It’s funny how you can be totally set on a plan for months on end, only to have it flipped on its head in the space of an hour or two. Such was the case two months ago. For the better part of a year, I’d not planned on going on any vacations until I headed off to India and Nepal for the 2013 winter holidays. And that plan stuck in place…until my traveler’s feet got itchy. (Incidentally, that saying has always made me wince a bit. It makes it sound like some sort of foot fungus causes wanderlust.)
One day in July, I glanced at my work calendar, and saw two consecutive three-day weekends in September that meant I could take four days of paid leave and get ten days off. Cue a few hours of gleefully frenetic Googling, Orbitz-ing, and WikiTravel-ing, and I was set on spending a week on the gorgeous island of Lombok, Indonesia.
Though I’m still set to jet off to the Asian subcontinent for Christmas and New Year’s (87 days and counting!), a week of sun, sand, and surf proved to be a good recharge to get me through the next few months, especially because the weather here is starting to cool down. I was bound and determined to get a healthy dose of Vitamin D (and sunburn, inevitably) before winter came. When most travelers head to Indonesia, Bali is the most obvious destination. Lombok, though, is just as beautiful with a fraction of the development and tourism, which made it the better choice in my eyes.
I started my mini-vacation in the town of Senggigi, on the western coast of Lombok. Most of my trips tend to have a “go, go, go!” theme; as much activity as humanly possible, without much of a break. Though I’d be switching between three different locales in a week, Lombok was definitely a horse of a different color. This was the first vacation I’ve ever taken that centered completely around beaches, so I was set on spending as much time lounging on the sand and enjoying the views.
And there were countless to soak in. My hotel in Senggigi was beachfront with a gorgeous view of the Bali Sea, and it didn’t take me long to settle into a laidback, island mentality. During the first few days, I spent plenty of time lounging in the sun, swimming, and just watching the waves. I even got a massage, and though I don’t have many other to compare to, I think I can safely say that the combination of a bungalow and the rolling surf was the absolute perfect atmosphere. (And it turned out that getting a massage in my first few days was the right choice…by day three, my sunburn was excessive enough that it was totally out of the question.)
Though a lot of my time was spent laying around in a bungalow and swimming in the ocean, I did still manage to get out to see a few other landmarks, like Pura Batu Bolong, a tiny temple that clings to the rocks and juts out in to the waves near the main stretch of Senggigi Beach. At the end of the extending rocks, there’s an empty throne for Brahma, the god of creation.
In my heart of hearts, I’m more of a mountain girl. I love hiking to the summit of a peak, breathing the crisp air, and surveying the miles and miles of rolling, foliage-covered landscape beneath me. But the beaches on Lombok? They were almost enough to make a convert out of me, especially when it came to the sunsets.
Sure, the views were amazing, but the other thing that really took my breath away was the food. (Almost always because it was delicious…sometimes because it was so spicy.) This was my first native foray into the cuisine of Southeast Asia, and I am now forever an addict. Learning how to make ayam taliwang is at the top of my post-vacation goals. Ayam taliwang is a traditional Sasak dish of grilled chicken basted in a sauce spiced by loads of chili peppers, sweetened with a bit of palm sugar, and finished off with a hint of lime juice. It was the first proper meal I had on Lombok, and for the rest of the week, I had to talk myself out of ordering it over and over again in order to try as many new dishes as possible. Even writing about it now is setting my stomach to the “crave” setting.
If I developed two addictions this vacation, one was definitely for spicy, Indonesian food. The other was for sarongs. Seriously, if I had it my way, a sarong would be my uniform of choice for every day that was even slightly summery. By the fourth day, I’d abandoned wearing proper clothes and just resorted to throwing on a bathing suit and wrapping myself in a sarong for my day-to-day adventures. Honestly, when you’re staying on an island with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and tropical flowers galore, what else would you cavort around in?