Kuta (Lombok)

After our grueling expedition on the Rinjani volcano, we were overdue for some beach-time! We had heard about the south of Lombok’s quiet, pristine white beaches, and it took little convincing for our American trekking companions, Brook and TJ, to decide to tag along! We shared a private car from Senaru to Kuta (350 thRupis). Most of the 5-6 hour ride was spent talking or fantasizing about the shower we would have, and food we would eat on arrival.

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After checking into our guesthouses and adressing our dire hygiene situation, we headed for the only ‘Raggae Bar’ in town. Here, we treated ourselves to the greasiest burgers immaginable and tasted all the cocktails on the menu. We enjoyed the music, the bonfire, and eachother’s company, as we reveled in good vibes from our shared accomplishment. A solo-English traveler scooted over to talk to us, and was disaproving of our food choices: ‘I only eat local dishes! Indonesian food is so cheap and delicious!’, he surmoned. The thing about Indonesian food is: portions are tiny, and the further east one travels, the less variety in the menus, as there are few imported goods. Plus we needed to re-stock on calories after our trek!

The next day we did absolutely nothing, a rare occurance. We litteraly did not leave our room, enjoying the view of the garden from our deck chair, and nursing our stiff muscles.

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That evening we met up with our friends again, same time, same place. Tonight, discussions were deep and intense. One of the subjects broached was: to try out, or not to try out, Indonesia’s widely-available magic mushrooms! On Lombok they are sold openly everywhere, but from a little online research we learnt that they are indeed illegal since 2014. And we’ve all heard horror stories of wreckless tourists ending up in Indonesian jail with harsh sentences, for being caught with low-grade drugs. Plus we wanted to visit beaches on the same day, which would entail 2 out of 4 of us being sober enough to drive a scooter! We eventually decided on purchasing the mushrooms, and had stressful dreams about it all night!

The next day the guys kindly offered to be our sober chaperones for the day. We rented scooters and they drove us to Selong Belanak beach, half an hour away through lush plantations and rural villages. It was evident this area was in the midst of huge development: road improvements and buildings popping up everywhere, presumably more hotels and guesthouses.

 

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The beach did not disappoint. The light, scattered, showers soon gave way to dazzling sunshine which revealed the deep turquoise colour of the water and emerald of the surrounding vegetation. The powdery white sand was bleached by the light. We noticed very few western tourists on this beach, always a good sign!, and were approached by many curious, entertaining locals. Before even taking the mushrooms, the beach was weird: we watched a herd of buffalo walk down the beach, a gang of young school-boys in ‘Anonymus’ face masks playfully wrestling eachother in front of us, and an older guy staying with us for a good half-hour, demanding we proof-read English sentences that he had painstackingly handwritten. And the strangest sentences too: ‘it is of your own making if go to prison’: was this guy onto us!?

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We ate the mushrooms soon after. It was still morning. We had nothing to ease the aweful taste, save for a few chocolate biscuits leftover from the trek. The next few hours were spent drinking beers and having lunch, for the guys, and swimming and chatting for us girls. Even though it felt like a long time, we got back to our beach towels less than an hour later, just feeling really relaxed. After another hour or so, it was time for the final batch. This time we downed them with orange juice! Renaud put some music on for us, the perfect album: Demon Dayz by Gorillaz.

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After a little sun-bathing we retuned to the water, this time both of us starting to feel some effects.

 

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The colours and textures of the water, sand, our skin, basically anything we looked at for more than a few seconds, was highly detailed and a little warped. Inanimate surfaces seemed to be alive. I told Brook ‘it’s like swimming in Sprite!’. We came out for more sunbathing and chatting with the guys, who had befriended the Anonymus gang. They were talking about girls. At some point I started to laugh uncontrallably, like anytime I am truly high. I had to get up, turn around, look at my beach towel to check that my body wasn’t still there!

 

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Brook had a mini-bad-trip realising she had black mushroom bits stuck in her teeth. She was very moved by an old guy coming by to collect our plastic bottles, probably for recycling.

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We returned to the water for another absurd few hours. Me onshore, in the shallow water, fascinated by the movement of the foam in the receeding waves, and the thousands of sand-balls made by tiny crabs, as part of their feeding process. Brook, splashing around in the deep, laughing and hanging on dearly to her sunglasses as each oncoming wave crashed over her, messing up her hair. I would call out to her: ‘Wave!’, and she would wave. That joke kept us craked up for a while, as we tried to have a non-sensical conversation over the noise of the waves: Brook was a mermaid, and I was a crab, therefore I could not go over to her, nor she to me!

 

The perfect beach day ended with us sobering up a little, just in time for a sublime sunset. I was full of love and gratitude that everything had gone well thanks to our guys. I had thought alot, about lots of stuff throughout the day, and was left with so many funny, absurd snippets that I would treasure forever.

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We had dinner at a family-run restaurant on the beach, highly recommended by TJ, for their ‘hot sauce’ which he had tasted at breakfast. I had a delicious grilled fish. We exchanged a few enthusiastic smiles and words with the family, who must have thought us a funny bunch!

 

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The drive back was long, dark and cold. Back in Kuta, we were parting ways for good, us heading out early tomorrow for our multi-day boat trip to the island of Flores, and TJ and Brook continuing on to Sengiggi to meet up with friends for diving and surfing. The farewell was sad, but not definite! Our paths will surely cross again. Thanks guys for sharing this adventure with us, and in many ways, making it possible, and so much more enjoyable. You are both strong spirits, we wish you only the best in all your travels and life endeavours!

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