Enchanting Lombok

After a short business trip to Singapore in September, we decided to visit Lombok as a part of our late »summer vacation«. We were choosing between Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam but only Indonesia seemed to have stable weather conditions – last three are too wet and very humid in this period. Lombok seemed like a perfect alternative to its overcrowded neighbor Bali, and since it also has direct flights from Singapore, the choice was actually very easy. Only that three days later a series of deadly earthquakes began and I was scared to shit going there. It was around one month before our departure, so we started to follow the news intensively and hoped for the best. Lombok was shaking slightly every day, but we decided to take a risk and go anyway (sorry again, mom!). This “brave” decision turned out to be one of the best in my wanderlust life. In this article you will find about best things to do in Lombok, together with some travel tips, accommodation suggestions and general tourist information for making your Lombok visit as smooth as possible.

Getting there and around – taxi, car or motorbike rental

Lombok is a part of West Nusa Tenggara province and lies in the eastern part of Indonesia. If you are asking yourself how to get to Lombok, know that you only have 2 options: by air or by boat. The most frequent flights are from Jakarta, while Lombok airport also offers direct flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bali and some other Indonesian cities. The “water” option is mostly used by tourists, visiting Lombok from Bali (the island is less than 2 hours’ drive away), or from Sumbawa island. There is a big difference between speed boats and local boats – not only in prices but also in the duration of travel, so I suggest you do your homework carefully. To reach your hotel from the airport or harbor you can either rent a taxi (it will cost you around 20$) or a car. Just keep in mind that the roads in Lombok are quite busy, bumpy and narrow, and that Indonesians drive on the left.

When to go

Thanks to its tropical climate Lombok is beautiful all year round, however if you don’t want to get wet too often, you will probably want to visit the island in the dry season from May till October. Dry season means warm sunny days with an average temperature around 30 °C, almost no rain, but also very dry vegetation – we visited Lombok in September and there was hardly any greenery in the south. The wet season is hot and humid, but still a little bit drier than in the neighboring Bali. If you want to avoid the peak season and save some money, don’t visit Lombok during summer vacation (July-August) and obviously in Christmas – New Year period.

Planning your trip – how many days you need

Lombok is quite small compared to other Indonesian islands, however with approximately 80 x 110 km you can have plenty of fun exploring this enchanting island. Before planning your trip, know that even if some places seem close on Google map, it will take forever to reach there. The most frequent and cheapest option to explore the island is renting a motorbike. We rented one in the south from the resort staff and it costed us around 10 € per day (tips included), but we later found out that rentals can be a lot cheaper. In Senggigi we paid less than 5€ per day, and this time with insurance and helmets included. Most of locals use motorbikes because cars are expensive and their daily migrations are not very remote. For gasoline we paid around 0,60€ per liter, which is also a bargain.

If you just want to take a few selfies in most popular places, count one day per each area (south, east, west and central Lombok). But if you are a true nature lover you will probably want to see some waterfalls and perhaps even climb the Mt Rinjani. For that you will need at least 2 days and it is best to do it with tour operators, especially now after the earthquakes. We weren’t that lucky – the tracks were closed, but honestly, we wouldn’t have gone up there anyway… You need to be quite fit for this achievement and we are not there yet. I’d love to do it one day though 😉 

Where to stay in Lombok – accommodation suggestions

We knew we would be traveling around by motorbike so we decided to book hotels in 2 different locations. We spent the first 4 nights at Jeeva Beloam beach camp in South-East Lombok, where everything was safe and no damage from the earthquakes whatsoever, and the rest 5 nights at Jeeva Santai villas in Mangsit town, just a few minutes’ drive away from Senggigi. We were very happy with both choices, however if you prefer “livelier” atmosphere I suggest you go for Kuta or Senggigi. Lombok offers plenty of accommodation choices, from really cheap rooms to high end villas with private pools. Booking.com has the best offer in one place and by using this link you can get 15€ off your next reservation. You are welcome 😉

Best things to see in Lombok 

Due to the devastating consequences of the earthquakes in the central and northern part of the island, we limited our trips to South and West Lombok. And still we didn’t have enough time to do everything we wanted. I didn’t want this post to be too long, so I gathered 5 things to see in Lombok in this link – but in short, Lombok is about beautiful beaches, friendly monkeys, wonderful green rice fields, lush waterfalls and a breathtaking volcano.

Safety in Lombok

Lombok is one of those rare countries where the nature seems to be more dangerous than the humans. Indonesia lies on the so-called Ring of fire, which means it has quite a few active volcanos (including Lombok’s Mt Rinjani) and is somehow shaking all the time, potentially causing deadly tsunamis. So, it is wise to check safety updates before planning your trip. As I said, we visited Lombok one month after the earthquakes and even if the consequences were devastating, we didn’t feel endangered at any point (check my Lombok after the earthquake post). Another danger that comes from the beautiful Indonesian nature are very strong currents flowing between the islands and underestimating their power can be fatal. The currents are especially strong around the north-eastern corners of the island.

