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  • angelikaklaus92

Oh Lombok

After over a month, it's time to show a sign of life. Where I am right now? I am in between a flight marathon between Australia and New Zealand. Initially, I was about to take a plane from Perth via Melbourne to Christchurch, New Zealand. However, due to a flight cancellation, the airline decided to send me across the whole country from Perth via Cairns to Melbourne. So, to sum up: Bali – Christchurch - 4 flights within 24 hours. Yeah!! At least I have some time to write down a few details about my last weeks in Indo. Have I been stuck between massages and smoothie bowls in Bali for a month? No, I finally made it to Lombok!! But one thing after another...

After my four-day pampering program in Bali, I traveled to Lombok, Bali’s neighbor island. I have wanted to go to Lombok for so long, but I always got stuck in Bali and then ran out of time.

Now, the time has finally come and I have to say, I've fallen for Lombok. I fell in love with the island, the beaches, the diversity of nature, the people, the food and, above all, the serenity that characterizes life here. Within only a few days, this serenity managed to calm down my mind and took the pace out of my daily routine. That's exactly what I needed. A place where I can switch off, live into the day and process the last few months. A place where I can finally be back in the water and gather strength for new adventures. Oh and there's something else I've fallen in love with: driving a scooter!!

You read that correctly, the coward who doesn't like driving a car, who was until recently terrified of driving in left-hand traffic and the one who has never driven a scooter in her life, loves racing through Lombok. By the way, the scooter is an absolute must-have in Lombok - otherwise you're screwed. Believe me, I had to experience that first hand. In order to make you understand this a bit better, I'll try to give you a picture of Lombok.

Very important: Lombok is not Bali. As soon as you get there, you’ll immediately feel the different faiths and how they determine peoples’ lives. Bali, predominantly Hindu, impresses with its temples and the countless offerings that decorate the entire island. Lombok, on the other hand, is predominantly Muslim. Here you will find magnificent mosques in every village and the songs of the muezzin accompany you throughout the day... and also through the night.

Apart from that, Lombok is (still) much less touristy and the infrastructure is not yet designed for mass tourism. You can still walk across the street without 1,586,795 people trying to sell you shit and it seems like the clock ticks differently here. The hostel owner told me on my first day that in Lombok every day was Sunday. And yes, that's exactly how it feels. Everyone lives according to "what you don’t get done today, you can do tomorrow". If you ask me, that’s the perfect environment to relax. The majority of the island is still in local hands and while exploring the island, we were often the only tourists. Only Kuta, in the south of Lombok, is prepared for tourists - but still - no comparison to Bali. There are no big hotels, hardly any taxi services or transport options, but there are many small warungs (local restaurants) and only a few fancy and overpriced restaurants run by Western owners. This is also noticeable in my travel budget. When I eat out, I pay on average 2 euros per meal and for my hostel I pay 5 euros per night - including breakfast. Every now and then I treat myself to the best donut you can imagine - for 50 cents. Attention travel tip for Kuta, Lombok: Book a night in the Bale Hostel - a small, super familiar and social hostel. It's simple but clean, central, has the nicest owner ever and mango trees from which we sometimes get some fresh mangoes. Everyone books here for one night and stays here for ages. I actually spent almost the entire September here and met the nicest people.

What have I been doing all this time? Well, not that much. Chill, surf, eat and sleep. Did I say chill? Oh and I of course practicing my new hobby - riding a scooter.

As already mentioned at the beginning, without a scooter, you are screwed in Lombok.There are no scooter taxis like in Bali, so you can either walk or order a normal car taxi, which is super expensive and due the road conditions it cannot be guaranteed that you will get to your destination. When preparing for my trip, I read about the transport situation in Lombok, but I was still unsure whether I would rent a scooter. I didn't even know how to drive that bloody thing. No joke, before Lombok I had no idea how to drive a scooter… haha not even to how start the engine. I guess that a small part of me hoped that I could just always join others as a passenger.

Well, that worked until the 3rd day. But then everything turned out differently: Some of us planned to watch the sunset on a hill in the evening. The spot: Bukit Merese, about 20 minutes drive from the hostel; The problem: we were all traveling separately throughout the day and then one after the other said to me "let's meet there"... Damn it - what now? Ok, I guess I have to do that now. Maybe this is the famous cold water moment. Luckily, I had a 5-minute driving lesson from my roommate Niklas in the morning. At this point, thanks again, Niklas!! As it turned out, the hostel owner didn't have any scooters left at the time and I think he also didn't like the idea of giving me, as a beginner, one of his scooters.

Out of desperation, I opened the taxi app that I always used in Bali – it was worth a try right? After several attempts and a 15 minute wait, I realized that there is no chance of finding a taxi. But what now? Does the hostel owner not know anybody who can drive me up that crappy hill? I just needed to get there, on the way back, one of the others can give me a lift… Come on, this cannot be that difficult. At some point, I was almost ready to cancel the sunset, but the fear of missing out outweighed. So, I continued hunting a lift.

Finally, we found this 12-year-old neighbor kid who drove me up that hill. And while I was sitting on his back and locals gave me some weird looks, I realized: WTF, tomorrow you'll learn to drive a scooter!!!! There is NO WAY out of this.

When I came back from sunset in the evening, I immediately booked a scooter for the next day - a small one, with less horsepower - but hey, that's a first step.

PS: by the way, the sunset was beautiful and absolutely worth it.

And then on the next day, it has happened. A small group of us went on a day trip and I was driving my own scooter. And looking at it now, this day kind of shaped my Lombok trip. As this trip was a special trip, it will get its own blog post – but here is a little spoiler already: My first scooter tour was an unplanned 10-hour trip that officially certified me as a driver...for EVERYTHING: country roads, highways, serpentines, darkness, mountains, off-road, construction sites and all that between monkeys, dogs and chickens on the road - basically from 0 to 100!! And guess what: my bike and myself are both safe. We actually really became a team, hahaha. At the end of my time in Lombok, I even took over the navigation on a few road trips and guided our group safely to the destination. Hahaha who would have thought that 3 weeks ago.

Speaking of our group: This was another highlight of my Lombok time. The people I met at the Bale Hostel made this trip special. No matter whether we explored the island together, went for surf sessions, beach days, dinner, shopping with my favorite roommate Max, donut adventures or simply hanging out together in the hostel really made my time in Lombok.

Oh and of course our Secret Gili Island camping trip. On that trip we first went snorkeling with 11 people from the hostel and then ended up spending the night on a mini island southwest of Lombok. Including sunset, campfire, beach volleyball, beach party and hangover on the next day.

This shows again how strangers can become a small family. The Bale Family. By the way, Bale is called home in Indonesian. No wonder that I ended up hanging out in the same hostel for almost a whole month. I actually wanted to change to other hostels that were recommended to me – just to see something different...What happened to the bookings? All cancelled. I just couldn't leave this hostel and my little gang.

I could tell you Lombok stories for hours: About the good food, about the beautiful green landscape around Tetebatu and the mountains, about the garden tour we did in the mountains, about snacks like fried bananas that you can get on the side of the road for the equivalent of 10 cents, about locals waving at us while we were driving across the islands, about funny beach vendors, bruised ribs, the best Google Maps routes and probably the worst surfing instructors in the world. But I still have to save some of the stories for when I see you again, right?

My conclusion about Lombok? A little dream. I really hope that tourism here doesn't build up like it is on Bali or at least, not as quickly. Lombok, I'll be back.

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