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A Journey to Sumbawa, Indonesia

After a month in Bali, we decided it was time to explore some places a little less civilised. The boys were itching for a new playground and Sumbawa seemed like the perfect place. I was keen to experience something different to the Bukit Peninsula in Bali. Being the least confident surfer, I was going to photograph for the next couple of days, hoping to capture some epic shots in some less crowded waters.

The journey from Bali to Sumbawa was long and dirty. After a few troubles with our scooter key near Sanur, we were finally on our way at 1 am on a morning in late July. We would spend the day in Kuta, Lombok, after hours on the night ferry. The ferry is an interesting experience… A 4-hour journey can easily turn into 12 if there’s no room in the harbour for the boat to unload. Thankfully, that didn’t happen to us and we got off the boat to get to Lombok by lunch. Kuta, Lombok, is less developed than the main spots in Bali. Less tourists and more dirt roads, rice fields and animals. There is also a larger Muslim community—a culture I hadn’t really experienced before. After breakfast (our last western meal for a while), we met up with the rest of the travel group. From Costa Rica; Erik, from Uruguay; Lucca, Tomy, lucho, Ines, and Tiago, from Argentina; Ian, and from New Zealand; myself and Sam, a fellow Dunedin scarfie. It was nice to have a companion that spoke only English. The 9 of us drove in convoy on scooters with our bags and boards to the Lombok port to ferry to Sumbawa, our desired destination. Feeling like a powerful biker gang, together we crossed the island with a top speed of only around 60Kph. Lots of stop offs at the minimarts to get snacks, which included a whole lot of mi goreng noodles and instant coffee. I will never forget the amount of Popme consumed on this trip. The price to ferry to Sumbawa was 120,000 Rupiah per scooter (around $12 New Zealand dollars) which is a pretty good deal compared to upwards of $100 on the interislander back home.

After a lot of time on the road, passing countless villages and animals and even breaking down (luckily) in a small town, we finally made it by night fall to a place called Super Suck. We found accommodation for the night and went on a mission to find some kai. The following morning, we drove up and over the hill to Scar Reef. We liked the feel of the place so we searched for some accommodation by the beach for the next week. A crew of nine isn’t easy to house when there’s only a handful of options in the village and a lot were already booked out. Without phone reception or Wi-Fi (due to the constant power cuts), we went door to door for half the day looking for a homestay. Accommodation ranged from 50,000 rupiah to 1,200,000 per night and we opted for the cheapest place we could find, cramming 3 to a room and sharing mattresses on the floor. It was a perfect little set up, 400 metres from the beach and a super-friendly vibe. Our neighbours were happy to meet us and had puppies, chickens and goats carrying bells around their necks all running around on the road (which made it incredibly hard to sleep at night).

The colours in the water were luminous shades of blue and green reflecting in the sun and we were able to see the untouchable reef below even though the water was at least 10 metres deep.

After a trip to the minimart to use Wi-Fi and drink instant coffee, we were exhausted and in bed by 8 pm. We had discovered the paddle to get to the waves was a fair distance that afternoon. The following morning, we hired a boat and drove off shore maybe half a kilometre to where the waves were breaking. Being able to see the size and power of the waves from up close was strangely humbling. The colours in the water were luminous shades of blue and green reflecting in the sun and we were able to see the untouchable reef below even though the water was at least 10 metres deep. We were graced with consistent good waves and no crowd for a few hours. Even a couple of turtles popped up to say hello. I photographed from the boat with a view right into the barrel. It was a new experience for me and the boys were frothing. I could see them grinning out the back, their energy was contagious and I’d get goosebumps anytime anyone caught a wave. It looked terrifying to me so I was happy to share the experience from the comfort of the boat.

Day 2 in our little paradise was very much the same, but after lunch we went looking for a waterfall in amongst some wheat fields. We got a bit lost on our scooters but some non-English speaking locals pointed us in the right direction. What we discovered was surreal: a little oasis. We climbed the waterfall and leaped off rocks into a deep blue pool until the sun set.

West Sumbawa is a stunning place. It feels untouched compared to bigger islands in Indonesia. The ginormous Lombok Volcano can be seen some evenings when the sun sets. Words can’t describe the surreal beauty of seeing long golden beaches untouched by people. 3 days in this place was not nearly enough.

Have you ever been to Sumbawa, Indonesia? Was your experience similar to Ellen’s?
Comment below!

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