Warning – this post contains excessive use of adjectives and may cause serious wanderlust.
I have just returned from the most amazing time in Indonesia, where along with with my husband and best friend, and various friends and family along the way, visited Bali, Lombok and Gili Air. I gushed a little a few days ago on my Incredible Indonesia post but I really must give you a bit more insight into our time in this fascinating county.
We packed quite a lot into our 12 days, flying from Bangkok to Denpasar in Bali on a Saturday (flights around £300 each return with Thai Air) arriving mid-afternoon. We got a taxi from the airport to our hotel in Seminyak which took around an hour and a half and cost 350,000IDR for the three of us. In my new bid to not be complete hotel snob we stayed in the Ibis Styles Bali Petitenget for around £30 a night. I must apologise for the lack of photographs but can tell you that the hotel is clean, modern with a good breakfast, good cocktails and a swimming pool. It was also next door to an awesome Mexican serving killer frozen margaritas!
We left early the next morning in a taxi to Padang Bai where we caught the fast boat to Gili Air (taxi and boat was 550,000IDR each) which took around 2 hours and also stopped at Gili T and Gili Meno. We arrived on Gili Air and took a horse and cart to our resort around 15 minutes away. Now, at the time our bags were heavy and we were hot and tired so taking the horse and cart seemed like a logical thing to do but after a friend told me about how the horses aren’t always treated well, we didn’t use a cart again and would abstain from doing so when we visit again. Just my choice.
We stayed for 3 nights at Kaluku Bungalows on the east of the island. Our room was basic but clean and had a great outdoor bathroom. The resort had a nice pool and breakfast was made fresh and included some delicious banana or pineapple pancakes! But the highlight for me was the awesome snorkelling straight off the beach. Despite the reef being badly damaged by dynamite fishing (thankfully not happening anymore) there was so much incredible life literally 50m from your lounger! We saw eels, sea snakes, an octopus and so many beautiful fish. My friend and I were also lucky enough to swim with a sea turtle!
Gili Air feels a little like being on a film set; it has to be the most relaxed place I have ever been, the pace of life is so slow. The lack of motor vehicles means you either have to take a horse and cart, rent a bicycle (for a nominal fee per day) or walk. We cycled around the whole island in about an hour one afternoon. Our time on Gili was spent drinking Bintang (the local beer), eating great food (check out Pachamama Organic Cafe) and swimming with the fishes!
Before we knew it, it was time to move on. We were so relaxed we hadn’t even arranged a transfer to Lombok, all we knew was that there were boats every hour. We decided to chance our luck with our resort and see if they could get us a private boat to collect us off the beach and take us, needless to say we were still in the pool with our friends when we were told our boat had arrived 20 minutes later! A driver met us at the port (all part of the boat price) and drove us the 30 minutes to our next stop, the fabulous Katamaran Resort that was to be our home for the next four nights.
Lombok was the actual reason for our whole trip to Indonesia as my cousins (Singapore and UK based) were there for Easter staying in a villa so to be honest we didn’t see all that much of the island as it was really just family time! Katamaran was fab, the rooms are big, comfy and beautifully designed with huge indoor/outdoor style bathrooms. The service was great and the swimming pool just spectacular. It was a 5 minute taxi to the villa my cousins were staying in which was equally as fabulous. Aside from one evening where we all ate at our hotel, the other evenings we ate at their villa, their chef cooking the most incredible Indonesian meals including fish, prawns, nasi goreng and delicious satay.
Our next stop was Ubud back in Bali. We booked the transfer through the Katamaran which included transport on Lombok, the boat and then a transfer at the other end. It was fine but next time I wouldn’t pay for the Bali side, we had to wait for our mini bus to fill before departing when we could have just paid the same if not a bit less for a private taxi with one of the drivers touting at the port. Oh well, we know for next time! The traffic on Bali rivals Bangkok so it was slow going and the driver we had was a bit sporadic so I was glad when after 2 hours we arrived at our hotel for the next 3 nights.
My husband had found Origin Villas online and deemed the location to be ideal, pricing very reasonable and the aesthetics to match our needs! Newly opened in January the complex has 10 one and two bed villas, there is no restaurant, breakfast is served in your villa. Komang and her team were excellent, they were so friendly and knew us by name straight away. You can call reception for pretty much anything, cocktails, massages, a shuttle into town (which would drop you off wherever you wanted), they were always on hand. The villas are stunning, each with its own pool with a large trampoline type hammock suspended over part of it, and the attention to detail was great; soft lighting, local chocolate bars in the mini bar, huge towels etc. We really didn’t want to leave!
Komang organised a driver for us one day to take us around some of the sights of Ubud. For just over six hours, our knowledgeable guide Maddy (apologies for the spelling, I’m assuming that’s not how you spell it) took us to the rice paddies, a Lowak Coffee plantation (where the animals eat and poo out the beans creating the most expensive coffee in the world), the Holy Water Temple, Mount Batur volcano and the Stone Temple. It really was an incredible day and we felt like we had truly been immersed in Balinese culture! Ubud was full of great little restaurants and bars so in the evenings we met up with friends and explored the town center. The shopping in Bali looked great and we experienced a little in Ubud, but we definitely need to go back to do some more!
Before we knew it our incredible holiday was at an end and we headed back to airport for the flight home having truly fallen in love with this part of Indonesia and already planning on returning next Songkran!
Have you been to Bali, the Gili’s or Lombok? Please let me know any recommendation of where we should go next time!