Every time I hear of Bali, it fills my heart with joy and nostalgia. I am extremely fond of Balinese beauty that evokes in its alluring mountains, spectacular volcanoes, green valleys, great surfing beaches, breath-taking green rice paddies, venerable temples and the unique Indonesian art & culture. Just after Diwali, I had an opportunity to travel to Bali and Lombok Islands and without a thought, I gave in to the temptations to travel again. Despite having been to Bali thrice, I can never get enough of it. The vibes of this island are truly infectious. And as far as Lombok is concerned, I couldn’t wait to explore it myself as I had heard a lot about its Sasak population, divine beaches, turquoise waters, majestic Mt Rinjani and spectacular marine life of Lombok and Gili Islands on the North-west coast.
Come, join the fun in Bali and Lombok
I flew Malindo Airlines from Delhi to KL and then KL to Bali. Everything went smoothly about it. The good part about traveling to Indonesia is that it offers “visa on arrival” facility for Indians, thus the trip always begins on an extremely warm and welcoming note.
Day 1– Bali is a favorite, always!
Just out of the airport, I filled my lungs with the Balinese air and thanked the island for calling me again and again. I so love it. The first experience began with an Indian lunch at Golden Saffron restaurant. So in case you are traveling with family who aren’t prepared to try out new cuisine immediately, take them here. You and your folks will feel at home and well taken care.
For the night, we checked in at Mercure Legan Bali Hotel. I like Accor hotels and it made a good choice to keep it close to Kuta, Seminiyak and Legian beaches. Some of my friends went to the Seminyak beach for the sunset while I dozed off. The dinner at Dwika Resto Legian gave a good kick-start to the Indonesian thrill. On my return to the hotel, I did make it to my favorite Kuta beach, before calling it a day.
Day 2 – All excited to travel to Lombok
I was very excited about Lombok because this was my first time. A short flight of 25 minutes is all that it takes to transport you to Lombok. Lion Air was my choice. If you are enthusiastic about photography from the air, don’t forget to ask for a window seat because the views of Bali coastline, Nusa Penida and Lombok are gorgeous.
Lombok airport is very cute and the moment you step out on the roads, you know that the island has different vibes about it. Before checking into my hotel, our guide took us straight to Mandalika, along the south coast of the beautiful Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. There lies a beautiful stretch of white sand beach facing the Indian Ocean and this is also the place where construction of the Mandalika street circuit is taking place. It is going to be one of the most beautiful circuits, designed to host events for the world’s premier motorcycle racing class MotorGP. This is also the place which will get you curious about the folklore of Princess Mandalika. I was more keen to know about her because the name sounded so similar to mine.
After lunch at Segara Anak restaurant, we checked in Novotel Lombok Resort & Villas. It is the perfect place to stay on the southern side of Lombok. The resort has one of the most comfortable and holiday-like settings, with a private beach to itself. The rooms are comfortable and the swimming pool is open 24 hours, what more do you want.
The first evening in Lombok was about enjoying the sunset at Merese Hill and you have to mark this on your itineray. The views of Tanjung Aan beach are spectacular. It is a very pretty place where you will take a bow to nature’s creation. The best way to enjoy the evening is to grab a coconut drink, find a place to sit and watch the ‘ball of fire’ take a dip in the ocean. The sky turned into many shades and I got so lost in the moment that I forgot to take pictures of the sunset. But never mind, I am glad, I lived it through my eyes.
Finally, we called it a day with dinner at Melati hotel and resort restaurant.
Day 3 : Exploring the heritage and nature of Lombok
After a hearty breakfast at Novotel Lombok resort and villas, I was headed to the Ende Sasak Village. Now, its very important to know who Sasaks are. They are the indigenous natives of Lombok island and make for 85 percent of the population. The visit to this authentic village was worth it, for it gave us a chance to see how they make their houses from cows dung as well as learn about their local music, dance and everyday chores. The war dance of the kids was my favorite.
Next, I also had a chance to stop by at Sukarara Weaving village. Until you do it, you never know what goes into it. I actually did it myself to understand the intricacies. Weaving is considered to be very important for Sasak women. It was believed in Lombok that a woman could not get married if she did not know weaving.
I was also keen to stop at a pottery village visit but our guide, Mr. Uji, wanted us to take us to the Benang Kelambu Waterfall inside Mt. Rinjani Geo park, first. After lunch, we proceeded there. The waterfall is indeed worth a visit. The bike ride to the point from where you have to descend steps is thrilling. Elderly people or those with back problem should avoid the ride and sit down at the nearby cafes.
On the way back, we stopped to make some pottery in Lombok and then at the Islamic Center Mosque in Mataram (the administrative capital of Lombok). The mosque is open for people of all religions. And finally, we checked in at another hotel, the Holiday resort.
