Taking a vacation from van life

November 21, 2017

I definitely miss my loved ones in Berlin. Especially my sister. Instead of seeing her in rainy, cold Berlin, I visited her on her vacation in Indonesia. Together with her boyfriend, who’s also a close friend of mine, and another friend from NYC, we spent two awesome weeks on three Indonesian islands: Bali, Nusa Penida and Lombok. My first vacation from van life!

Preparing my trip

Initially I hesitated to join them: Why should I fly around the globe to enjoy beaches, when I can park my van right next to the amazing beaches in Portugal and Spain? Where should I leave my van for two weeks?

At the end, the desire to see my sister and my friends overcame my concerns. And hey, Indonesia is something different than southern Europe! :wink:

Taking a vacation from van life turned out to be fairly simple. The less you own, the less you have to pack. After five minutes my 30 liters backpack was ready: passport, tooth brush, nail clipper, a huge beach towel, flip-flops, my surf shorts, some underwear, a pair of shorts, a few shirts and my laptop, the only object of real value in my van.

My bag for a two weeks trip to Indonesia

I decided to leave my van in one of the parking lots further outside the center of Madrid. During our farewell dinner, my local van friends promised to keep an eye on my van and talk to the police in case they’d show up.

Farewell dinner with my local van friends

Arriving in Bali

After a long flight, I met the others in Canggu on Bali. My first impression: a great place to hangout, drink amazing smoothies, surf and party.

Cloudy sunset in Canggu

Tourism has definitely influenced the area: hip restaurants that offer yummy but also rather expensive food and drinks, surfer shops that sell the latest surf fashion and a bunch of fancy hotels.

Vegan food at a restaurant in Canggu

Discovering the nature of Nusa Penida

After curing the jet-lag in Canggu for two days, we took a boat to Nusa Penida, a little island in the east of Bali. In contrast to Canggu, tourism has just started to develop on Nusa Penida. New restaurants, guesthouses and hostels arise next to the recently modernized roads. Still, everything feels very authentic when cruising through the villages.

We spent three nights at a charming guesthouse in Batununggul right in front of the beach with a nice view on the smoking volcano Gunung Agung that erupted just today. :scream:

View from the guesthouse on Gunung Agung

Scooters or motorbikes are the best way to get around on the Indonesian islands. We rented scooters and cruised to some beautiful areas of Nusa Penida.

My friend on his rental scooter

We drove east, parked our scooters on a little hill and hiked down to Atuh beach where we spent a relaxed beach day.

Atuh beach on Nusa Penida

The next day we were headed west. We parked our scooters in Crystal bay and hiked through the rainforest. We passed Pandan beach where we saw some other people relaxing in the shade of the palm trees.

View from the forest down to Pandan beach

After hiking for another 30 minutes, we reached Puyung beach. A lonely beach backed by palm trees. Amazing!

Lonely Puyung beach

Our hike ended back in Crystal bay,

Crystal bay

where we enjoyed some drinks and the sunset.

Sunset in Crystal bay

We really liked Crystal bay. The next day, we came back to discover the sea life in the bay. The water was perfect for snorkeling: warm and full of colorful fishes and corals. :fish:

Snorkeling in Crystal bay

Meeting locals in the north of Lombok

As there is no direct connection from Nusa Penida to Lombok, we took a boat early in the morning back to Bali to catch a speed boat from Padang Bai to Teluk Kode. 25 km further down south the harbor, we spent our first two nights on Lombok .

In the area of Senggigi we enjoyed a breath taking sunset,

Sunset near Senggigi

hiked through the surrounding rainforest,

Rainforest near Senggigi

and said “hi” to the monkeys guarding a hindu temple.

Monkeys in the rainforest

As usual we rented scooters that we took for a longer ride all the way up north to the Sendang Gile waterfall.

Sendang Gile waterfall

We spent the night at a nice lodge with an infinity pool offering a beautiful view to the Gunung Rinjani volcano.

Pool with a beautiful view to the volcano

My friend preferred to travel by taxi which turned out to be a great decision. Her driver, Artam, invited us to visit the place where he was born and raised. Off from the common tourist attractions, we drove about 30 km into the countryside in the north west of Lombok. As soon as we reached the village, we were surrounded by curious kids: Who are these strangers and what are they doing in our village?

Surrounded by curious kids

Artam was the only one who could speak English and helped us communicating with the locals. We took a little walk through the village and everyone was super friendly, invited us to hangout and offered us something to drink or eat.

Hanging out with locals

What a great experience! After spending several nights in comfortable hotel beds, this village reminded me of the positive aspects of a simply life style. These people don’t own much. However, they are part of a very supportive community and seem to be happy. Similar to what I’ve experienced after moving into my van: less can be more!

Relaxing and surfing in the south of Lombok

After showing us his village, Artam drove us down south to Kuta, where we spent our last days in Lombok. We relaxed on beautiful beaches like Mandalika beach

Mandalika beach

and went surfing in the bay of Gerupuk. The bay is a paradise for surfers. There are five spots in the bay that work on various tide, wind and swell combinations. Basically you can surf there almost anytime! :surfer:

The only downside: these spots are far out in the bay and can only be reached by boat. Jiharu and his brother brought us to one of the spots called “Gerupuk Inside”,

On our way to the surf spot in Jiharu's boat

where we had a lot of fun riding the waves.

Gerupuk Inside surf spot

In case you ever want to go surfing in Gerupuk, contact Jiharu via his Facebook profile!

Spending the last day in Bali

Our last day in Bali was not very spectacular. We drove with our rental scooters to Ubud to visit the rice terraces. However the ride was longer than expected. On top, it heavily rained when we arrived. Equipped with rain ponchos, we waited for the rain to calm down.

Waiting in the rain

By the time the weather allowed us to continue our trip, we had to return back to Canggu to grab our bags, eat dinner and catch our flight. At least we experienced an adventures scooter trip. :wink: We ended our last day in Bali with a delicious dinner and yummy smoothies at the Shady Shack. It was time to go back “home”! :wave:

In contrast to the cold weather in Berlin, the sun was shining when I came back to Madrid. Except of a harmless flyer on the windshield, everything seemed fine.

My van in Valdebernardo

What a great trip! I’m so glad that I joined the others. I definitely would have missed out on a great experience. At the same time, I’m happy to be back “home”. Van, sweet van! :minibus: