From Bali to Lombok with Love

In the morning I went to Malimbu, some ten minutes north away from my resort. The hillside drive to the area offered a breathtaking view of the ocean below. As a highland area and a canal zone of Senggigi Beach, Malimbu offers various sceneries such as turquoise seawater, pounding waves, sunset and a range of small islands.

After Malimbu, which is located north of the island, I went down south – my mission was to see Kuta (yep, Lombok has Kuta also). The smooth road made the trip even more pleasant. On the way, I made a stop at an art market in Senggigi. It was already 10am, but unfortunately, most of the shops were still closed – only two or three selling traditional sarong, Lombok t-shirt and sunglasses were open. Anyway, within half an hour after, I found myself on the road in Mataram. As the center of governance and businesses in Lombok, Mataram showed a different pace of life. Things seemed to move faster in this part of the island, with the hectic office buildings, schools, traffics and shopping malls. It was quite surprising to see a little Hindu temple standing on an intersection not far from the governor’s office. However, as I moved further south, a number of Balinese Hindu temples could be found. It was interesting to see a beautiful Balinese-style gate with big towers of a mosque on the background.

Away from Mataram in an area called Kediri, the local way of life was so thick. The road was full of cidomo (horse-drawn carts), which is a popular public transportation. Ranks of cidomo could be seen packing the roads and areas such as traditional markets. Aside from cidomo, bemo is also a popular public transportation just like in Bali. The funny thing about bemo in Lombok is that humans are not the only passengers; sometimes you could also see goats and even cows inside the bemo.

After Kediri is an area called Praya. Here you can find an attractive site called Sade, a Sasak (native tribe of Lombok) village that still remains original for fifteen generations. The traditional architecture of Sade consists of two types: beruga (traditional ceremony hall with six pillars) and lumbung (house to store rice and other food). The roof of each building is covered by alang-alang (elephant grass) and constructed in order to keep the temperature inside cool on hot days and warm on cooler days. Visitors can also see the villagers making their traditional ikat sarong and other handicrafts. It is a must for visitors to donate and use a guide service in order to enter this traditional village. However, all the guides, souvenir sellers and donations to the village are something we will have to tolerate; because this is an important income and maybe you help preserve a culture which otherwise would have disappeared.

After around 30 minutes in the village, I got back to the road heading to Kuta. This time, the journey turned a bit bumpy and rough provided that the road condition was not really that good. It is strange to learn that the road condition leading to Lombok’s most celebrated area was not developed. Again, I began to wonder if Kuta was actually not as good as the one I heard so far.

Once I finally arrived in Kuta, it was yet another big surprise for me to see such a beautiful place with not even a single tourist on sight; it looked to me that the many tourists I encountered when I arrived in Lombok were all heading to the Gili Islands. The white-sandy, long-stretched of the virgin beach in Kuta would be adorable for sun worshipers. The crystal-clear water with rugged hills rising around it creates a picture perfect occasion. Swimming is certainly a must in this area. The waves in Kuta should also provide the playground for surfers, although they need to paddle out for quite a distant. The surrounding area in Kuta is pretty barren. Still, despite the dry condition, the area offers the kind of views worth tens of photographs. The area of Segar Beach is one example; in order for you to get to this beach, you need to pass a dusty, dessert-like area.

On the whole, noticing Lombok’s undeveloped natural beauties and potentials somehow flew me back to the time when I was told about Bali before it is developed like today. The vast rice fields, untouched beaches, splendid hills and the traditional Sasak tribe are certainly valuable tourism assets that can sell Lombok to the world. It’s been years since the hype to turn Lombok into the New Bali started booming in the late 90s; however, during that period of time Lombok hasn’t changed that much. Certainly, a lot of works still need to be done to turn Lombok into its prototype, the current Bali. If I could have a say, then I say keep Lombok as it is now. This way, the island could really be a complimentary destination; because combining Lombok and Bali for your holiday would certainly feel like paradise.

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