My Solo Travel To Indonesia: Bali, Lombok and Nusa Penida

Dear Friends,

I hope all is well with you. Honestly, this is by far, to this date, the most liberating trip I had in my life and I couldn’t be more excited to share what happened when I solo travel in Indonesia. I LIVED THE BEST ISLAND DAYS OF MY LIFE YET! Oh, and if you’re here because you’re looking for a travel guide about Bali, I’m sorry but this is not the right place for you. But if you want to know a raw story of how a boy traveled into 4 Indonesian islands, well I guess that you’ve come into the right place. 

So if you’re keen to travel to Indonesia with me through spirit, here is my story.

First of all, to pre-fame you about this adventure, I happen to book a 2-way ticket to Bali 4 months before this trip when I was half-drunk drinking after work. It’s going to be my first travel outside of the Philippines (and if you’re following this blog,  you know how I loved traveling from islands to islands in the Philippines) and I kinda did consider it because one of my best friends was still living in Bali by that time. I actually had no plans in traveling outside the Philippines just yet because well, there’s still Batanes in the north, which is my dream destination.

But then shit happens as you know that the world is more honest after a few bottles of beers. My best friend, who works in Bali, who has a hotel room being paid by his company and who promised me I can stay there for as long as I want (and even promised me that alcohol’s on him!) managed to make me file a 2-week vacation leave. That means 14 clueless days in Indonesia.

But maybe the universe was up to something really crazy; after a month of setting myself for my 14 days in Bali, I got a call from my best friend that his immersion there was not extending anymore and he’s about to go back to the Philippines.

Was I damned?

I will never tell you how many times I doubted the capabilities of myself in terms of traveling solo in a foreign country. But you know what? I am super glad I went anyway.

DAY 1:

Welcome to Bali!

Nothing is more liberating than arriving at this magical island for the first time. Here I am by 12mn, having Bintang beers with new faces I might frequently get into contact with for the next 14 days. But few hours before that, I met with Vienna, a Filipina solo traveler at the airport coming from Malaysia and there was, “Hey Marron! Marron, Marron! That’s Marron!” shouts from the 2nd floor of the arrival of Denpasar Airport. Putu and Tiara, a Balinese couple that is so generous to host me for 2 nights were picking us up.

We drove from Putu’s jeep going to his house in North Kuta. The drive was hella similar to the streets of Manila. Except that they drive on the left side of the road and from all these Hindu temples. “Did my plane really landed in Bali?”, I asked myself. And then I realized how blinded we can be from what Instagram is showing us. The island is big. I don’t know what made me think that the idea of Bali is just a small island with tiny villages and no highways like these.

But it also made sense that the only thing to get to know the place is to actually go there and experience all of it. Damn, I can’t believe I am thinking too much.

Next thing I know, Putu pulled over somewhere after 20 minutes of driving to get local food. It’s already 12 midnight and the last meal that I had was the lunch that I had back home in the Philippines. I got myself Nasi Goreng while Vienna ordered Mie Goreng. It’s so fucking spicy. I am literally crying! And the boys who cooked our meal are laughing because they thought I am Balinese, and they are thinking why the hell I am not used to their standard of chili. Later on, they got so surprised as they looked at me because found out I am from the Philippines.

Right, I made it to Bali.

DAY 2:

I woke up today to the sad fact that Vienna is leaving already. No freaking way! We were only together for not more than 8 hours and she is going away now?! Well, to tell you honestly, Bali isn’t really her destination, so she’s off to Timor Leste to just bum on the beaches there away from the world. I’m not sure. It’s not that I didn’t know the place, but damn, Vienna is such a clever girl and she makes me laugh! She really got the Filipino humor inside her.

One example was when she was done taking her bath, Tiara says “oh you take a bath?” and she was like “Yessss, I’m done showering already,” and before I frown, she looked at me and say, “Alam mo? Tumae ako!!” (You know what? I pooped!) 

We promised to see each other back in the Philippines or if I come to Malaysia.

I spent the rest of the day driving motorbikes with Putu to explore Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Tanah lot Temple, and eventually ended up in Uluwatu Beach to watch the sunset.

From Putu’s house, it took us about more or less than an hour before we were driving to scenic rice terraces rolling all over the place. So we started the journey by dropping by to get Nasi Bali – an Indonesian meal of a scoop of rice, accompanied by small portions of meat, vegetables, and soup. I loved it.

Next thing I know, I am already in Jatiluwih. We trek the shortest distance of 1.5km (although I really wanted to take the longest which is 5.5km) and all I can say is wow. It’s pretty scenic, you know. It’s not every day that you see something like that when you’re living in Manila. But there’s a weird thought came to me: I think that the rice terraces there are made for the tourist.

Why the heck I am having a take on almost everything.

From the north, we drove down south stopping to see Tanah lot temple. It’s one of the most famous photographed temples in all of Bali, at least in my case that I always get to see the temple on top of a giant rock in social media. We walked all the way down to the holy water spring and got blessed by the gods there.

I heard a lot of stories about this temple, that a Hindu priest build it in the 15th century, and that the sunset here is breathtaking. Both are true.

It felt rejuvenating here, maybe not because of the water and all the negative ions, but all of this that I am already feeling. It’s only 3 in the afternoon until we started to continue driving south to Uluwatu Temple.

