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The rest of Lombok!

Lovely Lombok.

sunny 33 °C

Seggigi:
Two days in Senggigi post RInjani were more of a recovery session than a period of enlightenment after the leg burning.

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Senggigi Beach. Hardly shabby.

I feel Lynne has done a good job describing Sengiggi already. In brief it doesn’t compare to Kuta Lombok or the Gili’s, but does have a great bakery selling nice fresh donuts.

Kuta Lombok:
The shuttle bus through Perama turned out to be a little Suzuki car, with AC and a driver called Apo who quickly turned into guide supreme. We chatted hard about religion, power cuts and local agriculture (more interesting than it sounds). He added a stop at a pottery village (boring) and a local Sasak village. I must admit with our rubbish remnant of the Lonely Planet South East Asia on a shoestring I knew little to nothing about Lomboks people and culture. The Sasak have their own language and many don’t speak Bahasa Indonesian, they were the original inhabitants of Lombok and were briefly ruled by the Balinese from over the waters. Their traditional villages are charming shared family rice house, ancestral family homes with many generations sharing two rooms and communal spaces as well as a village heads house. These villages are perched between the most beautiful and vibrant green padi fields. We got a tour with a local guide and Lynne bought a beautiful sarong (the men farm, the women mainly weave).

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A rice house is shared by 4-5 families.

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Lynne with Sasak baby. Pressed into her arms for some skin comparison by the locals. "ha ha, her skin is whiter than a babies". Disconsolate Lynne.

2 hours after leaving Senggigi we pulled into the most picture perfect white sanded bay with turquoise waters and little islands perched off shore at each end. We had arrived at the surfing capital Kuta Lombok (to distinguish it from the VERY different Kuta Bali).

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Kuta Lombok. Very nice!

Kuta is rated as the next big thing. Large stretches of the beach are owned by a Middles East consortium with plans to build mega resorts. For now there is the Novotel on a different, private beach, over to the east and the Oberoi Lombok to the west (the Oberoi has won the worlds best hotel for the last few years- a snip at $500-800 a night). The rest of the strip is faced single story warungs (shops) and homestays, for now. Those who have been coming for 20 years say it has changed beyond recognition. I think it still has a slight 'end of the road' feel. Everyone is surfing, apart from us. Nearly all the waves are difficult reef breaks. Not for the novice. Being dropped off in those waves by the fishing boat with out a lot of experience is a sure way to drown or face plant into very sharp coral.

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Kuta Lombok main drag with locals goats.

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Beach East of Kuta Lombok. Popular surfing spot.

We hired a scooter and cruise east (very slowly mum and dad) down the coast dropping in at different bays, having a swim and eating freshly cut pineapple. After a lunch back in Kuta we try and head west to what we have been told is one of the best beaches in all of Indonesia. We were told by an expat that the road were rough but we though we could always turn around if we didn’t fancy it much. 5k in and the roads were as close to impassable as you can get. The locals have found gold in the hills and lots of little tent villages have sprouted up with homemade tunnels and grinders. We later learn that the Australian owner of the land has been unable to keep these people off it and that people are already dying in their homemade tunnels as they collapse on them. We gave up after hearing the roads were the same for the next 6k to the beach and return to the Kuta with our tails between our legs. We feel much better however after gatecrashing the Novotels 5* services for a few hours.

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How to eat a pineapple. Skilfully carved by the local women.

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The skilful women. The speed at which five women descend on you when you finally decide you might want a pineapple. The local stall holder laughed that if you even sneeze something like pineapple they appear from everywhere.

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Green south Lombok from our trip west out of Kuta. We never made the beach.

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Happily safe back at the 5 star resort!

Tetebatu (Stone Bridge):
Lynne is feeling a bit beached out so we head for the hills. We hire a private car again to take us back up the volcano. Getting around Lombok, and Bali for that matter is not easy. We could have got five bimo’s (the little shared vans) to Tetebatu but it could have taken an entire day or more. A car journey is only 90mins. Tete Batu is a village on the south slopes of Mt Rinjani. We had previously gone up the north side and come down the east side and were treated to new views of this monster volcano. The village has become a bit of a padi field retreat and is packed in the high season. We book into the Green Orry Inn as one of the few guests. Sitting at 600m the climate is a bit cooler which is a welcome relief after months of 30+ heat.

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View from Green Orry Hotel.

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Evening Competitive Monopoly. 3-1 to me at the moment. Easy........

The next morning we are off trekking again! Lynne doesn’t seem to register my repeated claim “that I don’t do hill walking”. However this time it’s a more easy 5k walk through the paid fields with a guide pointing out the various stages of rice production. The fields are incredibly fertile and they knock out 3 crops a year of rice. The benefits of living on a volcano! The terraces of rice stretch out every shade of green as far as the eye can see.

