Singapore and 3 Fs: Family, Friends & Food

This is a super delayed update on our two weeks in Singapore (late Sept – early October)…but oh well better late than never I guess! For most of the SG visits so far (to settle the house, attend weddings etc), I’ve been going back alone. So it was really nice that this time round, Agent D and I could head back together. 🙂

For this year, we actually made a decision to forgo a long holiday elsewhere and spend more time in Singapore instead. And I’m glad that the ‘sacrifice’ was worth it – we got to satisfy food cravings, spend quality time with family, and catch up with various groups of friends.

Here’s our SG trip summarised in pictures:

1) Family

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them” — Desmond Tutu

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Day out at Sentosa with dad and mom.

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Both our parents! Such a cute picture.

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Tourists at Madame Tussauds wax museum.

Its been a while since I last visited Sentosa Island and it has changed so much! Singapore’s landscape is constantly evolving…after a couple of months away, new buildings seemingly sprout out of nowhere and old buildings are suddenly gone.

2) Friends

“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.” — Baltasar Gracian

Agent D was a happy boy because he spent an entire day board gaming with Shane (pretty sure 1 day wasn’t enough actually) — something he was really looking forward to leading up to the trip.

I even indulged him in a game of Eclipse one of the nights, which left me pretty much brain-dead thereafter. #wifeyduties

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Eclipse!

Get–togethers with friends are always great, as usual.

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Half of L Dearest, missing the other 5. When will we ever get full attendance with us in FIVE different countries?! 😩

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Congrats on your lil’ one, Hannah and Fred!

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GSF +1 + unplanned blue coordination.

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Agent D’s church mates.

And more pictures…meeting baby fatty is always a highlight of my trip! Ain’t he so adorable *pinch cheeks*.

3) Food, food, and MORE FOOD

“Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.” — Elsa Schiaparelli

Singapore’s hawker food is one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable anywhere out of Singapore (at least to me). Usually after landing, the first thing I do is eat a delightful plate of hokkien mee. #comfortfood

Time allowing, I always stop by Melben Seafood for some good crabs.

So happy we finally got to check out the seafood buffet at 10 at Claymore, Pan Pacific Orchard. During my last SG visit, when they were having Oyster Occasions (1 June to 31 July 2016), I called to make a reservation 1 week in advance but they told me they were fully booked EVERY DAY for the next 3 weeks. :/

Oceanic gems aside (fresh lobsters and sashimi included), their other food like the premium New Zealand Grass-Fed Organic Beef and Penang specialties such as Char Kway Teow, Bak Kut Teh with Kurobuta Belly Ribs, Assam Laksa with Barramundi Fillet were good stuff too.

Agent D and I also got to spend time chilling at cafes with a book. Simple pleasures I’m missing now.

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High tea at Saveur.

Korean Bingsu (consisting of ice shavings and various ingredients) is currently all the rage in Singapore. I saw about 10 new Korean Bingsu shops during my short time there. Reminds me of the bubble tea/froyo/salted egg yolk anything craze, which have all more or less died down by now.

I just had to try one…

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Green Tea Bingsu at O’ma Spoon.

Ending off this post with my all-time favourite salmon sashimi bowl from The Sushi Bar.

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Thick, fresh pieces of salmon sashimi. #sogood

OH I WANNA GO BACK TO SINGAPORE SOON AGAIN! ❀ ❀ ❀

 

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Explore Indonesia #8: Best Restaurants in Lombok + Gili Islands

I am finally back in Jakarta after two fulfilling weeks in Singapore. Time spent in Singapore always passes by so fast; there’s so much to do and so many people to meet but so little time. I’ll update on my SG trip in another post soon.

As promised, here’s a list of restaurants you may want to check out if you’re headed to Lombok or the Gili Islands. Lombok was exceptional in so many ways, especially when it came to meal times. Good food, amazing ambience/setting — all without burning a hole in your pocket.

Asmara Restaurant & Lounge

Located along Jl. Raya Senggigi (10 minutes by foot from Sheraton), Asmara Restaurant & Lounge was our first stop for lunch. Both Agent D and I hadn’t eaten anything since boarding the plane and boy were we hungryyy!

