I don’t know where I’m a gonna go when the volcano Blows.
Indonesia is filled with 17,000 islands- holding an incredible amount of……volcanoes & coconut curry (And Beauty!) . I spent almost a month among three of the islands, and each was entirely unique – from the people, the culture, the scenery, the markets and even the food. I spent my time among Lombok & the Gili Islands, Bali and Yogyakarta (on Java). Indonesia offers incredible scenery and suburb beaches, but it doesn’t stop there.
Highlights of the trip include:
- Climbing Mount Rinjani – I can not stress enough how challenging this is. I could not find anything online that really explained how difficult this climb is if you are not a regular hiker/or workout fanatic. It was not until I landed at the Lombok airport and the man stamping my Passport asked me how long I had been training for, that I realized I had no idea what I was in for. Luckily, we used a company that provided wonderful porters who really helped me through the climbing, along with the support of my boyfriend and the 2 Dutch girls we were paired with that had the world’s most optimistic views. There is volcanic ash lining the mountain from the recent eruptions, causing my asthma to act up, which made it very difficult to use my yoga breath to work through the struggle. We did the 3D/2N hike and regardless of being in shape or not, if you have time – arrange for the 4D/3N hike. It will be better for your body (regardless of how in shape you are, the climb is incredibly taxing on your body AND you will actually have time to enjoy the amazing views, which is the whole point of being there! If you are considering this hike and are not super in shape, feel free to message / e-mail me with any questions! It is definitely do-able even if you are not in great shape, but the 4D/3N may be necessary. This is definitely a hike that requires a lot of mental preparation – your reward is the view, and that is the prime motivation to keep you going. If you are an avid climber, just disregard all of this text because you know a lot more than I do!
- The Gili Islands
- Prambanan & Borobudur
- Bali! After Eat, Prey, Love…who doesn’t want to go to Bali and find their Brazilian dream man and the ancient medicine man?! Bali was wonderful – the Balinese people are wonderful, holding such giving and curious hearts. Ubud was beautiful, the center is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, spas, hostels and hotels, and the Ubud Monkey forest. To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of Bali, step right outside the town center – into the beautiful rice terraces, temples, the the local streets. The locals live in compounds, which are basically large home-like structures that house an entire “family” (which is a loose term, because their family structure is very different than a western family structure. The family they live with includes extended and intermediate, along with all of the members that are married into their family, plus some.) Bali is the only Hindu island in Indonesia, which contributes to the yogi, positive vibes all over town, along with the morning placement of the daily Canang (or offering) in front of every restaurant, store, hotel, home, etc.
Ubud, located at the heart of Bali, is surrounded by many amazing places. Kuta attracts many young tourists whose primary goal is to party and surf. If this is what you are looking for, then head to Kuta. If not, find an area that has not been taken over by tourists. I personally headed down to Uluwatu, where development began a few years ago. The beaches are beautiful and clean, great food (OM Burger is Amazing) and the accommodations are not yet built up hotels. It is also where many of the surf competitions take place. The beaches offer live music on different week nights, but it is not a replay of Panama City Beach Spring Break. If you do visit this area, it’s pretty important to feel comfortable driving a motorbike, or plan on renting taxis to get everywhere. There is a volcano on Bali that many people climb (it only takes a few hours one morning) called mount Batur. I did not climb this volcano, simply because I had already climbed Mt. Rinjani and could see Batur from Rinjani. I would suggest climbing Mt. Batur if you are not heading to any other volcanoes. If you are looking for an island other than the Gili’s (or in addition), Nusa Lembongan yields wonderful reviews and is convenient to reach, just a short boat ride off the shore of Bali.
Itinerary (This can be easily condensed to fit a shorter time frame)
Day 1: We Flew in from Johor Bahru, Malaysia to the Lombok International Airport.
