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Port Dickson 2013 Part 2 – Going Around Town

Published by on May 13, 2014

This is part on an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, click here.

The second day we pretty much spent it in the hotel, taking brunch swimming a lot. we went out nearby for dinner at a nearby roadside restaurant near our hotel recommended by some foodie blog.


Service was slow but food was cheap. All this for RM40.


The next day was Sunday and we decided to drive around a bit. Breakfast in Grand Lexis is a simple affair. The restaurant is not big enough for a full crowd so go early or you will have to sit outside.



The kids had breakfast in the room.


The 2nd day we went drove out to around town. We skipped Port Dickson and Lukut (been there many times) so we ended up in Seremban.


We went to the market for lunch.


The object our visit is this famous beef noodle inside the market. Good stuff.


The kids had chicken rice.


What is Seremban famous (or infamous) for? Siew Pou. this is apparently the famous shop.



Actually the siew pau was just okay, but the other stuff like puffs and tarts were pretty good.

With nothing else to do in town we drove even further out to the ostrich farm.


‘Why, hello there, handsome.’


They not only had ostriches, they had goats and um, lots of flies and mosquitoes.


Here are a pair of ostrich eggs.


You can stand on them.


What else is there to do? Ride an ostrich (they give you a certificate. I’m serious). Watch an ostrich race. Let’s just say if your a member of PETA or SPCA, you should skip this place altogether.

And before you leave, don’t forget to visit our gift shop!


We went back to the hotel afterwards. I don’t even remember where we had dinner… not the ostrich burger place, at least.

The next day we took one last brunch and swim in the pool, before packing up and going home.

So long, PD, won’t be long til we’re back again.

The end.

Port Dickson 2013 Part 1 – Grand Lexis

Published by on May 10, 2014

Well, since I’m updating my blog with the missing travelogues recently, might as well do the one about the short weekend trip to Grand Lexis Port Dickson.

This trip was really about staying in the new Grand Lexis hotel, not so much about Port Dickson. I bought a 4 day 3 night stay as a birthday present for my wife.

I’ve been going to Port Dickson since i was a kid. Back in the early 80’s, in those days Port Dickson was a sleepy town with deserted beaches. My church had their annual church camps at the NUBE training centre there for 2 years running. As i remember NUBE, they had these little chalets and dorms which our church could rent cheaply. I distinctly remember my mom being very excited about these camps, it was one of the only times we ever went on holiday.

In the past few years though, I’ve been there sporadically with the family or with the cell group, Port Dickson slowly started to change with more hotels popping up along the beach and the town expanding in both directions of the coast. The old town remains unchanged though, much like any other small town in the country.

Okay, enough with the retrospective.

In November, we hitched up the car and drove down the coast to Port Dickson, stopping for lunch at our favourite Hainanese pao (dumplings) in Dengkil.

Its an easy to find the hotel. We reached just after lunch, these shots was actually taken later in the evening.


In years past, there were good hotels in PD were widely known – Thistle (Formerly Guoman) or Avilion (the water chalets or Admiral Cove). Recently, though I’ve been hearing about this Grand Lexis, so i had to make this trip to stay here.

There Lexis, which are hotel rooms, and Grand Lexis with water chalets with private pools.




This is the swimming pool.


The prime attraction here is the private pool in your room.





My room had a glass panel looking down into the dirty Selat Melaka waters.


Suffice to say we spent a lot of time in the pool over the four days.



Sunset shot in Grand Lexis.


Dinner on our first night, we didn’t want to get too adventurous. We went back to PD waterfront, to the same restaurant from our last trip here. I think its called Uncle Lim Kopitiam.


PD Waterfront isn’t much different, still deserted.


next – round the town.

Penang 2013 Day 4 – Flea Market

Published by on April 27, 2014

(This is part of an ongoing travelogue series. To start at the beginning, click here.)

Sunday morning. There’s this new foodcourt right behind my hotel, we’ve been walking past it for past few days. Today we gave it a try. Whaddaya know, the food is pretty good. Especially the char kuey teow and loh mee.


Today being the last Sunday of the month (also last Sunday of 2013) and theres a morning flea market along Upper Penang Road.


With it being near the sea, it was very windy.

This lady made some good cakes. We bought the choc and durian cake.



