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I’d never really heard of Lombok, Indonesia before last month. I knew it was an island (pretty common around here) and that it was prone to earthquakes (eek) but not much else. Considering how well documented Bali is in the blogger world, I’m surprised that Lombok, its equally awesome neighbor island, never made it on my radar before now.
I’m so happy I spent some time exploring Kuta Lombok because it’s easily been one of my favorite travel destinations. The whole time I was there, I wondered why isn’t everyone obsessed with this place?
Here are some of the highlights from the last month and visiting Lombok!
Getting to Lombok
From Bali, I took a twenty-minute flight Kuta Lombok where I spent my days surfing beginner beach breaks, enjoying scenic drives through the hills, and shamelessly drooling over how nice the beaches were.
Lombok is just the next island over from Bali but the vibe is totally different. It’s significantly less touristy than Bali but I suspect that won’t be the case for long.
Kuta Lombok has everything you could want in a tropical getaway, minus the crowds. The beaches are pristine and I definitely got spoiled by how well clear the water was.
Also, there was fast 4G signal everywhere I went on the island, even when out on boats, even on remote beaches.
My advice? Go to Lombok and go soon. Go before it gets crowded and you have to fight for that perfect beach lounger with the best view. If you want to see what Kuta Lombok is really like, this is your chance.
Highlights From This Month
Puppies in Keramas – At my last guest house in Keramas, there was a fresh, wiggly litter of puppies. These puppies were available for me to play with all the time and it was amazing.
Kittens in Lombok – Just look at this kitten! Just look at this kitten that lived at the surf shop in Selong Belanak! This kitten and its siblings were very happy because whenever someone finished eating a fish at the restaurant next door, the owners put the fish remains on the ground for the kittens to finish. The cutest part was that the mother would go gather up her babies, herd them toward the fish, then sit guarding them while they ate away. Good mama cat.
Sambal dinner – Trying Javanese sambal, which I’ll talk about more in the food section, was definitely a highlight this month. The act of eating sambal is a full evening event. We tried some of the best, meaning we walked away in a hot spice-induced sweat.
Surfing in Selong Belanak – I surfed a few times at Selong Belanak in Lombok and it was the perfect spot for beginners. The waves were very gentle and it was less crowded, so less risk of running down and my fellow rookie. I highly recommend beginners get over to Lombok for some practice and beach views.
Lows This Month
April was the month of a thousand flip flops. I think I’ve had the same black flip flops for ten years. I’ve never lost them, even on various lake trips, beach vacations, cruises, and summer camp jobs.
In Bali, I left my flip flops outside of my homestay. One morning I came downstairs and there was one flip flop. One flip flop and a very guilty-looking dog. So I looked around in the plants and bushes but there was no missing flip flop to be found. I had backup sandals so I wasn’t doomed, but I knew it would be a while until I found flip flops to fit my giantess feet.
So it’s late one night in Lombok, and I’ve been stuck in just my sensible athletic sandals for weeks now while everyone else frolics about in their more convenient flip flops, and I stop in a mini-mart to get a new jug of water (and, if we’re being honest, an ice cream.)
On the back wall, there is a display of flip flops that I’d never noticed before. And right there, front and center was an absolutely enormous pair. I slipped them on like a sandy, sweaty Cinderella. They fit.
I was ecstatic to have flip flops again and I wore them for about a week before disaster struck. This time I was surfing in Selong Belanak Bay and I left my bag and flip-flops outside the surf shop. I came out of the water, mouth and eyes and ears full of sand but somehow still in good spirits, only to find my shoes had vanished, once again.
While there were no obvious dogs around this time, there were about a dozen other pairs of flip flops around under the table and next to the board rental place. It would be pretty easy for someone to accidentally grab the wrong pair.
So once again, I was flip flop-less for another week before I found mini mart that carried my size. Let’s see how long these bad boys last.
I felt a teensy tiny earthquake in Lombok. The event was pretty uneventful, actually. I was in bed in the morning and I was just starting to wake up when I felt a little rumble back and forth. It kind of felt like when you’re driving and a big truck goes past and shakes your car a bit.
I didn’t even process what it was at the time. And kind of just… went back to sleep. Later I saw on the news that there had been an earthquake in Lombok and the memory snapped right back. Because this quake was far out at sea though, there wasn’t any damage, and everyone just went about life, but the reason that this is a bit of a low is that Lombok has serious earthquakes pretty often.
Less then a year ago, a huge earthquake hit the island. The island still has visible scars from the disaster. So this little shake was a bit too close to home.
New on the Blog
It was a busy month on the blog! This month, I wrote about travel gear, teaching online, and budget travel. I’m getting ready to write all about Bali and Lombok in May, so if you missed anything you can check it out here!
- The electronics travel organizer bag I’ll never travel without
- 10 websites where you can teach English online without a degree
- How to travel for free with Workaway
Best Food I Tried
Sambal! Sambal is traditionally Javanese cuisine. There’s this little restaurant in Uluwatu called Waroeng Spesial Sambal “SS” that serves Sambal, authentic style.