We arrived at the airport, met a few other backpackers and all bargained for a taxi to take us to Kuta (Note Kuta, Lombok is NOT the same as Kuta, Bali – Kuta, Lombok has beautiful beaches filled with locals, and the town is slowly developing with beach huts and small restaurants; Plan on renting a motor bike to get anywhere as taxi’s are not prevalent in this area).
Day 2 : Check out the local beaches and hop into some stores (literally huts). Mawun Beach (pictured) was stunning – and we were able to meet so many lovely locals- one local family that we still keep in touch with. Tanjung Aan Beach and Kuta Beach are also beautiful beaches nearby if you have additional days/time.
Day 3: Pick up for Rinjani Climb in Kuta, Lombok
- Rinjani Climb (Start Semblaun & End Senaru)
- We did the 3D/2N, I advise doing the 4D/3N. The company will pick you up the day before you begin the climb and provide your accommodation at a local hotel in Sembalun or Senaru. We used Ahmed Expeditions and had a wonderful experience with the company. Ahmed’s Expedition
- You will be able to leave your stuff at the company’s office in a storage room, and take a smaller pack with you of items you will need on the trek. It was very cold at night, so pack accordingly!! We did not bring proper shoes – we only had our keens with us, and ended up having to go bare foot up the summit. I highly recommend bringing hiking boots! We used silk sleeping bags throughout our entire trip, and they doubled as scarves at the top of Rinjani- be creative!
- Tent, food, etc. is all provided by the porters. No need for shampoo/conditioner or any sort of beauty products. I brought baby wipes and they were extremely helpful, as we were covered in volcanic ash by the time we reached the top. Also, our group did not bring any bananas, and my body was really suffering from the lack of potassium and nutrients with climbing. I would pack a few protein bars and bananas – even some peanut butter!
Day 5: Climbing Mt. Rinjani
Day 6: Climbing Mt. Rinjani ; Drop off at the Pier to head to the Gili Islands (There is one main boat that goes back and forth – no need to book tickets ahead of time).
- Arrive on the Gili Islands at night
- We stayed on Gili T and loved it. While people say it is just a party island, we found the beaches to be very clean and not overly populated during the day (if looking at a map, the beaches on the northeast side have the best snorkeling). The partying all takes place on one street of the island during (primarily) night time hours, offering a great scene if that’s what you are looking for. If not, you are able to find peace and quiet anywhere else on the island. There are no cars on the island, but you can rent bikes or hop on a horse and buggy if your hotel is really far from the main path.
- Accomodation: we stayed at Puri Hondje and it was wonderful – a bit off the beaten path, yet still easily walkable— a tucked away spot with about 3 cabanas surrounding a pool. It was paradise, and much needed after our trek!
Day 7: Gili T
- Snorkeling – look for turtles!
- We enjoyed a spa day…..The spas even offer Rinjani Packages for those that are in dire need of some TLC
- There are many half and full day trips to the other islands if interested…Gili Air and Gili Meno are right next door!
Day 8: Gili T
- Enjoy the day biking around the island
- Check out the sunset at the sunset Bar with the swing – All I know is that the bar was called “Sunset Bar”, but there are multiple “Sunset Bars”….Ask for the swing and you will eventually end up there.
Day 9: Take the ferry to Bali (Book tickets the morning of or night before – it is a beautiful boat ride…bring sunscreen and sit on top of the boat) The boat ticket also includes transportation to your hotel in Ubud, or the beaches around the Kuta area.
- Arrive in Ubud and check in (This will take up most of your day)
- Walk around Ubud/explore the area.
Accomodation: We stayed at the Ubud Bungalow – It was great for us, but more structured for families (maybe not the best if you are traveling alone/looking to meet people)
Day 10: Walk around Bali, Check out the Sacred Monkey Forest—Literally a forest filled with monkeys that will climb all over you. If you get bit, it’s your fault….treat the animals with the Golden Rule! So many tourists would tease the animals with the bananas (they sell them to feed to the monkeys), and then complain when the monkey bites them and they need 5 rabies shots….