This guy was selling hand carved wood items, using local wood.


All in all the market was pretty interesting, i liked the 2nd hand book stall (though it wasn’t cheap) and a local artist sold some nice pieces. Good way to kill time on a Sunday morning.

On the way back to the hotel stopped by for some sweet treats.

Then it was pack up time. Some shots from our hotel window before leaving.


One last look at the island from the bridge. This is the first Penang Bridge, at the time the second one wasn’t opened yet.



Stopped by Ipoh on the way. Why? For kacang putih, that’s why!



This was my first time trying their products. And i now know what fresh kacang putih tastes like. Ive been eating stale kacang putih all my life.

Then on it was back home to the city.

That wraps up my 4 day sojourn to Penang. It was great. I got to see all i wanted to see. We skipped some sights coz i went there on my last trip, like Fort Cornwallis, Penang Hill and Gurney Plaza. Besides, they were probably crowded. New Penang gave me a good impression – everything’s cleaner, traffic was super smooth, i didn’t get a summon nor an accident, weather was cool and overcast. On the downside, prices are noticeably increasing.

We plan to come back again next December, who knows, we might actually do.

Penang 2013 Day 3 – Kek Lok Si

Published by on April 26, 2014

(This is part of an ongoing travelogue series. To start at the beginning, click here.)

Well, today we decided to be a little more adventurous for breakfast. We drove to Pulau Tikus market. But we couldn’t find any parking near the market, and they were clamping illegal parkers. So we drove a little further away, and walked back to one of the coffeeshops.

The shop had excellent roti babi and apam. I also had the har mee.



But the big surprise was bumping into Irvin and Geraldine and family at the coffeeshop. What are the chances? They were back from Australia, and they are hundreds of coffeeshops in Penang… Anyway good to catch with them.


First stop after brekkie was Kek Lok Si temple, but en route we stopped at Suffolk House. I’ve not heard much about this place, but it turned put to be very informative and interesting.



It was all very Downton Abbey-ish.


Made me wonder about all the balls and dinners held here during its heyday.

After lots pictures, we drove on to Ayer Itam.


I’m not sure if I’ve been here during when i came here as a kid, but if i did, i really can’t remember.




I’m sure its a must see tourist spot, but it all seemed a little too commercialised to me.



Lunch was the famous assam laksa in the market. I have to say its different and i can see why its touted as the best.


Before leaving we bought some tau sah pneah. There were many shops here, we chose Seng Kee.


Before leaving we took a drive to Penang Hill furnicular train station. There were far too many cars and tour buses. Sure looks very different from my last visit here.


Went back to hotel for a shower, nap and a swim.

Dinner was at Lebuh Chulia, another popular spot.


There was a Hindu procession.

Before calling it a night, we had coffee and cake in one of the pretty coffee places along Nagore Street.


The old Jewish synagogue is near here, too bad i didnt get a good shot of it. Its a photo studio now.

Time to call it a night.

Penang 2013 Day 2 – George Town

Published by on April 25, 2014

(This is part of an ongoing travelogue series. To start at the beginning, click here.)

We didn’t book breakfast with our room. This is PENANG, why eat hotel buffet food when there’s hawker food everywhere? Like I said earlier, Hotel Royal is in a good location. Our breakfast was in New World Park, the refurbished old foodcourt, now with the addition of fine dining restaurants and pubs at night. But the foodcourt is still there. My wife says the tong sui (desserts) and ais kacang is famous here.

newworld plaza

But today, not many stalls were open. I guess its more happening in the evening.

Quite disappointing assam laksa. I knew it was wrong when it was made by an Indonesian lady. But the or chien here was quite delicious.


On the way back to Hotel we stopped by the iconic Continental Bakery for cheese buns and curry puffs.


Today it was a full morning doing the George Town Heritage Walk. On the way there we saw Poh Imm and family at the Chowrasta Market.





lim kongsi


Its a little touristy but got to admire the effort to preserve the heritage. Any other state won’t have the political will to do this. Look at what happened to Melaka and what’s happening to Chinatown in KL.

We went for the Khoo Kongsi, despite the pricey tickets. I reckon you need to do it at least once so you know what the fuss is all about.



We listened in to a tour guide entertaining another group of tourists. Quite a charismatic guy.


