felt. We spent a lot of time zipping around the island on a moped, passing tiny villages, which is how we met ‘Bubu’ and his family. They took us snorkelling, took Phil fishing, fed us lunch (and declined when we offered to pay) and taught us some of the local language which we instantly forgot. They were a great example of how friendly people have been in Indonesia, even with many of them fasting because of Ramadan.

It was in Lombok where I finally started to get the hang of lazy living. Yet nothing quite prepared me for life on the Gili Islands. A typical day here went like this; wake, breakfast, scuba dive*, sunbathe, swim, lunch, read/write, sunbathe, snorkel, shower, beer, sunset, dinner, bed. It was tough. But I managed to master the art of doing very little.

(* Miss Ellis; you would have loved the diving here. We saw sharks, turtles, stingrays, cuttlefish, Octopus, lobsters and countless tropical fish... although no Manta Rays, so you win for now!)


Indonesia is a real mix of people and cultures that changes from island to island. The impact of tourism on the local way of life is more significant in Bali and decreases the further east you travel.  If you want to get away from the package holiday crowd then it pays to skip Bali and head to Lombok and the surrounding Gili islands.  However this could all soon change when Lombok gets its international airport. 

We started off in Bali which was nothing like the tropical paradise that I thought it would be.  Admittedly we only had a day to look around before being violently ill due to the local cuisine!  We were in Sanur which is supposed to be one of the quieter places but you couldn’t walk 5 meters without being asked if you wanted transport or sold a bracelet.  I was happy to leave after a couple of days to the much quieter island of Lembongan.

The one thing I really liked about our time in Indonesia was the people.  At first it’s difficult to let down your guard and speak to people without thinking ‘and what is it you want to sell me?’ but on a number of occasions when we did we got so much out of it.  In Lembongan we paid a local to take us out in his boat to go snorkelling which cost about 10 for an hour.  During the time I asked the guy, Bubu, if he did similar trips for fishing. He didn’t, but every morning his brother went fishing and so he invited me to join him. 

The following morning the alarm goes off at 4.20am and Paul’s not feeling too good so doesn’t want to go which makes me question if it’s such a good idea to go alone... after all I know nothing about this guy. However, the thought of being out at sea when the sun rises is just too good to miss, so I jumped on the bike at 4.30am in the pitch black and headed across the island questioning all the way whether this is the right thing to do.  So I meet his brother (not a chatty man) and I climb into the boat in the middle of the mangrove in total darkness with a total stranger.  There are two possible scenarios running through my head, neither of which ends well.  We headed out to sea for about an hour and all the time I can’t help but think of how helpless I am in the middle of the sea and how this could be some elaborate plot.  I feel some relief when he actually starts dropping the net and I realise that he is actually a fisherman (well I wasn’t expecting to be going out to sea for an hour) that is until he crosses nets with another fisherman and has to pull it all back up again (schoolboy). 

After dropping his net again we bob around for about 20 mins and watch the sunrise.  By now I’m more relaxed about the kidnap and extortion plot but still not convinced that they don’t want to get money out of the tourist somehow.  Yeoman (that’s his name) pulls in the nets and he’s less than impressed by his haul; he only nets 20 tuna, yesterday he caught 100 (is this part of the sting)?    We then head back to the island and drop the fish at market. Yeoman asks if I would like a couple of fish which I accept (I wonder how much that will cost me)?  

So back on dry land I meet with Bubu for breakfast (coffee and roll) which they give me.  We chat for a while and they offer to cook the tuna for lunch so I head back to sick boy and catch a bit of shut eye before heading back with Paul for lunch.  We eat the fish and chat some more to the family and after a couple of hours get ready to leave.  I feel I should at least pay for the fish so I try and offer Bubu some money which he refuses and says that he doesn’t take money from a friend, so no plot; just nice people. 

There is another story about a local guy that did a lot to help us but he did have ulterior motives!
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Jo Ellis on

Jealous, jealous, jealous.... you're really annoying me actually!! It all sounds SO amazing... I'm definitely adding Indonesia to my list of places I want to travel to. (Glad you haven't trumped the manta rays yet though - mind you you'll probably get a whale shark before the trips out and then I'll be REALLY annoyed!!!). Loving the photos. Miss you both xx

Weavils on

What a funny story! Great to see you enjoying some proper island life.

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