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Asmara Restaurant & Lounge.

The restaurant has a garden theme and its entrance is surrounded by tropical greens. Fresh kitchen herbs grow alongside the stairs leading up to the building.

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Lovin’ the greens.

You can either choose to dine outdoors or in open rooms. With the sweltering afternoon heat, we chose the latter option (though I think it’d be nice dining outdoors in the evening).

It was pretty quiet during lunch time, which was good for us. Agent D and I ordered the ‘Sasak Rijsttafel’ set for 2 (IDR 125K/pax) which consists of 7 different items.

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A local specialty – Sasak Rijstafel set for 2.

Just beside the restaurant on the same grounds, there is a shop selling art pieces. You can browse around whilst waiting for your food to come (I did just that).

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Good value for money dining @ Asmara.

If you’re staying in the Senggigi area, Asmara offers a free ‘pick-up & drop-off’ service by car. Simply ring them up to make arrangements for them to pick you from your hotel + bring you back after your visit. (Most restaurants in Senggigi offer this awesome service!).

Location: Jl. Raya Senggigi, Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara 83355.


Lotus Bayview Restaurant

Lotus Bayview Restaurant is tucked just behind Pasar Seni (Art Market) fronting the beach.

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Lotus Bayview Restaurant.

It has a charming antique interior with pretty porcelain plates hung up on the walls, blue-tiled flooring, and flower-tiled tables.

You can choose to either eat inside or enjoy the sand between your feet outside. Situated only a few meters from the shoreline, you can actually see Bali’s Mount Agung on a clear day!

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Outdoor seating on the beach.

Agent D and I deliberately made a reservation for 5.30pm so that we could enjoy the sunset over dinner. Coupled with a gentle sea breeze, the entire setting was lovely and so peaceful.

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Waiting for the sun to set!

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Five minutes before the sun went down.

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Finally, the sun setting over the sea.

The restaurant serves a great variety of freshly prepared pizza and pasta as well as local Indonesian fare. Since we had Indonesian cuisine for lunch, we decided to go Western for dinner.

Everything was delish except the banana split, where the strawberry ice-cream tasted funny. :/

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A memorable evening.

Witnessing a stunning sunset from Lotus Bayview while indulging in our yummy food will always be a fond memory of our Lombok stay.

Location: Senggigi Beach Art Center complex, Batu Layar, Kabupaten Lombok Barat, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355.


Karma Beach Gili Meno

After snorkelling around the Gilis for the first half of the day, our boatman dropped us off at Gili Meno for lunch. Among the three Gili Islands, the most passive island retreat has to be Meno with its hushed and laidback atmosphere.

We initially wanted to check out Mahamaya Boutique Resort Restaurant. However, as it was on the other side of the island (and we only had about 1+ hour for lunch), we took refuge from the heat at Karma Beach Gili Meno instead.

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Karma Beach Gili Meno Restaurant.

Karma Beach Gili Meno is a beachfront restaurant uniquely consisting of all-bamboo structures and grass-roofed rotundas. We requested to sit in a private hut, and the waiter kindly obliged us.

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Beachfront restaurant.

The kitchen at Karma Beach Gili Meno features Mediterranean delights, as well as both traditional Indonesian and international cuisine.

We loved their fat truffle fries, which was the first to arrive. By the time my seafood pasta came, I was already half full. The rest of the food was good but nothing exceptional (perhaps due to my satiety?).

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Two shades darker with our food.

Nevertherless, we had a good lunch at Karma Beach Gili Meno. I would recommend it if you’re looking for a restaurant not too far from Gili Meno’s main anchorage.

Location: Gili Meno island, Pemenang, Gili Indah, Pemenang, Kabupaten Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83352.


The Ballroom Restaurant

The Ballroom Restaurant is part of the Puri Mas resort in Lombok. Its name is derived from the De Rijk family’s long-time love affair with Ballroom dance. We happened to come by on Thursday evening (their designated ‘local culture’ night) and were entertained by live singing and dancing.