We got to the temple around 5 pm. Inside the temple, everyone is required to wear a sarong and it was advised to keep extra mindful of your belongings because a lot of monkeys can be seen everywhere. When they say a lot, it means a lot. And that, I am really in Bali. There are a lot of people there. And I thank the gods for giving me this new Balinese friend. Putu brought me to an abandoned lighthouse, which is a secret spot. The most perfect spot to watch the sunset when you’re in Uluwatu (and I won’t tell it to you here, friends. I’m sorry.  It’s a promise to Putu!) there we spent the rest of the time until it gets pretty dark.

I loved it there!

We took the long drive back to Putu’s home, got myself a giant chicken ball soup which they call Bakso, and went to sleep.

DAY 3:

A day in Ubud

I love waking up before 9 am. Back home in the Philippines, I always get to wake up past 1 pm, missing half of the day already. So Tiara, being always bubbly, prepared a traditional Balinese coffee for me. It’s sweet and the taste is all cocoa! It reminds me of champorado back home. But yeah, I made a promise to myself to not be a coffee master when I get here so I won’t be talking so much about it. That when I get questions like “Did you go to coffee farms and tasted luwak coffee?” when I’m back home, I will tell them that I didn’t.

I also love waking up early and have morning talks with literally anyone. It’s only my 3rd day but I am learning so much about Hinduism already! Here are some:

House temples. I learned that every Balinese house must have at least 3 temples. 1 for the center of the gods in the house 1 in front of the house to welcome the guests (and the gods as well) and there’s also 1 at the back. The reason why there’s a temple in front and at the back is that they say, that the gods can come anywhere. So a house must welcome the gods whichever way they are coming from.

4 Spiritual Brothers. The Balinese believe that we are born with 4 spiritual brothers that represent each virtue to keep us safe and happy: intelligence, friendship, strength and (omg I love this one) poetry. They are with us even when we are still inside our mother’s womb. When a baby is born, the 4 brothers are in and out of the womb so they will keep the placenta and bury it in their front doors. It is believed that the spiritual brothers will stay near the baby and the baby’s house where the placenta is buried and look after it for days and nights. Not to mention that the 4 spiritual brothers will be with the child for the rest of his life. So it is important for us to take good care of our Spiritual brothers and communicate with them every once in a while.

Since Putu and Tiara were both having their days off from work we went with our motorbikes driving to Ubud joined by their friend, Praba. It was another hella beautiful long drive.

The town of Ubud is located in the uplands of Bali. They say that it is the center of traditional crafts and dance! But walking around Ubud market is crazy! I am actually so surprised that there are a lot of tourists here. I thought it’s less populated than the one in Kuta. We went to this place called Campuhan Ridge Walk and pretty much explore some of the areas.

It’s a pretty town, actually. Kind of excited because I am staying here for 3 days next weekend. In a coffee shop. Yes! The host who will give me his couch to sleep for a couple of nights next weekend owns a café and by reviewing the place, they have a complete brewing method. I can’t wait to share my expertise. But I also can’t wait to wake up recharged every morning in Ubud and do yoga. I’ve always wanted to practice yoga.

So anyway, after strolling around the market, we went to this famous Tegalalang Rice Terraces and I accidentally bumped into the ever famous instagrammable “Bali Swing”. I mean what can I say? The swing was vacant, not many people, and that swing is located in the highest elevation the gods in that place could ever offer. It’s crazy and expensive, though. But doing it for the sake of experiencing how it’s like to be in a giant swing. So I said, why not.

After driving back, we went to Motel Mexicola. Yes, sir. I have no idea why this place is so famous to all my Filipino friends who went to Bali.

It’s very trendy so no surprise it’s expensive there. I didn’t bring enough cash but I’m already here. Money saved. And just when I was about to finish my 1st Bintang beer of the night, I saw a cute guy by the bar having Pale Pilsen. Yes! Pale fucking Pilsen, ladies and gents. A Filipino pale lager produced in the Philippines (try it! and also, Red Horse beer) so I went to him and asked “omg are you Filipino?” just to find out he’s from Jakarta. After we talked, it seems to me that my first bottle of pale is the death of Bintang beer for me on my 3rd night.

So, like after few hours of dancing and few drinks, we drove back home to Putu’s house around 2am (?) just to get my bag because I will be moving to my next host, which was by that time, still partying in Mirror. Yes, you assumed it right, I ended up partying in that place and had another 3 glasses of Rhum and Coke. I heard that Mirror is a luxurious place to party. I mean what can I say? The club looks like a gorgeous catholic cathedral with a high ceiling and colorful mirror glasses. And by judging the people inside, it was full of crazy rich Asians. Because hmmmm, in South East Asia, you are considered ‘on a budget’ if you are having the couch inside the club and if your table has bottles of all kinds of Alcohol. Anyway, we finished partying at 4 am and went straight to bed.

DAY 4:

I woke up pretty late lol at around 12 I think? Can’t remember. Nothing much to do today since I just realized I’ve been killing my butt driving long distances to south and north of Bali so maybe, I thought, it would be a great thing to slow down a little bit and just kill the time on the beach. And yeah, because I’ve been to Bali for 4 days now and never had the audacity to go to the beach.

My new host needed to meet with his friend who came from Jakarta so I have all the day for myself. And I love it. Because, well, let’s be real here. Sometimes the chemistry between you and your Couchsurfing host isn’t really there. Hahaha right? I am the type of person who easily works well with others but not this time. Weird. But my host is super nice, I can tell, he wanted me to use his motorbike but then I declined because I don’t want to drive in Bali. The traffic is mad, especially here in Kuta.

