It’s us again and this time we are in Lombok. We spent a week visiting the Gili Islands relaxing and laying on the beach. The Gilis are the ultimate spot for being lazy and enjoying nice beaches and snorkeling spots. Of course, there is more to do than being a beach junkie, like diving but if you are not a diver than your options are more limited to working on your tan while reading a good book or spying on some coral and fish. Since we were already on the Gili Islands it was a no brainer for us to visit Lombok it being so close and all. We booked accommodation in Kuta, which is famous among backpackers and travelers as it’s near a beach, lots of restaurants and nice scenery. We needed a change after being cast away for a week so it seemed like the best choice for us. We took a ferry from Gili Air to Bangsal Pier in Lombok and then a 2.5 hour shuttle to Kuta Lombok. Once we arrived and got settled in our accommodation we decided to grab a scooter and explore a little bit. Traffic was not bad at all and we were eager to do stuff so we got some food and we were on the road! We drove through Kuta which is actually pretty small, the main street is where all the shops and restaurants are but that little strip is maybe a mile long. Later the scenery changed to rice fields, vast and lush patches of grass where cows and buffalos enjoyed their dinner and small, tiny villages. We were amazed by how nice the locals were - everyone either smiled at us or waved at us when passing by, kids ran to us yelling “hello” and “thank you” in English and wanting to talk to us. We felt like celebrities! We drove for about 30 minutes when we reached a beach which seemed to be a good place to watch the sunset from. The view was stunning with golden sand going on end, turquoise green water on the other and the back drop had bright orange skies and gorgeous hills behind which the sun was starting to settle down into.
[End scene on Day One]
Day Two in Kuta, Lombok
Our drive the night before we spotted a little beach called Secret beach so we decided to check it out. In order to enter the beach we had to take a small, dirt road off the main one. As we approached the parking lot we didn't see any parked vehicles there. The only people around were the people collecting the entrance fee which was only 5000 Rupiah (not even .50 cents USD). We weren't mistaken thinking that we had this beach to ourselves as there was no one else there. Literally no one but us! At first, we were surprised that nobody was there, the view of the water and sand were nice and clean, the scenery as beautiful as everywhere else but somehow this little paradise seemed to be unpopular. As soon as we walked down the beach it became clear why, the sand felt like terrible kitty litter. We really tried to walk around and get over the feel of it, but we just couldn’t. So off we went to hit another beach further down the road. We arrive to the beach called Pantai Selong Belanak which was also a beautiful scene and had great big waves and a strong undertow to play in. However, this beach was quite filled up not just with foreigners but with little “restaurants” and rented umbrella areas. We found a good spot and got comfortable and took turns playing in the water and sun-tanning.
We had multiple little kids come by to try and guilt us into buying a coconut or pineapple. They kept asking and asking and even made us pinky promise that we would buy from them when they come back in an hour. Exactly an hour later they came back and we gave in and bought a coconut which Loren really wanted to try and a pineapple. Both of them delicious and refreshing! One of the little boys hand cut the pineapple and took a lot of care in making it just right, kind of like a giant popsicle. The boys seemed pretty excited that they got us to purchase something so it was all worth it. Mind you we paid a total of 20k Rupiah ($1.50) for both the pineapple and the coconut.
We were enjoying our treats and all of a sudden we were surrounded by a mob of young boys (I’m talking 5 years old) and one guy in his late teens. The little boys were treating Loren like a celebrity and were asking her questions about her favorite color, animal, food, so on. Turns out the teen was the older brother of one of the boys and he brought them all there on holiday from the other side of Lombok (the island is quite big, getting from one side to the other takes a few hours and it can be fairly expensive for the locals).
They were practicing their English with foreigners so they could learn from them and they loved it. She talked to them and gave them some pointers and then they said they really wanted to take a picture with her. So they all crowded around and took turns with one another’s camera and took some silly shots, I made sure to get one for us too! After that, there was another group of young boys who wanted to take a picture with Loren…. it became weird and funny at the same time. I think they enjoy white girls in bikinis. But who doesn't?
