My Travel Log – Above the Cloud, By the Beach, Under the Sea

Helloooooo people,

It’s been quite a while since I last published a post, been busy with my routine activities and additional part time gig right after my trip. As I’ve promised to write about my recent mountain climbing (2nd climb!! –> read about the 1st climb here) and first scuba diving experience, here I am, finally having the time to sit down and reconnect with my own mind. While I was there, I kept a journal of my 8D7N adventure. Now that I’ve finally compiled all the photos together, here’s the elaborate version of my travel log. Enjoy!!

ABOVE THE CLOUD

Arrival – Monday 28 April 2014

Five of us touched down at Lombok Airport at around 8pm local time (same time as Singapore). Met another climbing buddy at the airport and the six of us were off in a 2.5-hour-car-journey to our first accommodation in Lombok, Pondok Senaru. The cottage is just opposite of RudyTrekker’s office and we just went in there for a quick briefing of what to pack and what to expect for the climb the next morning.

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The first thing that I noticed when I was at Rudy’s base was this huge Rinjani climbing route and the list of things to bring. Very useful.

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The full itinerary can be found in the website here.

Day 1 – Tuesday, 29 April 2014

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We woke up at 6am the following day and was greeted by this lovely sunrise peeking behind the mountains. By around 6:30 we were out having our breakfast at Rudy’s. I had a banana pancake and hot tea. This meal was just a start of the many “culinary” experience that I didn’t know I could have while climbing a mountain. They fed us so well up there. I put on my new Hi-Tec trekking shoes, broke into it once a few weeks before the climb and wore 2 layers of socks inside. Yet, I still have blisters all over my feet at the end of the climb. Not sure why. But I didn’t regret buying the shoes, it helped me a lot during the summit climb, through the gravels.

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I brought my small backpack filled with necessities for 3 days and left the rest of the stuff for our porters to carry. There were a total of 7 super-powered porters helping us carry our tents, sleeping bags, food and personal items.  After breakfast, we headed to the registration place at Rinjani Information Center (RIC) @1051 m along the way to Sembalun Village @1,150 m and got our entrance tickets to Mount Rinjani National Park. Notice the price difference between locals and foreigners? What a rip-off!

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We reached Sembalun village at about 8.45am and saw a lot of other trekkers from different countries gathered there. Started walking through the savannah grass land and encountered a few ‘obstacles’ along the way. The COW dungs! I was busy dodging them along the way and was wondering where the cows are after around 30 minutes trekking. Eventually, I saw the herd grazing on the grass and took a few pictures of them.

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the easiest part of the climb (the savannah grass land) and see our local porters carrying the load for 3 days.

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just in case you haven’t seen any cow dung before…here you go:p

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they’re staring back at me

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Stewart (or is it Stuart?) the hedgehog with his owner

After 2 snack breaks along the way and 4 hours later, we reached the 3rd post, Pada Balong @1800m and we had our first very-festive-for-a-mountain-climbing-trip lunch here. Started with salad first, followed by a huge portion of traditional rice meal (fried tofu, tempe, fried egg, chicken, a bit of veggies), ended with fruits. Look at all the porters who were busy preparing for our meals.

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After the hearty lunch break, we charged up to Sembalun Crater Rim (Plawangan Sembalun) @2639m and reached there after a 3-hour climb, just in time to change clothes and wait for the sunset view while having our dinner (yummy Soto with rice).

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By this time, I’ve learned that:

1)  There’s no way to shower or brush and floss my teeth properly here. Just have to live with it:)

2) During the trekking, sometimes you have to choose from 2-3 different paths and watch your steps carefully. Some paths will be easier for you, some will be too challenging. And that’s the time you need a helping hand to guide you along the way. In my case, the mountain guide has helped me a lot and showed me the way throughout this experience.

3) It’s important to glance a bit on your destination up there and know your goal, but remember to always stay focus on what’s right in front of you, the 3-5 few steps in front. Don’t get too fixated on the destination. If you do, you’ll either be discouraged after looking at how still-so-far-away-and-out-of-reach the destination looks like OR be extremely motivated that you choose to focus on those important small steps in front of you and keep on walking despite the nasty blisters, weaker knees and shortness of breath along the way. Don’t give up when you think you can make it! No matter how long it takes for you to get there.

4) Sometimes, in the journey, you’re just alone. Only you, yourself, your great mind and your last drop of will power. Just charge forward. You know your own body and if you can still walk with no serious injuries involved, keep on walking! Ignore the negative thoughts that said,“That’s it Sien! You can’t do it, you’re too exhausted, your fitness level sucks. Maybe just stay at the crater rim and don’t even attempt for the summit climb the next morning. You’ll never make it!” *yeah, I seriously had those silly thoughts and doubts once I reached the Sembalun campsite*

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Magnificent sunset view while enjoying our yummy Soto dinner. Followed by amazing star-gazing experience at the crater rim before we headed to the tent and rest.

