Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Family vacation in lombok and gili islands.

Linna on one of the Gili Islands.

In March, we took a 5-day/4-night vacation to Lombok in Indonesia, along with a visit to the beautiful Gili Islands. Linna was off from school for 2 weeks, and Papa Saigh needed a break from his busy job, so this getaway was exactly what we all needed. I was a little anxious about traveling, as we had recently found out that I was pregnant with Baby Saigh #2. Lombok is an island next to Bali in Indonesia, and just a 2.5-hour flight from Singapore (plus a 1.5-hour drive from the airport to our resort). While Lombok and the Gili Islands are beautiful on their own, I honestly feel that the resort we stayed at made all the difference.

Tugu Lombok.
Linna on one of the daybeds on Tugu's private beach.
So beautiful - Tugu Lombok.
We booked an Aloon-Aloon Villa at the spectacular Tugu Lombok, and the accommodations were perfect for our family of three. When we arrived at the resort just after 8 p.m. via car service (booked through Tugu), we were a little skeptical of our decision to stay at Tugu, as we found ourselves in a very remote area. Plus, it was dark outside, so we couldn't see anything. A very friendly staff member ("Uncle" Henry) greeted us, escorted us to dinner, and then to our villa. The villa was absolutely incredible! We were given a key with a HUGE wooden bird on it (you won't lose it), that unlocked the door to a beautiful private garden that led into our spacious accommodations. There was a double lounge and eating area outside in the garden, and inside was an over-sized king bed, another sitting area, lounge bed, separate dressing area, and gigantic bathroom with an amazing round copper tub and an over-sized rain shower. The room was air-conditioned and incredibly lush, while still giving us the feel of being a bit rustic. I've never experienced a villa quite like this one!

The garden area of our villa.
Entry to our villa.
Sleeping area of our villa.
Dressing area of our villa. How gorgeous is that mirror?!
High ceilings and copper tub in our HUGE bathroom.
From the hotel staff. Cute!
The three of us slept peacefully in our huge, comfy bed, and awoke very well-rested to the gorgeous views outside our villa. Papa Saigh walked down to the beach to catch photos of the sunrise, while I took in the tranquility that is Tugu. Honestly, we thought we were the only ones at this resort because it was so peaceful and quiet, when in reality the resort was at 70-percent occupancy. When we walked to the Bale Kokok Pletok for breakfast, we found children playing in the beautiful infinity pool while their parents and families ate breakfast. Breakfast was included in our accommodation package, and we were astonished to find out that there was NO specific time-frame or location for breakfast at Tugu. Seriously, we could wake up whenever we wanted and have breakfast served where ever we wanted! What a welcome change to the 7 a.m. - 10 a.m. hotel breakfasts we're used to. We each ordered breakfast off the menu, and they had options for each of us, which included a fresh fruit smoothie, coffee, or tea, fresh fruits, baked goods baskets... and that's just to start! Linna would usually order the banana pancakes because she enjoyed smothering them in chocolate and syrup, while Papa Saigh and I indulged in things like the traditional Indonesian breakfast, or french toast, bacon, eggs, etc. They also have a homemade yogurt which is really different, but really good topped with fruit.

Linna and Papa Saigh enjoying afternoon tea at Tugu.
Fancy pants.
Mama Saigh's GoPro selfie in the pool at Tugu.
Homemade yogurt and fruit at Tugu.
We would get one of these personalized leaves every day during our meals. So sweet!
Traditional Indonesian Breakfast at Tugu.
After a two-hour, relaxing breakfast each day, we'd make our way down to the beautiful beach, or just hang out at the pool. The resort had a big bucket of kid's toys for Linna to play with in the sand by the beach, which was really nice. I had a couple massages at the resort, right on the beach during our stay. They were incredibly relaxing, enjoyable, and exactly how a massage should be done. Since the beach at Tugu is private and pretty quiet, I didn't hear anything during my massages, besides the sound of the breeze and birds outside. I felt completely revitalized after both treatments!