When it comes to “human danger” and petty crime like shoplifting, you should take care with your belongings due to the lack of police on the island (especially on the Gilis). We never experienced anything unpleasant, but we were careful not to show off with money or our cameras. But more important, beware of the alcohol in Indonesia, because several people have died in the last years (mostly on Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan) from methanol-poisoning. If you stick to resort drinks and sealed bottles you should be fine, I guess.

 

At last but not the least, you need to know that Indonesia is a Muslim country, which means you need to respect their culture. Women are expected to cover their shoulders and knees if entering the public places (especially in Mataram and northern parts of the island), and bikinis are limited to beaches only. This doesn’t mean you will get raped if you show some extra skin, but it can provoke some jaw dropping looks, so be careful, especially if you are a female single traveler.

Be careful – you will want to come back

I hope I didn’t turn you off with these last warnings about safety – it is not so bad as it sounds, and it is in our human nature to take risks. Especially if we love to travel. I always say that you can stay at home and get robbed or hit by a truck. For me Lombok was magical. It probably had a lot to do with us being practically the only tourists on the island, having all beaches and resorts to ourselves. The nature is wonderful, the people are friendly, and their food is fantastic, not to mention very cheap. You can get a decent meal for less than 5 € per person, water included. As the matter of fact, please don’t visit Lombok – I want it unspoiled when I come back!

You can check my Lombok photos in my Facebook album. Are you thinking of visiting the island and have some more questions? Have you been there already? What was your favorite spot? Let me know in a comment below!

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3 highlights for your first trip to Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the best countries in Southeast Asia because it’s got such a diverse mix of cultures. The combination of Malay, Chinese, European and Indian influences have created a varied, rich culture. It is also a very diverse country in terms of nature and landscape. You’ll find beautiful beaches to relax on, amazing rainforests packed with wildlife, and a very modern city of Kuala Lumpur. There is a little bit of something for everybody in Malaysia which is why it should be on everybody’s bucket list. But there’s so much going on that you might not know where to start if you do visit. As Malaysia is huge, you’re never going to do it all in one trip, but it is one of those countries that you could return to over and over again and still find something new. On a first trip, you might concentrate on one of these highlights.

Kuala Lumpur

On the first trip to any country, it’s always a good idea to visit its capital city. It will give you a taste of all of the different things that the country has to offer in one handy package. That’s why you should start your Malaysian adventure in Kuala Lumpur. This great city blends the modern with the traditional and it’s packed with amazing things to see and do. You’ve got a good choice of places to stay in Kuala Lumpur – from the high end expensive places to the more budget hotels, so even if you’re trying to keep costs low, you’ll still be able to find somewhere nice to stay. During my visit in 2017 I stayed in a 4 star Fraser Place hotel, however if you want to save money and have a bit more of your own space, you might want to go for an apartment instead. It’s not that hard to find an affordable and cozy studio for rent in kl which is often better than staying in a hotel. Having your own kitchen space means you can cook your own food instead of eating out all night and you’ll have a bit more independence.

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There are all sorts of amazing things to do in Kuala Lumpur and you could easily spend your entire visit there. But if you want to see more of the country and you’re not staying in the capital for that long, there are a couple of places you’ve got to visit while you’re there. The architecture is one of the highlights in Kuala Lumpur and the crown jewels of the city are the impressive Petronas Towers. Taking a tour of these giant 88 story steel towers is the best way to get a great view of the city. You can find more photos from Kuala Lumpur in my Facebook album.

The Little India district is another great highlight of the city. This beautiful area of the city is packed with loads of shops selling traditional Indian spices, clothes, and crafts. There are also some well-known massage parlours in the area that are very popular with tourists and locals alike. If you love Indian cuisine, you’ll find loads of great restaurants in the area serving authentic food as well.

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Penang

If you prefer more peaceful places or if you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, visit the island of Penang. Its beautiful gardens are really impressive. You’ll find this tropical spice garden in a secluded spot on the road that runs around the island. The plants are well cared for and you can take a tour with lots of interesting information about all of the plants and wildlife. There’s a nice gift shop there which sells nice handmade souvenirs instead of the normal tacky stuff you usually expect to get in a gift shop. The tours are incredibly cheap, coming in at about 5 $ per person so it’s a cheap way to escape the stress of the city for a while and enjoy the incredible natural features in Malaysia.

While you’re on the island of Penang, you should also check out the local street food. You’ll find some of the most exciting street food in the world here so it’s an absolute must while you’re in the area. The ray fish curry is a particular favourite in the area and you probably won’t find it anywhere else in the world. If you are into architecture and culture, you might want to visit something a little more traditional. The Kek Lok Si temple in Penang is one of the largest Buddhist temple complexes in SE Asia with some stunning pagoda temples and beautifully maintained gardens. If you want a taste of traditional Asian culture, this is the best place to find it.animals orangutan mammal fauna great ape primate wildlife terrestrial animal tree common chimpanzee organism jungle forest rainforest new world monkey

Borneo

If you want to see some incredible wildlife, you absolutely have to visit the island of Borneo while you’re in Malaysia. The idyllic beaches on Sipadan Island are home to some incredible Hawksbill Turtles. They’ll swim through the crystal clear water right up to the beaches so you can get up close and personal with them. You can take to the waters with some scuba gear and see all sorts of other amazing wildlife as well. Under the sea, you’ll find over 3000 species of tropical fish including manta rays, barracuda and even some sharks.

