In pur­suit of an end­less sum­mer

Cockburn Gazette - - TRAVEL -

I AM some­one who never wants to ad­mit sum­mer has ended for an­other year.

So as se­vere weather warn­ings were rolling into Perth, I jumped at the chance for a quick get­away to a trop­i­cal is­land par­adise.

While Bali is usu­ally my go-to for a quick dose of warmth and re­lax­ation, this time I thought I would try some­where new in In­done­sia: Lom­bok.

The thought had never re­ally crossed my mind be­fore, with the idea of a stopover mak­ing the trip at least 6.5 hours long nowhere near as ap­peal­ing as the 3.5-hour flight to Bali.

But that’s where AirAsia has stepped in, in­tro­duc­ing di­rect flights from Perth to Lom­bok four times a week.

Start­ing this trip, I was told it was a qui­eter des­ti­na­tion, a place you could com­pare to what Bali was like 20 to 30 years ago.

That still didn’t pre­pare me for how quiet it would be, un­like the hus­tle and bus­tle of Bali.

One of the main attraction­s is ex­plor­ing the Gili Is­lands, the three small is­lands be­tween Lom­bok and Bali. This can be done by a 10-minute speed boat ride or a 45-minute tra­di­tional boat trip.

If I could rec­om­mend one thing to do, it would be to visit the un­der­wa­ter sculp­tures just off the shore of Gili Meno be­cause they have to be seen to be be­lieved.

There are 48 life-size hu­man sculp­tures formed in a cir­cle stand­ing to­gether and curled up on the sea floor.

And with an abun­dance of trop­i­cal fish and even tur­tles just an arm’s length away, it was all the more breath­tak­ing.

With crys­tal clear wa­ters wher­ever you go, th­ese types of ex­pe­ri­ences are end­less and can be ex­pe­ri­enced in a va­ri­ety of ways, such as stand-up pad­dle­board­ing, surf­ing, kayak­ing and sea­walk­ing like an as­tro­naut in the ocean.

An­other high­light of the Gili Is­lands is there is no mo­torised trans­port: no cars, no scoot­ers, no mo­tor­bikes.

To get around the is­lands, you can ei­ther walk, hire a bi­cy­cle or jump in a horse and cart.

The mes­sage from the lo­cals is Lom­bok is open for busi­ness. The hope this new di­rect flight will boost tourism for the is­land dev­as­tated by earth­quakes last year is very ev­i­dent.

“We need to keep the lo­cal econ­omy run­ning, es­pe­cially in this time where we are get­ting things go­ing again,” our tour guide said.

“So come to Lom­bok and en­joy the beauty of this is­land, the vi­brant cul­ture and hand­made crafts.”

And when it takes 3 hours and 40 min­utes to get there – 10 min­utes less than Bali – more peo­ple can take up the op­por­tu­nity with AirAsia's di­rect flights.

This re­porter flew as a guest of AirAsia and Min­istry of Tourism Repub­lic In­done­sia

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