Arriving into Kuta, Lombok late afternoon I decided on a place near the town centre named Puri Itoma Bungalows and Restaurant. I had got a room with a king sized mattress, air conditioned and my own washroom for 170,000 Indonesian Rupees per night ($17 Canadian). It seemed like the perfect place to relax and recover from the hike and hustle and bustle from the previous while. The family who ran the guesthouse and I shared some Balinese coffee and a local cigarette while chatting for a few hours. In the days I was visiting I watched them mix concrete and lay bricks building a wall, plaster and drywall creating a new room. It was amazing to see them work all day and night to get it done in such a short period of time. High season starts from June through the summer so they were trying to increase capacity to get ready for a higher number of travellers. Kuta on Lombok island is a quaint place but is growing quickly. With an international airport on Lombok island tourism, business and backpacking is growing quickly here.
People from Australia and the Western world who start business here and in many developing areas in Asia, seem to have a different mentality about running business and living a different lifestyle. There are many similarities in regards to establishing a profitable business but the culture is different, the people are different and the work is different.
Things are more relaxed here, for myself the stress of the little things and big things don’t exist. Day to day life, enjoying the beach, taking a motorbike out to watch the sunset. Motorbiking to the different beaches in the surrounding areas. After spending so much time racing from one place to the next it was nice to settle in for a few days and get to know some local people. I drank two or three fresh juice a day from a corner store that was only a 30 second walk away from my room. The juice were made fresh for 7,000 Indonesian Rupees. Always fresh and made to order for 70 cents Canadian; I have never seen juice at such a good price. I tried many different fruit and would have them mixed together. Some included banana, orange, strawberry, guava, dragon fruit, watermelon, melon to name a few. Orange and banana turned out to be my favourite.
I spent time hanging out with Bellinda an Sandra from Germany who I met on the Mt. Rinjani hike, as they also went to Kuta. Bellinda has a friend who owns a restaurant named KRNK. Expensive but delicious, I must have eaten there a half dozen times. It was fun to have some familiar faces around, sitting by the pool, heading to the beach or having a bite to eat. We had a really great time.
Time passed by fast and slow in Kuta. I was finally able to pull out my ukulele and tune it properly. I learnt a few different songs and made some up as well. The waves were massive, it was only local guys and experienced surfers on the waves. The waves were engulfing the beach, I saw one demolish a beachside stand and another submerge a girls IPad. I saw the locals move a fridge and were moving vulnerable stands quickly to a safe area.
The bars in Kuta were open late even though Ramadan was on. I thought that was interesting because the party gets shut down at midnight on Gili T the party island.
The working people, middle aged people and older aged people in Kuta were so kind. My biggest bother was all of the kids selling bracelets from 0700 am until 0200 am. It is sad to see, at an age they should be playing and learning they are out working. This must have a negative impact on the development of a child and I partially fear for the future of the Kuta and the areas this is a common practice in. I told one boy that I did not want a bracelet today, the next day he found me in a restaurant and called me a liar because I did not want to buy one that day either. At least three kids called me cheap for not wanting to buy a bracelet. They were not trying to sell bracelets to the local people or calling them rude names. I saw two boys smoking on the side of the street at 1130 pm and asked them their age; eleven they replied. Which was likely an exageration.
The dogs on the island were friendly enough during the day but at night seemed to all be crazy. Each dog has their own area and they would bark loudly and growl if you walked on their turf, every piece of land seemed to be owned by a dog. Late one night at a junction of two popular streets there were over twenty dogs barking, at least twelve of them were fighting and biting each other. They would growl and yelp, I was just happy I was able to sneak by without much notice.
Things were good here but after five nights I felt it was time to leave. My friend Tom from the UK and Tilmann from Germany were both in Canggu so I thought one more meet up seemed like a great idea. (Traveling to the airport from Canggu is easy because I will have to head to the airport in the middle of the night to fly to Thailand in a few days time). The flight cost me 140,000 IDR ($14 Canadian), strangely enough it was half the price of the land transport and a fraction of the time (300,000 IDR for bus, boat and bus) to get the same point.
Only anticipating a 30 minute flight I was happy arriving to the airport after getting a taxi and half the usual price. Similar to my past few flights I was delayed three hours. Six times the length of my flight. Beware of Lion Air, they have nice prices but terrible customer service and planes that seem to break more often than one should. As we were boarding I saw the man do the entire safety check of the plane without leaving the tunnel to get onto the plane. Thankfully we made it safely, though now very late.
Back to Canggu
I left the airport and picked up a McDonald’s Big Mac meal. The taxi offered to drive me for 150,000 IDR ($15 Canadian) but I had already walked to the outside of the airport parking lot to get a grab taxi. It cost me 70,000 IDR ($7 Canadian), the traffic was brutal driving through Kuta. Arriving at 1130 pm I stayed at Doni Homestay in Canggu, it was amazing. The whole family lives there and help run the guesthouse from the children to grandmother. I negotiated a room for 160,000 IDR/ night. Spending more money than I had budgeted it was well worth it to have my own king sized bed, air conditioner, private washroom and bean bags to hang out on outside the room. Bedbugs are rampant in Canggu, for me it is worth the value to know I am getting a clean bed.
Tilmann left Old Man’s bar at the beach and picked me up on his motorbike. It was technically his last night in town (after 3 months) so his local friends had gathered together to party. Old Man’s was quiet except having the Euro World Cup playing on a big screen. We went down the street 300 meters to the local corner mart. A friend quickly motorbiked home and brought back a 6 string guitar. We shot gunned (chugged) a few beer and would head back into the store whenever we needed another Bintang beer. We were jamming for hours, exchanging turns playing and singing along. Similar to the guys on Gili T, the local guy could play any tune on the guitar. Despite the late arrival it was a really fun night.
The next day I met up with my friend Tom who I had become friends with in Gili T and had some lunch. He’s bound for Malaysia next.
Sometime around noon I rented a motorbike and rode with Tilmann to Uluwatu. It was 21 kilometers but had different passes of roads full of traffic, highways and winding passages. It was a ton of fun with the sun shining down, the only trouble was trying to keep up with Tilmann racing down the highway on his enduro motorbike. When we arrived we booked into a guesthouse for the night.
There is a bar named Single Fin in Uluwatu that is renowned for its Sunday night party. We went out and I met a few people who I had seen throughout my travels in Indonesia. It is great to reunite with friends made previously on the journey. The water and sunset were gorgeous but the tide was low so I didn’t swim. The party was really fun and all it was said to be. I ended up playing tamborine with the band for half the night and danced the other half of the night away. There are police with automatic guns at the entry to the bar which is a bit intimidating but it is for protection of the people as there was a previous attack in the bar a few years ago.
After a good night out and a good sleep we made the journey back to Canggu in the morning, stopping to check out a few gorgeous beaches along the way. If I had more time I would have spent a few days in Uluwatu. The traffic was crazy on the way back, while trying to follow Tilmann taking a shortcut along the sidewalk I was cut off by a huge truck and took a wrong turn. I lost Tilmann and ended up driving down the wrong road. After a few hours of being lost in Seminyak and some areas I wasn’t familiar with I found my way back to Canggu.
In the afternoon I found a great area beside the beach called ‘The Lawn.’ It is a grassy area filled with beanbag chairs and mattresses on the ground, there was a slack line hanging and people were doing acroyoga; it made for a nice atmosphere. I spent the afternoon playing ukulele here; and hanging out with Tilmann and some friends. After some convincing to return to Canggu, Tilmann returned for his real last night of travelling before heading back to Germany. We thought we should celebrate it properly and send him off in style so we had a few drinks and went to Seminyak out to La Favela.
Sandra and Bellinda my German friends I had made hiking Mt Rinjani and hanging out with in Kuta, Lombok ended up coming to Canggu. We spent some time together, tried some phenomenal food and had a blast hanging out. The surf was not great for the couple of days I spent in Canggu so I didn’t end up renting a board. The water was warm to touch and the air was thick with humidity.
Heading to the airport at 0330 am I was unsure how I was going to get a taxi but I downloaded the bluebird taxi application on my phone and after ten minutes was able to get a ride to the airport with no troubles. No traffic for the first time in ages, it was a pretty quick ride from Canggu. Bound for Phuket, Thailand I was sad to leave Indonesia. I had not known what to expect before coming here and am beyond thrilled about the special times I have had in the country. My experiences travelling have been shaped more through who I have met rather than different sites/ monuments. Though the beauty of certain places is priceless. I feel lucky to have met so many kind local people and made tons of amazing friends. I will go back to Indonesia someday, it will always be a special place for me.