Island Hopping ~ Lombok, Gili Meno, Gili Air

Considering we had almost a month to spend in Bali, we wanted to divide our time in other areas of Indonesia since it was so convenient. There are either fast boats or regularly ferries that leave pretty much every hour from Padang Bai to Lombok. 

We were over an hour away from where our guesthouse was in Jimbaran to the ferry port so we decided to order a Grab taxi. The taxi was super easy and about a third of the price of what we would have paid for in a regular taxi. If you don’t have the Grab app or you need to take a taxi in Bali (because some areas are not covered by Grab) then make sure to choose a Bluebird Taxi that has its website on the car window. The ones without the website I’ve heard do not have meters, so you will most definitely get extra ripped off. We also ordered our Grab to pick us up at the nearby bus station (Benoa Square) that had a cafe so we could eat some food before our journey.

Our driver pulled us up close to the ferry entrance, but still kept his distance from entering and I am pretty sure he did this because there is a taxi mafia that is trying to demolish the Grab taxi business because it has been taking away a ton of customers from them. As soon as we pulled up a group of men sitting on motorbikes started hollering when they saw me in the window- tourist girl probably needs a really expensive ticket for the ferry or a package deal- they probably thought to themselves. When we got out of the car we just said, “no, thank you” as usual, but they were very persistent.

Eventually, we made our way inside the waiting area/ticket building and bought our ticket to Lombok for 40,000 Rupiah (standard price). We took the slow ferry because it was cheaper and we were not worried about time.

The slow ferry is said to take anywhere between 4 to 5 hours, but we definitely leaned on the later side, maybe even past 5 hours. This was because once we neared the port on Lombok there was a line to pull up into the docks, so we had to wait until the other boats unloaded and moved out of our way.

When we reached land we had no plan on how to get to our bungalows and we figured we would just wing-it like usual. We had several aggressive taxi drivers try and get us to pay obsurd amounts to get to our bungalow. One of them didn’t like how Enzo responded and became very vulgar and even spat on the ground near our feet because we didn’t want to drive with him and waste all of our cash. We tried to find wifi to maybe order a Grab or Uber, but the wifi wasn’t available near the port and we were pretty tired from our long journey. A nicer taxi driver was able to negotiate with us a fairer price to our bungalow and so we hopped into his beat-up van and headed off to our place.

We stayed at Batulayar Bungalows and our room was upgraded due to some renovations and a lack of guests. The bungalows had the bare necessities, but it was enough (fan, cold shower, toilet, sink, bed). The best part of our stay was the people that worked there and made the atmosphere almost like home. The owner welcomed us as soon as we pulled in and since it was past dinner time he was helpful enough to recommend to restaurants close by. 

We ended up walking down the street to this restaurant called Cowshed. It has open air dining and was like a country pub with burgers and steaks. We thought, why not because it was the only place close by that was still open. It was absolutely delicious! We ended up needing to stay longer because it started to down pour and the wind was so intense it was blowing the rain inside as well as knocking out the power here and there. As we waited for the rain to hopefully pass or lighten up, a man came over with a bottle of wine he had already poured a glass out of and offered it to Enzo and I. I awkwardly declined and looked to see if Enzo wanted it and he gave me that look like… it’s a free bottle of wine and we’re just sitting here so why not. So, I politely accepted the bottle and thanked him for the random hospitality. The wine wasn’t that great, but we haven’t had anything to drink in about a month so it was pretty good at the moment. 

The man then turned to us to ask how the wine was which then striked up a conversation that must have lasted almost two hours. Oddly, he was from a small town in Italy where Enzo’s family lives close by and so they were able to relate to a lot of places and share stories with each other. The man, whom I forget his name now, ended up telling us his incredible history of working as a partical theorist and how he’s been sailing around 18 years now and is coming to an end with traveling by water. Enzo found this topic as a chance to mention how badly he’s been wanting to sail the world. Before we left for the night, Enzo and the guy exchanged emails and he was pleased to offer the chance to sail in the future and so they could keep in touch! 

The rain had stopped and we said goodnight to the guy and his girlfriend. We walked back to our bungalow to sleep. The next day, we rented a motorbike and drove to a nearby resort for breakfast and, unexpectedly, hungout by the pool for the rest of the day.

Once again, we were held inside until the crazy rain storm passed. Lombok during the fall season, especially, is rainy every day.

