Sunset On A Hill, Exploring Gili Lawa Darat with Travel Society

It’s been a while I know. Not gonna blame my busy schedules this time, because in the past, no matter how busy I was, I would still manage to find time to write something. So what’s the excuse now? Nothin. I think I simply lost the excitement and passion in crafting a worth-reading post for you.

Hence, the absence.
Hence, the lack of posts.

Is it normal to get dull in what was once a sharp area in your life?
Is it normal to lose it along the way?

As a creative person, I know it is very possible. So what to do if that happens to you? If doing something that you once claimed as an ultimate passion became a boring routine?

You pause. You stop for a while. And then you force yourself to continue after you had the rest that you needed. Because deep inside, you know it’s still in there. Somewhere. You just need time to find it again.

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Anyway, enough with the self-contemplating mode. Through this post, I’m gonna continue the series of Labuan Bajo exploration that I had with Travel Society. The trip covered a lot of things, from hiking to hilltops to swimming in the turquoise oceans, from greeting a manta to meeting a komodo, from sunrise-watching to sunset-hunting. Yeap, the trip to Labuan Bajo did offer plenty of interesting activities.

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While sunrise-watching had to be done from the top of Padar Island, which was marvellously breath-taking, sunset-hunting awaits you from the top of Gili Lawa Darat. The entrance of Komodo National Park was made out of two islands facing each other with the blue oceans between them, literally creating a natural gateway. Gili Lawa Darat is one of the islands, with golden savannah, and plenty of hills with different heights to watch the sunset.

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I was completely tired, because it was our third day living on board. My energy was already spent on hiking, trekking, walking, swimming, snorkeling, you name it. By the time I got there I felt like I had no energy left to climb another great height. So I settled for the lowest hill in Gili Lawa Darat, which required only 10 minutes of trekking. It was so easy and it was breezy. You can encounter plenty of deers every now and then during the hike.

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I couldn’t describe in details the whole experience of watching the sunset at Gili Lawa Darat. All I could remember was sitting comfortably on the sand, enjoying the wind, staring at the gleaming ocean and thinking about nothing. It was priceless indeed to have a moment like that, being out in the open air instead of being stuck in a traffic and chasing deadlines. Gili Lawa Darat is the best spot to unwind and rest, thank you Travel Society for taking me there.

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Cheers to next post!

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

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First Time Living On Board For 3 Days With Travel Society

How do I survive Jakarta’s crazy hustle? By constantly trying something new every now and then. I remember this urge of keeping myself from insanity of living in concrete Jungle like this started to pop out last year. From then, I (seem to) subconsciously walked into the path of exploring this and that.

For example, I signed up myself for a muaythai class (something I thought I would never enjoy doing). End of last year, I joined a broadcasting class to expand my network and develop my public speaking skill. That’s only the simple regular things that you can do as well. But I didn’t stop there, I took it extremely.. from climbing Rinjani, to hiking Kawah Ijen alone. From flying to New Zealand alone, and spending only a day in Bali recently. Not forget to mention, living on a ship for three days in Labuan Bajo last September on my 30th birthday.

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The perks of living on board for three days: breath-taking views everywhere you turn.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, yes this is in Indonesia.

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This reminds me of a set from Game of Thrones.

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Good life!

At first, the thought of living on a ship in the middle of an ocean was kinda creepy for me. I literally couldn’t imagine myself floating around in darkness with only few centimetres of woods that separate me from the deep ocean. Add to that picture is the super humid air and mosquitos!

BUT, the curiosity of simply doing it and giving it a try is just beyond containable. Besides, I’ve bought the ticket to LabuanBajo, so cancelling the trip was not even an option.

Fast forward to my first encounter with my “above-the-water-hotel” for three days at the port of Labuan Bajo. It was a two storeys motorboat, with two small bedrooms (at the lower deck) that has air conditioner, and would fit for 6 people. It was not really that spacey, but it was comfy enough for you to sleep.  The captain and guide were uber friendly, and the crew cooked really delicious home-made Indonesian foods! Travel Society did not only serve us breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also afternoon snacks. Yaaas!

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Our guide, Stefanus, and the captain.

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I kid you not, they taste GOOD! And, they serve different menu every day.

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I stopped capturing photos during the next meal time, because I was too focused finishing them.

