We left Gili Air early in the morning and got a boat to mainland Lombok for our bus connection down south. The journey was ‘interesting’ to say the least…Our first van broke down half way through the journey which prompted half a dozen locals to approach us and demand obscene amounts of money to take us the rest of the journey, which we refused. Our driver sorted us a new bus and driver who said he’d take us the rest of the way for no extra charge. This turned out to be the local bus which picked up and dropped off a few locals on the way. The scenery on the drive was stunning; turquoise rivers, green paddy fields, beaches and mountains. However, our driver decided to stop in the middle of nowhere and demanded more money to take us to our destination. Things got a bit heated, and realising we had no other option, we agreed to give him a small amount extra to take us to our boat pick up point for Gili Asahan. The van then got a flat tyre in the next village, which the driver actually changed quite quickly – but we were starting to wonder if we would ever get there!
After 5 hours we finally arrived, for what we had been told would be a 3 hour journey max. We got a little boat across to Gili Asahan thinking ‘this better be worth that journey!’, and it definitely was. We were staying at one of the two resorts on the island, which consisted of a few bamboo huts and deluxe bungalows all situated in gardens looking over the beach.
Electricity was only available for a few hours a day, and there was no internet at all on the island. We only saw a few other tourists, and there were no cars, bars or shops – we felt a little bit marooned, in a good way! We spent the next 3 days walking around the island (which only took an hour and a half); snorkelling; playing chess; playing cards; reading and lazing in the hammock. It felt like a little holiday from our holiday!
Our journey across to Kuta from Gili Asahan was a lot less eventful than the previous one, however with the lack of internet on the island we hadn’t booked anywhere to stay in Kuta. Not knowing our way around, we decided just to go for a cheap, basic hut near where the taxi dropped us. Kuta was quite small, and completely geared towards surfing, which is how it came about as a tourist spot. Realising that the local beach was not one of the famous white sand Kuta beaches, we hired a scooter and went exploring. The beaches are amazing, and are a mix of swimming beaches with calm seas and beaches full of surfers.
We drove an hour west on our second day to a beach called Selong Blanak, which was pretty stunning despite the not so great weather. It was a really good spot for beginner surfers because the surf breaks were so close to the shore and the waves weren’t too big. We rented a board and took turns surfing. With dan helping push me onto the waves I finally managed to surf a full wave without falling which I was pretty happy with! That evening we went out for food at one of the warungs for some nasi goreng and went to the ‘Lombok Bus’, which served drinks and Mexican street food out of a red VW camper van – it was quite cool!
One of the sad things about Kuta was the amount of kids olds wandering the streets for hours on end trying to sell bracelets. They all spoke amazing English, and one of the kids even asked us to give him a quiz on European capitals which he was really good at!
We were a bit disappointed with Kuta when we first arrived, based on our first impressions. However, after exploring the surrounding beaches and surfing we found that we really liked it. With less than a week left on the trip, we left Kuta and the rain behind the next morning, and headed back to Bali.