When the rain surpassed we took the motorbike for a drive around part of the coast of Lombok. The roads were gorgeous and the scenery as beautiful. Little food stands lined areas of the road so people could stop for a bite to eat while looking out at the ocean. 

The next morning we were going to take another little boat over to Gili Meno which is one of 3 tiny islands off of Lombok. Before we left we were served some pancakes at our bungalow and that is were we got to bond with two amazing guys that worked there. One of them had a guitar and Enzo use to play a lot more and even I use to sing along back in the day. Enzo asked to play some throwbacks that we use to do covers of and we performed for them. Enzo ended up teaching one of them how to read chords online so he could teach himself new songs easily. The other guy, named Adi, told us a little bit about his life and family. We found out he is a husband and father and is working to support his family and he has many talents. One of them being making jewlery!

 I’ve recently been collecting shells from different beaches to make my own jewlery to sell on Etsy and we were able to bond over that as he laid out some of the recent necklaces and bracelets he has made. I bought a few, but then we made a deal as honest friends who want to help each other that I would help him sell his jewlery. He gave me his entire stash that he’s spent many days on end scavenging in the ocean and carving with his hands the shells and pieces of coconut that make up these beautiful masterpieces. In return, I would be giving him all of the money made from the sale of his necklaces. In the future we hope to work together as he finds shells and coconut for me in Lombok and I complete them in the USA. Look out for handmade jewlery by Adi from Lombok on my Etsy account: Kayla Scheffler. 

It was already past noon and we still needed to take a boat over to Gili Meno so we said goodbye to our new friends until next time. The boat over to Meno was a bit of a struggle to hop on to, but it was a nice ride over as the sun was beginning to set.

We arrived just in time to check into our bungalow called Lombok Garden Bungalows. We dropped our things off and went to the closest restaurant (everything is in walking distance on these islands). We saw the sun set as we ate a delicious plate of spaghetti.

A few things about our bungalow that we didn’t like was that the shower was cold (not that big of a deal), but it wreaked of sulfur and just pure rotten egg smell; we couldn’t even take showers and didn’t bother using the sink to brush our teeth. Although we felt disgusting, the room had AC and a mosquito net and breakfast was included every morning. 

After breakfast at our bungalow, we spent the day walking around the island and popping by different beaches and collecting shells and snorkeling. The reef was beautiful, but it has lost a majority of its color and the shore is full of broken bleached coral; however, the sound is beautiful when the waves crash onto the shore and make the coral cling together like delicate chimes. 

We even found a swing set right on the beach where we sat for a while, had dinner and while we waited out a rain storm that was passing thru.

The next day we set off on another short boat ride over to Gili Air. There, we stayed at Andi’s Bungalows. We didn’t meet Andi, but we met his lovely sister and Ahmed, another manager, who was the happiest man I’ve ever met. It was a joy to stay there and we’d gladly stay again. All of the necessities were included such as a fan, bug net, cold shower, breakfast and the occasional sample of free food, but wifi only worked outside at the restaurant.

During our stay there we met many locals just by walking around the island. The first night Enzo and I were asked to join a game of Dominos and then we talked for a while with some men that were selling jewlery. 

Gili Air was much more enjoyable than Gili Meno, in my opinion. Meno is meant for a couple that’s on their honeymoon and just want a tropical vacation spot where you can drink and lay out on the beach. Air has a mixture of that, but also a more lively nightlife with music and cool bars with people of all ages. Gili T, which we never traveled to, is all about partying and is full of Australians, so it’s not meant for everyone.

On Gili Air we met up with a friend of Adam’s (the guy we were traveling with on our Cambodia and Vietnam adventures until he got into an accident that sent him home “What we didn’t expect…”). We walked around the entire island with him and planned to meet up later in this place called The Space Bar, but we showed up after he already left. I recommend going, you’ll see why when you get there.

The next day we spent by the beach and ended our night watching a movie at a restraunt near the water! The only negative thing was I came down with a case of what is commonly known as Bali Belly so I was out of commission for a full day trying to stay hydrated and keep cool without any AC. TMI? It’s ok, you’ll most likely get it if you spend a month in Bali too.

In all, I would recommend all three places, but to make sure to have enough time in Lombok (preferably not the rainy season) and to check out Mount Rinjani (volcano that is a 3 day trek). 

More posts to come my lovely people!

~M + H


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