Sorry I’ve been away for so long! Let’s just say we’ve been fasting for Ramadan and now we’re back in action post-Idul Fitri. So to rest up before fall madness, we took advantage of Labor Day weekend to jaunt over to Lombok and the Gili Islands. Lombok is just east of Bali and much less infiltrated with tourists. J spent the week prior taking less luxurious forms of transportation across the vast and vacuous island of Sumbawa to finally rendezvous with me at the Jeeva Klui Resort.
The resort is set on a private stretch of beach and my love for the Indian Ocean only continues to be reaffirmed. It’s no wonder that it is referred to as Ratnakara in ancient Sanskrit literature, which means “the maker of gems.” Jeeva Klui feels like a Robinson Crusoe and Restoration Hardware collabo. It’s not quite LEED certified but is built using local sustainable materials like handmade terracotta tiles, bamboo, stone, and recycled timber. It’s a stunning boutique resort without the indulgences of a giant five-star where you might find Jay-Z and Beyonce jet-skiing in matching Burberry bathing suits. The bungalows open onto generous terraces where you can drink on a divan and watch the sun drop like a radiating gem illuminating the volcanoes of Bali just across the way. But we weren’t here to just laze around the reef-protected lagoon and swim away the hours in endless aquamarine. We were here to dive!
So the next morning, after breakfast and a dip in the lagoon, we made our way to the Bangsal port so we could be swindled into overpaying for a ferry to take us 20 minutes to Gili Air island. As soon as you get to the port, a cidomo driver charges you $3 to take you to his friend who will make you pay $20 per person for a 20 minute ferry ride. Actually, $15 since we’re Asian and can speak Indonesian. But it should only be $5 if you’re smart and just go straight to the ticket booth on shore. But who can pass up a cute cidomo and a chance to barter with a guy who kept asking J for his shirt?
A cidomo is a brightly painted and fancifully adorned pony carriage that makes you feel like the High Princess of Munchkin Land on her way to have tea with Willy Wonka. You can also sometimes find these guys clopping around Jakarta.
This is the ferry we boarded with an old lady transporting her bed to the very spartan Gili Air island. You can walk the perimeter of Gili Air in 2 hours and needless to say, a Sealy Posturpedic is hard to come by.
OK–so let me now taunt you with pictures of PARRRRADIIIISE!
Fresh pineapple and papaya juice.
We didn’t have too much time to spare, so we checked in with Manta Dive and set up a dive for the next day. Dives are relatively cheap over here. A one tank dive including rental gear and equipment can be anywhere between $30 – $40/person as opposed to $60-$75 in Mexico or Hawaii. The next morning, we did a skills refresher in the pool since I could never bring myself to dive in the dark and bitter cold Monterey Bay. Later that afternoon, we finally plunged into the deep to explore the Meno Wall. It was a nice drift dive with gangs of fish like lionfish, angels, gobies, and puffers. We also spied a couple turtles just gliding along. Thanks to our friendly German diver friend Marco, we got these amusing pictures of us in the water!
And don’t you worry, friends. We didn’t forget to eat! To be continued . . .