So I Gojek (an app similar to Grab) my way to this place called Skygarden and met with my new friend that I also met in Couchsurfing. Jerome is also a Filipino who flew all the way from Canada, and omg, the joy of meeting someone who was also born in my homeland. But this lad cannot speak the same mother tongue (at least he can understand though) as me.

And it’s so funny because the locals here always, ALWAYS talk back to us in Balinese. They said that I look a lot like a Balinese (and Jerome looks like some Indonesian boy from Jakarta haha) like legit. So Jerome, my new best friend in Bali, spent the rest of the hot afternoon in Kuta beach. It was one hella sunny day. Perfecto! Not long enough, another friend I met from Couchsurfing, a Dutch girl named Lucinda, went to see us watch the sunset as well. It was adorable.

Anyway, my spontaneity was triggered when Jerome mentioned something about Lombok, a serene Indonesian Island close to Bali. What did we just do? After we ate our lunch, we booked plane tickets going there! And when? Tomorrow. Which is like the freaking next day. Like, in 14 hours. That’s what a human should do if he sees a beautiful place (not as touristy as Bali) like that from the internet. The ticket was hella cheap only around $23usd and I’d forever kill myself with regrets if I don’t buy it.

It’s such a lovely day not to mention I got lucky tonight. I was sent by my host to this luxurious hotel for FREE only because his crazy rich ass friend just decided to leave Bali. Like she woke up and say something crazy like, “Okay, I’m bored. I’m going to Hongkong.” And I think the paid room will just be vacant for a couple of nights. So I thought, having myself submerge in a warm bubble bath before going to the airport wouldn’t hurt.

DAY 5:

Welcome to Lombok!

The flight from Bali going to Lombok is only 25 minutes. Damn, right. It’s like the plane goes up and after the flight attendants are done with their safety procedure demo, the plane will go down and surprise, you are now in Lombok. And it was probably the shortest plane ride I had in my entire life! Jerome and I met at Denpasar’s domestic airport around 7 in the morning only to get ourselves to have breakfast in Starbucks. I can’t get over the Cheese Danish still, by the way.

So anyway, after Jerome’s card got captured by the ATM machine when we arrived at Lombok airport, somebody with an Innova got us to Kuta (not the one in Bali so don’t be confused) for like 120k for the both of us. Along the way, the driver was telling something about the only way to get out of the airport en route to Kuta is by private car. And my friend Jerome, with all his research about this place, turned to me and said, “di yon totoo.” (it’s not true.) I was laughing inside because of 1.) he doesn’t want the driver to know that we know he is lying and 2.) the way he said the words are F funny haha! You know engliseros when they speak Tagalog.

We didn’t made reservations to Slumber Party Hostel because we were confident we could have just walk in. Unfortunately, it was fully booked. Like 3 reservations were made for the past 12 hours. So we ended up staying in the nearby homestay which we found darnly adorable. And what was really funny is that the people taking care of the homestay said we look like Indonesian boys (as if we don’t hear that all day here) and this time, I look like someone from Jakarta and Jerome from Java. Hahahaha! We walked all the way to the beach laughing our asses off that even when we reached the beach, a group of women shouted “Jakartans” to us. We died.

It’s so different here. So laid-back and not a lot of tourists. And the religion here is not Hindu, it’s Muslim. So unlike Bali, there are no temples here.

Whilst we are chilling on the beach, we got fucking ripped off by these girls selling bracelets and sarong and your boy just paid 100k for 3 bracelets. I fucking swear, the business and bargaining here is fucking strong and on point! This is the problem in Kuta, Lombok. I remember Putu and Tiara warned me a lot of things here and I won’t discuss it anymore. You may want to google it, friends. And the reviews from other travelers that traveled here are mostly true.

But yeah, Lombok was hit by a massive earthquake months ago and the tourism deteriorated so I was thinking that I might be the only customer that girl will have for the rest of that day. I know, fuck it, but let’s just move on.

It was still a beautiful day, though, we ended up grabbing Diablo canned beers and spent the rest of the time on the beach.

(super tired, no partying tonight)

My friends probably think I’m binge drinking here. That’s what Marron Santillan is doing when he’s backpacking in an archipelago like Indonesia! Wasting his life and fucking with his liver to death.

But the truth is I am not. Jerome and I spent the next hours researching what to do and where to go here in Lombok. Like hidden beaches and waterfalls.

DAY 6:

I woke up today freezing as heck because you see, the weather here in Indonesia is much more cooler compared when you’re in the Philippines. Pretty much because it is close to Australia. In the Philippines, it’s humid in the day and it’s humid at night. So turning on the air-conditioning to the coolest temp it could provide is probably not good at all!

So after recovering our body mass index, we checked out from the homestay and went to Slumber Party Hostel (just a 3-minute walk) which we made a reservation for 3 nights. We secured our spots this time.

It was still early when we went there. 11 am. Check-in time is 2 so we rented motorbikes and drove for like 30 minutes all the way to the airport for Jerome’s captured debit card to no avail. It was good practice for driving a motorbike again anyway, so it’s still a win. But what happened next was one hell of an adventure!