After that, we walked around some more towards Carnavon Street. I checked out the row of art supply shops there. The range of products for artist isn’t as good as I thought it would be, or did I visit the wrong shops?



Lunch was in a coffeeshop just opposite Nanyang Art Supplies on Carnavon Street. More char kuey teow and lobak.


Back on 4 wheels, we took a quick glimpse of the clan jetties.


Waze brought us to the Penang Road Chendol. While its definitely a great tasting cooling snack, whenever I come here, I always feel sorry for the other stall opposite it. the taste is almost the same, but its a pale shadow of the more successful neighbor. Bumped into my good friend from university, Raymond, here.


Then it was Ghee Hiang in Macalister Road. I’m not that crazy about their products, but had to buy some gifts for friends. I just wonder why they can’t open another cash counter when the queue is so long and slow, since business is so good.

ghee hiang

Later in the evening before dinner, we dropped by Clove Hall near our hotel. this bungalow hotel was the place I wanted to book initially, but it was full for the next 4 months. Lovely and tranquil place.

clove hall

Dinner was at Green Lane. Its not the best place to eat, but at least it was convenient with loads of stalls here.





there’s a surprisingly lack of activities in Penang at night, if you’re not into pubs. So we went to Batu Ferengghi for the pasar malam. Nothing much has changed since our last visit here, except for the prices.


Penang 2013 Day 1 – Long Time No See

Published by on April 20, 2014

While doing my recently concluded Lombok travelogue, i realized that I did not do a write up on my Penang trip back in December. Well, here goes, before I forget all the small little details.

It all began when I was planning a surprise Christmas holiday for the missus. At first i was thinking somewhere nearby, possibly Serendah or Janda Baik. But the hotel situation didn’t favour me, due to the super peak season during Christmas. I was discussing this with my colleague, and she said why not go Penang? Penang! Yes, why not? I got the hotel recommendations from Boone, and managed to get a cheap rate at short notice. And I was set.

Here’s a little bit about me and Penang. While it is obviously Peninsular Malaysia’s top tourist destination, i have only been there, well let’s see, 4 times?

My parent took me there when i was 5 years old. My only recollection of that trip were from a photo they took of me and my siblings standing in front of the old funicular train going up Penang Hill. My mom always reminded me that i was sick on that trip.

The second time i went was in the mid 90’s, with Boone and Peter for a treasure hunt. We spent most of the time in the hotel and one dinner in Gurney Drive, didn’t get to see Penang at all.

The third time was a short trip a few years later when Alyssa was small, but with her being a toddler we didn’t go out much either. But i remember going up Penang Hill and staying at The Gurney. And the last time was with the cell group back in 2007. But being in a huge group meant we didn’t go around much either.

So basically, I have never done the full touristy stuff, so this trip was the best opportunity to do it all.

On Christmas morning, i surprised the wife with the news. And the bigger surprise was… We are going TOMORROW!

Anyway compared to our other trips, this was a cinch to prepare for, with not much packing. We set off early on Boxing Day, stopping in the post office in Batu Gajah to renew WY’s driver’s licence. We set off before office opening hours, and this particular office was en route and rural enough to be deserted. Second stop was in the famous Foh San for authentic dim sum, it was packed with tourists as expected.

No more pitstops, and we reached the ferry terminal. Taking the bridge would have been faster, but this was more for nostalgia. Even with relatively few cars, it was a long wait.



And then we are on the island! First impression was that traffic was good! My previous trips here left me with the memory of jams and reckless motorbikes.


This trip, we had Waze so navigating the city was so easy especially with the newly implemented one way traffic. We headed straight for Royal Hotel.


The place was alright, a little run down, shaky wifi but the location was perfect.

View from our room.


Nice mansion turned into KFC. Stop the madness.


After my first lunch of char kuey teow in Georgetown, we decided to walk to E&O Hotel, taking pictures along the way.

The Han Jiang Ancestral Temple was really impressive, I was glad to see it renovated into world class tourist level, with the signs and displays.



More sights as we walked on.



Next was The Cheong Fatt Sze mansion, but it was closed when we got there.




The camera museum looked interesting but there was a steep entrance fee.


Now THIS is my kind of shop.


The interesting looking Jap restaurant opposite the Mansion.


We dropped by this place to look around plus iced coffee. Bit of a tourist trap, really.