On the second day of our vacation, we woke up at 5:30 a.m. to take a Sunrise Breakfast on Tugu's Dragon Boat Naga Mesem. The sunrise was absolutely gorgeous, and the boat ride was incredibly relaxing... even with the 3-year-old. While Papa Saigh and I were taking in the beautiful views of volcanoes, mountains, and villages, our 3-year-old was asking for the iPad. Does she realize where she is right now?! Papa Saigh and Linna went in the water during the boat trip as well, and Papa Saigh even went snorkeling, where he got to see puffer fish and other beautiful sea life. He did, however, get very sick later that night, and we assume it's from all the water he swallowed during his excursion. I'm so thankful that my pregnant self decided not to go snorkeling, even though I missed out on what Papa Saigh said were some incredible underwater sights. I'm also thankful that the kid didn't get sick, but she really didn't do much actual snorkeling.

Beautiful Lombok.
Bug and Papa Saigh before the Dragon Boat Sunrise Cruise at Tugu.
Linna loves taking photos. Haha!
A little boating village off Lombok.
Papa Saigh snorkeling off Lombok.
Linna wanted to join her Papa in the snorkeling fun.
(Dragon Boat Sunrise Breakfast Trip at Tugu)

We also took a half-day boat trip out to the Gili Islands during our trip. The Gili Islands are three small islands (Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan) off the coast of Lombok (just a 20 minute boat ride from Tugu), where cars and motorbikes are not allowed. While all three islands' beaches are beautiful, Gili Air was our favorite. The water off Gili Air was crystal clear, turquoise, and calm. All three of us swam in these waters, and Linna absolutely loved it. There are, however, sea lice that do sting... and they hurt! Papa Saigh and I got bit/stung by what we thought were sea jellies, but our boat captain told us that it was just sea lice. How Linna didn't get bit/stung, I'll never know. But those little buggers definitely know how to ruin a piece of paradise! Linna also got to release a sea turtle back into the water on Gili Meno. There's a small turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno, where you can select and release a turtle for a small donation (like $15 USD - we gave more) to the worthwhile cause of keeping sea turtles alive and well in these waters. Linna was a little apprehensive about holding her sea turtle, and the sea turtle was a little unsure about diving into the large, open waters, but we all loved releasing this wild animal where it belongs.

We wanted to release every single one back into the wild.
Sea Turtles.
Linna checking things out with the helpful Auntie.
She didn't want to hold it because it was too squirmy.

Farewell little turtle!
(Linna releasing her sea turtle in the Gili Islands)

Our entire vacation was basically spent eating, drinking (Papa Saigh did all the drinking on this trip), sleeping, relaxing... and more eating. The food at Tugu was very good and very reasonably priced. I REALLY loved their pizzas, spring rolls, and fresh fruit. Every afternoon, the resort hosts a tea for its guests, with cakes and a delicious house tea by the pool. They also have a yummy satay on the lunch and dinner menu at the Bale Kokok Pletok restaurant (pool restaurant), which comes with lamb, beef, chicken, etc., and a variety of dipping sauces. I ordered this twice!

This trip was truly spectacular, and our resort played a big part in our wonderful experience on Lombok. When we departed Tugu, the staff was waiting for us to say goodbye and wish us well. This small act made a lasting impression on all three of us. Linna still asks about "Uncle Henry" (a staff member that Linna was always on the lookout for), and we are so appreciative of the service we received at Tugu. On the drive to the airport, we got to see tons of wild monkeys just hanging out in the streets. It was like they all came out to say goodbye to us too! We would highly recommend a visit to Tugu Lombok, and we hope to be back one day soon.

Linna relaxing in a hammock on Tugu's beach.
Playing with the resort's toys on the beach.
Flight: We flew Silk Air, which we would recommend. It cost about $1,200 for the three of us to fly from Singapore to Lombok. The flight days/times were a bit conflicting with Papa Saigh's work schedule, but the seats were comfortable, food was decent, alcohol was included, and the staff was great with our 3-year old.

Tugu staff, coming out to say farewell.
So happy in paradise.

Mama Saigh and bug in the waters of the Gili Islands.
Papa Saigh and Linna relaxing.


Monkeys on the road on the way to the airport.

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