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The Ballroom Restaurant, Puri Mas resort.

Boasting a beachfront location with unobstructed ocean views of Bali, the restaurant is a fabulous place to indulge in a romantic sunset cocktail with your significant other.

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So romantik!

You can dine in or out, and choose from a menu consisting of seafood specialties and Indonesian cuisine.

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Main dance floor.

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Restaurant’s warm interior.

We got a very nice table right in front of the sea. The candle light, beautifully presented tables with crisp linen, fresh flowers and the sound of the ocean added to the entire atmosphere. (perfect for a couple’s date night *hint guys*)

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Eagerly anticipating my dinner after a day out snorkelling.

Although the waiter recommended the chef’s Indonesian traditional Rijsttafel menu, we decided to order a mix of Indonesian and Western dishes instead.

The food was cooked to perfection and the service was outstanding. We’d definitely visit again if we make it back to Lombok.

The Ballroom Restaurant also offers a free ‘pick-up & drop-off’ service by car. Just let them know when you call to make your reservation!

Location: Puri Mas Beach Resort, Jl. Raya Mangsit Beach, Senggigi, Kabupaten Lombok Barat, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355.


Casa Vintage Beach Cafe

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Casa Vintage Beach Cafe.

Casa Vintage Beach Cafe is one of the cutest bohemian outdoor cafes I’ve seen. Set in the middle of shady trees right by the beach, it is the perfect place for winding down with a book.

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Incredibly idyllic all-day island hangout.

I love the fact that Casa Vintage is located away from the the rowdier ‘party’ side of Gili Trawangan. The entire place is super tranquil and quiet.

To find this hidden gem, cycle/walk towards the west ‘sunset’ side of the island (near Sunset Stables). You’ll see a bicycle parking bay on the right side and the restaurant on your left.

At Casa Vintage, you get to bask in the luxury of doing nothing but eating, sip a refreshing coconut, take a short nap on a hammock, enjoy the sunset, build a sandcastle, or even have a picnic on one of their comfy rugs with pillows. #lifeisgood

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Surrounded by nature.

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What’s a beach without coconuts!

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Such a pretty setting.

Their menu has a focus on Caribbean cuisine; although not extensive, the food was good. We did have to wait quite a while for our food though. But most importantly, the view + atmosphere = simply amazing.

We left with our tummies and hearts full. ❀

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Lovely lunch by the beach at Casa Vintage.

Location: Sunset Side, Front Rd, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.


Quali Asian Seafood Restaurant

Our last dinner in Lombok was at Quali Seafood Restaurant within the grounds of Qunci Villas. (After walking around the premises of Qunci Villas, I’ve decided that I’ll want to stay here for my next Lombok trip heh.)

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Elegant interior of Quali Seafood Restaurant.

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Indoor seating.

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Buffet option available for dinner.

With calm waves lapping at the shores in front of you, and Mount Agung of Bali rising on the horizon, this restaurant is another stunning place to dine in and relax.

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Outdoor seating along the beach.

The kitchen serves mainly Asian food and seafood (duh), with flavours from all over Asia cooked in many different ways. As it was our last meal in Lombok (SOBS), we kinda compensated for our sadness by over-ordering. #itsoktogrowfatONLYonholiday

All the food ordered came beautifully presented and cooked well. My favourite was the chocolate volcano – the molten lava chocolate that oozed out paired perfectly with the ice-cream and strawberries on the side. Yum.

As with most other Lombok restaurants, the service was exemplary.

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A great close to our stay in Lombok.

Don’t forget to request for the free ‘pick-up & drop-off’ service if you need it! 🙂

Location: Qunci Villas, JL. Raya Mangsit, Senggigi, Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Bar.


I really hope you enjoy your stay in Lombok and her glorious food. I’m already missing Lombok as I type this.

Explore Indonesia #7: Things to do in Lombok + Gili Islands

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Of pristine beaches and blue waters.

We are back from our Lombok escape, 5 shades darker and lovin’ it. Our four days in Lombok was simply amazing – a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. I found Lombok to be much more laid back than Bali (less touristy and cheaper!) and we were able to just wind down, chill, and soak in the beach vibes.

