After Lembongan we took a somewhat unexpectedly small fishing boat across the sea to Kusamba in Bali, then a taxi to Padangbai from whence we took a five hour ferry to Lembar on Lombok’s west coast, during which we were treated to the most spectacular lightning show I’ve ever seen. Another taxi from Lembar to Senggigi, an overnight stay in the kind of establishment that offers a hole in the ground instead of a ‘Western toilet’, and then the glorious coastal road by moped to Bangsal, the ‘port’ that enables you to cross to the Gili Islands.

We chose Gili Meno, the quietest of the three Gilis {although not for long I fear}. Truly a little piece of paradise.

This was where I spent my 34th birthday.

I mean, I don’t want to make you sick or anything, but I woke up on my birthday on white sheets in a hut made of bamboo by the beach, with a gorgeous man who arranged breakfast in bed for me ~ banana pancakes and rich Lombok coffee. I sat on the verandah of our hut looking out at the white sand and turquoise sea, with nothing to think about but where we might snorkel and have lunch and lay about that day. The island is so deserted I was able to do naked snorkelling and sunbathing!

And at sunset I saw the sun dipping down behind the volcano in Bali, a sight I am told happens only twice a year, while listening to the melodic call to prayer {Lombok is Muslim}. I was serenaded at dinner and encouraged to indulge my every whim. What on earth am I going to do on my 35th?!?!

Anyway, back to the story. After Gili Meno, we headed back to the mainland and down to the south coast of Lombok, making our base on the outskirts of Kuta, at the ‘Royal Spa Hotel and Bungalows’, aka some thatched huts in a field. Classic. The beaches in the area draw a lot of surfers and D happily caught waves on several of them. Below is Seger, a few minutes by moped outside Kuta.

This is where I spent my time while D was surfing at Seger, and where Bobi drew me his beautiful picture.

Water buffalo, a common sight in Lombok.

A boy who worked at the Royal Spa shimmied up a coconut palm one morning, macheted off a couple of coconuts, shimmied back down and crouched on the ground with his friend eating them for breakfast.

I do love me a sunset. This one’s on a section of deserted beach behind our hotel edged with palms and a monkey forest.

This might just be the most beautiful beach I’ve ever had the privilege of enjoying. White sand: check. Aqua sea: check. Hot sunshine: check. Water like a bath: check. Deserted and undeveloped: check. We parked the moped and dived in. Heaven.

This water buffalo herder was keen for us to photograph him. He just wanted to see himself on the little screen. It gave him so much pleasure, even though he’d never get to ‘own’ the photo. Another good lesson in non-attachment!

In Lombok we discovered ‘fish on a stick’; women cooking freshly caught fish on bamboo sticks over small fires on the ground, commonly seen at the roadside. Instant lunch.

Monkey grooming. Gotta keep clean you know! Then you can indulge in some monkey business right after. {I’ll spare you that photo.}

Five on a bike, surrounded by buffalo. Gives the words ‘school run’ a whole new meaning. In this part of the world children drive mopeds and carry ~ and use ~ machetes as a matter of course. Makes us Westerners look like a bunch of drippy nonces quite frankly.

Neither of us wanted to leave Lombok; it’s easily one of the best and most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Bali has beauty too but is much more built up and heavily populated than anyone ever seems to mention. Lombok remains relatively untouched although with the newly built airport I feel privileged to have seen it before the imminent hordes arrive.

But we had flights we couldn’t forfeit, so off we went to Kuala Lumpur. If you’ve been there, you may know what I mean when I say we couldn’t leave there fast enough. It has similarites with Hong Kong with none of its charm, culture or individuality. It’s a sky scrapered, vehicle oriented, sprawling mecca to designer shopping, with big icy malls and very little green. The only redeeming feature seemed to be the food, not that I could enjoy it much as I was struck down with something stomachy while we were there.

We did have this lovely view of the Petronas Towers from our hotel though.

There were a couple of things to amuse {and revolt}.

There’s a joke here. I’ll let you work it out. All I’ll say is, watch your privates. 😉

As soon as I felt well enough to walk about, we made like a tree. To cut a long and rather tortured story short, we ended up on Pulau Perhentian Kecil off the east coast, a lovely little island {albeit overrun with westerners} with some of the best snorkelling I’ve ever seen.

And that, my friends, is more than enough. Thank you for patiently sitting through my travel photos; karma will see to it that you are amply rewarded.