Day 11: AM Cooking class at Paon Bali (this includes a morning market tour) If you are not interested in a cooking class, I highly recommend visiting the Market on your own! // Massages in the afternoon. Bali is a great place to look into ayurvedic work if interested.
Day 12: You can book several different packages, rent a motor bike or set a price with a driver and head up to visit the Rice Terraces ( Tegalalang) and Tirta Empul Temple. If you have an extra day to spare, head up to the Pinggan Village in Kintamani to view the largest rice fields. Make sure you stick around to see the locals praying in the water – it is beautiful!
Day 13: AM yoga class at the Yoga Barn or Yoga House ; Check out one of the musuems – The art meusuem provides a lot of insight on Balinese art; Hike among the outskirts of Ubud (there is a trail that you can follow, just ask anyone in the town and they can direct you – If taking the main road that the monkey forest is on all the way towards the market, once you hit the T, you will turn left onto Jl. Raya Ubud and then cross over the bridge and it will be on your right at a point).
Day 14: Enjoy Ubud (Skip if you are crunched for time)
Day 15: Head down to Uluwatu or other beach area of your choice (there are vans that head down there multiple times a day; I booked my ticket a day in advance at a store along the main Monkey Forest road)
Day 17: Visit Padang Padang beach or Dreamland Beach, and head to Uluwatu Temple before sunset
- Check out a few of the local sites (such as the Water Castle) and visit the square at night, where the active nightlife includes mini (Clown) cars that play goofy music filled with tourists. Jalan Malioboro is a popular street with a lot of shopping, food, etc.
Day 20: Visit Prambanan & Borobodur – There are many options to doing so, from guided day trips to hiring a driver. All hostels will have information on the packages, and they can typically be purchased the night before. I also stayed for the Ballet at Prambanan, which was very beautiful. Not a “must-see” but definitely worth seeing if you have nothing else to do and will already be at the temple.
Day 21: Check out any last minute sites and Fly out
- I took an Indonesian Batik painting class with a local artist because I had a few extra days in Yogya. It was an all day class, but I learned SO much and loved it! Batik Painting Course + yoga + Jewelry & more
There is a lot of controversy on where the batiks in the markets are actually made – They are being sold for quite a steep price, but are they real? Who knows (doubtful after taking a full day class). But why not spend the day making your own, and learning how tedious the process actually is. Don’t worry about your art skill, the teachers are there to provide assistance.
A few things to note….
You will come across something called kopi Luwak – it is coffee made from the poop of an animal and very popular in this part of Indonesia. While it seems (and even I fell into the trap at first) really unique, you will soon find if you do any research that the animals are suffering in terrible conditions – tiny cages, poor diets, being poked at by tourists, sleep deprived, etc. Be careful of what you support, regardless of what they tell you…we all have different ideas of what animal cruelty consists of. One of the workers at the main luwak coffee told me “We do not harm the animals, we keep them in their cages” – to one human this is not “abusing” the animal, and to another human, caging an animal in a small space is animal cruelty.
I do have to say that while Prambanan and Borobudur and my Batik class were all amazing, I would not go back to Yogyakarta. A lot of the men were very aggressive and I was followed multiple times by the same men on motorbikes, trying to persistently convince me to come to “their school with them to help teach”. I was alone in Yogja, and I know things would have been different if I was with someone. Usually traveling alone is fun and totally safe, but there will always be a few spots where it is simply better to be with someone else. This is one of those spots. If traveling alone, I would still fly in to see the two main sites, but you can knock them out in one day and fly out the next if you anticipate not wanting to spend much time here.
Save the Earth!
Unfortunately, many of the islands in Indonesia are being over taken by trash. Hopefully this issue will be addressed and a system will be put into place to keep the trash out of the beautiful areas, and not use beautiful remote beaches to act as landfills.