The best way to get into the heart of the Borneo jungle is to take a boat trip up the Kinabatangan River. As you move toward the centre of the island, into the thick jungle, you’ll catch a glimpse of elephants and orangutans swinging in the trees. Just watch out for the crocodiles and large lizards along the banks. Look upward and you’ll find some incredible unique birds like the Kingfisher. You can stay in one of the luxury lodges nestled in the heart of the jungle and take a night tour to see another side of this mysterious and awe-inspiring landscape.

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If you really want the best view of this amazing island, you need to climb to the top of Mount Kinabalu. This huge 4000 m mountain is a UNESCO world heritage site which is popular with tourists in the area. It’s a very accessible climb with a lot of well-maintained paths so you don’t need to be an expert to make it on top. Some people like to do the climb in one day but most people tend to stay in the Laban Rata, a luxury hut around two thirds of the way up. There are some great hot springs nearby where you can relax for the evening before climbing to the summit the next morning. The wildlife on Mount Kinabalu doesn’t disappoint either. There are over 5000 different species of plants here as well as orangutans and over 300 species of birds so, even though it’s important that you watch your footing as you climb, make sure to look around and take it all in on your way up. When you finally reach the top, you’ll have a beautiful view of the entire region. If it’s a particularly clear day, you can sometimes even see all the way to the Philippines.

Have you been to Malaysia? Have you seen Kuala Lumpur, or perhaps Borneo? Got some tips to share with us? Write down in a comment!

(collaborative post)

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Hotel review: Jeeva Santai Villas (Lombok, Indonesia)

After spending 4 amazing nights in Jeeva Beloam beach camp, we were excited to visit another member of “Jeeva” family in Lombok – Jeeva Santai villas in Mangsit. To be honest, I was hesitating with my reservation until the very last moment, deciding also between Qunci villas, Puri Mas resort, Katamaran hotel or Jeeva Klui villas, but my gut told me to go with Jeeva Santai. After the terrible Lombok earthquake some of these resorts were badly damaged, however Jeeva Santai villas managed to stay intact and safe. So once again I got a confirmation that I have to listen to my inner voice more often 😊 I pre-booked the villa online and you can get 15€ off your next booking by using this link (you are welcome 😉 )

 

Location

Jeeva Santai villas property is located in the beginning of Mangsit town, just a short motorbike or taxi drive away from tourist center Senggigi. Taxi drive will only cost you 1$ so really no big deal even if you want to go there twice a day. Mangsit is much more quiet compared to Senggigi (this also means not a lot of shops and restarurants nearby), so if you prefer privacy this is the place to be. The ride from Lombok airport takes around 90 minutes, and the resort offers one way complimentary transport. The location itself really depends on what you want – it is close to Gilis and some beautiful beaches like Nipah and Setangi, however if you want to explore the central Lombok, you will probably want to check locations closer to the capital Mataram. But you will need a vehicle for that anyway… 

The Villas

OH. MY. GOD. The villas already looked amazing in the photos but in live they were fantastic. Jeeva Santai resort hosts 14 villas with pools, hidden discretely behind the walls, offering you a complete privacy. So let’s get nakeeeeed!

The villas are very spacious, with separate bedroom, bathroom and some kind of “rest area” where you can have some dinner or observe your wife/girlfriend releasing her inner child and making handstands in the pool. Speaking of children, this is adults only property – please respect this rule, as it can be very awkward for everybody if you show up with “oh, just a small kid”. Adults only means adults only for a reason. Apart from the bathroom there is also an outdoor shower, which is very convenient if you want to rest in your private “pool bed” outside.

Restaurant – breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner

The beachfront restaurant Sunset Terrace at Pearl’s is located in 2 floors and it offers spectacular views to the islands of Bali. Breakfast is served as “all you can eat” from a la carte menue (with yummy fresh choices of juices and smoothies), and it is really energizing to start your day looking at the ocean, enjoying the eggs of your favorite style. In the afternoon they serve complimentary tea and coffee, and they also add some fresh fruits or cookies aside. Thank you, Bruno Mars (the waiter), for a lovely company!

The beach and the pool

With private pools, who needs to get wet outside, right? Well, almost. I still like to get salty in the ocean. The beach is not as fantastic as it was in Jeeva Beloam, but it is sandy and very clean. To be honest, this was my main concern when watching the pictures, but in the end it turned out to be better than I expected. The 25 m infinity pool is quite large, with enough sunbeds and natural shade to rest in. And, if you are lucky, you can get a fantastic view of Mt Agung (Bali volcano), taking a bath in orange-red colors of the Indian ocean at the sunset. Mostly the skies are cloudy in the afternoon, so I felt like I had hit the jackpot one more time.

