in IndonesiaComments Off on Lombok


From the island of Medang we sailed for the day to the northeast corner of Lombok and anchored just off the mainland, inside Gili Lawung Island.
Along the beach is a small fishing village,

(those are little fish like whitebait drying in the sun, they are often sprinkled over a meal as a crunchy garnishing and to add flavour)

I went to ask if a snorkelling trip to the island could be arranged, but I found everybody pre-occupied with what seemed an improbable task of loading a large canoe onto a small van.

but it was and done I got their attention.The snorkelling trip was arranged for a little later, as it is a marine reserve and his village is its ‘guardian’, it is expected that visitors like us would use their services as guides.
It was a well-worthwhile trip, as there were 7 of us from 3 boats.

The next morning we left early and had to motor much of the way around the north coast of

past the very prominent volcano Gunung Rinjani, over 3700 metres high and clear in the early
morning air.

On a calm day like this men were fishing a long way out in their little canoes.

On the north-west corner of Lombok we anchored in the bay Teluk Kombol, a small port used by passenger vessels and some tourist boats.

It was a nicely sheltered bay with very clean, but deep water, and a small village ashore.
We stayed there for more than a week.

Lombok is a hilly island with a network of reasonable roads and not a lot of traffic. It was the first real opportunity in Indonesia for cycling and I made good use of it!

The coast road is very pretty (and also very steep in places!), the road drops in and out of bays with small villages and some good views out over the Lombok strait to the volcanoes of Bali in the distance.

In one of the bays is the town of Sengigi

where there are many major hotels and resorts. Unfortunately it was developed in a rush to
catch the tourist boom when Bali was becoming overcrowded, most places were just being
completed at about the time of the first Bali bombings, they’ve struggled ever since. It is
quite obvious that the town lacks the foreign tourist patronage it needs to be viable. The
resorts are open, but with few guests, there are many cheap deals to attract business and
unfortunately, it appears the money is not there to maintain the buildings to the standard
they were built to. It is a rather sorry sight.

Along the way beyond is the first of the many Hindu temples, this one on the roadside, at a particularly sharp bend on a headland

and there are many other attractive little architectural features

to remind you that this western part of Lombok has a heavy Balinese (and hence Hindu) influence.

The main town on Lombok, Mataram, is on the flat plain at the end of the coast road. It’s a bustling, busy place, even to having shopping malls, KFC and McDonalds, but some of the good Asian things too…

and the people

The dokar is still a very important means of transport

The paddy fields are there right on the edge of town

and although not universal, the influence of Bali is there in these homes

seen in their ornate gateways;

and secluded courtyards.

South of the town is a Hindu temple, Gunung Pensong, its ornate gate just visible on the top of the hill above the paddy fields.

It’s a steep climb up steps to the top, I have to hire a guide (on the right)

and wear a ellow sash for due reverence.

The views from the top are as breath-taking as my guide found the steps!

Although old, the stone work has been rejuvenated.

and it has a resident population of Macaques.

Below the temple there’s rice planting in the flooded paddies

although not everyone is working, these people taking a break in their little shelter.

At the southern end of the island is the dirty little port town of Lembar, where the ferries ply to Bali

(but some don’t go far any more) Lembar is also the main freight port for Lombok

this pinisi is registered Makassar, one of many.

Just out of Lembar is an old iron bridge now restricted to pedestrian traffic only

below it in the river water cress is cultivated, as it is in most of the rivers.

Every square inch of agricultural potential is used

The statue in the middle of the village nearby reflects its farming economy.
In both Bali and Lombok we found that villages each have their ‘speciality’, whether it be growing a particular crop, making pottery, canework, carving etc.

Here on the Pusuk Pass road back to the anchorage is a village that specialises in making bamboo furniture and cane mats.

The Pusuk Pass road winds up through little villages in the jungle to a reserve known
generally as the ‘monkey forest’, there are many hungry macaques on the roadside waiting to
be fed by passing motorists.

They seem very friendly, -until you try to take your banana BACK again…

From the pass the road follows down a valley with terraced paddy fields

to the town of Pemenang.

It has a welcoming ‘Coca Cola’ arch but is otherwise an unpretentious, ordinary market town

the nearest of any size to the anchorage.