We got back to the hostel by 2 pm with our tummies packed by nasi gorengs and today, we are gonna be driving to 3 beaches on the west of Lombok! It was a looooooong and bumpy ride! Maybe a good practice for Nusa Penida on my last days of this trip, eh? So the following photos are the beaches we went to:

1. Pantai Mawun

2. Mawi Beach

3. Selong Belanak

After driving from Selong Belanak beach, we stopped over and ate in a restaurant called Lalapan. Can I just say that the Nasi Goreng there is phenomenal? It is by far, the tastiest I had. Hahaha okay! So back in the hostel, we still have 30 more minutes to drench ourselves for happy hour. I cannot be fucking miss the chance so I had this cocktail drink called Shark Bite, suggested by an Australian guy who saw me getting lost in the menu. Jerome who was about to take a shower said he didn’t wanna drink (he’s not feeling well here okay) but he ended up having one of that cocktail and one Bintang beer. Ain’t nobody can’t say no when the alcohol is calling. Especially if it’s me who is insisting.

Oh, and there was this leadership board that has a list of countries from all over the world. The challenge: which country will have the most Joss Shot (they say it’s mad famous here in Indonesia. It’s a shot of vodka/tequila and extra joss) for the month of July 2019. I saw that there’s no Philippines there and thought I should represent my country. I don’t know if there are still other Filipinos currently here in Lombok other than me, you know. I should only have 1 Joss shot but I ended up with another more because, Brooke, a blonde girl from Australia, asked if I would like to have some? A boy could only say yes. Thanks again, Brooke!

The people in the hostels were going out to this Jungle Bar they call, but we were not really keen on going out. The guy from the hostel, who’s American, asked us “are you guys going out tonight?” and I said “no siguro we will stay here nalang” and was I shook? Have I drunk plenty of alcohol already because I just talked conyo to him? Hahahahaha but he said okay. Jerome almost fell off from his seat laughing until we ended up chilling by the pool.

DAY 7:

I think this is the first quality sleep I had so far since I left home. I woke up at 8 am, got me some Lombok Coffee, and chilled on the sofas beside the pool. I feel like a housemate inside Big Brother house. But yeah, last night Brooke made us booked to this Jungle Adventure tour that the hostel is organizing every Tuesdays so we went anyway, canceling the plans of driving east of Lombok today.

On the car going to the waterfalls, I met with Finn (from Germany) and Hilde (from Holland) and there were also brothers from Australia, Scott, and Cody. Brooke’s with us on this trip too!

(Thank you, @brookeemma.rose and @cody_menhennet for the photos!)

So together with Johnny, the fun guy from the hostel, we trek 3 waterfalls. It was fun! Even though I did not get into the waters because damn brother it was hella cold. And everyone was in the waters for not more than 5 minutes. So asking everyone to rate how fucking cold the water was, they all gave me 10s. Hahaha and the trail was pretty much tiring for someone who didn’t hydrate much after drinking last night. Down-up-down-up. I wished we will never walk back all this way again. But we did. So after getting lunch, we went back to the hostel by taking a nap on the way.

Back in Slumber Party, there I met the coolest American girl yet on this trip, Britney. She told me she went to the Philippines to get a tattoo from Whang Od. And yeah, I can already tell from the 3 signature dots when I saw the tattoo on her arm. And there’s another girl, who doesn’t really work there but is always there named Shasqi. Shasqi is soooo funny! Even though she’s currently having a bad time: lost her job somewhere in Lombok. She told us stories that her boss is her tinder match! Damn. She got the job that way so now, her friends call her Tinderella! I really like her a lot because she’s a huge supporter of LGBT. That when I asked Cody to come over because I will take a boomerang of him and his adorable basketball jersey with rainbows in it, Shasqi was all like “oh my god I love the colors! Happy pride everyone!” and after that, Cody changed his shirt. Hahaha he’s awkwardly funny too.

We drove to the nearby Kuta beach together with Jerome and Hilda to get ourselves some snacks and kill the time there.

That night, we partied hard. Took advantage of the happy hour in the hostel and got me 4 Shark Bites (Fuck, I love this cocktail!) and Joe (we met him on our first day in the hostel) went there as well, an Australian boy with a long black hair. Very much of a surfer. Pretty much of a Taylor Lautner. He said he’s leaving tomorrow so we really need to get pretty much wasted, right? The party tonight is in Rasta Bar. Like, 5 minutes drive away. But I didn’t want to drink and drive so I went there with Jerome, Hilde and a new girl I met, Tanya from England.

*plays Stolen Dance by Milky Chance*

By the way, I was wearing my Siargao shirt and people starts cheering at me because of that. Bet they loved their stay there as much as I loved mine. It’s cool! Jerome, Tanya, and I called it a night at around 1 am, catching the super drunk Scott outside so he walked back with us to the hostel anyway.

DAY 8:

I woke up at 10. No hangover. And decided to eat at Kuta beach. Just so I knew, Hilde, Scott, and Cody already left the hostel. I wasn’t able to say bye to them! Sad. But that’s what hostel life is, right? Everyone just comes and goes.

After lunch, Jerome and I went to Tanjung Aan beach. As a Filipino with a high standard on beaches, I will give it a 10! Very beautiful. Stayed there for 3 hours and as when Jerome and I were walking back to go to Merese Hills to watch the sunset, Shasqi called my name from one of the beach beds. She’s with Finn. So we all ended up riding our motorbikes into two other hills. Pretty nice view!

I don’t know but I was so tired that day. But still took advantage of the hostel’s happy hour and got me some Shark Bite. My favorite. It was pretty dead that night. Chill vibes only. Even at the “happy ending” (they will tell you which bar to go to after happy hour, so all people in the hostel could go party together) at ReRe bar.

*plays Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis*

It was hella dead. I don’t know why? But there was a group of people from Spain who arrived that day and I partied with them together with Finn. Jerome and Tanya called it an early night and went back to the hostel immediately. But I got to love Spanish people! Always looooooove music and dancing! We also saw locals drinking and they called us. Nothing like drinking with the locals and buying cheap beers from them. And while everyone transferred to Bus Bar, I ended up leaving them because the bed is calling me already.

DAY 9:

The drive to the sleepy village of Tetebatu

I woke up today hearing Finn inside our dorm ditching the guy who will pick him up at 7 am. Hahaha! The German guy just changed his mind. He was supposed to go somewhere East of Lombok and meet us in Tetebatu, a small traditional village in the foot of Mt. Rinjani, the 2nd highest volcano of Indonesia.

Today we are going there to stay for 1 night. So we drove all the way from Kuta to Tetebatu. It was one of a hella long drive. 55km I guess? It took us 2 fucking hours. Ugh, I hated it. But it was worth all the stinking drive. We got this homestay called Rice Terrace Homestay in AirBnB and the view from our veranda is so panoramic. It’s so scenic! you will see rice fields and trees and somewhere hiding behind the clouds is Mt. Rinjani.

I loved my stay there. Everyone was so welcoming and hospitable! And the lunch, their own version of Chicken Curry is marvelous. It’s a winning 10!

I got an Instagram message from Finn asking what is like in Tetebatu. I sent him Instagram stories of the place. He found it so sick! He planned to drive all the way to our place and meet us there for another jungle adventure but just stayed in Kuta to skate. Spontaneous.

DAY 10

For the second time around I will tell you all this, one difference between Indonesia and the Philippines is that it’s much cooler here. I got up around 1 in the morning to pee downstairs just to find out the temp was 5°c. The tropical island boy inside me is freezing as fuck. Not to mention I am just wearing boxers shorts going down to the bathroom. Probably because we are in a place where the elevation was somewhere around 3k above sea level. It gets warmer, though, as we wake up at 6 am to catch the sunrise. 17 is far better than 5. And nothing’s like waking up seeing Mt. Rinjani in front of my eyes. It finally showed up!

We walked around rice fields and down to the waterfalls again. Just realized that even if I am not having my daily dose of running (my favorite fitness thing to do) here, it’s good to know that it is replaced by a lot of walking. Seems like all these Nasi Gorengs are really working out for me. 

We ate some breakfast and then I went back to bed to have a nap. I was so tired! But all in all, Ross, the owner of the homestay is so accommodating. Their family treated us like a family too.

I hate driving back to Kuta but I needed to be back in Kuta. So damn again, we drove back for 2 hours. And it’s so nice to be back to Slumber Party Hostel, you know. It became my home in Lombok now. And the people here are now my friends. And just like what every hostel life is like, there were new people I met: Delphine (from Ireland) Tina (from Belgium) Paul (from Germany) Sophie, Andy and Sharizza (all from Canada) and I think many more??? Lol can’t even remember all the names.

Today is Friday. And what do we do every Friday? Get fucking wasted. I know it’s gonna be my last happy hour in Slumber Party so I ended up with 4 Shark Bites and 2 Joss Shots. For the Philippines! Oh by the way I convinced Jerome to get Joss Shots: 1 for PHL and 1 for CAN. Sharizza, one of the Canadian girls is half-Filipina so we made a toast for our country. It wasn’t much but I am happy there is Team Philippines at the moment.

So we stayed a bit longer at the hostel with our hoarded drinks from the last call of happy hour. I loved this night! I am enjoying every bit of it. Everyone in the hostel is so talkative and friendly and eager to get more drinks lol. We all went to Surfer’s Bar to party and stayed a bit longer there with everyone. We partied damn hard, you can tell.

*plays I Don’t Care by Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber*

Me and Jerome got so hungry so we leave the party at 2 (?) to get some pizza. Jerome would always tell me not to drink and drive so for the past nights partying here at Kuta, we were just only walking back and forth. But tonight, it’s different because I brought my motorbike. Haha just to see the drunk Jerome say “can I ride on the back of your motorbike?” to me. Knowing that he knows I was drunk too. He was so scared though, always reminding me to drive slow not more than 20.

We ate the thin crust oven-toasted pizza by the pool as everyone else are started coming home. The pepperoni pizza was alright. It’s not bad! If I were in the Philippines I would be having lugaw or fucking beef pares. Ahhhh was I craving for both? Big yes. Anyway, we are all tired but not really sleepy yet so we are just chitchatting as 3 boys went to the pool. Not until Paul came back and told us he just fell off from his motorbike. We didn’t really see it at first because it was dark but when somebody turned on his phone’s flashlight, I saw Paul got a lot of blood and bruises everywhere his body and has a deep cut on the upper right of his eyebrows. Dang it!

*streams We Will Rock You by Queen in Spotify*

So this is why we don’t drink and drive, friends.

Paul sleeps on a bed next to mine, also in the same dorm as me Jerome and Tanya. He was soooo overwhelmed to what had happened to him. Thankfully, one of the Canadian girls is working as a nurse back in her country. So we let him shower first and gave him first aid.