Made it to E & O Hotel on the seafront. I’ve read about the rich Armenian history, the food at Sarkies and high tea, but we were here just for photos. I suppose back in the colonial times this was grand, but now it looks small compared to modern hotels and pushed to the edge by development. But it is a beautiful hotel, nonetheless.




We walked all the way back to the hotel for a swim. The pool is Royal Hotel is quite small. They should really refurbish this place.


We didn’t plan for anything for dinner, so I googled some food blogs for recommendations. One of them mentioned this place for tai chow in Pulau Tikus, so we drove all the way. Unfortunately, it was closed, so on the recommendation of some locals, we drove up near the flats to find a coffeeshop. We found one to have some char kuey teow, but it was kinda disappointing. The old cook thought a good idea to have sotong in his char kuey teow.

Not satisfied, we drove back to Gurney Drive for supper. I know people say its commercialized and all, but at least I knew we’d find good food here.



We were not disappointed.



Next – Georgetown Heritage Trail.

Lombok 2014 Day 6 – Goodbye

Published by on April 17, 2014

(This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start from the beginning, click here)

The last day in Lombok started early with breakfast, then a shower before packing up and getting on our taxi to the airport. Senggigi is a long way to the airport, so it was advisable to start off early even though it was a Sunday.

Driving through the island, it was interesting to see weekend life of normal folks on the island. In one small village, we saw folks wearing their Sunday best gathering to repair a the roofing on a house beside the main road. In Mataram, we saw some lots of people gather as they watch workers repair a portion of the road.

Everywhere, we saw women on cidomos (horse drawn cart taxis) with their weekly marketing shopping, some of them with little kids staring into passing cars.

This was the Sunday before Qing Ming (All Souls Day), we saw the Chinese graveyard was milling with very tanned-skinned Chinese families clearing the graves. Its always a source a comfort for me to see our valued Chinese traditions as one of the oldest civilizations on earth still practiced in different countries.

Our slow drive through the island ended in the airport.


Looking back, it was as usual, a very enjoyable holiday for the family. We didn’t buy much stuff back this time, save for some Lombok coffee and souvenirs for friends.


So in retrospect, would i recommend Lombok to my world-travelling friends. In a heartbeat. But there are some caveats. Tourism isn’t really there yet on the island. This isn’t a starter destination, meaning if your family isn’t used to traveling a lot, you might find it quite inconvenient. It takes some experience and legwork to find the right transport, or place to eat, etc. If you’re a beginner traveler, get your feet wet with easier destinations like Bali or Bangkok. Here, there aren’t many tourists, there are hardly any Western restaurants on Lombok except on the strip in Senggigi. Don’t expect shoulder to shoulder restaurants offering burgers here. In fact in Mataram, you have survive on local spicy food. So parents with kids should take precaution. Most local folk don’t speak English except at the hotel. And if your not familiar with Bahasa Indonesia, it might take you some practice to catch their accent.

Gili Trawangan is far more commercialized, although in a limited way, and nothing like anywhere in Bali. There are lots of restaurants, and you can find help in English easily.

But don’t take it wrongly, even if you’re a newbie to traveling, with some proper planning and research you’ll do just fine. There are a lot of stuff to see and do here.

If you are physically inclined, climb Mount Rinjani to see the surrounding islands of Sumbawa, Flores and Bali from above the clouds (we didn’t go for it as you need to spend overnight on the mountain).

Go for the waterfalls.

See the mysterious pink beach. (Didn’t get to see this, it was a day trip)

See the Sasak village.

Swim with turtles just off the beach.

Eat ayam taliwang and cap cai.

Soak up the sun on one the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia.

Until next time, Lombok.

Lombok 2014 Day 5 – Waterfalls

Published by on April 13, 2014

(This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start from the beginning, click here)

This marks the final full day in Lombok. Nothing beats a morning swim just before breakfast.


This is an awesome view, an altar facing Gunung Agung in Bali. At night they light up the fire like a sacrifice.


Lady going for a morning walk on the beach along our hotel.


Breakfast was something i looked forward to. They had a la carte brekkie, all with servings of fruit, juice and coffee or tea.