Day 2 – Wednesday, 30 April 2014

I decided to ignore those useless thoughts I had the previous day. Woke up at 3am and geared up. I treated myself with yoko-yoko and tiger balm the whole night and was feeling better. The blister on my left toe was still very small at this point. I braced myself against the cold wind, occasionally looked at the twinkling stars along the way, walked tirelessly through the gravels, paused to enjoy the view of Segara Anak Lake from the top and finally at around 7.40am I reached the Rinjani summit @3726m!!! What a relief. I was the last to reach there. The sun has already risen. Only 4 of us went for the summit climb. Along the way, I was accompanied by the stunning views of the sunrise and lake.

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Other lessons learned from this summit climb:

  • Don’t get knocked down by how far ahead the others are.
  • The biggest enemy is yourself.
  • Accept the fact that in this climb and in our life in general, we just have to walk, ALONE, most of the time. Learn to love ourselves and be alone with our own mind.

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Me. Stopping to catch my breath and relying on my will power to get to the top. It took way too much time to reach the summit because of all those tiny gravels. 3 steps forward, 1 step backward.

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After a long grueling blisterful summit climb, I finally made it to the top *no kidding. I had the biggest blister that I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Disgusting picture below:p*

Location: summit of Mount Rinjani, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia @3726m above sea level.

Date and time: 30 April 2014 at 7:48am.

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The savannah grassland, the tent and sleeping bag, the movable toilet, the sunrise, the lake, me on the difficult trail to the top that’s filled with slippery gravels, and of course, when I took off my socks at the end of the 3D2N climb up and down the mighty Rinjani, I was shocked to see that huge red blister staring back at me. Grossed out!

After the summit, I went down the gravels again with an utmost mindful care of not sliding too fast. If you’re too fast, you might roll down the cliff and game over. So I needed another slow 3.5 hours to go down to the base camp at Plawangan Sembalun. I and my friend were the last two to reach the camp. We quickly had our late breakfast, changed to new socks and geared up again to our next destination, Segara Anak Lake and the hot spring @2008m.

When we started the descend to the lake, it was drizzling and I forgot to put my poncho in the backpack, so I just went ahead without it and we were all drenched by the time we reached the lake 2 hours later. This time around, I was among the 3 people who reached there first. I guess I wanted to make it up for the loss of time in the morning. I was too slow. We were supposed to stop here only for a while and continue for a climb to Senaru Crater Rim (Plawangan Senaru) @2,641m. But then, we were told that there was a large group of 70++ people who would have probably occupied most of the camp site by then. So we decided to stay over night at the lake. The rain and my lateness were a blessing in disguise?  Thank goodness. Our tent was setup on the grass land right beside the lake. We put our stuff there and headed to the hot spring just 100m away to soak and relax there after a long morning. I just couldn’t wait to wash my damp smelly hair there.

It was an awesome hot spring experience and we stayed there for around 2 hours. After that, we headed back to the camp and had our dinner by the lake, a plate of fried rice and we’re ready to call it a day. A challenging yet satisfying day that I’d never forget.

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Day 3 – Thursday, 1 May 2014

We woke up at 4am the next morning to our next destination, Plawangan Senaru @2641m. We had burger and chips as our early breakfast. It wasn’t a very good night sleep because my whole body ached like mad. No amount of tiger balm or yoko-yoko could help me relieve the pain this time. But I just have to endure.  The path to Senaru crater rim was very steep and rocky. I had to do a lot of 45-to-60-degree rock climbing along the way and was accompanied by this close-up view of Segara Anak Lake. I would look back and see this view to motivate myself. After 3 hours, we reached the camp site and true enough, you could see the porters gathering there, the big group has left the site and they’ve begun their descend. The decision to stay back at the lake was a good one. We took a 30-min break for photo-taking and enjoying the view of Mount Agung in Bali from faraway as well as our next destination after the climb, the Gili islands. We could see the 3 Gilis from the rim and it was cloudy and surreal.

