A Sumbawa Sojourn

A couple of months ago, some friends & I decided to head East from Bali on a trip to Sumbawa, namely Lakey Peak.  I wanted to get out of Bali as it was ‘Nyepi’ – a Hindu ritual to rid all the bad spirits from the island, a sort of Hindu / Balinese ‘new year’.  However, this means that everyone has to stay indoors for the whole day and do absolutely nothing; no going out as there are people on the streets to tell you to go back in, no loud music, no loud TV, just stay indoors & be quiet.  For which, it seemed like as good a time to hot-foot it out of there as any! This is what I learnt from my short (but amazing) trip to Sumbawa……

A return from flight from Bali to Bima (Sumbawa) with Merpati costs around 1.1million Rupiah (about $100 US) and they only leave on Tuesdays & Thursdays.  You have to pay a little bit more for a board, I think an extre 15,000 Rupiah / kg so don’t stuff your boardbag!  You can book flights directly from the airport and it is better than getting them through an agent in Kuta.  It’s a strange trip as it is the only time I have been on a flight where every other tourist was a surfer or a surfer’s girlfriend!  There were some locals but they were pretty heavily outnumbered by tourists it is a much cheaper option to drive there (but obviously, it takes forever to get there by car!).  The 45 minute flight is no hassle at all!

Arriving at Bima, you will see something like this……..

Then, after you go through ‘security’ (which is a total joke!), you will need to negotiate a deal on a driver.  At the moment, it’s a set fee to get to Lakeys  – 600,000 Rupiah or $60 US.  It takes three hours and you can get up to 4 or 5 people to share I believe. This one way and they have all agreed on the price so no bargaining here! If you are staying at the Aman Gati then they should send someone for you!
Once you have got your driver and leave the doors of the airport you will have people coming at you from all angles asking you to help with your bags (see photo below!) DON’T LET THEM! They DO NOT work for the driver you are with or the the hotel you are going to – they hang around in the car park and try to make money from surfers and will demand some stupid amount of cash from you for carrying your board about 20 yards and stuffing it on top of the car (which made me wonder if they had some ding repair racket going, too!)
DON’T LET THESE GUYS TAKE YOUR BAGS! Do it yourself to avoid their aggro hassling!
Once in the car, it’s plain sailing – you can sit back and relax and take it all in! The landscapes are stunning and  the people will not stop waving at you for the whole time you are in Sumbawa!  The drivers can be a bit crazy so it’s hard to take photos from the car but generally it’s an amazing journey and it gives you an idea of what to expect on your time there! I would recommend stopping in Dompu (the last town before Lakeys) and get some supplies, namely water as it is about half the price of everything at the beach.  It is also home to the last ATM before Lakeys too and don’t expect them to accept your credit card!
Here’s one of my least blurry shots from the car….

Once you get to Lakeys, you will see that it is just a short stretch of hotels along a stunning and unspoilt beach.  The Aman Gati is the most expensive and best but it was out of my budget so I opted for the Balumba   Bungalows.  They were around $15 US / night for two single beds, AC and en-suite bathroom.  We also had views of the peak from the bedroom window! Nice!

The omnipresent Sumbawan goats
A Monarch Butterfly perched on a leaf just outside our room
What to expect; epic waves, heat, goats, buffaloes, fishing, amazing seafood, friendly people, malaria, beautiful, unspoilt landscapes, chill out vibe, power-cuts, the odd earthquake or two.
Don’t expect; Western commodities, great hotels, cheap prices, many other activities than surfing, fully functioning AC (because of the power-cuts!), to pay anything by card.



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