Happy Birthday

Lombok Travel Blog

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My next holiday destination was the much awaited island my BFF had been talking about for so long.


Since my budget wouldn’t allow me to afford the plane tickets was, I ever grateful that my fairy godmother came to the rescue in the form of none other than… BFF herself.


So off I was a day after the trip to Bandung and longed to see the scene change from mountains to beaches. I wasn’t about to let my newly acquired flu get in the way. I was bent on making the most out of my but 10 day holiday.


I flew in to this beautiful island in West Nusa Tengara the day before my birthday, and made plans to just stay in the city of Mataram until my big day had passed before taking the boat to the Gilis.

I still wanted to follow an old family superstition that traveling on your birthday was bad luck.


Out of the two expats who offered their home to me from my online traveling community, I chose to stay at the place of a middle aged German. After an expensive taxi ride, I was certainly not disappointed by the place, it was one of 11 fancy villa apartments on the touristy side of the island.


The surprise wasn’t over, as I, feeling like Cinderella was shown into a room akin to a hotel. It had a balcony overlooking the pool and the forest, had a canopy style queen sized bed, a toilet with tub, towels, and all the toiletries collected from hotels of past, free to use.


My first night dinner was spent with my host and his partner over a delicious home cooked meal effortlessly prepared by their Aussie neighbor. It was the longest meal of my life which I found out was the usual European style. The four of us went full on red beans in balsamic vinegar and grilled tuna as the appetizer, a main course of pesto pasta, and leftover Christmas pudding for dessert.


Though the company was interesting, and the food fulfilling, the non stop serious talk on business between the men could not help but make me feel a little bit out of place and intimated, but I was not one to show.  


I woke up on my birthday and went straight to see the pool from my balcony and breathe in the fresh air and expecting a surprise birthday party as soon as I stepped out my bedroom door. Well, it didn’t hurt to dream.


I instead woke up to view several birthday sms’ from friends but still had the freedom as a guest to be lazy and feel the sunshine on my host’s beautiful balcony.  I still had the privilege of enjoying expensive blueberry spread over toast, fruit and coffee for breakfast while sitting around the lush plant life in the backyard.


Dead set on taking public transport versus another expensive taxi ride on this well budgeted trip, was I ever grateful to have my host’s partner drop me right in front of the other expat’s house with her motorbike.


I persisted to visit him and see for myself his newborn son and try out his wife’s cooking that he was so proud of in his profile. They all proved to be accurate. His newborn son was an adorable cross of Dutch and Sasak (Indonesian locals in Lombok) and the quickly prepared lunch of chicken innards and veggies were more than filling.


The rainy afternoon was weathered out with free flowing tea and local cakes over almost three hours of talk, seeming like old friends.


The second host’s wife followed suit as she offered to drop me to the area I desired also in her own motor.


Motors are the most practical mode of transport around the island. And unlike in Jakarta, the motorists follow the traffic rules making the ride more enjoyable. I find that going through winding roads round hills with the panoramic view of the sea on the other side always exhilarating.


She dropped me off on a strip of wooden ‘warungs’ or small stores perched beside the cliff overlooking the beach that I had seen the day before. I wanted to be autistic and spend an hour or two before sunset just nibbling on grilled corn and simply staring at the majesty of the entire view.


After having my fill, I decided to hitch up my skirt one last time as I took my final motorbike ride, now with a paid stranger, to head home.


My second and last night with my host in Mataram was spent again over a homecooked dinner after a refreshing swim in the pool. Now with the newly arrived Aussie neighbors sharing beef stew and rice, and ice cream for dessert with us. This bunch was much friendlier and the conversation more engaging as the day of my 29th birthday came to an end. Who said breaking tradition of being with family or old time friends on your big day would be lonely?

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995 km (618 miles) traveled
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photo by: inikeke