Anda’s rate: 9,5 from 10

Bottom line: Staying in Jeeva Santai Villas is something I will never forget. The architecture is amazing, and obviously the construction is solid enough to survive several earthquakes. The staff is too kind and everything was perfect. The only thing I would change is the glass door in the toilet – come on, who wants to share his intimate moments with his or her significant other, right? 😉

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5 things to see in Lombok

Want to visit Bali but you are afraid you will end up on a crowded beach or taking a selfie in a rice field full of tourists? Then consider visiting less commercialized Lombok instead. It is just 2 hours’ ferry ride away from Bali. Or just fly in directly from Singapore, Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. Lombok can offer you stunning beaches, very clean seas, lush green inland, lively waterfalls, friendly monkeys and an impressive Mt Rinjani – an active volcano with breathtaking views of the lake inside its crater. We visited Lombok in September, only a month after the terrible earthquakes, so a lot of places we wanted to see were closed or had limited access. Which was actually just fine because we only had 9 days to enjoy the island, and we didn’t want to spend them running around like mad, wanting to become famous on Instagram. So, if you want to combine easy going beach vacation with some short trips to make your vacation memorable, here are 5 things to see in Lombok (limited to the South and West part of the island).Image may contain: sky, ocean, mountain, outdoor and nature

South Lombok: Kuta, Pink Beach and Tanjug Ringgit

Our plan for the first few days was to rest and make a few short motorbike trips across Ekas peninsula. We rented a motorbike from Jeeva Beloam camp staff and drove to see the famous Pink beach, which is actually not so pink anymore (the locals told us that red corals, which reflect the pink color, are slowly disappearing). While the place itself is well worth visiting, especially the view from the near viewpoint is fantastic, keep in mind that the road is really rough, so be ready for quite a journey. There are also some snorkeling opportunities among the coral reefs, but not nearly as good as in Gili islands (which we didn’t visit, as they were closed). Just a few minutes’ drive away you can see the cliffs of Tanjung Ringgit – rough ocean waves hitting the cliffs in the 50 shades of blue.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time nor the strength (my bf hurt his knee badly, playing hero among the giant waves of Timor sea) to visit Kuta, which is supposed to be the pearl of the south Lombok. But from what I heard this area has become the second tourist hotspot on Lombok and we are really not interested in massive tourism (although Lombok Kuta is still NOTHING compared to the overcrowded Kuta in Bali). There are however some dream beaches around Kuta area, which are worth visiting: Mawun beach, Selong Belanak and Tajnung Aan.

West Lombok: Senggigi, Mangsit and Nipah beach

Senggigi with its long sandy beach, covered with hotels, bars, restaurants and tour operators, is the center of Lombok tourism. If you like day and night hustle and bustle, this is the place to be. For us it was actually the only way to get some decent food because in Mangsit (where we stayed at Jeeva Santai villas) nothing was open. A taxi from Mangsit to Senggigi costed only 1$, but we decided to rent a motorbike to be even more flexible. We kept returning to Senggigi every day for dining and fantastic massages for less than 5$ at Orchid day’s spa! Plus, we found awesome cappuccino and fresh bread (which is impossible to get anywhere else) at Temptations café and bakery.

 

North of Senggigi you will find a very nice coastal road, with viewpoints at Malimbu Hills. It offers a spectacular view over Malimbu and Nipah Beach, as well as the famous Gili islands. By following the road up north, you can actually get to the place where the public boats drive to the Gilis. The area was unfortunately badly damaged during the earthquake but it is already showing signs of recovery. Most people there depend on tourism so they have no other choice but to recover fast.

Central Lombok: Tetebatu village, waterfalls and rice plantations 

If you want to feel the true green Lombok (especially in the dry season), you need to take the road from the capital Mangsit to the inner part of the island. Set amongst invigorating green rice fields and lush forests that stretch as far as your eyes can see, Tetebatu village is a nice change of pace. The village is somehow similar to Ubud in neighboring Bali – being a great place to learn more about the Sasak culture (Lombok’s first inhabitants), witness some traditional handicraft techniques and buy some souvenirs. If you want to be even more in touch with nature, you can stay at Sama Sama eco bungalows, which we discovered by accident (check them out via this link to get 15€ off your next booking). They seemed very cozy, we had some great lunch there and they even took us to see Jeruk Manis waterfall, about 20-minute walk away from the camp. Just enough to stretch your legs and get wet, wet, wet!

Pusuk Monkey Forrest

Following the road along Mt Rinjani national park to the North East Lombok for about 40 km, you will find the so called Pusuk monkey forest. It is named, obviously, after numerous friendly monkeys that wait for the tourists along the road, hoping to get some food. Hop off your motorbike and feel free to give them some banana.  And don’t get scared if they start walking towards you – they just might shake your hand, which is truly a unique experience.