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view along the way to Senaru Crater Rim (Plawangan Senaru)

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view of our path to Senaru village (the first painful 3 hours)

After the break, we started the descend at 9:30am downhill through the rocky steps and forest filled with huge stepping stones and tree roots. I was extremely slow and needed 3 hours to reach the next checkpoint. By this time, I couldn’t feel my knees at all and bending them was very painful. I felt each move and 1 tiny step down was an extreme pain. I was too aware and mindful of the pain. The 4 of us were behind and the other 2 had reached an hour earlier than us. During lunch (Spaghetti Carbonara with egg. Yummy!!!), I asked for tips on how to step on the stones and tree roots without going too slow or too cautious. The key is “don’t feel or think too much about the pain. Just move my legs and maintain the pace”. So right after lunch at 12:30pm, I picked up my pace and managed to reach Senaru village @601m at around 2:30pm. I couldn’t feel my knees and could feel my blister popping out on both feet, but I kept on walking. Just like my previous climb at Kinabalu, it’s always the descend that’s killing me. The mountain guide gave me a ride on his motorbike when there’s another 600m left and I happily joined my friend at the car ten minutes later.

The car was ready to transfer us back to Rudy’s base. We picked up our stuff and had a quick wash-up. They drove us to our resort hotel stay at Senggigi. We could finally had a shower and a good rest on a comfortable bed. By this time, there were only 5 of us left, Stewart and his owner had left earlier to continue with his diving trips at Gili islands. Awesome fitness! Unlike me. I couldn’t walk or go up and down the staircase properly for 3 days.

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Holiday Resort at Senggigi (a cozy 2-bedroom apartment)

Once we reached the hotel after a 2-hour car ride from Senaru, the first thing that my friends looked for was, guess what, INTERNET CONNECTION!!! Oh my…talking about re-connecting back to the nature and truly enjoying our vacation. But apparently, old habit dies hard. This remind me of my previous post -> To text or not to text – whatever happened to direct human connection. So throughout our dinner at Papa Besar café in Senggigi, we were busy eating our dinner and updating our family & social media groups on our successful climb. Despite all the craving for attention and constant need to exist in virtual world, I think it’ll be better if we could all go back to those good old days where there’s not so many gadgets in our life, where people still call each other just to say hello, where there’s minimum distraction when eating our meal and we could have a good meaningful conversation with whomever we’re with. Do refer back to my previous post here –> Look up!

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Right after the dinner, once I’ve finished washing all my dirty clothes and shoes, floss and brush my high-maintenance teeth, it was time to deal with this annoying little red bubble on my toe. Armed with an alcohol swab and pointy object (such as: my earring), I poked a tiny hole on the nasty fella, pressed lightly and pinkish fluid burst out, drained it and applied the antiseptic cream. Then I went to sleep. Problem was partially solved. Though it would come back again the next day because I walked on sand and was relaxing by the beach. I would repeat the whole process again the next day before I went to sleep.

BY THE BEACH

Day 4 – Friday, 2 May 2014

Somehow, my morning body clock was adjusted to the early hour because of the first three days waking up at 6am, 3am, 4am respectively. I woke up at 6.30am that day. Then, we spent the whole morning enjoying the hotel breakfast and walked around the pool and beach. At around 10am, the guy who arranged for our snorkeling trip had arrived at the hotel lobby to pick us up. I didn’t plan to snorkel that day. My body still ached and walking on steps was a difficult chore. So I didn’t wear my contact lens and just waited on the boat while chatting with our guide. After the first snorkeling session in the morning, we went to Gili Trawangan, the most crowded out of the 3 Gilis, and had our lunch at The Beach House resort. I had a bowl of beef soto with rice and juice. It was definitely a different experience, eating lunch while facing the clear blue sea. That’s what a relaxing holiday should feel like, especially after an exhausting climb.

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After lunch, the 2nd snorkeling session was at Gili Air. While I waited for the guys, I just lazed around at one of the cafés there and ordered a glass of strawberry milkshake while enjoying this stunning view. Gili Air is a lot less crowded than Gili T, but the crowd is mostly the same, a lot of Caucasian tourists from Europe/America (or we call them “Bule”) in Gili islands. I supposed this place is like a paradise for all of them, you can sunbathe by the beach and get the awesome uniform tan afterwards; snorkel or dive at the many spots here; or simply relax and sip your drinks while reading a book. What a vacation!!!

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At around 4pm, as we were heading back to the main island, it started to rain a little bit. Then halfway, it stopped and I saw the most beautiful full rainbow that I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m not exaggerating here. It was really pretty. I’ve seen rainbows in other countries: like in Geelong, Australia last year. But I’ve never seen such a full rainbow from one end to another end. They said there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Maybe there was, if I looked hard enough. Anyway, after I captured the rainbow below using my camera phone, not long after that, I saw double rainbow coming out from another end. I didn’t capture it and decided to just enjoy the moment with my eyes.