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Planting Rice. A womans job. The men plough and as you can see in the back ground chuck the rice bundles to the women.

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Stunning green padi. Something majestic about the green glinting in the water. Our walk was tightrope between them for a few hours.

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Beating the dried rice. There is a constant cycle of production as the ground is so fertile.

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Padis as far as the eye can see. My nemesis Rinjani in the background.

We also get to see some black monkeys. Which is nice. After three hours we reach the jungle and the path to the waterfall. As we approach it sounds like a public swimming pool with lots of squeals and shouting and laughing. We arrive to find most of the village teenagers there with their girlfriends having finished their yearly exams the day before. They are all very keen to get photos taken with Lynne and I. Strange white faces and skin. The human zoo in reverse. The waterfall is very refreshing after our trek. On our way back down we pass through lots of local villages. All have their local guard dogs but our guide is quick to wave a big stick at them which works a treat. I keep my big stick with me all the way back down.

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Cooling waterfall / public playground.

Mataram:

Mataram is actually four villages and is the capital of Lombok. It has treelined streets and is quite pleasant as Indonesian towns go. Particularily pleasing was the western style mall (well Indonesian version of), where I bought some trainers (mine died on Rinjani!), and we ate McFlurries while surfing McDonalds free WiFi.

But then we felt a strange urge , quite the opposite of our usual feelings. The need to go to a museum. The Lombok museum has pieces from Lombok and Sumbawa (as it seems devoid of any tourist structure at all). We were the only people there and the guide gave us a relaxed tour ending at a locked gate through to the treasure room. "you have time?" "I get key!". In side were some truly beautiful pieces from the Sultan of Bima including some ornamental Kiri swords and a silver, gold and coconut jug.

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Ceremonial masks for dances

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Stunning jug. 1700's.

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Sasak Kiri's. for weddings not killing.

We also visited two of Lombok's Hindu temples. Both were quite nice, but not too inspiring. I was more excited about buying some knock off DVD's and watching Finding Nemo.

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Hindu Temple.

Tomorrow we get picked up by our friends Perama and start a 2N/3D boat journey to Flores via Komodo. Let the Dragon hunting begin.

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Where in the world is Lombok?

Lombok nestles between Sumbawa and Bali in the Indonesian Archipelago that consists of 17-20,000 islands. The largest archipelago in the world!

Some facts about Indonesia:

The population of Indonesia is huge: 240 million. 120 million on Java: the most populace island in the world. Kalimantan is one of the most diverse places in the world with twice as many plant species as the whole of Africa. Nusa Tengarra is home to the worlds largest lizard: the Komodo dragon which can get up to 3m long. Sumatra is home to worlds largest flower: Rafflesia anoldi. The reticulated python is the world’s largest snake and the largest ever was recorded in Sulawesi at 9.85m. A country of superlatives.

Some history about Indonesia:

It didn’t even officially exist till 27 December 1949. The region started out as a number of Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms and wasn’t united until the 1500’s when first the Portuguese and then the Dutch ruled the archipelago. The locals didn’t like the Dutch rule and greeted the Japanese during WWII as saviors. However this soon turned to horror as much like the whole of SEA they were treated abominably. After the Japanese were defeated at the end of WWII Soekarno declared Indonesia independent in 1945. However the Dutch with the help of the British tried to regain control but the Indonesians fought a tough four year long guerilla war. Pressure from the US and UN, as well as the mounting Dutch death toll finally brought independence.

Post Independence was a rocky road. Unity in war turned to division in peace. General Soekarno made moves to form a Guided Democracy (a euphemism for dictatorship of course). Despite these moves by 1965 Indonesai had one of the worlds biggest communist parties at over 3 million. A coup occurred which was blamed on the communists and 500,000 communist sympathizers were killed. Not surprisingly it later came to light that the British (protecting interests in Malaysia) and the US (against all things communist) had helped draw up hit lists for the military dictatorship.

Then comes a chap called Soeharto (very similar to Soekarno) who ousts the previous dictator and ruled Indonesia with an Iron fist through the 60’s and 70’s putting down uprisings in Aceh, Papua and invading Timor. The government was corrupt but the 80’s and 90’s were economic boom years. However by the end of the 90’s the government went bankrupt and after 30 years in power Soeharto resigned in 1998.

Indonesia has remained somewhat unstable since then. Demonstrations in Jakarta and the East Timor split are proof of that (the army withdrew only after systematically destroying all infrastructure in the country), but then such a massive country with such vast difference in culture and religion often will. The country continues to grow at a strong 5-6% a year, however while the rich get richer the country still has countless millions surviving on a dollar a day.

Posted by Justin Woolley 19:28 Archived in Indonesia

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