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One of the afternoon snacks: fried banana with sweet condensend milk and meses. This is very very very luxurious after a day of snorkeling!

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Enjoying the afternoon breeze from the upperdeck, captured by: Janice.

I slept at the upperdeck using only mattresses, pillows and blankets with about 5 other people (they were all my friends by the way). Okay, the island-hopping trip was fun. The breeze was very enjoyable. The view was amazing especially during golden hour. Until the night came and it was time to sleep.

Apparently, all the picture I had in mind were false. First of all, the boat stayed quite near to the beach along with other boats. And, the best part is, it has genset (diesel generator)! So the lights were on, I could charge my laptop, powerbank, camera battery. There was no mosquito. And, it was not humid. In fact, it was rather breezy at night we had to use a blanket to keep ourselves warm.

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The upperdeck.

How about the bathroom? Now, this is a fifty-fifty perspective. Some of my friends were okay with the bathroom, some of them were not. There was only one bathroom with limited clean water to be used. It was not a dry-floored bathroom so you can had to wear your flip-flops while doing everything in there (for some people this might be annoying, but I was fine with it).

Overall conclusion? If you are up for a bit of adventure and new experience, just go for it! Besides, it’s only a three-day and two-night experience. The whole memory that you can collect and bring home would last longer than that. (insert a wink emoji).

Btw, here’s some tips if you are going into a sailing trip like me:

1. Pack lightly! The rooms are not that big to contain a huge suitcase, besides it’s three days of swimming you only need swimwear, shirts, toiletries, and towel!

2. If you’re a guy, you don’t need to bring too much underwear. I only packed three swim shorts (one for each day), and wear it all day so that I jump into the water anytime.

3. Aloe vera gel or sunblock is a must! I got quite a bad sunburnt on the first day.

4. If you’re a heavy-muncher like me, there’s no harm in bringing extra snacks!

5. Last one, brings a cable connector so you can charge multiple devices at the same time at night. There’s not much to see at night, so you might wanna bring a speaker to play your favorite Spotify playlist. Or like me, to binge-watch Game of Thrones before sleep haha.

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Enjoying the boat life, a little bit too much.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

 

Postcards From Labuan Bajo: A Birthday Trip With Travel Society!

I still remember last year strolling around several Instagram accounts, hoppin from one photo to another, and stumblin upon many photos of the beautiful Labuan Bajo. That was when I decided to intentionally find more infos on how to travel to this part of Indonesia. Particularly as I was craving for a good holiday day on the beach, yet was so bored with Bali. I was keen to explore more hidden gems of this country.

Travel Society was like that thirst-quencher in the middle of a sunny day. Our convo begun with warm greetings and ended up in a collaboration as they invited me to join one of their sailing trips to Bajo! If you are looking for an affordable travel experience to Labuan Bajo and some other places in Indonesia, yet with comfortable place to stay and friendly guides to accompany you, Travel Society should be on your call list.

They have regular dates every year for an open trip to Bajo that you can check on their Instagram account. Out of the dates they provide, I picked the one in September not knowing that it fell right on my 30th birthday!

Celebrating your birthday with a new experience was definitely a great idea. As for me, I celebrated it with a living on a boat for 3 days and 2 nights, visiting 9 islands (Kelor, Manjarite, Rinca, Padar, Namo, Taka Makassar, Gili Lawa, Kanawa, and Bidadari) in total, trekking several hills to watch sunrise and sunset, snorkeling to find manta, getting up close and personal with the Komodo dragon, laying on a pink beach, and swimming in a clear turquoise sea. Well, I got a pretty bad sunburnt as a birthday gift, but it was definitely worth the experience!

I’ll share more about these trip, but for now, please enjoy my postcard series from Labuan Bajo!

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First island in the itinerary, Pulau Kelor

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Menjangan (deer), which is the Komodo dragon’s lunch menu.

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Enjoying the sailing trip a little bit too much.

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Fishermen ready to go to work.

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A convo at golden hour.

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That beautiful hue of gold behind a hill.

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Sunrise watching from the top of Padar Island.

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One of the best islands, Taka Makassar, which pretty much reminds me of Maldive.

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Floating hotels at Gili Lawa.

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Resting to catch a breath.

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Sand-dipped toes on Bidadari Island.