Mark took a car tour about Mataram with Jo and Katherine, primarily to look at craft shops,
but they also visited the Pura Lingsar, a Hindu Temple,



which has a ‘holy eel’. It is neccessary for visitors to buy eggs to feed this hungry

They also went to see the most impressive Hindu temple in town,

the Mayura Water Palace, with its collection of water features, including an olympic size
pool, open to the public.

(the rules DON’T only apply to the swimming pool)
and it has a selection of peripheral shrines

The craft shops they visited after had an array of carvings

mostly in wood

but some in stone, depicting the Lombok style. They’re nicely done, would be nice to buy, but
are mostly too large for our present needs!

Meanwhile, back at the anchorage I’d gone for a walk up the hill, and on my return to the
little village I found a wedding procession for a ceremony about to take place…

The bride’s party led by friends and supporters,

followed by those of the groom,

and finally the band.
Against the evening light it was a colourful display as it wound through the plantation into
the village for the ceremony and festivities.

Near our anchorage are the ‘Gili’ islands,

seen in the distance in this early morning photo of the men out fishing.
They are 3 islands (Gili = any island, but these are known collectively as the ‘gilis’), and are the most developed tourist spots in Lombok. They’re where most visitors gravitate for the sun, beach, swimming, diving and snorkelling.

We took a ferry boat over from nearby Bangsai as the island was out of reach for our dinghy.

We chose to go to Gili Air’ the nearest and said to be the least busy. All the islands however, have low-key developments with excellent beaches, swimming, but also restaurants and
back-packer type accomodation.

It’s usual to select and occupy a beach hut for the day,

we were there with Katherine, Martin and son Will off S/Y Suleika…

Once there and established, you can recline on large comfortable cushions, waiters will bring food and drinks and you’ll be entertained by a steady stream of hawkers…they sell T shirts, ikats and locally farmed pearls as a speciality. The game is in the bargaining and reading body language; but towards the end of the day, the prices get lower; -or more realistic, as the salesman is more challenged. There’s no doubt that most of them really enjoy the bargaining too, they are happy to have their asking price knocked back, they know their first was unrealistic, they return, again and again…
It was a great day out, we wanted to go back, unfortunately, for one reason or another, it didn’t happen.

I took a ride around the north side of the island back to the volcano Gunung Rinjani. It’s good cycling around the coast through villages and many many more paddy fields and of course, more

In the morning the mountains clear of cloud make a nice back-drop.

as here, Mt Rinjani itself looms above this Muslim school building.

The road up the mountain ends at the the village of Senaru, about 900 metres up a steadily but
steep climbing road and in that heat I had enough by the time I got there;

the food and drinks at the stall were very welcome, I spent some time. Never has deep fried
‘tempe’ (soy bean paste) tasted so good and as for the scallop (?) fritters….I was surprised to find them up the mountain, but they tasted great and I wasn’t asking questions!

The Mt Rinjani Park headquarters is just there, it is where people set off to walk to the
summit. There are various walks available, but each must be guided and over several days.
The quickest, (and most attractive) option leaves at midnight to arrive at the crater rim in
time for the dawn…enticing, but unfortunately not possible just at the moment.

I set off back down the mountain but stopped shortly for a trip to a waterfall (Air Terjun
Sindang Gila, it’s strange that ‘air’ in Bahasa Indonesia = water…)

It was a short walk (with guide) off the road down a well travelled path and many steps. There were old Lombok people making the trip to the waterfall to bathe, they say it has an almost religious significance for them and they appeared to struggle up and down the path, but if my experience of standing under the full force of the water is anything to go by, these old people would have been quickly knocked off their feet! It was not possible.

The falls were beautifully cooling up on the mountainside, in the damp green jungle and
I dearly would have liked to take a little of them with me for the ride back…

I stopped to look at the villages and rice paddies with complex irrigation canal system on the way down the mountain.

and the tobacco, sun-drying on the roadside.

Once back on the ‘main road’ again I also took a short detour to the village of Segenter
which is a traditional village and which the ‘Lonely Planet’guide says is hard to find…As
I came upon it I thought I should take a look, but was not impressed.
By the term ‘traditional’ village it means that the people have elected to return to the
traditional way of life; for whatever reason, but usually it’s for tourism.