In case you’re thinking of visiting the alluring island of Lombok one day, here’s a list of what you can do:

1) Enjoy the resort’s facilities

Because Agent D and I booked our hotel late, we were left with few choices. We finally settled on Sheraton Beach Resort on Senggigi for its central location. (Qunci Villas would have been our first choice!) Although Sheraton was old and in need of a makeover, it was clean and good enough for us.

We spent our first day exploring the resort’s grounds and enjoying the pool.

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Stroll around the beautiful green grounds or play a game of giant chess in the lush gardens.

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Read a book by the swimming pool + suntan.

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Get a refreshing drink by the bar and watch the world go by.

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Enjoy the hotel’s private beach.

The private beach was really clean with clear blue waters. Agent D and I borrowed floats from the hotel and bobbed around for a while. You can event rent a kayak and paddle out to sea.

In case you’re interested, Sheraton offers comprehensive spa packages which are half price if you book them during breakfast (a real steal!).

2) Catch pretty sunsets

Because the island of Lombok is surrounded by sea, it has one of the prettiest sunsets with the sun descending into the water. Many of the restaurants in Lombok are located along the beach so customers can enjoy a stunning sunset over dinner.

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1st night dinner at Lotus Bayview Restaurant.

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2nd night dinner at the Ballroom Restaurant, Puri Mas Boutique Resort & Spa.

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10 minutes before the sun went down.

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Waiting for the sun to set on Gili Trawangan, after which my camera ran out of battery.

Oh do note that the sun sets rather early in Lombok, around 6 pm. If you want to watch it making its way down, you have to arrive at the restaurant around 5.30 pm thereabouts. 🙂

3) Go snorkelling/diving on the Gili Islands

To get to the Gili Islands from Lombok (Senggigi), you either have to charter a private boat or take the public boat from Bangsal Harbour. Agent D and I wanted to save time so we went for the first option. We paid IDR 700k for a full day’s hire.

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With our cute-looking private boat, Amedeo.

We arranged for the boat to pick us up from the beach just behind Sheraton (super convenient!) and it took us about 1.5 hours to get to the Gili Islands.

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Just us and the vast ocean.

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Spot the Gilis in the distance?!!

As our boat neared the Gili Islands, we found ourselves surrounded by waters in fifty shades of blue. The waters were so clear we could see the corals underneath. It was amazingly beautiful.

Although Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are all lovely in their own ways, both Agent D and I felt that Gili Meno was best for snorkelling.

A tiny island no doubt, but it has one of the best beaches and waters + snorkelling sites all round with incredible corals and fishes. You can rent snorkelling sets on the island for about IDR 100k/day.

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Before taking a dip!

First day, our boatman picked out various sites around the 3 Gili Islands for us to snorkel. We saw corals and a large variety of fishes but felt that we wanted to see more. As such, we signed up for the ‘Public Boat Trip Gili Meno’ (IDR 150k/pax) with Blue Ocean Boat Trip the next day.

It consists of a three hour group snorkelling tour either in the morning (10am) or afternoon (2 pm). The boat stops at Meno Wall, Coral Garden, and two other spots around Gili Meno.

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The ‘Public Boat Trip Gili Meno’ uses a glass bottom boat.

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Corals on the seabed.

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Deep into the sea.

With the help of a guide in the waters, we were able to see a lot more things in 3 hours than in an entire day. Apart from countless species of colourful fishes, we saw lil’ Nemo, a brown octopus, a shipwreck, and even swam close to sea turtles!!

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Thank you for being good to us, Gilis!

Both days, we left the Gilis around 4pm to head back to Lombok Island. According to the boatman, there are no lights out at sea and it’ll be dangerous after the sun sets.

On our boat ride back, we caught sight of majestic rock formations. The glimmering sun on the waters was such a pretty sight!

Useful Information:

Private boat hire: +6287864696189 (Agus)
Blue Ocean Boat Trip (snorkelling operator on Meno): +6281339509859 (Dean)

4) Sunset horseback riding along the beach

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A once in a lifetime experience.

