Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 6 April 2016 • Destination
North Lombok is the area I hear the least people talking about. That’s exactly what interested me to spend a day or two in the area. An island with beautiful beaches in the south, Rinjani Mountain that’s famous with spectacular view inland, and surrounded by a lot of serene small islands, I suspected there’s gotta be something interesting in the north. My presumption turned out to be true. There are some interesting and recommended activities in North Lombok. And by North Lombok in this post, I mean the northern part of the island, not literally the regency of North Lombok. Here are five of them:
I first found out about this beach randomly from the Internet, a few years ago. I thought, the layered cliff looked pretty uncommon, I had never seen something like it from my visits to quite a number of beaches in Indonesia. Early in 2015 I finally went to a beach with similar charater in Balian Beach, but still, when Diyan and I were preparing for our trip to Lombok, I had to squeeze in a visit to Pantai Tebing to our plan, just to kill off that curiosity.
It’s called Pantai Tebing (means Cliff Beach) for the obvious reason. Some people call it Pantai Luk (Luk Beach) because it is located in Luk Village. A local told us not to make too much noise near the cliff because it could cause the sand grains or some bigger and harder chunks to fall out, sort of like a mini landslide.
Arriving at the beach, I was happy because it exceeded my expectation. The cliff was as awesome as I’d seen in on the Internet, but it looked more impressive looking at it directly from a close distance. The sand was black, perhaps formed by the eruption of Mount Tambora as I read in some other blogs – I’m not so sure about this though. The cherry on top was the stunning sunset, even though it had rained and the sky had been cloudy all afternoon. Lucky me!
I didn’t participate in this activity because of the reasons I’ve written on the post about hiking, but Diyan did the hike to this hill at the waist of Mount Rinjani. As he was hiking from the wee hours, I was sound asleep in our Airbnb. So I will let him tell you how it was. Take it away, Diyan!
Having informed that Pergasingan Hill has an awesome sunrise and fallen in love with Mount Rinjani from my hike a few years ago, I decided to leave our comfortable homestay bed at night, rode about 60 km of empty road through the pitch-black forest, and started the hike at 4.15 a.m with Hendi, a local guide.
The path was muddy and slippery from the rain the night before, it was quite difficult since flashlight was our only hope of seeing where to step. The trail was quite steep, sloping about 600 . Suddenly I felt dizzy. Suggested by Hendi, I munched on the food he had prepared for me, while watching lights from the village below and the bright stars above our head. As we continued the hike, the sun slowly rose on the other side of the hill.
Two hours of hike finally got us to the peak of Pergasingan Hill, where campers were sitting around with noisy music blaring from their portable speakers. It kind of ruined the calming silence we had during our hike, but probably that’s their idea of fun on the mountain.
Another half hour hike and we finally reached the sunrise viewpoint. The sun had risen and we got a clear view of Sumbawa Island accross the sea and several small islands northeast. The view was stunning, worth all the trouble to get to. I managed to cure my longing for Rinjani. She was standing there, across to where I was, gorgeous as ever! Sometimes the clouds gathered around her neck, just like scarf winding around a woman’s collar bone. Graceful.
Pictures of Pergasingan Hill in courtesy of Diyan.
East to Mount Rinjani, there is a small village of only 7 traditional houses, 1 common hall and 2 berugaq (gazebos). The number and the design of houses has stayed the same since ages because the villagers believe it’s supposed to stay that way. New generations have to get out of the village and start their life and build their houses.
The seven houses were occupied by seven couples that were brave enough to go back and live there after the eruption of Mount Rinjani in the 14th century. They were later considered as the ancestors of the Sembalun people, where the village is located.
I didn’t enter the village, only observed it from outside and from the top of a small hill behind the village. From there, at the foot of Selong Hill, I could also see Pergasingan Hill that Diyan hiked earlier in the day. Beautiful green scenery which was reached only with a wee bit of hiking. On clearer days, you should be able to see Mount Rinjani from there as well.
Known to have been built in the 17th century, this is the oldest mosque in Lombok. It’s located in Bayan regency, which is said to be the area where Islam first penetrated Lombok.
Architecture-wise, Bayan Beleq Mosque does not have the usual Mediterranean touch at all. It looks just like the typical Lombok traditional houses, with thatched roof, bamboo walls, dirt floor, and no minarettes. Unlike normal mosques, this one is not being used for daily prayers. Only certain religious leaders can use the mosque to pray or hold important meetings aside to a few annual religious events.
Three teenage boys welcomed us as we entered the gate of the mosque. One of them, the tallest one, started to explain about the mosque’s history and function without being asked. The other two kept following us around as their friend was taking us around the complex. The complex consisted of the mosque, which is the biggest building there, an administrative office and a few tombs of important Islamic gurus.
Upon our exit, these kids asked us to go to the administration office, which barely looks like an office with no desks nor chairs present. There they asked us to write our names and origins in a guest book, and pay a donation. We gave IDR20,000 but you could give more if you’re not such in a tight budget like we were. Unfortunately though, the guiding for now is only available in Indonesian language.
About 30 minutes motorbike ride from Bayan Beleq Mosque northward, we arrived in Segenter Village. It’s one of the few Sasak traditional villages that still remain in Lombok. Unlike the more famous one Sade village in the south, Segenter didn’t look too commercialized with too many souvenir shops. In fact, there was no souvenir shop at all.
Houses were organized neatly rows upon rows. Between two rows of houses there was a row of berugaq, which functioned like hangout gazebos for anyone. On the other hand, strict rules were applied to the houses’ living arrangement. One row is for parents and older children, the other is for the younger children. And it repeats as a pattern on the next rows.
I know all this from a man whom we ran into at the entrance. He took us around the village, explained things to us, and even invited us into a house to show what a newly-wed bedroom looked like. There, in a mezzanine-like room, a newly-wed aren’t allowed to go out except for eating and toilet necessities.
When we decided to end the tour, this man didn’t ask for any money. But we could tell that he expected some, from his gesture, that is walking us to the gate and just stood around us as we were preparing to get on our motorbike. We decided to give him IDR50,000.
Aside to these five, there are many more interesting places and activities in North Lombok recommended by our Airbnb host, Veronica. These activities are: snorkeling at a certain spot at the beach not far from her house Pondok Air Emas in Gangga regency, visit Gili Sulat at the northeast, check out the Giant Trees Forest, and hike Mount Rinjani.