I found a very hot, dry collection of square houses in a barren, dusty enclosure, with a barren landscape around. The people were not unfriendly,

but apart from the children who were fascinated by my bike,

they largely ignored me.
I found a family group under the central village shelter,

they were keen for me to use my camera. I obliged. However, I felt I couldn’t arrive in their village and wander about freely without some monetary acknowlegment, but nobody asked for anything although they offered to show me the village. I wasn’t interested, thinking I already had seen enough, but I was keen to buy a drink and thought that might be at least some token payment for my intrusion… -if there was a shop, -but there wasn’t! The nearest was back at the main road I had left several kilometres behind.
It is a spartan existence for the people of Segenter, I couldn’t understand why they chose
it and I was unhappy about being there, I didn’t linger further.

On the way I also stopped to look further at these processing and packing stations where
(predominantly) women work in the hot sun sorting and shovelling pumice and coral gravel,
packaging it in sacks to be trucked or shipped away to the cement works.
I was not envious in that heat.

Our contacts at the village near the anchorage organised a day-tour of the island for us,
supplying a cr with driver and guide. to go to places we elected in advance.
Our priority was to see more of the Ikat weaving and its products, we went through Mataram
and up to the town of Pringgasela, known for its high quality ikat and striking colours.
We saw several weavers in action,

and were amazed by the complexity of the technique, a still camera cannot do justice to the
It is a painstaking job and in our terms, the labour involved could never be compensated for
by the small price asked for these pieces of art. However, these women are employed in a
collective arrangement where they work at home in their own time, and maybe with the help of
their family…

this old man still had a job to do ‘skeining’ the cotton prior to the weaving.
They also tend to ‘specialise’ in certain patterns and colours, they work at the loom
following a list of numbers rather than a complicated pattern.

There’s a great display in the shop,

we were served coffee and made to feel comfortable by the proprietresses while we looked…

and under some suffrance, tried…
but never imagining we’d have an need to wear the same again, didn’t purchase those
particular items, rather we found others more suitable for other uses…

From Pringgasela we stopped in at the market town of Masbagik. It’s a major Muslim town

with a very big market, we couldn’t resist.

This part is just for pineapples,

but there’s all the rest under the main shelter a little further up the road and we found plenty of interest to us.

From there it was just a little way up the hillside, (the southern side of Gunung Rinjani)
to the hill town of Tetebatu.
It’s a very pretty village on the gentle lower slopes of the volcano where people go for the
fresh cool and quiet mountain air.

(Those are cloves drying on the roadside)

There’s a nice restaurant at the end of the road among tobacco fields

a perfect place for lunch and a look about. The food was excellent, the ambience likewise it
would be easy to spend days rather than an hour or 2.

The tobacco is grown on the paddy fields alternately with the rice, depending on the dryness
of the season; there can be 2-3 crops per year.
At this time the tobacco was being harvested for air-drying or in kilns

bringing back memories of school holiday jobs.

Further down the road the rice is planted and well on the way.

We next went to a village specialising in basketware,

and took a look in one of several shops

while a well-practised young lady made us each a ‘little something’ to take away…
It’s the small things that count.

Although it was by now getting late in the day, Lombok Pottery was next on our ‘list’, we
were taken a long way across town to find it.
In the village of Banyumulek it is their speciality. There are large shops with extensive
displays of pots of all sorts

but there’s little sign of the industry.
There is a ‘token potter’, a woman at a wheel demonstrating the technique (showing how she spins the wheel with her foot when making the big pots) and making little pieces to take away, gratis,

but the others, the people who make all this stuff and the kilns where it is fired are out in the periphery, in back-yards of private homes, the shop acts as a collective selling point only. Once more it is a case of the stock on display far exceeding the buyers available, much of it must be exported as bulk orders to retailers elsewhere.
We found some coffee cups ideal for our needs drinking this muddy Indonesian coffee, they have a’soft’, chunky feel, they were what we had been after. We went home to the boat, late but happy.

When came time to leave Lombok (reluctantly) we set off early in the morning, heading for
Bali. We had really enjoyed the island for being relatively unspoiled and having its strong culture and craftwork. We imagined it to be like Bali 20 years ago, before the tourist boom. We would rather have stayed longer and almost decided against going to Bali at all, but there were certain pressures, we had to go.

It was a clear morning, the volcanoes of Lombok stood out behind us.
We had a good breeze before long, we even had to reef sails for a while, and so with a good
current assist we made excellent progress.
Coming the other way was the Lombok fishing fleet, they were a sight as hundreds passed us,
sailing fast in the breeze,

They’d been out all night and were hurriedly getting their catch back to shore

Ahead of us were the volcanoes of Bali


Comments are closed.