DAY 11:

The Gili Islands

I heard Paul saying something “oh goddamn” in front of our dorm’s mirror. I bet the fact that part of his face has a cut is now sinking in. Must have been a hard time to see yourself like that when you’re all sober, eh? And sure, I woke up to everyone complaining they’re hungover. I woke up feeling so good since I drank a lot of water while we were all curing Paul.

Lesson: Binge drink water after partying.

This our last day in Kuta Lombok. I was supposed to fly back to Bali today but I ditched it haha! My original plan for this trip is not happening at all. But why not, right? There’s nothing really much to do in Bali and that’s my personal opinion. Making this decision, I am pulling away from my plans about eating Samgyeopsal with Lucinda, I canceled my couch requests, and I’m not spending a weekend in Ubud and I’m not going to Jungle Fish with Harry anymore. Another couch surfer that I was supposed to meet in Ubud.

I am already in Lombok so I might as well go to Gili Islands!

I stayed in a hostel called “Tipsea Turtle” in Gili Air, one of the Gili islands. Gili Air island is so small that you can’t find any car or motorcycle there. All places are accessible by foot. But if you don’t like long walks, you can always rent a bicycle. And there are horses, man.

Anastassiya, a girl from Kazakstan welcomed us with so much warmth! And so genuine to let us know that they just opened 3 weeks ago so they were still trying to get the hype of everything. I said it’s alright and she gladly told us that feedback is very much welcome. As per someone who has been working with the hospitality industry, I would say I cannot complain at all.

4 days left is all I’ve got here in Indonesia and my millions were long gone. So finding restaurants that take credit cards is a must. We had dinner at Mama’s Pizza (and oh my god it’s soooo good) which is located to the other part of the island where you can watch the sunset. And since they take credit cards, we kinda ordered like gods. I mean, I’ve never eaten something really expensive since I got here so WHY NOT. And besides, the sunset and the vibe of the place is so damn relaxing. And the universe has a nasty habit of teasing you right: the terminal connection did disappoint so we ended up paying in cash.

We went back to the hostel, it was a loooooong walk. It was dark for most of the streets and it was really cold. Guys, taeng-tae ako. I needed to poop!!! I almost fainted when Jerome’s google map told us that we were just walking halfway.

That night was a bit lonely. I miss Slumber Party already. I mean this hostel is really good. But it’s just that the vibe of the people who checked in was not in the same wavelength as ours. We were there 7:30 pm, I got into the pool. And if I were still in Kuta, maybe I am having my 3rd glass of Shark Bite already.

DAY 12:

Nothing really much to do here so we took the snorkeling tour.

I personally think that you will find it really hard if your goal is to impress a Filipino with beaches. The bar of ‘beautiful’ for someone who saw a lot of the Philippines is quite high. So I only went into the waters twice out of the 4 destinations. Probably because I am tired? And the water is cold? But what I loved about this tour was that I SAW 3 TURTLES. 3 big green turtles. You will raise your eyebrows at me and tell me “it’s just turtles” but man, fuck because seeing them in the wild is sick! Have you ever differentiated the feelings you get when you see a monkey in a zoo and when you see them on a tree when you went into a jungle? Yup, that’s it.

I didn’t really know why we didn’t rent bicycles. Ummm saving cash? Maybe. So we walked around from dusty roads to properly good small roads to find ‘Satay’ lol I’m not sure if that’s what you call it, but it’s a slice of meat (beef, pork or chicken) on a stick that can be grilled. We walked damn far to no avail. So walking kilometers on that island will always get you hungry, right?

Jerome and I ended up eating in a local restaurant and guess what I fucking order? NASI GORENG. I thought I was just wasting my time looking all through the list from the menu when I always ended up with either Chicken Nasi Goreng or Chicken Curry. So after we finished eating, Jerome motivated me to walk more to the west of the island to watch the sunset, and well, get desserts. First world problems. So we ended up again at Mama’s Pizza because we really liked the vibe there (thank you Ry and Anastassiya for recommending it!) and what the hell, was my dessert was more expensive than my dinner? But who cares.

For the 2nd time around, we were ready to sleep by 8 pm. Oh by the way, the dorm that we got in Tipsea Turtle is like this: 3 beds. 1 single bed and 1 double deck. We are sharing the room with a French guy named Fabian. But first, can I just say that there are a lot of French people in Gili Air! Enchante de te rencontrer. Hahaha so yeah, I am sleeping on the bottom bunk and Jerome on the top bunk. It was around 9:30 pm when I posted an IG STORY about the “satay” that I was talking about and tagged Jerome because of cravings! We’re so Millenials. Chatting on Instagram where we could’ve just talk in person. Not to mention Fabian was still outside!

So we ended up going out to eat local street foods such as chicken balls??? and Chicken Sambal.

DAY 13:

Saving the best for last: Nusa Penida

As usual, I woke up early. Like 9 am. We ditched breakfast in the hostel and went to Chilibar to get breakfast. Because that’s where @wildasovich ate when he was in the Gili Islands as per Jerome. It was alright, had scrambled eggs and toasts. My only mistake was ordering nescafé (because I felt like I kinda miss it already) over Lombok coffee (which I enjoy so much and I won’t be having back in Manila)

I packed up and checked out. Anastassyia was on her laptop by the pool, probably blogging, and she’s such a darling as she went to me and gave me a hug! I kinda think she looks like Kirsten Dunst though. I wrote down my website because she asked for it so Anastassyia, if you’re reading this, hellooooo!!!