Horseback riding along the beach is a must-try on Gili Trawangan. If you want to ride along with the sunset, book the time slot that is from 5pm-6pm.

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Susie getting ready.

Suitable for families or couples, is a nice break to ride along the beach (and even partly in the water!). We didn’t have time for a full hour’s ride so we paid IDR 200k/pax for half hour instead.

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Introducing the handsome Rano and gorgeous Susie.

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Riding alongside the mountains and sea.

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Being novice horse riders, we were holding on for our dear lives.

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What a stud!

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Into the water we go.

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Backdrop took my breath away.

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Rano and Susie were too fascinated with the water to pose.

Agent D and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We both agreed that it was one of the highlights of our Lombok trip and worth every penny spent.

Thank you Susie, for the safe and lovely ride! x

Useful Information:

Sunset Stables: +62 859-3501-2836 (located near Casa Vintage)

5) Explore the three Gili islands on a bicycle

As the 3 Gili islands are surrounded by sea, no cars can be found on them. The only modes of transport are horse-drawn carriages (Cidomo), bicycles, and your own bus 11 (i.e. your legs).

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Gili Trawangan.

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Gili Air.

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Gili Meno.

If you’re taking a Cidomo, don’t forget to negotiate. Some of the quotes can go up to IDR 150k for one way. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle for about IDR 40-50k for a few hours.

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Cidomo horse sporting one of the coolest hairstyles in town.

If you worry about your bicycles being stolen, you may want to bring along a bicycle lock. Otherwise, it is generally safe. There are plenty of quaint streets and back-alley cafes to explore!

Here are some of the sights we saw:

Quite interestingly, we came across a sign stating “Thank you for NOT wearing bikinis on the streets of Gilis – respect local culture”. Glad both Agent D and I adhered to this. 🙂

6) Chill on the beach with a beer + book

On both Lombok and the Gilis, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and hotels lining the beach. One can simply enjoy a meal with a sea view, read a book on a comfy deck chair, suntan on a hammock, or even soak in the breeze on a swing.

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Laze the day away with a book.

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Lunch with a view.

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Coffee/tea with scones, anyone?

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Relieving my childhood days.

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Suntanning on a hammock.

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Wind in our faces!

If only I had more time in Lombok…

7) Pamper yourself with a spa treatment/massage

Because we stay in Jakarta where we have easy access to affordable spa treatments/massages, we decided to give this a miss in Lombok.

You may want to check out the following outlets which offer massages and body treatments at very decent rates:

  • Lemongrass Spa provides services such as massages for IDR 85k/hour and foot reflexology for IDR 75k/hour. If you’re not keen on massages, they have a nail package (manicure + pedicure + polish) for IDR 170K.
  • Orchid Day Spa and Beauty Salon offers similar treatments at slightly cheaper rates.

8) Shop for cute handicrafts

If you love Indonesian handicrafts like I do – you’d love Lombok! From wooden household wares to ceramics to gorgeous seashell bowls to chunky beaded necklaces, Lombok has them all.

I spent about 2 hours just picking out wooden coasters, door stoppers, soap holders, rattan tissue boxes, fabric placements, etc for the new home. All at really good prices!! (Thankfully Agent D was there and helped me exercise restraint hehe.)

Here are some handicraft shops you can check out:

  • Bayan Lombok Handicraft and Tropical Gifts is located within walking distance to Sheraton, on the opposite side of the road. They have a great variety of handicrafts at reasonable fixed prices. I bought most of my stuff there.
  • Anna’s Giftshop is a cute little shop that sells things like handmade pearl jewellery, colourful sarongs, pottery, woodcarving, decoration lamps, etc — also at fixed prices.
  • Pasar Seni (Art Market) is situated between Santosa and Sheraton. There are numerous small stalls selling handicraft and souvenirs. Prices are not fixed so be prepared to bargain!

9) Check out nice restaurants and eat good food

I will cover this in the next post where i will be sharing all the restaurants with sunset views, awesome yummy food and reasonable prices.

Till then, cheers! x