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I was so tempted to say “Dracarys” LOL!

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Sunset at Labuan Bajo.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

 

Postcards From Sydney: Fallin’ In Love For The Third Time Around

“Sydney? Again?”
Most people reacted like that when they heard that I’m going to Sydney for the third time. They failed to understand why on earth would I keep coming back and forth to Sydney.

“If I were you, I would use the money to travel to other cities on earth,” so they said. As much as I agreed on their comeback, somehow, there’s something about Sydney that makes me feel like it’s always a trip to second home (probably, partly because I still have a close family who lives there).

Now, after the third visit, I departed from Sydney shedding a little tear wondering whether I can come back for more or not. How about I just spend the next season of my life in Sydney? It’s all in my head. Not sure whether I should act on it right away.

This time in Sydney, I found comfort and felt confident in wandering around and exploring the city alone. I enjoy every single experience of getting the wrong bus, walking a bit too far because I took the wrong turn, hopping on and off the trains all by myself. Will tell you more details about this trip, but for now, please do enjoy some photos I captured from this beautiful city.

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First time witnessing double rainbow at Shelly Beach. 


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Captured this by iPhone 5S. One eye-spoiling sunset!


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Symmetrical. Captured this when I took the wrong train to Macquarie.


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Stumbling upon this “urban”-ish and “instagenic” train tunnel.


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In Indonesia, I had to hike to high places to watch sunrise. In Sydney, I woke up and opened my eyes to this beautiful sunrise from my cousin’s apartment. 


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Marchin’ on a hill.


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Sunbathing. Not On A Sand. But On A Grass Field.


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Climb Up, Climb Up.


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Nap Time At The Park.


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Should I Dip My Feet On The Water?


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Architectural.


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Temptation For A Munching Machine. 


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Reminds Me Of That Groceries Store Corner That I Saw Once In Monocle.


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The Popular Bondi Beach.


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What You Lookin’ At?


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Will I Find Love Inside?

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Postcards From Belitung: A Collaborative Trip with SanaSiniYo.

Last May, I had a 4-day trip to this small island at the bottom of Sumatra, which marked my first time ever stepping on the ground of the west part of Indonesia. It was quite an impulsive decision to book a ticket and fly to Belitung, just because I stumbled upon this amazing Instagram feeds of @SanaSiniYo only a month before. SanaSiniYo is a Trip Planner, founded by two uber-friendly 20something guys, Timothy and Erick. These guys are always ready to accompany you exploring Belitung with very affordable budget. Plus, they area also great in taking good photos and coloring them into Instagram-approved posts!

Well, I’m not gonna go into details about my 4 days 3 nights trip to Belitung in this post. Here’s 9 beautiful photos that hopefully could inspire you to call your friends and experience the perks of island-hopping in Belitung!

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Mount Kubing’s Infinity Pool.

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Barefooted.

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Just my favorite color palettes. 

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I’m literally in love with Indonesia’s shades of blue.

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The solid watch tower at Lengkuas Island.

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The only green I love besides Broccoli. 

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A dip during the golden hour.

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Too pretty not to be captured.

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Kaolin Lake.

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Postcard From Lombok: Authentic Beauty and Heritage

The reason why I blog and happen to have a huge interest in photography is to treasure every single memory I have in life, particularly those I gained during a trip.

Blame the melancholic side of me.

Photography and writing are the integrated vehicle I use every time I need to walk back down the memory lane. Through the lens of my camera, I choose which part of the trip that is worth-keeping as a trinket. Writing the details of the trip in my Evernote journal helps me to archive every simple yet precious lesson I catch along the trip.

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An open invitation to jump into the water. Sadly, I didn’t bring extra clothes.

On my recent trip to Lombok, I stumbled upon too many breath-taking sceneries. As always, the moment my eyes caught an interesting object, a bonding time with my camera began. If you travel with me, you would notice that I always keep my camera within reach. It’s common to see me withdraw from the rest of the group as I got too busy exploring the surroundings while playing with the shutter speed button.

After the hike to Rinjani, I had one free day to explore Lombok. Deciding where to go next was not a challenge at all as Lombok offers plenty of touristy spots. Beach seemed like the perfect choice to be considered as next in the itinerary. I got all excited thinking that I’ll bring home such a diverse experience out of this trip.

