Relaxing on the island of Lombok
12.09.2011 - 12.09.2011 30 °C
As we have on a few occasions on our trip, today, we allowed ourselves a break from travelling. With morning blue skies turning to rain later in the day this was perhaps a wise decision. Our hotel nuzzled the sandy shores of the Indian Ocean whilst a warm and inviting swimming pool afforded us the opportunity to swim, away from the surprisingly cold seawater.
Our suite had a large balcony perfect for relaxing, whilst a few strides down the beach were a couple of beach bars that we could relax at with a cold beer – avoiding brief monsoon rains in the afternoon.
For supper we found a much better restaurant than the previous night. Located on the beach their second floor seating area afforded us views of the wooden outrigger, multi-colored fishing boats that lined the beach. Or at least it did when the power was on – which was sporadic for most of the evening. Our elevation also allowed us to avoid the hawkers that were working the beach with few tourists to even take any interest in their wares.
Whilst most of three days on Lombok was spent simply reading, catching up on emails or wondering the beach and small town on Senggigi we did take one day out to explore a little more of the island. Renting a car with driver, which given the lack of road signs and manic overtaking maneuvers was probably a wise decision, we headed into the islands interior. With no major tourist destinations planned it was more to give us a view of the island and a feel for how it might resemble its very close neighbor, Bali.
Compared to its Hindu neighbor, Muslim Lombok does feel palpably different. The streets are quieter, the tourist sights fewer, the villages and towns more laid back. Yet, as we drive through the countryside we are still passed on every side by scooters, scurrying passed like furious ants. Frequently, oncoming traffic overtakes directly in front of us forcing a hope that their suicidal overtaking maneuver is completed quickly to avoid the inevitable head on collision.
At the suggestion of our driver, which we should have ignored, our first stop is at the pottery village. As ever in this situation our optimistic translation of this phrase was inaccurate. Hoping to see a small village preparing pots in some time traditional manner we are instead taken to, essentially, a shop. Whereas the promise of seeing pottery being produced was made it was not delivered. Along with three naked children playing happily with a running hose pipe in the back yard all that was visible by way of pottery making was a large Dutch tourist furiously making a clay rabbit, well it could have been a swan, as her husband happily videoed the ‘real adventure’.
We soon departed for the second (and final!) suggested by our driver itinerary stop. A weaving village. As anticipated, before exiting the car, a guide was with us to show us around the village. As one might expect in an Indonesian village dwellings were rudimentary but clean. However, with concrete roads, electricity and plumbing it appeared ‘richer’ than many of the villages we are passed on our journey from Senggigi, through rice field countryside, to this village.
Entering the inevitable shop at the end of our village tour it was easy to see where this wealth came from. After asking the name of our hotel (to judge how much we could afford to spend) the sarong set (two pieces of hand-woven silk) that Trey tried on was quoted at over a hundred US dollars. Clearly, our hotel was adjudged five star! Showing no intention of buying the price quickly dropped with pleas of ‘what can you do to help the village’. Having viewing the relative wealth of the village I should have responded that there were many others in greater need. Instead we departed our driver once again receiving no commission for delivering two travelers to the tourist village. However, we could hardly blame him. I suspect many tourists enjoy seeing ‘real life’. It is only after travelling to some of the more ‘exotic’ locations that we have that one often realizes how fabricated and Disney like these villages are, with real life bearing no similarity.
From these centers of tourist activity we were soon away from the path of the massed hordes (although there were very few tourists anywhere on the island) and heading inland, passed rolling green rice fields to Tetabatu. Bordering the southern boundary of Mount Rinjani National Park this small town offers a quaint and scenic rural area some five hundred meters above sea level.
In many places fields of tobacco provided a lucrative seasonal replacement to the thirsty rice in the dry season. Yet, even with a lack of rain plenty of rice was still being grown. However, in recent years this new crop has become extremely profitable with its bright green foliage.
Trekking, briefly, through working rice fields the vistas both along and down the valley were panoramic. Yet, the hoped for view of Mt. Rinjani was not available, due to low cloud cover. However, our drive up to the village, along roads with no sign posts or navigational aids, was beautiful. Maybe the hoped for view would have to wait until a return trip to Lombok. With afternoon now well upon us and a relatively long and slow drive back to the hotel in front of us our driver was soon heading back down the mountain. Yet, at least we had seen some of the island.
As we had planned, the following day we spent relaxing at our hotel, taking walks along the beach and generally taking a break from travelling. Our GM’s beach cocktail party in the evening provided a great setting to watch the sun slip over the horizon as a welcomed lazy day came to an end.
The following day we would awake to an early morning massage, Lombok style, with both Trey and myself being pummeled and rubbed by two excellent masseuses on the shores of the ocean, the gentle breaking of the waves being the only sound to penetrate our contemplations. In the afternoon we would depart for Bali a journey that was to take some time!