Sambal is definitely an event of a meal. It’s something you do with friends and with plenty of time to spare. You’ll also want to prepare mentally because Sambal, while delicious, is SPICY. You will sweat right through your denim shorts and not because of the weather.
When we arrived, we sat down at the table and were handed a huge menu covered in pictures of small dishes. The first page is all different flavors of Sambal. Sambal is a condiment made from chilis – think like a relish or chutney.
You can get it in dozens of flavors and spiciness levels, but it’s hard to tell the spiciness level from just the menu, so when you pick your sambals you’re rolling some very dangerous dice.
We choose four – one that was “most popular” (or maybe it said “most spicy” in Indonesian, still not sure but both could be true), one that was tomato flavored, one with green chilies, and one with roasted garlic.
Then we chose what food we wanted to eat our sambal with. You get a long list of options like potatoes, tempeh, chicken wings, pork, tofu, eels, and types of fish. You can also pick from vegetables like bean sprouts and sautéed greens.
The meal comes out in waves from the kitchen, every dish looking and smelling better than the next. My favorite sambal was the tomato and the green chili. The “most popular or maybe most spicy” was hot enough for me to take one pea size bite and start sweating for the next half hour.
I stirred up quite a delicious plate of tempeh, rice, vegetables, and Sambal. If you’re in the Bukit area of Bali, you need to check this place out.
New Books I Read
Thanks to BookBub, I was able to grab a few new books for around $2 each. But thanks to kittens and Sambal and attempted surfing, I didn’t do as much reading as I would have liked this month. I have a lot of travel days and layovers planned for May, so I’m hoping to read more new books next month. Here’s what I read in April.
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O’Brien – I think I read this book cover to cover in under three days. I haven’t had a book hook me this fast in a while, so I recommend this to everyone looking for a bit of adventure non-fiction.
Fly Girls documents the true story of some of the earliest women in aviation. This book covers the incredible stories of dozens of women who were fighting to get female pilots taken seriously back in the earliest days of flying.
Your heart will race as you read first-hand accounts of cross-country and cross-ocean flights in horrible weather conditions with very rudimentary planes. If you’re into history or aviation at all, I’d recommend this book.
Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel – This is a classic comfort beach read for me, and since I spent a lot of time on some pretty impressive beaches in Lombok, it’s no wonder I fired up this gem on my kindle for the 40th time.
If you’ve seen the movie, it follows the book pretty closely so you won’t be in for many major plot twists, but you probably will probably laugh out loud and get way too invested in the reality-TV-style drama of Bridget’s love life.
What I’ve Been Listening To
Podcasts – Listening to Podcasts is one of my favorite things to do when lying on the beach, walking around a new town, or just taking care of life admin stuff. This month I listened to three of my favorites
- Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn – A must for anyone interested in making money online or general entrepreneurial things
- The Dollop – An American history comedy podcast. One guy reads a crazy story from American history to his friend who has no idea what the story is going to be about, and the two do impressions to “act out” the story as it’s happening. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
- My Favorite Murder – This is one of the top-rated podcasts on iTunes right now and one I’ve been listening to for years. It’s a weird blend of true crime and comedy, but it totally works.
What’s Going On In The Blogging World
I tracked my blog hours all month. In my March update, I told you that I started tracking how many hours I worked on my website and what I did with that time. Tracking my hours has been working well and writing down what I’m actually doing has helped me cut out some, er, less productive habits.
I enjoyed tracking my blog hours so much so that I’m already scheming how to turn my sloppy word document into some kind of official-looking spreadsheet. If I do that, I’ll make it available to you as a freebie in the free resource library when I’ve got a system that works well.
What’s Coming Next?
Next, I’m off to Thailand for about two weeks because a lot of my travel friends are there right now and I haven’t seen them in ages. And I’ll never turn down a chance to eat delicious Thai food!
Then, I’ll be heading to Vietnam to explore Hanoi and Saigon. I’ll have a few weeks in Vietnam before the next adventure.
In Hanoi, I’m really hoping to take a cooking class, see the train street, and explore some of the natural beauty of the north. In Saigon, I want to eat everything, see the Mekong Delta, and just spend time enjoying a city I’ve never been to before.
And – shameless Instagram plug here – If you want to see pictures of all this happening in action, give @seenicwander a follow over on the gram!
Thank you for another exotic start to my day in Podunk, USA. If I knew where you would be on Cinco de Mayo I would send you a Margarita and fish Tacos. I will celebrate and think of you.
Sending you virtual margarita cheers from Asia! 🙂
Hey Nic, I love reading your monthly updates! I just started a killer housesit in Oregon for the month of May! – chickens, cats, and a hot tub!
That sounds amazing!! I had chickens in the UK once… fresh eggs every morning for a month! It was incredible! Have so much fun in Oregon. I really want to do some US-based sits soon. 🙂