Now for some beach time, we head for the east coast of Lombok to Labuan Pandan.
The road from Sapit to Labuan Pandan is a big contrast to the small little scenic roads we had been on. This is a real highway so we up our speed and cruise towards the east coast. The sun is shining and its getting hot. By 1:00pm we decided to stop for lunch. We found a Nasi Campur stand and had rice with fried chicken with tofu stuff and peanut stuff (8,000rp).
Back on the road. Past Labuan Lombok, north another half an hour until we came to a place advertising trips to an island. We stopped and talked with them. We looked at the bungalows-basic thatched bungalows for 75,000rp for the cheap ones. For an day trip to the islands for two people they charged 250,000rp. We told them maybe and headed north looking for the Tiara Homestay. This was run by a guy named Aco (pronounced “Acho”) who Hussein recommended.
He had three new bungalows in a new building behind his house across the highway from the beach. We made a deal for 80,000rp a night and 250,000rp for a trip to the islands.
After we settled in, we explored the coastline heading north. We took a right off the main road and down a potholed road, past little shops and houses. Locals yelled “hello mister!” as we passed. We pulled off at a trail leading 20 yards to the water. People were fishing, dogs were roaming. Big clouds moved in the distant sky. We took pictures and watched them fish.
On the way back we stopped at a little spot that was selling food. We bought some fried bananas and fried cabbage- all breaded and greasy but good to have some food around in case we get hungry.
Back at the bungalow we had no power but did have candles. Mie Goreng for dinner at the homestay (15,000rp). Thunder in the distance in the direction of Sumbawa but above us we saw stars.
Our day at the Islands.
Breakfast at 7:30. Then we all walked down the street to the beach where our captain and his boat were waiting. Our captain was a local fellow who didn’t speak english but was very smiley and friendly.
A thirty minute boat ride towards Sumbawa brought us to our first island Gili Kondo. This is Perama’s (the big tour company) island, where they stop on their tours to Flores. Luckily for us, there was no Perama tour happening so we had the island to ourselves.
Nice white sand beaches and good snorkeling. After awhile Aco and the captain came back from an unsuccessful fishing attempt and we had lunch: fried rice with an egg and crackers. We sunbathed and snorkeled some more.
Next island: Gili Bidara. Not as scenic as Gili Kondo with less lounge-able beach. We spent most of our time in the water snorkeling, which was great.
Off to the next island, the mangrove island. There was no beach here. Instead we cruised around and Aco explained that they were planted only 7 years ago to replaced the ones that were cut to make houses.
Lastly, we backtracked to a spot between the mangrove island and Gili Bidara. This spot had great snorkeling and really nice coral.
Back at the Bungalow, we had Gado Gado for dinner, content to lay around after a long day in the sun.
The next day.
In the morning after the usual banana pankake breakfast, we crossed the street and tried some snorkeling off the black sand beach. We saw coral rivaling any that we’ve seen on the trip so far. Getting out of the water and looking around at this beautiful deserted fishing beach, I felt the desire to stay another day. But we decide to keep moving.
Next stop: Tetebatu