The walk from our hostel back to the port of Gili Air is like 25-35 minutes walk. Jerome only walked me for 8 minutes because he will have his laundry done! Saying bye to this Filipino-Canadian lad was kinda sad and it felt vice versa, I hope. Jerome, my best friend from this trip, hugged me and promised to see me in the Philippines. Well, he should! Your trip to the Philippines will be 100% cooler if you’re seeing me haha! And so as I continue to walk to the harbor, I felt both sad and happy. Sad because I am all alone now and my trip is ending, happy, because I am going to see the very famous Kelingking Beach! And I will have some me-time too, which I never have had since my plane landed back in Bali. I’m excited for that. I haven’t had the time to also listen to my Spotify playlist for a long time now so yeah, that’s what’s making me happy as I walk the long way to catch the fast boat going to Nusa Penida, my last island for this trip.

The fast boat took more or less 3 hours. And I just napped and watched Aquaman while the boat was cruising the high waves.

I only have 1 night left and I am dedicating it to myself. Maybe to reflect? Or I don’t know. So somewhere in our pizza dates back in Gili Air, I booked a lovely suite in AirBnB and made arrangements with the host to have someone pick me up when I arrive on their island. Arriving at the port of Nusa Penida feels 5/10. I mean this island is hella marvelous please don’t get me wrong but I can’t really express what I am feeling right now. Am I starting to be sad?

I don’t know.

So to clear up my head, I walked away from the noisy harbor to the nearest cafe and waited there. After 20 minutes, someone with a scooter stopped in front me, “Marron Santillan?” he said with an Indonesian accent. His name is Wayan.  I’m pretty surprised, I thought I became an instant celeb just like the guy I always see in my gym in Quezon City: Teejay Marquez is famous here. But I looked around and realized I am the only one here wearing yellow shorts, which was the thing that I told the host for the person who will pick me can easily distinguished.

There are only 3 things I wanted to do for the rest of the day: catch the sunset in Kelingking Beach, get myself a Bintang Beer, and have a good night’s sleep.

After leaving my bag inside the bungalow, me and Wayan drove to Kelingking beach. Talking to Made, the host of the Ayu Hills Bungalows, he told me that the drive to see the dinosaur’s head is around 1 hour. It’s 4 pm and the afternoon sun is shining so brightly. Looking up to the sky, all I can see is blue. No sights of fluffy clouds.

Thankfully, Wayan managed to cut the drive down to 30 minutes. Fantastic. And the road here in Nusa Penida is alright. I am telling you this because back in Lombok, every single person who came all the way from this island had bruises and scratches from falling off their scooter while they were here. They were complaining about the rough roads. Well, I haven’t seen half of the island just yet to make a final statement here but when we were driving to Mawi Beach last week, that was the shittiest road for me so far.

If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And happiness is having 1.5 hours spare to watch the sunset. Nothing in this world can compare the golden hour in this beach (personally, the sunset in Boracay Island is still, by far, the best) it’s majestically breathtaking. Seeing the T-Rex shaped cliff with hundreds of shades of blue. Great view from whatever angle you look at.

I learned that going down to the beach will cost me 30 more minutes. Nobody told me the steep steps you have to endure in order for you to reach the spectacular beach down there. UGH, I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN! If I only arrived earlier, I will go down. But I am not sad about it and I spent the next minutes watching the clouds turn from bright orange-red to blue-indigo.

Drinking a large Bintang beer alone, I am enjoying the company of myself tonight. This alone time helps me: it reboots my brain, helps me unwind, improves my concentration, makes me more productive, gives space for self-discovery, and allows time for deep thinking.

Scanning all the photos and videos that I took from my camera for the past 13 days came to one realization:


Didn’t have a picture with Jerome. I didn’t have a picture with Shasqi, Finn, Hilde, Tanya, and almost everyone. This is making me sad. I told myself that this is will be the last trip that I’ll be lazy to take the damn camera and snap photos. After all, candid moments captured by a camera are more beautiful in the long run.

DAY 14:

The fast boat back to Bali and the plane going back to Manila

Good morning, Marron. It’s your last day!

What I adore about my bungalow is that when I’m sitting on the porch outside the main door, I am facing directly to the East. Isn’t the sunrise beautiful? For sure. Also, I love how everyone here knows me, always greeting me, “Hi, Marron!” with genuine smiles. So heartwarming.

Since my flight back to Manila is not happening until 11:30 this evening, and by 8 am I still have so much to do, I asked Wayan again if he could drive me to the west of Nusa Penida to see Crystal Bay Beach.

It’s a long drive going here. And to avoid all the hustle of today, I checked out earlier than expected and decided to bring my backpack with me to save more time.

So I hop on the back of Wayan’s motorbike and we drove for almost an hour. It’s a beautiful ride, honestly. And I don’t mind how hectic it is to go up and down the hilly roads of Nusa Penida carrying my heavy bag at my back.

Crystal Beach is so majestic. And it is much much much more impressive when it’s happening in front of your eyes. They say it’s the most popular beach in Nusa Penida. I can’t attest to that because I’m only been here for 23 hours only! I’m thinking of ditching my flight back to the Philippines and probably spend another week. If I do that, I might probably rent my own scooter and explore this island for another couple of days. Maybe I will go back and spend a couple of nights in Gili T. And definitely go back to Slumber Party in Lombok and reunite with Jerome, I will have a lot of time.

