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MATARAM - "Oh, you have to visit Lombok, it's very different from other islands in Indonesia, and Bali. It's much more quiet and the people are more friendly." That was what I was told when I told people there was a small chance I would go to Lombok. A very definate 'must see' island.
On my arrival, already three days ago, I in fact didn't know what to expect. I thought Lombok was an islamic version of Bali, with far less tourists and traffic. Generally I think I was right about that, but that's only very superficial of course, don't think that's all I have seen by now. Over the last three days I have been travelling over the island by car, and no, I was not driving. The next few days I will rent a bike again, like in Jogja, to see Lombok in little more detail at some locations.

Senggigi

Senggigi is one of the places I visited first, and not because I wanted to stay there, because I had already settled in a kampung near the airport, in Mataram. I stay with family of my travel partner Cabe, here on Lombok, and earlier in Jogja.
Senggigi is a quiet fishing village along the western coast of Lombok. Despite the tourists who go there, not the thousands that flood southern Bali every single day, but more dozens, the town still has much old values left. Sapi in the street just outside the town center, people carrying baskets on their head, and the smell of fresh sate in the evening. And even the environment looks like elsewhere in Indonesia, clean in the streets, and the trash is just behind the first row of palm trees or houses, that is Indonesia.
The village life which you will see elsewhere on Lombok hasn't been replaced by the smelly and hasty life as it currently is in Southern Bali. If you have been to both places, it's a little more easy to imagine how Bali used to be, and hopefully what Senggigi will never become. Allthough all estate in and around Senggigi has already been sold to private owners in the last decades.
Internet access is available in Senggigi, but at the most ridiculous rate of Rp 18,000 per hour. Please go to Mataram by motorbike and take some internet access there, for Rp 3000 to Rp 5000 per hour.

Mataram

Mataram is the very common provincial capital, with some tens of thousands of residents and a lot of cars, like elsewhere in Indonesia. Traffic here, and elsewhere on Lombok, has increased dramatically over the recent years. With that, several new gas stations are currently under construction by Pertamina. The roads have been improved as well, but the fact that more cars and motorbike pollute more, is something that is enevitable. But the air is still a lot more cleaner than in the cities in Java and Bali. (For what I can tell).
After dark, the provincial town sleeps fairly early. Outside some internet cafes which are opened late, and a handfull even 24 hours, some warung, and a local pub, it's quiet. Life is far less stressed than in the places I have been earlier this month. It's far more relaxed to go somewhere here. Even my cellphone often has no reach! No incoming messages from Java, aah, a relief for a moment. But as soon as I'm back in Mataram, the SMS-ses arrive after all, not that I worry about that.

Gunung Rinjani

By now, I have already seen all sides of Gunung Rinjani. It started with a cloudy view of the mountain from the south side. When you want to see the vulcano completely, you have to get up early, because as soon as the sun is above the horizon, clouds start to appear around an over the vulcano, obscuring it partially, and later more and more, until the visibility is almost zero. It's aso possible that there is some fog, or very light rain.
Rinjani from a more close location, the mountains surrounding the old crater, give a more intimate feeling. If you are on the north side of the vulcano it's even possible to see blue skies, beach, sawahs and blue ocean on one side, and dark grey clouds with an almost dusty dry mountain on the other side, 180 degrees the other way.
When I was having my lunch there, I was thinking of next years holiday already. I know I should enjoy this one first, but well, it's truly me what dreaming and thinking concerned. Maybe next year will be the year of the vulcano for me, but I still have to plan everything yet, at this moment it's a possibility, to keep it open to you.

Kuta

Today I also brought a visit to another well-known place to tourists on Lombok. It has one big hotel, the Novotel Coralia Lombok, and some warung and even an internet access point, fairly expensive, but the exact price is not known. The few shops and restaurants all have a view over the splendid blue sea, and mostly blue skies as well. The rockformations around it create a quiet and somewhat windy environment, but because of the wind it doesn't feel hot. Take care when sunbathing there! I haven't got burned today, though I have been walking around for over half an hour, in the burning hot sun. Maybe it's the fact that I have been travelling in Indonesia for over 2 weeks now.
One experience I was already warned for, if I went to Kuta was the fact that the people who try to sell you stuff can be pretty aggressive, the reason being that you are one of the very few tourists to earn some money from. When I was having my lunch, several young kids showed up, just like they do on Bali, but at first they spoke Indonesian. I wasn't interested in their products, because it's all the same they were selling. One girl also sold small belt-like weavings, which I might buy, just for my fun collection. I didn't act interested, because that would mean a long time bargaining and talking. Not yet, because I wanted to have a walk over the beach.
That walk lasted half an hour, in which two of the tree kids followed me, sometimes trying their English, but most of the time trying to sell their products for seribu each, and dua ribu for two, smart mathematics. We went back by car, to avoind the people selling the not needed sarung, sandals, kaos (t-shirt) and other stuff that I'm not even allowed to take with me, because it's protected marine life.

When we stopped the car to look for the belt-like product, the selling people, mostly woman and some youngsters, watched up, but didn't undertake any action to sell something to us. I went to the shoreline to make a picture, and on the way back I had to sit down on the verandah-like object to draw attention of the people. Totally different than on Bali, where the people tend to 'attack' and flood you with all kinds of stuff, but that would soon change.
Several people came to me, showed products, and eventually something I wanted to have showed up. The starting price was Rp. 10,000, but I could eventually take it for Rp 5000. That was a nice bargain for me. I just had to pick a nice color ( choice between reddigh and blueish is kind of hard if you are on a Lombok beach). Suddenly another girl showed up, which I had seen before. She forced her way through, and with the help of th others, they forced me to buy her stuff too, because it was not fair. No, I only wanted to buy one, thank you. Ooh.. that wasn't possible, it was very unfair what I was doing, and I had to buy hers too… I was very unfair. The people started to act like they were getting angry. My moment to get in the car and get away from here. They followed us to the car, not even allowing us to close the door! Ooh… I was warned for it, but probably I had to experience it myself. But above all, Lombok is a very nice and peacefull island. I don't want to harm the others around here, it were just a few people that made me write this story.

Revisions

On 7 September 2003 I edited the story on certain small points to make it more understandable for the visitors. The first version was written during my holiday, in a warnet in Mataram. This version should be better though.



Posted in Travel @ 24 August 2003 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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