Today we planned to go to one of the waterfalls on the island. There two places to see spectacular waterfalls, all emanating from the mystical Gunung Rinjani in the centre of Lombok. The most impressive series of falls, Senaru or Tiu Kelip, are at the north of the mountain. Unfortunately its a long drive through back roads to get there. Plus after the first waterfall, its hard and steep trekking to get to the next ones. So we decided to take our guide’s tip to visit the slight more accessible Benang Setokal and Kelambu falls to the south of Rinjani.

Although easier to traverse, they is by no means within easy reach. Ot takes almost 2 hours driving from Senggigi. Our plan was to take a slow drive while taking time to visit some interesting sights along the way.

First up, a furniture factory outside Mataram. En route we paased the market again. You see the chaos outside.


Lombok is famous for cultivated pearls, folks come from all over Indonesia to buy them. A side industry has blossomed from this – they embed the shell of the oyster in furniture to make this distinct feature common on the island.





Basically after embedding, they scrape off the wood layer to reveal the luminous oyster shell.


From Mataram we drove past Narmada, the old capital of Lombok. Here the morning pasar had lots of stalls selling all kinds of machetes and carving knives.


Theres a palace ground in Narmada but gave that a miss.

Beyond Narmada its just small villages interspersed by paddy fields and coconut trees.



Deep into the heartland we finally reach the waterfalls. Here they have a series of 5 falls, each set is deeper in, higher up, and harder to trek. Not to mention more expensive the fees. I took the package for the first two falls only for IDR 120,000 per adult (can’t remember exactly) , kids enter for free.

The first is Benang Stokal, an easy 5 minute walk in from the parking.



On the way we saw this strange tree with fruits on the trunk.


There are two falls here both gushing ice cold water into shallow pools, you can wade under it.

Some schoolkids enjoying a day out.


The second fall, Benang Kelambu, is 30-45 minute hike from here. But we were not wearing proper shoes and it would have been tough on Hannah, so we opted for the alternative – motorbike! They use another easier but far longer route, but only 5 mins on wheels.

First time riding pillion. That’s our driver doing motorbike duty also.


and the local guide. He used to work in Cameron Highlands.


After the bike ride there are some pretty steep and slippery steps.


But once there, you can see its all worth it.





we didn’t go on to the deeper falls, I wonder how beautiful they are.

we got back to civilization at about 2pm, lunch was babi guling in Cakranegara, the commercial centre of Lombok. Here are where the Chinese and Hindu businesses are concentrated. Today happened to be 2 days before Nyepi, so there were many ogoh-ogoh (giant effigies) ready for burning.

Babi guling here is pretty much like on Bali.


then on we went shopping for some food stuff and Lombok coffee.


they deep fry the weirdest things here.


Late afternoon we reached back Senggigi, we checked out Café Alberto. Our driver told us they offered pickup and drop off service from hotels, but the receptionist said they only had dropoff. Anyway later we read some poor reviews online. Nevermind, we’ll decide on dinner later.


More pool time followed.

Evening in Lombok is great. Our hotel sets up beach romantic dining. But be prepared to be hassled by touts.



Dinner was decided on Square (ranked #1 on Tripadvisor, hooray!). they offered to and fro transport, I figured the cost of taxi is factored in the price.

Popular with foreigners.



Hannah’s nasi goreng was the best.


Later back at Qunci we explored the rest of the resort. they have a good reading room.


And the hallways had art installation.


Next – Goodbye.

Lombok 2014 Day 4 – Gili Meno and Qunci Villas

Published by on April 11, 2014

(This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start from the beginning, click here)

Day 4 starts as the second day on Gili Trawangan. Beach looks calm and beautiful in the morning.


The night before we had tried to find a cheap snorkeling transport to Gili Meno, where there was supposed to be some awesome dive spots. But they were all quite expensive (at least IDR 1mil), especially for the few hours we wanted to go. We were checking out at 12pm, so we decided snorkel off the beach. So we started walking along the beach going down south. There didn’t seem to be any nice beaches comparable to the one we spent on yesterday, even until we reach d the end of the restaurants and chalets. So we decided to talk to this tout on the beach, he seemed to be offering a less than expensive rate of IDR 800,000 for 4 hours of snorkeling and ride on a glass bottom boat.

So, not able to find a good spot off the beach, we decided to go with this guy.

The glass bottom boat was just okay, the main reason was to go to Gili Meno.




