Kuta Beach, Lombok, 4-7 Jan 2012

Our shuttle bus picked us up at about 10am to take us on the 2 hour ride to Kuta Beach on the southern tip of Lombok. We both had high hopes of Kuta, as the Lonely Planet described it as ‘stunningly gorgeous, with white sand bays that lick chiselled cliffs and rugged hills and world class surf,

We were dropped off in the local village and both Ammi and I were horrified at what we saw, it was dirty and squalid with scabby, poorly nourished scavenger dogs hunting for scraps of food. This could not be the same place..surely? Western-Super-Mare looked like a Maldivian coastline compared to this. We took a stroll in the searing heat with our backpacks for about 5 minutes before coming to the conclusion that we were walking further into the local villages and where they simply treated their surroundings like a sewer. We turned around and made a beeline for some places in the Lonely planet. We were walking for a good 10 minutes before the place resembled anything remotely hospitable. As we’ve become accustomed to, we dropped the bags whilst Chris took a walk down the main strip to look for some accommodation. After about forty minutes and walking about 2km checking out various places, Chris opted for a place he’d seen very early on in his search and conveniently near where AM was patiently waiting. We decided on Puri Renjani in a huge nice room with AC, clean and modern bathroom for 300,000 IRP a night.

The surroundings were still pretty basic and primitive with a handful of modest places to eat amongst cheap digs, all clearly geared towards a cheap surfing crowd. I must admit, this wasn’t what we we expecting to find. Considering the local population relies on the beaches & sea as a main source of income, they didn’t seem to be doing to much to preserve the natural beauty. Still, our accommodation was nice, so…

We opted to rent a scooter, as Chris realised from his extensive walk that there was a lot more to see along the coastline in various coves & bays, and too much to cover on foot. Also, there was a distinct lack of surfers, for a surfing Mecca, Chris found this weird. After a short drive we stumbled across the only 5 star resort, The Novotel. Chris used his best blagging and broking skills, & got us through the security into the complex and managed to get a couple of beach towels from the concierge. We set up a base on a couple of loungers on the beach facing the sea but the weather quickly became overcast. Still no sign of any surfers though?

After a couple of hours, we decided to jump back on the scooter and venture along the rest of the coastline. The scenery was now more beautiful in the isolated areas as the LP had suggested, but still anywhere where the locals lived in turned back into a filth infested pit. Both AM and Chris were angry that the locals would treat where they lived like this. We passed a makeshift football pitch with dozens of kids playing a game on the grassy area overlooking the ‘chiselled cliffs and rugged hills’, We were surprised they could make out the ball through all the plastic bottles, litter and other debris!

We then came to a bay called ‘Gerupuk’. It was apparent that this was the jumping off point for all the surfers, who would hire small boats to take them to the nearby bays to catch the waves. It all made sense, this is where everyone was! Again, Gerupuk was a bit of a mess, with no means for collecting rubbish – it was just left to fester on the side of the road. We continued to Kimon surf shop and decided that the following day we would take to the waves and learn how to surf. We booked ourselves up; we were being collected the next morning at 10am for a 4 hour lesson on the waves!

That evening we made our way to a local restaurant called Solah. It served cheap and tasty Indonesian food, & also had WIFI, which gave us an opportunity to keep in touch with the real world: Man Utd losing 3-0 to Newcastle, Spurs now in third place, 3 points behind second place Utd and with a game in hand- C’mon! We hit the hay not completely bowled over by Kuta, but hoped that some surfing in the morning would put that right!

After a great nights sleep in the huge comfy bed, we were collected by Mario and his fellow surfing colleagues who put us through our paces. After a very very brief summary and practice on the beach, we were off in a little boat that would drop us off in the middle off the coved bay to attack the waves with zest! Despite AM’s initial anticipation of seeing the waves, she threw herself into it, and it was pleasing to see. It was great fun, despite being exhausting on the arms. Both Ammi and I managed to catch the waves and stand up on our first couple of attempts, which was brilliant!! Ammi was told that she had a ‘good style’ and before long she was catching wave after wave. The tough part was then paddling back 100 metres to catch the waves breaking further into the bay! After about 2 hours on the water, we were both knackered, and our arms had turned to jelly. It was time to call it a day, but not before AM got wiped out by another rogue surf board!

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In the afternoon we stopped off and had some lunch in the Kuta Paradise bungalows and restaurant where we could also make use of their swimming pool, sun loungers and AM managed to borrow some Aussie magazines and catch up on all the western gossip from the last few weeks. We would return there that evening for dinner as the food was really good, although we both felt a bit under the weather, as in that 2 hours on the water surfing, both had got really sunburnt, despite both whacking on the sun factor 50. Neither of us were in a good place, so it was early to bed, lots of water and plenty of after-sun!

The following morning, we decided to hire a motor bike again in search for some of the more remote, cleaner beaches. Despite Kuta Beach being on our doorstep, there were certainly nicer beaches. We stumbled across Tanjung A’an beach. It was absolutely beautiful and not a soul there. We climbed to the top of the grassy hilltop overlooking the bay- this is what the Lonely Planet had been talking about! It was stunning. We took a few great photos and spent a bit of time admiring the view.

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We then took the bike to the other side of the beach and stopped off at the Sama Sama beach restaurant where we found a couple of beach loungers with our names all over them. Again, the beach was pretty much deserted. We perched on the loungers looking out to the crystal blue waters and the grassy coastline. It wasn’t difficult to waste a few hours here reading our books and catching the sun’s rays. At about 4pm, the sun disappeared behind a few dark clouds, the sun wasn’t playing anymore, and neither were we. We jumped back on the scooter and back to the room, for a couple of Bintangs and a few games of cards.

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We were happily engrossed in our game of cards outside our Room, when the hotel worker who had hired us the motorbike for the day came over to talk to us. Now we’d already been a bit put off by this guy, AM especially! He was always lingering around our room & one point even came inside the room to chat to us (despite it being perfectly obvious we didn’t want to talk to him). Having had a good look round while he was inside we were extra vigilant & made sure to carefully lock everything up. We’d even set a trap on the first day & when we returned to the room it was clear that someone had been snooping around our belongings…thankfully everything was under lock and key! He had also tried to rip us off by overcharging us to take us to the airport, only when we checked with other places did he bring down the price of the transport- such a con artist! Anyway, back to our card game…so he comes up & says to Chris ‘can you come and look at the motorbike?’. We knew where this was going…he then tried to say that we had crashed the motorbike that day as 1 side of the bike didn’t look right, obviously trying to con more money from us. Well thankfully, AM had taken about 5-6 photos of the bike that morning before we’d taken it out. As soon as AM showed him photographic evidence he wasn’t so sure of himself- what a scammer!!! We walked away from him, both seething at his con-artist sneaky attitude & would be glad to see the back of him! Thankfully that was the end of it.

That evening was another relatively tame night. The following day we had arranged to get a transfer to the airport and to fly to Denpasar. The flight would only take 25 minutes and would cost the same as getting a five hour journey back to Bangsal via bus, then the ferry over to Padangbai in Bali, then finally another bus to Denpasar. It was an easy decision. We would spend a night in Seminyak (about 30 minutes from Denpasar airport) to get a few last minute gifts before flying to Singapore on 8th January.

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