But I’m no rich guy.

I needed to go back to the Philippines tonight and go back to work. Besides, I’m missing my mom’s cooking already. And getting to taste Jolibee’s ever famous chicken joy again is the only thing that is making me excited to land back in Manila.

I think Wayan is a bit worried about me carrying my big and heavy backpack as we hike down and up. Well, I am catching my breath big time. It’s no fucking joke! Just when I thought I am strong enough, with all my spartan training and long-distance running back in the Philippines, I think I will still be breathless even if I let go of my bag. My hidden fascination about stairs is deteriorating at the moment, my friend.

It’s 1 in the afternoon when I reached the terminal of the fast boats going back to Bali. It only takes somewhere around 30 to 40 minutes. 30 to 40 freaking bumpy minutes. And I am not joking when I say rough and jerky. It’s insane! Almost everyone inside is getting seasick and everything.

So I forgot about the thing Lucinda told me the time when they went back to Bali coming from Nusa Penida, that they had to go into the water because the fast boat can’t really dock or go any nearer to the shore. She told me to bring an extra damn pair of clothes because the bottom half of their bodies were soaking wet on their way going back. And holy shit I forgot about that. Wearing my only clean underwear, I am getting crippled with anxiety about the big waves. I still have 8 hours before my flight and to get wet at this very moment would be the last thing that I want to happen.

Thankfully, I reached the shore dry as fuck. Thanks for the short shorts that I’m wearing.

Whilst sailing the big waves of the Indonesian sea, I made another reservation in AirBnB and picked a homestay room near the airport. Just to have a place to safely leave my bag. I only have few hours here in Bali, and I don’t know when I’ll be back again so I might as well spend all my remaining time exploring Kuta, in Bali.

And you know you’re in Bali when it’s incense smoke and spice everywhere.

It’s only 3 pm and I’m thinking of taking advantage of this app called Gojek (Indonesian’s version of Grab) to order food and some milk tea. But eventually decided to just walk around the area. I still have 600,000 IDR from my total budget and I told myself that I will spend everything down to the last scent! So I walked all the way to the nearest mall, praying that these stray dogs won’t attack me. It’s not really much, getting myself some cold brew and gelato.

Before it gets dark, I am already back in my room. I’ve been reflecting a lot since last night that I missed the sunset at Kuta beach. I should have gone to Kuta beach!!! But if I do, I might just get sad. I’m missing Jerome already. I miss having a travel buddy. And speaking of the devil, Jerome sent me an Instagram video (and I know he’s missing me too when he does that) of his view watching the sunset. The boy is watching the sunset somewhere in Lombok! I sent him my sunset view from the balcony of my room. I told him it’s sad, but it’s still remarkable. That I’m also missing everyone we met.

After a few minutes, Putu and Tiara came. Awwww. They paid me a visit before I fly back to my homeland. It’s nice catching up with them. Tiara told me that Putu already proposed! What the fuck, sana all. They personally invited me to their wedding! One major reason to go back here next year. Holy shit, I’m so excited. I always wanted to witness and if I’m lucky, be part of a Balinese wedding ceremony and it’s going to happen!

Day 15:

Next thing I know, I am seated inside the Grab car driving along EDSA. It’s 4 am and I am back in the Philippines. The trip that I looked forward to for months is now over.

But I am changed.

Last night I was crying because I thought I was in serious trouble… one of the many reasons why I went solo to Indonesia was to find the answers. And last night, it came to my understanding that my trip was about to end and I have yet to find the answers to my questions in life. But right now, as in right now inside the car, I got my answers.

Travel doesn’t change you, you find yourself.

Go to @marronsantillan on Instagram to see Bali and Lombok story highlights! If you read the whole blog, you’ll see it all there.


    1. Post
      Marron Santillan

      Wow sounds like a great adventure! I wonder how it was like in Indonesia back in 1998. Nowadays, Bali, for example, has been loaded with tourist! Met a lot of folks from Straya during my backpacking trip there 😀

      1. Image Earth Travel

        A little harder to travel through especially in Kalimantan.
        Only spent a few days in Bali to island hop to Lombok for the trek to Rinjani. Bali was a little busy back then – must be awfully busy now. Yes, loads of Strayians go to Indo, especially Bali as it’s so close and cheap for us…
        Need to get my journals dusted off and digitised! 😉

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          Marron Santillan

          How was the treak to Mt. Rinjani? We only spent a night in Tetebatu, a small village at the foot of that volcano. I personally enjoyed my stay in Lombok than in Bali. And yes please, digitised the story from your journal!

          1. Image Earth Travel

            It was hard and very rustic.
            In those days, anyone from the village would take you up for a price and think there were only a few organised tours.
            I did remember that I pulled a muscled in my groin and didn’t get up to the crater the following morning. Only a few serious climbers went the last several hundred metres.
            Yes, I have to but just have too much to write on more recent trips. 😉 And, started my “Sailing Journey” series from building a boat to cruising.

          2. Post
          3. Image Earth Travel

            Published a few of the second boat, check under my Destinations>Caribbean.
            I’ve also published 11 posts so far (more to come) on the first sailing boat that we built – check under Destinations>Oceania>Australia. 🙂

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