Gili Meno is but 10 minutes away, maybe less. the best snorkeling spot is about 200 meters from the beach, but the seabed is pretty deep.



I would say the corals and fish off Gili Meno were quite beautiful, but not much different from what we saw the day before on Gili T, and probably on par with Ko Lipe. There was also another baby turtle. We spent about 45mins at that spot, boy I can tell you that snorkeling even with fins and life jacket is really hard work…


We landed in Gili Meno for a walkabout. As beautiful as the island is, the beautiful is covered with broken corals, making walking on it a dreadful affair. After clearing the beach onto solid ground, the guide took us inland for a walkabout. There is a really small village on the island, at first it looked like a strange cult inhabited here…



What we saw in the middle of the island is weirder still. walking through a dirt path made out of even more broken corals (ouch, ouch, and ouch! We were barefoot) there was a large saltwater lake. the water comes out of the ground, not from the sea. the water here is apparently far saltier than the ocean, the guide told us the villagers here held an annual ceremony to collect the water and make salt.


Nothing lived on or in this lake, except for some small tadpole-looking fish, and a certain kind of lotus plant. But this lends the lake to a very serene and calming feel.


By twelve we were back on Gili T to take a cold bath and check out of Marta’s. I’d recommend Marta’s to anyone. Very affordable and friendly staff. We left our bags at hotel and went for lunch. By now I started to realize I may not have enough rupiah to last the rest of my trip, so we decided to find a restaurant that accepted credit card. We chose Egoiste, a trendy Italian pasta place, that served great pizza (the pizza actual came from another take-away only shop next door, but they had some table sharing thing going). Egoiste is really nice, actually. There were divans under the trees on the beach facing the sand, you can lie down and enjoy pizza and sipping some Bintang beer.

But we opted for the table.



We had some time to kill before the boatman came at 2pm, so we took our time with the pizza and beer, enjoying the breeze.

On the way back, I tried the CIMB Niaga ATM (yes, they have ATMs on the island) but couldn’t withdraw money. So I had to exchange Ringgit to rupiah at a dodgy looking currency exchange stall. Poor rates but it was only a small amount.

Anyway, we ended our sojourn in the Gilis, as boat and then car brought us back to Senggigi in Lombok.

Our next hotel? Qunci Villas.

Qunci is a beautiful hotel. I know I used that word a lot during this travelogue, but this place took my breath away. It was the hotel that convinced me to come to Lombok (seeing the photos on the website). And it really exceeded my expectations. Rarely do you find a place more impressive than the photos, but this was it. It’s a pretty expensive place (one of the most expensive on Lombok, according to my driver) but they allowed us to fit an extra bed in addition to the existing day bed, making it affordable for my family of four. In fact, Scott, the owner, is one of the friendliest hotel owners in the Tripadvisor forum. Usually, hotels answer posts with a standard answer, but Scott takes time to participate in forums and offering honest opinions.

Anyway, like I said, photos don’t justify the place.

(the reception)


(everywhere its landscaped)

(Room 21)

(Hannah’s day bed)

(enjoying our welcome drink on the room patio)

(The sexy bathroom and shower)

Qunci has 3 pools right next to the beach, all facing Bali and the sunset.


(you don’t get to see pink plumeria in Malaysia)



(Hannah in the sunset pool)



(looking up Qunci Villas from the beach)

(Coral décor on the beach)

(we had our breakfasts here, the furniture all made from petrified wood)

We spent the whole afternoon napping and swimming, after the tiring morning of snorkeling.


Suffice to say, sunset here is pretty awesome.


For dinner, we didn’t want to spend much, so we followed Wikitravel’s recommendation of a good warung on the beach next to Qunci. The aforesaid warung wasn’t there, but there was another even more ramshackle place called ‘Warung Sasak’. Good food, though.

We had yellowtail grilled right out of the sea, grilled chicken and cap cai.


Next – Waterfalls.

Lombok 2014 Day 3 – Gili Trawangan

Published by on April 6, 2014

(This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start from the beginning, click here)

After two days in Kebun Villas & Resort on Lombok, on the third day we packed up after breakfast. Next destination – the Gili Islands!