Capital Mataram, markets and shopping

The capital of Lombok and Nusa Tenggara Barat province is also the island’s biggest city with the population of around 420.000. Mataram is located in the Western area of Lombok, very close to Senggigi, so you will probably have the chance to visit the city and feel the touch of “urban” Lombok. But don’t expect from Mataram to be a typical capital with a city center, museums and other tourist shit. From churches and temples, you will be impressed by beautiful minarets of the Islamic Center Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Lombok (only Muslims can go inside though). Quite impressive is also Hindu temple Pura Meru – the largest temple in Mataram, built in 1720. Keep in mind that Mataram is 80% Muslims so if you do the “city tour” dress appropriately (especially women). If you want to buy stuff like clothes or souvenirs, visit Pasar Cakranegara market, while veggies will enjoy rich fruit & vegetable markets, which can be found on every corner. Those big fat mangos, coconuts and pineapples… oh my, Lombok, I am definitely coming back!

You can check my Lombok photos in my Facebook album. Are you thinking of visiting the island and have some more questions? Have you been there already? What were your favorite things to see in Lombok? Let me know in a comment below!

 

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Indonesia is much more than just beautiful beaches

“Oh, you’re going to Indonesia? I’d love to visit Bali, Lombok and the Gilis; they look amazing!” When people find out you’re heading deep into the Pacific, they’ll assume you’re going to one of the “holiday islands”. Sure, Bali, Lombok and the Gilis are excellent places to visit and travel – there’s nothing quite like lying on the beach all day and drinking in the nearby shacks all night. However, Indonesia is so much more and it has plenty to offer regarding exclusivity. In fact, there might not be a nation on the planet which has as many experiences that are only found in one place. So, if there is at least one shred of adventurous spirit in you, check out what you could be doing next:

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Volcano Surfing

No, you won’t actually get on a board and surf down the volcanic rock; although it might be possible depending on the tour operator! What Indonesia has, particularly on the island of Java, is an array of active volcanoes. There are too many to name, but the main ones are Ijen, Batur, Bromo and Rinjani and they all have something special to offer. Ijen, for example, spits out lava which ignites with the sulphur in the air and creates a blue flame at night.

Because of this, it makes sense to see as many as possible. After all, it’s not too often you’re in the Pacific Rim on the Ring of Fire. Whether you’re deep down in the crater or on the top of a mountain watching the sunrise, it is truly a unique experience. Just don’t forget to take a gas mask because you’ll never get the taste of sulphur out of your lungs otherwise. And, it ain’t a pretty smell 😉

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Komodo Dragons

“Ancient species inherited this planet long before us and they’ll be here long after.” Yes, this is one of the standout lines of the movie Kong: Skull Island, but it’s also a nod to Komodo, an island in eastern Indonesia. Here, you’ll find the remainder of a lost generation as the Komodo dragons laze around in the heat, only bursting into life to hunt. These ancient lizards live side-by-side humans in Komodo national park, and that provides “instafamous” opportunities for tourists. Just be careful to watch your back at all times. Unlike most reptiles, the dragons weigh up to 90kg and hit top speeds of 20km/h! Plus, they have razor sharp claws for pawing their prey and their teeth are capped with deadly bacteria. Still, don’t let it put you off because the reports of incidents are very rare. It’s not like you’re going into Jurassic Park or anything, even though in a way, you are 😉

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Orangutan Spotting

Other special inhabitants, found only in the wilderness of Indonesia are Orangutans. Famous for being the closest things to humans on the planet, they have been studied for decades and we’re starting to get a better picture of their habits. Plus, admit that they’re cute in their orange coats! If you want to see them in their natural habitat, you need to travel to the islands of Sumatra or Borneo. Because they’re endangered you’ll need a pass to enter the parks and a guide to make sure there’s no funny business. All in all, the cost can be a little steep but a place such as Tanjung Puting is the only area you can see them in the wild. Imagine being able to say you’ve seen dragons and our human cousins in one trip 😉

Cheap Property

This one is a bit “off the beaten track” but the thought of living amongst beautiful wildlife and active volcanoes just might give you itchy feet. It crossed my mind a few times too! Well, the great news is property is very affordable even in the most “reputable” towns and cities on the islands. Take Jakarta, the capital. Some houses and apartments are as little as € 50 p/m to rent – check it out in this link: https://www.rumah.com/rumah-dijual/di-area-duta-garden-idbt06028Indonesia is a collection of islands. From Java to Sumatra and Kalimantan, there is a wide range of choice for properties which only slashes house prices. Also, there’s a good variety in terms of location – from big, sprawling cities to jungle towns and villages. 

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Borobudur Temple

It sounds like a character out of the Lord of the Rings, yet it’s the biggest Buddhist temple on the earth. The chances are you’re sick of seeing temples after a stint in Southeast Asia; however, this one in Java is well worth a visit. For something same-same but different, you should head to nearby Yogyakarta City. The temples are built on top of one another and that gives them a sheer and dramatic look. Buddhism is one of the three main religions of Indonesia so when in Rome, I guess.