From the mountain to the beach. Perfect.

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The shopkeeper.

However, I felt like something was missing. The itinerary was full with exploration yet lacking local culture interaction. So, in between mountain and beach, I visited the home of Lombok traditional Ikat (fabric) weaving, Sade Village, and got the chance to interact with its people.

The moment you entered the village, you’ll be greeted by one of the guides who are actually the local people of Sade Village. He started to explain a little background history about this village and what makes them unique. One of the very few information that I could recall was that they prefer to marry another villager in order to keep their cultural heritage within the village which has been their generational legacy.

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The curious observer.

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Preppin for dinner.

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A little luck on the front door.

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It’s never too late to learn something new.

Although I have tried to listen with the utmost focus, I ended up getting distracted as I caught an object to be photographed. Just like a hypnotizing whisper to my ear, my muscle memory led me to grab my camera and started to explore. The next minute I knew I was already off wandering the whole village.

A little world that only I can see was birthed out of my curiosity. A little explorer boy appeared out of an eagerness to capture the authentic cultural heritage that Sade Village brought to my eyes. Through the walk from one alley to another, I captured too many interesting views that I surely wouldn’t and couldn’t find in the big city.

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Three’s a crowd. Four’s a party.

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Comfortable is first. Fashion is number two.

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Authentic beauty.

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Handmade souvenirs made by the women in Sade Village.

Mawun beach was next. I was physically too tired and all I wanted was to actually lay down on my own bed. Nevertheless, the authentic beauties before me were just too mesmerizing to be ignored. It whispered elegantly asking for my attention, teasing me to open my sandals and enjoy the white sands beneath my feet. I was hooked.

Accompanied by my faithful travel companion, my camera, I let my feet enjoyed the sandy floors. My lungs were filled with the salty yet refreshing air. Every once in a while, the crashing waves greeted my toes as if inviting them to walk further into the ocean. Sadly, I didn’t bring extra clothes.

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Perfect tunes in your ears and golden hour is the best mix of a great me time.

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Sailing to the unknown.

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Who needs a little head massage? I do.

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Songs in my ears. Sun on my skin.

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Dedicated seller.

After a while, I decided to just sit down and enjoy the moment. There were not much stories to tell about the visitation to Mawun beach so I’m just gonna let the photos speak for themselves.

A different kind of tea time was served to indulge my tummy. The menu consists of one jagung bakar (grilled sweet corn), a bowl of bakso (meatballs) and es kelapa (cold coconut water served fresh with its shell).

I took one long glance towards the ocean before I walked to the car that brought me to the airport. With all the new memories about Lombok stored at the back of my head, I breathed out my goodbye and made a promise to myself that I would come back and spend more time exploring this beautiful island.

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Until next time, Lombok.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Nusa Lembongan. Sunkissed and Motorcycle Ride.

The Island of Gods has been Indonesia’s most attractive site for tourists from all over Indonesia and even for tourists from all around the world since forever. In fact, most foreign tourists love Bali too much they don’t know that Bali is actually a part of Indonesia. Many of them think that Bali is a country, or is the capital city of Indonesia.

As much as I love Bali, I’ve never really explored this beautiful paradise. I’ve always been a mainstream kinda tourist from Jakarta who would only go to Bali to wander around Seminyak and Legian to visit the newly opened hipster-ish coffee places or ice cream shops or concept stores. I never really know that Bali has plenty of even more beautiful islands around it until this trip to Nusa Lembongan that had really blown my mind and probably highlighted my traveling experience this year, besides Bromo.

And the best part of it was, it’s for work, so I got paid for it. One of the perks of being 20 I guess is having the opportunity to find a job that really suits you and actually pays your bills. Grateful I found one in my 20s.

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Landed in Bali

I landed in Bali at noon, went straight to Creamy Comfort Bali, a newly opened desserts shop in Seminyak, which owned by a friend of mine. Creamy Comfort offers various desserts that would make your sweettooth dance cheerfully plus a selection of coffee.

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Stopped by at Creamy Comfort to enjoy some tasty desserts.

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Creamy Comfort. Address: Jalan Raya Kerobokan No. 118, Seminyak, Badung, Bali 80361. Phone:0819-3606-6171. Hours: 11AM – 9PM.