So after hanging out at the beach for a few hours, we decided to go and cruise around and get some footage on the scooter. We grabbed the GoPro and tried to get the beauty of this place captured for later. We ended up driving past a cool bat cave, ended up on a construction site and all the workers drove around doing tricks in their trucks trying to get us to film them and take pictures with them and we drove past kids playing games on their porches. It was fun to see all these people living their lives, doing their normal routine in such a unique setting.
(Viki’s perspective): We were just cruising around, me driving and Loren on the back playing camera-woman. Driving motor bikes is one of my favorite things when traveling so given the scenery, the beautiful views and the nice weather I was sort of in my zone, deep into my thoughts. When I realized what was happening it was already too late. It happened so fast that it’s hard to explain… As I was driving I noticed another scooter coming from behind us which is quite normal so I moved to the left( they drive on the right just fyi) to give them space to pass me by…All of a sudden this scooter was right next to us, like a few inches away. At first I thought that we were about to crash when I noticed that the guy riding in the back of the other scooter was reaching out and trying to grab the camera off Loren’s hands. I panicked and screamed Wtf?! No! No! But by then they were already far ahead of us.
(Loren’s perspective): We just left the beach and we’re cruising around. Viki is driving, and I am trying to get some cool shots from the back of the bike. We are in the middle of nowhere and I just want some footage of these fields and trees around us. I just finished a shot and stopped the video, and all of a sudden there is another scooter right on top of us! I saw them in my peripherals but I thought they were passing us. I had the GoPro with the wrist strap on and had a grip onto the camera, (mind you I was not using a long selfie stick, it was only about a 6 inch wand, the mount and then the camera). He reaches out with both hands and pulled on the camera hard and quick and it pulled my wrist, don’t worry I’m tough so it only hurt for a moment. Now if you don’t know me, I’m what Viki calls, “Freakishly strong,” and I’m no Hulk but I am definitely a lot stronger than you’d expect. Anyway, he is trying to pull the camera out of my hand, he’s twisted and yanked and was able to get the strap off my wrist and is holding the stick end. While he’s pulling, I have readjusted my grip and I’m holding onto the camera itself and with the force of it all, the stick breaks off and instantly they started speeding up faster and drive away. Viki is screaming at them, thinking we just lost the GoPro and I’m just like, “Did that really just happen?” While looking down at the GoPro in my hand with the broken mount. I let her know we are ok and I have the camera, they got away with nothing more than the broken stick.
I, (Viki) realized later that as they were driving away I saw the thief look down and he looked pissed and it made sense now. It was a close call, as GoPros are expensive and not only that, we could have gotten into an accident if something worse had happened. We tried for a moment to catch up to them, but they were on a much better bike and out of sight before we knew it.
The whole experience was quite disappointing and we were pretty shaken mostly because of the adrenalin rushing through us… Not everyday that we have to battle thieves while driving a scooter in the middle of an unknown country. And while this was quite unpleasant we are still in awe by the locals in this beautiful country! Everywhere we have been so far and that’s a few different islands (Bali, the three Gili Islands and Lombok) we have encountered only positive, nice and happy people. The locals have shown us nothing but genuine hospitality and true kindness. It’s quite amazing actually…most of them live what we would consider below povertylines but they are still always happy, always smiling and always ready to chat with us, curious about where we came from and what we think of their beautiful country. While we were in Gili T we spent a night of drinking with a few of the boys running our guesthouse and although they didn’t have much they scrambled together money to buy us beers just because we were their guests. So we are not letting this single incident impact our experience nor will it change our opinion and love of Indonesians and their country. There are bad apples everywhere. We, however learned a lesson to be careful no matter what, don't flash your expensive electronics and be aware of your surroundings. Aside from the possible loss of our camera we could've gotten into a fairly serious accident so at the end of the day, we are lucky and thankful in the end.