Out of the five above, which one gets your motor running the most? Scroll down and leave your comment!

(collaborative post)

 

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Lombok – od pekla do raja

Konec julija je območje indonezijske province Zahodna Nusa Tenggara doletel močan potres, ki je skoraj popolnoma uničil severni del otoka Lombok. Nekaj dni zatem je nov potres, z epicentrom v neposredni bližini otoka, pod sabo pokopal več kot 500 ljudi. Več kot 2000 popotresnih sunkov, zemeljski plazovi in dim okoli lomboškega ognjenika Rinjani niso bili ravno najboljša popotnica za težko pričakovani dopust, od katerega naju je ločil le še slab mesec dni. Spletne strani indonezijskega Ministrstva za zunanje zadeve so odsvetovale vsa potovanja, razen nujnih, popotniški forumi pa so hlepeli po pomoči: »Ne odpovedujte vaših rezervacij, stanje se umirja. Lombok vas potrebuje.« In sva šla. Sveže cepljena, s potovalno lekarno in nekaj odvečnimi oblačili, ki sva jih nameravala pustiti otoškim prebivalcem.

 

Na letališču naju pričaka šofer, ki nama ga je vnaprej priskrbelo hotelsko osebje. Pred nami je dobrih 90 minut vožnje, ki jo izkoristim za pridobivanje čim več informacij. Na moje vprašanje, ali se tla še vedno tresejo, odgovori: »Da, seveda, vsak dan.« Taktike pogovora z gosti ga očitno niso naučili, si mislim pri sebi. Da bi malce razvedrila ozračje, ga vprašam, ali že dolgo dela za hotel, v katerega naju pelje. »Ja, že pet let. Razen prejšnjih 14 dni, ko sem imel dopust in sem šel domov pomagat. Naša hiša je popolnoma porušena«, odvrne. Pogledam skozi okno in v daljavi uzrem vrh ognjenika, ki se dviguje nad meglico oblakov: »Kaj pa gora Rinjani, je še aktivna?« Šofer se prijazno nasmehne: »Je. Nazadnje se je zbudila pred slabimi desetimi leti, ampak ni bilo hujšega. Če pride do večjega izbruha, Lomboka tako in tako ne bo več.« Dovolj bo, si rečem. Poskusi raje zaspati.

Neprijetni občutki in razmišljanje o tem, kako drugačno bi lahko bilo moje življenje, če se ne bi rodila v Sloveniji, kar malce prehitro zbledijo ob pogledu na lične lesene bungalove in plažo, ki bo najino zatočišče v naslednjih dneh. Igra valov v neskončni modrini oceana, nebo brez oblačka in lesketanje sonca v snežno belem pesku me v trenutku napolnijo z energijo, ki jo kasneje zaznam tudi v prebivalcih Lomboka: vse je tako, kot mora biti. In vse bo v redu.

Vzhodno od Balija
Lombok se nahaja vzhodno od turistično bolj znanega otoka Bali. Kljub temu, da ponuja vse naravne lepote, s katerimi se baha njegov bolj popularni sosed, pa se ga je masovni turizem k sreči šele komaj rahlo dotaknil. Še najbolj je Lombok poznan po tako imenovanih Gilijih, manjših otokih, ki ležijo na njegovem severozahodu in so pogosta izletniška točka potapljačev in turistov z Balija. Gili Meno, Trawagan in Air predstavljajo indonezijsko verzijo Maldivov, a so zaradi bližine Balija (od njega so oddaljeni zgolj 40 kilometrov ali uro in pol vožnje z ladjo) in cenovne dostopnosti precej bolj oblegani.

Sanjske plaže trenutno samevajo
Če niste ljubitelj gneče, zabav in masovnega turizma, lahko avanturo čakanja v vrstah za trajekte mirno preskočite, saj Lombok ponuja ogromno čudovitih plaž za vse okuse. Medtem ko na južnem delu otoka vabijo neskončne bele sipine, je vulkanski pesek na severnem delu bolj temne barve. Med najbolj znanimi lomboškimi plažami, ob kateri se pogosto zasidrajo tudi mimoidoče turistične ladje, je tako imenovana Pink beach – plaža, katere pesek se zaradi številnih rdečkastih koral pod določenim kotom sončnih žarkov lesketa v roza odtenkih. In prav vse plaže, celo tiste, ki se običajno med vikendi napolnijo z domačini, so v času najinega obiska samevale. Tudi najina, ob kateri sva se ob prihodu ustalila. Ne samo plaže – celoten zaliv, ki ga je trendovska ameriška revija Harpe’s Bazaar razglasila za enega najlepših na svetu, sva imela v času najinega dopusta samo zase. Ob vseh naravnih lepotah in prijaznem osebju, ki nama je bilo neizmerno hvaležno, da najine rezervacije nisva odpovedala, sva komaj kdaj pomislila na pravi vzrok tega edinstvenega razkošja.