Day 4: I loved Gili Trawangan
The private beach, the sound of the waves crashing every now and then, the swimming pool, the view of Mt. Agung and the breakfast setting at the Hotel resort is fabulous. If given a chance, I would have loved to take a day off and stayed at the resort but you really can’t do it when you have Gili islands on the itinerary. The three Gilis, Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan are lovely and extremely popular for underwater adventures.
We proceeded to Teluk Nara Harbor and from there, took a glass bottom boat to proceed to snorkeling points on the way. I did not snorkel because I have not been able to learn the art of breathing in water and that freaks me out, but my friends had a great time. I could see from their faces that I was definitely missing out on the best. So here is the takeaway, do give it a shot, when you are there. The glass bottom of the boat was useful and I did see some amazing fishes through it.
After all the thrill, we reached Gili Trawangan and trust me, I was smitten by its vibrant settings. Its such a affable place where you would want to do absolutely nothing. The lunch at Juku Marlin restaurant was great. We strolled around, took pictures, did cycling and cidomo rides. The sunset swings are very popular here. I literally wanted to stay back.
The ride back was adventurous as the ocean was throwing tantrums but we made it to the other side. I am already looking forward to going back to Gili Trawangan with my husband. Its very cute and colourful.
Day 4 : Bye Bye Lombok, Back to Bali!
Finally, the day had come to say goodbye to Lombok and fly to Bali for some more fun. It was like choosing between two favorite ones. Lombok was like latest crush and going back to Bali meant like going back to old love. The choice was tough but when you have a flight to catch, you really can’t do much.
The journey from Lombok Praya International Airport to Denpasar was nice and fun with Lion Air. It was a no-rush and easy day in Bali. We had our lunch at Bale Udang Mang Engking restaurant, which is a very pretty place, with ponds and bamboo huts. If you are around, do stop by here for some great food and ambiance.
Today, we were supposed to check in at Sthala, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Ubud Bali, a 5-star hotel managed by Marriott International and I was really looking forward to it. I quite like the lush green landscape of Ubud and always make it a point to go to that side of Bali.
On the way to the hotel, we stopped to see some Batik and silver work at the Celuk village. Ubud has lots of art and craft shops. I also quite like the wood work here. They make great souvenirs or you can also place order and the shop-owners courier it for you.
Day 6 : A rice-fields day in Ubud and evening at Uluwatu Temple
I woke up early to join an early morning walk to a nearby village in Ubud. The walk was arranged by Sthala hotel. It turned out to be very informative and we got a chance to see and learn about local Balinese rituals.
They say no trip to Ubud is complete without heading to the paddy fields and the Bali swings. The paddy fields are very picturesque.
For lunch, we had a treat at Sitara restaurant. They had laid out delicious meal for us, and it was all Indian. The owner,a third generation Indian born in Bali greeted us warmly and even had lunch with us. It was good to talk about India and Indonesia over a meal of butter chicken, daal, jeera rice, naan and kulfi. Even our Indonesian friends loved it. If you are craving Indian food after a couple of days, Sitara is the place to go, around Ubud.
The evening was mesmerizing at Uluwatu temple. The views of the coastline are so-so amazing. Some places really make you feel blessed, this is one of them. The sun was harsh but that dint deter us from making to the top. Don’t forget to take tickets for the Kecak dance to reignite your interest in Ramayana. The sunset views and the dance create magic together.
After stopping at Kemangi restaurant, we proceeded to Kuta Heritage hotel. Now this was the place, right opposite Kuta beach and we were all ready to make the best of the weekend fun at Kuta.
Day 7 : Shopping, Spa and Surprise at Sunday Beach club
Shopping and Spa is a must do in Bali. I mean who comes back from Bali without taking a massage. I had already taken a foot massage a day before and was looking forward to the wellness treatment at Soham Wellness Center. The shopping at Krishna Ole was rejuvenating for the shopaholic me.
We also visited the most iconic statue of Bali at GWK, Garuda Wishnu Kencana. It is a cultural park where you can take your family and spend some valuable time. It is a great place for photography too. You can have your lunch there itself and enjoy the cultural performances. I liked the massive statue.
And finally, the last evening in Bali was celebrated at the secret beach of Sundays Beach club. This place was completely new for me and I enjoyed every moment there. The sunset, the settings, the music, the food and the vibes were amazing. That is why I say Bali is full of surprises and it makes me fall in love, again and again.
Day 8 : Flight to KL
I was off for next trip.
Last but not the least, I must say the trip to Bali and Lombok turned out to be absolutely beautiful and memorable because of the company of the amazing people that I was traveling with.
Take my words, you must travel with the like-minded, the fun doubles.