All the while doing research for Lombok, I read about the 3 Gili Islands. Some posters said they were the most beautiful islands in the world (pinch of salt included) and any trip to Lombok would not be complete without at least a few nights here. I wasn’t against the idea of staying here, but the thought of packing up and moving hotels 3 times in 6 days wasn’t what I had in mind for a relaxing holiday. But my wife was keen on it, so I went with the idea.

Checking out of Kebun was a quick affair, so we waved goodbye to the 2 beautiful swimming pools and got into our transport (IDR 550,000 all inclusive of transfer and boat). This was the same transport we had used for the past 2 days, except today it was his assistant, a really nice guy whom I’m sad to say I’ve forgotten his name.

Getting to the Gilis, as they’re called, usually meant going through one of 2 public harbours – Bangsal or Teluk Nare. Both have notorious reputations, but have regular, cheap public boats every hour. I was advised by Sasha and Tripadvisor to pay more for a private charter boat, we did.

So driver then takes us on a scenic route along the coastline, giving us many stops to photograph the fantastic clifftop views of Senggigi.


Everywhere on the island, its clear blue waters…


Here you can see the Gilis from Lombok. From the left, that Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air (not in picture).


After Senggigi, we passed by a few remote seaside villages. One of them has a private boat unofficial ‘harbour’, run by the villager. Far from having just simple fishing boats, they have modern skiffs and speedboats.


That’s our boat.


And off we go. the trip at moderate speed takes about 25 mins.


Looking back you can really see how huge Lombok is, and how much of is still undeveloped, green and beautiful.


Mini Kardashians.

Alyssa & Hannah speed boat

Landfall in Gili. First impressions – more beautiful than Lombok, sandy white beaches and clear blue waters. And scorching hot.



Down the main street of Gili Trawangan. The island does not have tarred roads, because they don’t allowed any motorized vehicles on the island. Not even motorcycles. The only modes of transport are bicycles, and cidomo. What’s a cidomo? you will see it later.

main street Gili T

Our home for 2 days 1 night in Gili T is Marta’s. Marta’s is a small, homely hotel, a lot like a homestay. Here’s a bit about finding accommodation in Gili T or any of the Gilis. There are many such homestay and chalets on the island, however not many of them can be booked online. A lot of tourists just show up and find a room somewhere. Those hotels that DO have website or are affliated to booking websites like Agoda or are usually fully booked most of the time. From what we observed, most of the hotels are the budget family-run places, or the backpacker types. There are a few upmarket resorts, like the 5-star Villa Ombak, they are usually on the west or north of the island. So they aren’t many mid-priced hotels, its either end of the price spectrum.


Marta’s is a family-run place. a little on the old side, but we like it and its near best snorkeling spot and the town centre of Gili T.

Marta's garden

Marta's pool

We got the largest room in the resort, above the office. It has a large balcony / drying yard overlooking the pool.


Marta's pool topview

After checking in we took a walk through the town centre of Gili T.

There are few scuba schools to get your certification. Both Padi and SSI available.

scuba school

Jetty in centre of town in front the Art Market. The Art Market is a small square that turns into a local food court at night.


At the side of the Art Market is La Dolce Vita, a bakery run by an Italian couple, serving authentic baguettes and pizzas, and great coffee. And its really cheap to boot.

Surly looking Italian owner.


Love the food. Real Italian style, not the American style we’re used to here.



After lunch we took a cidomo ride around the island. If you are still wondering what that is, this is what a cidomo looks like.


A ride around the island takes less than 30 minutes, and you can see all the beaches.

west beach

then it was snorkeling time.


Hannah snorkel

we spotted a giant turtle just off the beach, too bad we didn’t have an underwater camera. It was truly a beautiful creature, allowing us to snorkel right next to it.

(Everyone’s looking at the turtle as it surfaces.)

After a few hours of snorkeling in the scorching sun, we went back for a shower and nap.

For dinner, there was no shortage of places to eat and drink. the main town strip lights up with all kinds of restaurants – local, Irish, German, fusion, Italian, whatever you want. From the recommendations on tripadvisor, we narrowed it down to Beach House or Il Pirata, in the end we went for seafood grille at the former.

bbq spread

dinner photo

Dinner was a little pricey but good. But you can’t complain much about having sunset dinner with your loved ones right on one the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia / world.

Next – Gili Air then back to Lombok.

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