Najbolj prizadet je severni del
Lombok geografsko gledano sicer ni prav velik (po zračni liniji meri okoli 80 krat 110 kilometrov), a se je zaradi izredno slabih cest, številnih vasic in strogih hitrostnih omejitev, po otoku precej težko prebijati. Z najetim motorčkom sva vsak dan naredila okoli 80 kilometrov in če sva se želela vrniti v hotel pred mrakom, sva morala kar pohiteti. Zaradi žalostnih prizorov in uničenja po potresu, ki je dobesedno zradiral celotne vasi na severu, sva obisk tega dela otoka, ki je sicer najbolj zelen, zaključila mnogo prej, kot sva načrtovala. Porušene hiše, mošeje in trgovine, sredi njih pa improvizirani šotori, ki prebivalcem nudijo začasen dom, potlačijo še tako močno željo po raziskovanju okolice. A je hkrati vseeno zaznati, da se v vasi počasi vrača življenje in da ljudje nikakor niso obupali. Vsi nekaj počnejo, obnavljajo ali se ukvarjajo z živino, šolska dvorišča so polna otrok in na transparentih, ki vabijo na obisk sosednjih otočkov Gili, piše »Ponovno odprto«.

  

Krave med kokosovimi palmami in zelenimi riževimi nasadi
Upanje na hitro okrevanje severa daje tudi živahno poljedelstvo, ki je glavni vir prihodka za dobre tri milijone in pol Lombočanov. Ob cesti je moč kupiti različne vrste sadja in zelenjave, med katerimi prednjačijo slastni agrumi in kokos. Lombok je namreč znan po kokosovih palmah, ki idilično zaokrožujejo pogled na dolge peščene plaže z bližnjih hribov. Med lepo urejenimi nasadi, ki jih potres k sreči ni prizadel, se pasejo krave in ostala živina z rogovi, slika pa je podobna tudi v notranjosti otoka, kjer se razprostirajo kičasto zelena riževa polja. Obilna vegetacija, ki je posledica dobre zemlje in relativno vlažnega severnega dela otoka, je za številne lomboške družine tudi edina rešilna bilka – medtem ko štirje člani lahko preživijo s pol dolarja na dan (sadje, zelenjava in riž so na lokalnih tržnicah resnično poceni), si za dodaten zaslužek pomagajo z ribolovom in iznajdljivostjo s turisti. Na vsakem koraku ti namreč nekdo poskuša prodati nakit iz pravih indonezijskih biserov ali lično olupljen kos ananasa, ki se mu res ne moreš upreti. Še posebej ne zdaj, ko veš, da jim vsak dolar pride še kako prav. 

Gurmanski užitki in masaže za nekaj evrov
Tudi sicer je Lombok pravi balzam za denarnice turistov. Medtem ko na obali ne manjka luksuznih vil z zasebnimi bazeni (le-te so popularne predvsem med turisti iz Srednjega Vzhoda, ki želijo večjo diskretnost), pa lahko spodobno namestitev dobite že za manj kot 20 evrov na noč. Tradicionalna indonezijska hrana, ki je nekakšna mešanica tajske, vietnamske in indijske, z veliko riža, piščančjega mesa in morskih sadežev, je naravnost božanska. In, kar se še bolje sliši, neverjetno poceni. Za glavno jed sva v povprečju odštela okoli tri evre, skupaj s predjedjo in pijačo pa naju je kosilo stalo okoli 10 evrov. Verjetno so nizke cene in slastna hrana v restavracijah tudi razlog, da imajo trgovine precej okrnjeno ponudbo živil (svež kruh, ali pa celo navaden toast, je tudi v turističnih središčih praktično nemogoče dobiti), saj se turistom skoraj ne splača pripravljati obrokov »doma«. Izjemno poceni so tudi masaže (60-minutna stane okoli 4 evre), kaj dosti pa ne zaostaja niti lokalni taksi prevoz ali najem motorja – z vključenim zavarovanjem in čeladama naju je dnevni najem stal manj kot 5 evrov.

Ognjeni obroč nikoli ne spi
Kljub sanjskim plažam, živahnim slapovom in slikovitim treking potem, med katerimi je najbolj zahtevna, a tudi najbolj privlačna tista, ki vodi do vrha ognjenika Rinjani (sredi kraterja je namreč čudovito jezero, v katerem se lahko pohodniki tudi okopajo), pa ne moremo mimo dejstva, da celotna Indonezija leži na tako imenovanem ognjenem obroču. To pomeni, da se lahko tla stresejo kadarkoli, posledice pa so žal prepogosto uničujoče. Domačini s tem zavedanjem živijo vsak dan in morda se tudi zato lažje in hitreje prilagodijo spremembam. Za nas, obiskovalce, je vsekakor lažje. Turistični objekti so v mnogo boljšem stanju kot lokalne hiške v vaseh, poleg tega pa ob morebitnem izbruhu ognjenika ne bomo izgubili vsega, kar smo v življenju prihranili in dosegli. Naj se sliši še tako kruto, a s to mislijo sem zaključila najin letošnji dopust. Lombok me je namreč začaral in glede na to, da Indonezija ponuja več kot 16.000 otokov, se bom tja zagotovo še vrnila.