The trip to Nusa Lembongan required a 30 minutes ride with motorboat which departs from Sanur Beach, we took the last schedule that day, departed at 5PM.

It was my first motorboat ride experience and I really enjoyed it. Felt a lot like riding a roller coaster, sometimes you can feel your heart drop to the bottom of your tummy following the ship movement. If you have sea-sick, this ride might not be enjoyable for you, but I tell you what, it’s worth it.

We arrived in Nusa Lembongan at 5.30 PM, directly went to a motor renting outlets, and rented a motor for two days. Nusa Lembongan was full with foreign tourists bringing their surf boards, riding motor cycles, ready to explore the secluded island. The only possible vehicle that you can take in this island is a motorcycle. Most of the roads are very small and bumpy.

I stayed at Le Pirate Beach Club, which is about another 20 minutes by motorcycle from my arrival point. It was golden hour, the view was magnificent. I really enjoyed the scent of the ocean filling up my lungs as I rode my motorcycle, accompanied by the sweet ray of light kissing my skin. It’s tanning time. I couldn’t help not taking out my iPhone and snapped everything for my Snapchat account.

The motorcycle ride was very enjoyable, until I had to pass this yellow (VERY) narrow bridge, the only thing connecting me and my resort. I had no other option but to collect all my guts and just hold my breath as I passed the wooden bridge which could only fit 1 motorcycle. The wooden deck rattled loudly beneath me. I couldn’t look down because I was so afraid that I’d fall or that this bridge would break and kill me immediately.

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Local people crossing the narrow bridge.

When I finally arrived at Le Pirate Beach Club, greeted by beautiful sunset view afar, with lounge music playing and several foreign tourists in the pool enjoying beers, I fell in love immediately with the place.

Le Pirate is a mini resort consisted with 10 mini huts painted in nautical colors. Each hut can be occupied by 2-4 guests. It has a mini bar and swimming pool that is just perfect for you to chill, daydream and simply treasure life.

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Golden hour at Le Pirate

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View from the poolside mini bar

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Another look at the swimming pool

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Le Pirate Beach Club. Address: Jl. Nusa Ceningan, Jembrana, Bali 82218. Phone:(0361) 487240

I started day two with a simple breakfast at the hotel accompanied by a very lovely view, hand-painted by the super artsy God himself. I used this moment to finish some of my scriptwriting deadlines, I tell you what, the whole experience just really boosted up my mood to write. I wish I could have this luxury everyday.

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My office space for the day

Around 11Am I went out riding the rented motorcycle exploring the island. The first stop was Panorama cafe which located up on the hills, offering a panoramic view of the beach and oceans. I had some light meals to accompany me enjoying the breath-taking view.

After a while, I continued the trip to Mangrove beach, located quite at the far end of the island. It was already passed lunch time, Warung Prema was the very first restaurant I found in the area, so I decided to give it a try.

The sandy-floored restaurant offers a fresh-out-of-the-sea variety of seafoods. I had a grilled tuna, fried prawns and squids, plus a plate of sambal. Food comma was of course expected.

I went back to Le Pirate for a short power nap. Then at 4PM, I was ready to catch the sunset at one of the most beautiful spot in Bali, if not in Indonesia. The place is called Devil’s Tears. A cliff with clear blue oceans underneath, very lovely, yet very dangerous at the same time because it has big waves and heavy streams swirling around the area. Anyone who’s not being careful, might just slip off of the cliff and fall into the dangerous sea below.

The experience was memorable and priceless. I stayed a while until the sun was about to set, and then moved to the nearest beach in the area, Dream Beach. I spent the rest of the golden hour playing with waves and the pretty white sands wrapping my feet.

The day was ended with a just nice dinner at Cafe Pandan, still in the Dream Beach area.

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The Devil’s Tears

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Dangerously hypnotizing

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Foreign tourists enjoying the golden hour

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Dream Beach

The last day came too fast. I treasured every minute I had left in Le Pirate. I went back to Warung Prema at the Mangrove beach for another food comma experience.

It was indeed such a pleasant experience, getting my skin all sun kissed, the foods, the views, the motorcycle ride, the motorboat ride, even the nearly-got-me-a-heart-attack narrow wooden bridge.

I’d definitely going to come back for more.

HG. (@gersonhenry)

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Mangrove beach.