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Once we reached the harbour, I captured the sunset view as the backdrop of all the boats that were parked there. The silhouette of those boats created a mysterious dramatic view like the one above, don’t you think? We had our lovely dinner by the beach side while watching the sunset at de Quake (see review here). The staff, service and food were excellent. After that, I went to the Senggigi Art Market just beside the restaurant and buy some souvenirs for friends, family and colleagues. A wonderful and relaxing day, indeed.

Day 5 – Saturday, 3 May 2014

Initially, we had no plan for this day. I just followed my friend’s recommendation after he read some articles in Lombok Guide magazine. Our other 2 friends went back to Singapore earlier and only 3 people left in the 2-BR apartment unit. We had our breakfast and went off to grab a taxi to go to Mataram mall, almost a 2-hour ride from Senggigi. It’s a tough business if you’re a taxi driver in Lombok, it’s usually hard to find customers. So when we reached the Mataram Mall, this uncle offered to drive us around to wherever we wanted to go. He would stop the meter and waited for us in the parking lot.

There was nothing much in Mataram Mall, we ended up eating at KFC and had a light meal at around 11:30am. Then we shopped for local snacks, chips, coffee powder at Hero supermarket. Within less than 2 hours, we were back in the taxi and uncle drove us to Dua-Em restaurant (see review here). I ordered the spiciest Ayam Taliwang called Ayam Julat and it was really spicy that I couldn’t finish it. The plecing kangkung was also wasted in the end. My tolerance level for spicy food had apparently become lower over the years. Too bad!

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After the spicy lunch, we hopped back into the taxi and headed to Kuta Beach.  After about 1-hour ride from Mataram, the taxi uncle suggested to stop by at the Sasak Sade Village to look at the traditional houses and how the Sasak tribe live. We said “Yes, why not?” and a guide appeared immediately after we alighted from the taxi. He explained to us the function of the different houses in the village and gave us a brief tour. There’s a write-up on this Sade Village and their history & traditions here. In the end, we were guided to a souvenir shop where we were asked (politely) to buy some of their hand-made crafts/shirts/bags. Please don’t fall for this tourist trap. You should always bargain or don’t buy anything at all. And one random interesting fact about their house is that each floor of their houses was built using a mixture of soil and cow dung.

“Their houses are still traditional. The roof made from alang-alang and the wall made from combinations of clay and cow faeces. For them, cow faeces have many functions for their live such as for cleaning the floor, washing and bathing.”

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After the Sasak Village visit, we continued our journey to the faraway Kuta beach. There’s only one big hotel around the area and the rest is just small cheap homestay place. When we reached the Novotel at Kuta Beach Lombok, it seems like the only people at this beach were the hotel guests, except for the three of us and some small kids selling souvenirs to tourists at the beach side. We checked out the lobby and outdoor facilities. I was thrilled to see a well-maintained BEACH volleyball court and the ball readily available on the sand. But there was nobody playing yet, as it was still around 3pm and the sun was scorching hot. So we just went ahead and sat at one of the gazebo by the beach. When we’re about to order our drinks, one of the hotel employees came by and asked for our room number. We said, “Errrr…we were just visiting. Not hotel guests”. Luckily, he was kind enough not to kick us out there and then. He politely asked us to pay Rp 50,000 (around 6 SGD) per person per entry for free use of any outside hotel facilities and gave us 1 towel each.  So we hopelessly paid for it while ordering our drinks. It was quite an ‘expensive’ trip from Senggigi to Kuta so we decided to chill out longer there. Coincidentally, after drinking my lime squash and enjoying the serene view, I went back to check out the vball court and found that there were 2 guys (call them: Mas or Abang) manning the court now. So I asked if we could play a game or two. They happily welcomed me and gathered more hotel guests to play along. I ended up playing with French hotel guests and their kids. All of a sudden, I forgot that I had sore muscles and knees. Such an awesome experience!   

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After chilling out at Kuta beach and played my favorite game, it was time for us to head back to Senggigi. Along the way, we stopped at a souvenir shop (Gandrung Lombok) and bought more Lombok shirts. Then midway at Batu Layar beach, we had our seafood dinner at Warung Menega (see review here). The food was decent and the place was crowded. We chose to sit inside as the ones by the beach were all occupied. Apparently, this place was quite a popular eating place for both tourists and locals. The taxi uncle who drove us around the whole day was paid Rp 500,000++  for his service and made this restaurant his last stop. After the dinner, we hailed another taxi and went back to the hotel.