Nekaj popotniških informacij za potovanje na Lombok:

  • Več fotografij z Lomboka lahko najdete v mojem Facebook albumu (vabljeni k všečkanju moje strani, kjer boste vedno na tekočem z mojimi avanturami)
  • Najugodnejšo ponudbo prenočišč lahko najdete na booking.com, preko tega linka pa boste dobili 15 € dobropisa za vašo naslednjo rezervacijo.
  • Za bivanje v Indoneziji, ki je krajše od 30 dni, potrebujete potni list in povratno letalsko karto.
  • Do Lomboka lahko pridete bodisi z letalom (otok ima direktne povezave s Singapurjem, Džakarto in Kuala Lumpurjem), bodisi s trajekti oz. hitrimi čolni z Balija.
  • Najbolj popularni turistični središči sta Senggigi, kjer so nekateri hoteli zaradi potresa trenutno zaprti in pa Kuta, kjer ni bilo nobenih posledic in življenje poteka normalno.
  • Večina prebivalcev je muslimanske vere, zato je priporočljivo, da se ženske po mestih ne sprehajajo pomanjkljivo oblečene. Nošenje bikinija pa je na večini plaž normalen pojav.
  • Glavno mesto Mataram se ponaša z ogromno tržnico, kjer je moč kupiti vse vrste sadja in zelenjave po res ugodnih cenah.
  • Najbolj pogosto prevozno sredstvo so skuterji in motorji, vendar pozor: Indonezijci vozijo po desni.
  • Za liter goriva boste odšteli okoli 60 centov.

Članek je bil objavljen tudi v prilogi Ona, ki je izšla dne 23.10.2018.

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Beyond the Kangaroos – Australian East coast

When people think of Australia they often think of cuddly kangaroos and also of its scarier residents, like snakes and spiders that reside in the outback. On the other hand, the vibrant destinations along the vast Australian East coast are attracting more and more travellers and expats each year. Aside from the beautiful sunny weather, the East coast of Oz has plenty to offer in the way of shopping, culture, history, entertainment and a thriving food scene to satiate every belly. Therefore, if you’re thinking of heading Down Under and exploring more than just the kangaroos’ backyard (although, these are a must too), it’s worth heading to some of the top places along the coastline, and enjoying what they have to offer.

Cairns

Right near the top of the map, you’ll find the beautiful Cairns, which is usually considered to be the gateway to Australia’s magical Great Barrier Reef. If you’re planning to travel to this area of the country, it’s definitely worth checking out sites like https://www.reeffree.com.au/great-barrier-reef-tours/from/cairns/ so that you can plan a tour. Utilising a professional tour company will help to ensure that you have an adventure to remember, and it’ll be safe, fun, and full of memories to take back home. There’s also the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park to enjoy; where you can learn about the indigenous people with music and dance. And, of course, you’ll benefit from everything a city has to offer in regards to restaurants. Oh, and there’s beaches to relax on too.

 

Brisbane

Travellers have described the city in Queensland as a clean and tidy haven, and they’re not wrong; the modern architecture glistens and shines next to the water’s edge, and there is a contemporary feel throughout the popular location. It’s not just the architecture that oozes modernity; there is a growing contemporary art scene, and some notable interactive exhibitions in its Museum and Sciencentre aren’t to be missed as well. The Queensland Modern Art Gallery also resides in the sunny city, ensuring that culture vultures are satisfied and will leave full of knowledge and new experiences to tick off their list.

Australia Map

Sydney

Sydney is a tourist destination with a reputation for its beautiful beaches, opera house, bridge, and harbour all around the world. And, while you’ll probably want to check some of those landmarks off your list (three of which you can do pretty much at the same time); there’s more to the sunny city than iconic locations. You’ll find a contrasting scene of the modern, designer shopping centres, with smaller, creative suburbs nearby. Head to the city centre and CBD if you’re after the latest in designer fashion or tech; you can also head up the Sydney tower and eat in the revolving restaurant to catch that litearlly unparalleled view.

Melbourne

The coastal capital of Victoria is a vibrant mix of modern development, original Victorian buildings, and a thriving, creative arts and cafe culture. This established city attracts travellers each year, and many choose to stay in the city to soak up the lifestyle, find work, and embrace all that Melbourne has to offer. More than just the place where Neighbours is filmed, Melbourne celebrates Australian talent, and actors, singers, and artist alike head to the city to make the most of the performing arts culture, auditions, and opportunities.

Have you visited any of these cities in Australian East coast? Got something to add? Scroll down and write it in a comment!

(collaborative post)

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