Lombok – the former Bali
After a 5-6 hour drive with the public ferry from Padang Bai in Bali and a 30 min drive with the shuttle bus (150 000 IDR, but there might be cheaper alternatives) we finally arrived in Mataram – the capital city of Lombok. We found out that it’s relatively expensive to get to Kuta and to the Gili Islands. So we decided to eat a soup and talk about the best solution how to get to Kuta in the south. A conversation between us and the 2 Indonesians – Ali and Arya – on the table next to us arose. It turned out that they planned to drive to Kuta to visit some of their bank customers. At the beginning we were a bit skeptic and wrote a message to our friends to search for us if we hadn’t replied on the same evening but indeed it was a really nice experience. We had some lunch together and met the family of Ali’s friend. Ali and his friend kept touching each other’s hands and held it sometimes. I think it’s a sign for being friends here. When the grandfather appeared Ali and Arya greeted him by holding his right hand with their both hands and took a bow so that their foreheads were on the grandfather’s hand. This is a Muslim symbol for great respect. Another special Lombok handshake starts with a “normal” handshake but then you turn the hands so that both thumbs are embracing each other. I hope I could explain that so that you can understand it 😉 It symbolizes strong life and friendship.
Lombok is a really noisy city. Really!!!! You can hear an approaching motorcycle from far away. In addition it’s even hotter than in Bali and if you’re lying at the beach it won’t take a long time until small children try to sell you bracelets saying “Oh, so sexy”, “You are so beautiful so you need a beautiful bracelet”. I bought one! For 5 000 IDR (40 Euro cents). The prices are lower than in Bali but still higher than in Yogyakarta. Everything has to be shipped to the island.
And here are a lot of dogs, only a few cats. In Jogja it’s the other way round… One day we were laying at another beach called Selang Belanak and I was waiting for Mona to finish with her surfing because it was recommended to us to not let our stuff be unattended. So I was lying at the beach having an eye on our stuff – but not on Mona’s little plush toy dog Zmoulz. When I turned around to see if it’s still there it was gone. Oh my god! She LOVES this dog and it even has its own blog (I know that sounds weird if you don’t know the whole story) and I was the one who let it being stolen! F***. I hurried to the Indonesian guys sitting close to one of the huts and shouted “Dimana?” -Where? cause I didn’t know the word for plush toy. The Indonesian women simply handed it to me! I just grabbed it while trying to look as angry as I could. Later when Mona came back from surfing she didn’t wanna believe what I told her.
The people here (excluding the Zmoulz thief) are friendlier than in Bali but you still have the impression if you talk to them that they just want to sell you sth. cause most of them are somehow related to tourism or have friends who do. But it’s not surprising as Lombok is still an undeveloped and poor island and locals are dependent on tourism besides fishing and a little bit of farming. The skin color of the locals is much darker than in Jogja. They are still used to work on the fields and they don’t seem to care about their skin color. It becomes obvious now why the “city-people” in Java don’t want to get tanned: they relate it to the poor people working hard. So they want to differentiate as a symbol of being rich and modern and not having to work anymore on the fields. The houses are mostly built out of bamboo and straw which looks really pretty and rural. But surprisingly the streets are way better than in Jogja – no wholes, no stones on the streets that can break your wheels.
In my opinion it’s the perfect spot if you are a group of surfers as you can find beautiful beaches, surf spots and many other surfers. There are a few bars and restaurants and the Magic Café is a nice place to enjoy some cocktails and live music. However, it’s quite empty and there’s not too much to do besides surfing and hanging around at the beach. In the north of Lombok you can climb up the Rinjani mountain which takes at least 3 days but we didn’t have enough time.
Today our 2 friends picked us up in Kuta (btw: we stayed in Melon homestay for 100 000 IDR and Lamancha was also recommended to us by a friend) and drove us to Singgigi which is in the north of Lombok close to the Gili Islands. We stayed at the Lina Cottages which was really nice because it is located directly at the beach and is around 150 000 IDR for a standard double room.
In the evening we enjoyed the last beautiful sunset in Lombok with a beer at the beach. A beach seller after having promoted its unique necklaces explained to us the new trash system – an effort by the government to get this huge problem under control. For every single can and bottle they get between 500 and 100 rupiah. I think this is a cutting edge approach (for Indonesia) as it not only reduces unemployment but also keeps the beaches more clean and raises people’s awareness for environmental issues.