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UNDER THE SEA

Day 6 – Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sunday’s here and it’s DIVING time. I booked the PADI dive programs the previous day: Discover Scuba Diving at Rp 600,000 per person with Blue Marlin Dive. It was my first scuba diving experience and I was nervous throughout the first ocean dive session in the morning. The first session was at Halik, just off the coast of Gili T. I was so focused on how the BCD (buoyancy control device) works and how to equalize my ear pressure underwater that I didn’t really pay much attention to my beautiful surroundings. I was constantly grabbing my instructor’s hands too. What a shame!

However, after our lunch break, I was more relaxed and confident. They took us to the second diving spot near Gili Meno, Meno Slope. This is the spot where we could see more varieties of fish and green turtles. It was mesmerizing. Well, there is always a first time for everything, isn’t it?

In this case, my first time diving may not be the last? Well, I’m not sure yet. What I know is that conquering the mighty Rinjani at 3726m height and going underwater 15m depth in one ultimate adventure trip was a GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT in its own right. So I pat myself on the back and proudly said WELL DONE! (this applies to my travel buddies too!! Well done for reaching the summit!).

Who knows that I might go back underwater again one day? or I might decide to conquer another mountain/(proverbial) mountain? like some kind of brain/mind challenge?

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When you travel to new places, you’ll meet a lot of new people. I met a new friend while I was on my first diving experience. It was a pleasure knowing you WX! Let’s keep in touch and hope one day I can visit you in HK! 🙂

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The diving trip lasted until around 2.30pm and we traveled back to the hotel via fast boat and car. We reached the resort at 3pm and immediately received our diving certificate of recognition. I spent the rest of the afternoon booking my massage and meni-pedi session for Monday and chilling out by the hotel’s pool and beach while waiting for the sunset. We had dinner at a Korean restaurant nearby. It’s called Ye Jeon restaurant and it was just a 5-7 minute walk from the hotel. The food was decent and we were their only customer for that night. Another exciting day at Lombok had come to an end. I was busy packing my stuff that night to prepare for the flight the following day.

Day 7 – Monday, 5 May 2014

It’s the day I did NOTHING and just pampered myself. I went for my last hotel breakfast in Lombok, did last-minute packing and went for my Ayurveda massage and meni-pedi treatment. By this time, I’ve used up all the Rupiahs that I brought. I had instant noodle as my lunch and dinner was served in-flight.

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I might return home with a darker skin shade and an empty wallet, but I’ve become a stronger person, both mentally and physically, as a result of this challenging above-the-cloud-and-underwater experience.

Overall,  I LOVE LOMBOK!!! 

And I’d love to go back there again to just relax by the beach…with my loved one…one day… *wishful thinking*

 

Cheers,

Sien

*who’s loving her new busy-yet-fun-and-more-purposeful schedule….yay!!! ^_^

**ticking off my bucket list: scuba dive (checked), reach 2 summits (Kinabalu checked, Rinjani checked)

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8 thoughts on “My Travel Log – Above the Cloud, By the Beach, Under the Sea

  1. Hey you, amazing girl!!! I got goosebumps reading this!!!!
    Gue pernah visit Gili Trawangan just to relax and unwind and all the Bules I met talking about hiking mount Rinjani. And my gosh, YOU DID IT! You’re awesome!! And you went diving!!! I could never do that. I’m scared being trapped underwater (even with oxygen) hiks.
    Anyway, blister gapapa yah di pop gitu? I thinking popping that blister needs more courage than diving! Hahahahah

    • Haha…blisternya cepet kok, pake antingan aja bikin lubang kecil. Hari2 berikutnya dia balik ada cairan lg sih gara2 gw jalan di pasir..trus tinggal dipencet lg aja buat keluarin cairannya. Yup, that nasty blister is definitely one of the highlights of my trip…mhuahahaha…

  2. Hi. Thanks for such a comprehensive record of your trip. I hope you don’t mind if I share this with my friends? We hope to go this year 🙂

  3. Kuta Beach itu yg di Bali kan ya? It seems like you guys took only around 1.5 hours taxi ride? Is my interpretation correct?

    • Kuta beach yg Lombok ini. It was around 2 to 3 hours by taxi to reach Novotel at Kuta Beach Lombok and we stopped halfway at Sasak village (not recommended). Minus that stop it’s around 2 hours from Mataram.

  4. ooo.. hahaha. Thank you. Thank you 😀
    Gimana nih pengalaman divenya? Good visibility? Nice dive site/ Unique creatures to spot?

    • Divingnya yaah..you gotta try it to know if you’ll love it. Nice dive site and good visibility. Happy to spot the turtles, clown fish and colorful school of fish. It was an awesome experience once you overcame the initial fear of not being able to breathe underwater or adjust the diving device/equipment.

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