Friday, 8 November 2013

Chasing waterfalls: Senggigi, Lombok

As you know, we left Ubud to head to Lombok. We'd been warned about expensive boats - you can get the slow, four hour local boat or a the quick, but pricier fast boat from Padangbai Harbour, taking around an hour. As it was low season, we got a cheaper fast boat return ticket that also included pick up from Gili and a bus from the mainland to Kuta (our choice, you can go anywhere). We'd been told these packages can cost an absolute fortune but were only quoted around 30 pounds in the end which is really good for a boat from Padangbai to Lombok, a boat from Gili back to the mainland and a two-three hour bus back to Kuta.

After witnessing the sheer beauty of the Gili Islands, we arrived in Lombok to a scruffy beach, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We had nothing booked and no idea where was even good to stay. We were told that in Lombok, the best place to go was Kuta (Lombok also has a Kuta) but that was 3 hour journey by car and yet another expense. As it was nearing the end of the SE Asia trip, everybody had limited money, so we decided going to Kuta purely for a beautiful beach was a bit of a waste when we were going to be spending a few days on beautiful beaches on Gili T. Senggigi (in Lombok) was much cheaper to get to and only 30-40 minutes in a taxi. We opted to head there and be taken to a tourist information place to enquire about places to stay and were surprisingly offered a really cheap deal - I forget how much exactly but it was a similar price to Jati 3 (Ubud) for a bungalow, breakfast included, with a pool and not far from the beach.

We arrived at our home for two days Senggigi Bukit and were pleasantly surprised by how nice the place was - lovely pool, really nice bungalows (smaller than Jati though and only accommodating 2 or 3 people, meaning two rooms for us) and a stunning view of the ocean, only a short walk away. The place itself was absolutely deserted though -  as expected in low season but it made us wonder with Senggigi was the place to be. We'd already been told by the guy at the travel place that Lombok was one of two things - a base for people wanting to explore Lombok for diving or for the waterfalls and beaches in the South or as a stopover for places like the Gili Islands.

The weather that afternoon was terrible - it rained solidly for hours and by the time the sun had come out, it meant we only had around an hour to enjoy the pool and remaining sun of the day. We went back to our rooms, had showers and naps before heading out to a Warung/guesthouse a short walk down the road (I forget the name but it was opposite the Indomart). The food was very cheap but absolutely delicious. They had live music on and the vibe was really nice. After spending some time there, we went down the road in search of car hire with the intention of driving ourselves to the waterfalls in the north the next day. We agreed on a cheap deal and to collect the car around 8.30am to channel our inner Mysterious Girl (a lot of Peter Andre lyrics were sung that day).

Up bright and early for our buffet breakfast (always a winner - unlimited food!), we picked up our car - a 7 seater people carrier - and set off. The roads were much more straight forward this time in comparison for our first car hire experience - all we needed to do was follow the beach road before turning off towards the top of the island. The trip took us about 2 hours in total and I braved it and drove along the winding ocean roads and through some of the small villages. Driving in SE Asia can be really daunting at times due to the amount of traffic, the weaving mopeds and the fact there seem to be no actual rules on the road. I did well and felt comfortable, which surprised me, despite being a confident driver at home. 

We had to pay a small fee to get to the waterfalls and were greeted by the usual locals trying to scam us with the guide but as we paid our entrance fee for the falls, we were given a low enough price to persuade us to have a guide and I'm actually thankful we did. To get to the second waterfall, the one you can swim in, you have to trek for about 40 minutes through the jungle and rivers, with lots of stones and fast streams. We did this in flipflops which were just about okay - I'd advise sturider shoes in the future. Luka and Katie wore their JuJu jellies and they seemed to be suitable.

The water was absolutely freezing and as we arrived at the breathtaking view of the waterfall, we stripped down to our bikinis, carefully climbed over the rocks and threw ourselves into the freezing cold water. With our guide as photographer, we bust out a few Mysterious Girl lyrics and struck a few poses before realising we were shivering and needed to get out. We dried off a little, traipsed back through the streams and rocks (which isn't as easy as I'm making it sound) and made our way to the first, smaller waterfall. This one wasn't impressive and I had a case of 'if you've seen one waterfall you've seen 'em all' so we didn't spend too long here. The route back from the first waterfall to the car was nothing short of hard work - thousands, and I mean thousands, of steep steps in the blaring heat were not what we wanted to endure but we made it with no fainting incidents. We had a quick drink before hopping in the car and heading back.

When we arrived back and dropped the car off, we walked along the road to our hotel and came across blaring music, crowds of people in the street and what looked like a parade. We asked a local what was going happening and were told that a couple had got married and that their fathers were meeting for the first time today, hence the music, crowds and celebrations. The special thing about that day, however, were that two couples had married and their fathers were meeting, both brides from Senggigi. It was great to see how marriage was celebrated and the cultural differences and traditions of Indonesia - and who doesn't love a party! We stuck around for a while, being ushered to join in by numerous locals but we admired from the sidelines.

Despite not making it to the beaches during our time in Lombok, it was nice to see the waterfalls and the countryside during our drive. And after all, tomorrow we were catching the boat over to Gili Trawangan (nicknamed Gili T, and the party island of the three), where paradise awaited us. I couldn't have been more excited!


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