Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 2 November 2009 • Itinerary
It was on my to-do list before I die. And I specified it to be on my to-do list of 2008. No matter how and with whom… I had to go to LOMBOK ISLAND! Why did I have to go there? Hmm… I don’t really know now. Probably because I’ve been to Bali, and so… I should visit its sister that is said to be the raw version of Bali.
Apparently February is not a good month to travel to any beach in Indonesia. First week I was there… rain…rain… rain…
It was ok because I had a great bed. Best way to spend a rainy day! But I got bored since it was a whole week!
I finally went to the famous Senggigi beach. It is actually the tourist destination on this island. It’s located maybe about 10 km (I’m not really good with distance, but it’s said to be so from other websites :D) from Mataram city. From Meninting, maybe just 8.
Senggigi is the beach that is famously visited by tourist and locals. Locals usually visit this beach on the weekends. Tried that once, didn’t work out! It was jammed packed. Eventually I actually never visited the beach. But you should and tell me what it’s like. Anyways… to get there, you could take a taxi which could cost maybe about Rp 30,000-35,000 from Mataram. I usually go there using my boss’ car, which is a Wrangler by the way. YUMMM!
I did however really enjoy the small town of Senggigi. Now my version of Senggigi is that it’s a quiet Kuta-Bali (mind you, Lombok also has a Kuta beach). It’s quite established accommodation-wise but not as crowded. So for me, I really prefer this area than Kuta, but this is about taste. What ever is your preference. Senggigi also is more natural because it’s far from Mataram, and has a hilly landscape which makes the area quite breath taking. Not a lot of young people in the area, so don’t go looking for one. The young ones head out to a different destination…. ooh… are you intrigued? Read on!
For the culinary side of things, I visited the Taman Café. Food wise, it’s ok for the traditional tongue, but apparently it’s very famous to the foreign skin. It has a great oval setting with wood furniture. Ambience wise, it’s very tropical and nice. I do recommend it. It’s located right in the heart of Senggigi and you can’t really miss it. From Mataram it is located on the left side of the street just across the shopping square. It also has a great bakery with great loafs, especially when toasted. Don’t forget the cinnamon doughnuts!
Other occasions to Senggigi was to visit the ATM and passing by and a failed beach visit as I told you before. Bummer! Need more time there.
Senggigi also provides handicrafts of the island. You can find cheaper ones at the market but some of these places have done the selecting for you. There are also shops that provide services to what pleasure you would like to venture. One famous adventure is climbing Mount Rinjani. I didn’t have the chance but it is said to be worth it. I won’t talk much about it since I’ve never been up there, but I will if I do in the future, believe me!
On the way to Senggigi, there is actually Pura Batu Bolong (‘pura’ in Indonesian means ‘temple’). It is a praying place for the Hindus, and since it’s beautifully located on top of a rock and has a hole in the middle, it became a tourist destination. The sea crashes on to the rocks making the Pura in to a dramatic view with soothing sound effects. In the afternoon, it is said that big snakes come out but I’m not sure what species. A small additional attraction for those serpent lovers. I have to admit, it really is nice there. The water is excellent, especially if you visit it on a sunny day.
On this particular Pura, you could actually see the Mount Agung of Bali. Interesting sight, I say. To enter, you need to rent a sort of yellow belt. You can rent it at the old lady at the gate of the Pura – if she is still alive 😛 or.. whoever is renting it out – and contribute a small amount of money for it. There is no certain amount, it’s free willing. And for us ladies, those having your period may not enter. It would be good to respect that. There are some seats provided for those visitors to just enjoy the scenes.
I also had the opportunity to visit the Gilis. I visited 2 out of the 3 Gilis located on the north west part of Lombok. I started my trip on a Sunday afternoon to take a document to Gili Meno. I went there with my local friend, Panca. We were chartered a boat by my boss’ colleague, but in general chartering a boat is about Rp 160,000 one-way to any island. This island was the middle one of the three.
I only had the chance to visit my boss’ colleague at his villa. It’s called the Mallias Child, located south of the island port. It consist of small villas with private bathrooms. Each villas cost about Rp 150,000 per night including breakfast. Just as a heads up, it’s not really your high end accommodation, but enough for those that just want to sleep in a more traditional and cheap place… although it also offers the view and great cooking!
Sunday night particularly is very quite. The island sleeps at about 8 pm and there isn’t much to do at night. That afternoon, we spent time with my boss’ friends which were very interesting considering they are one of the top 10 world sailors originating from Perth. Don’t know their names to be exact buy I know the woman is called Kay. The sky was clear and it was a full moon. Beautiful! I loved it. A night stroll really completed the last 24 hours of that day. On this island, there is a bird park and a lake in the middle of the island, but sadly I didn’t have the opportunity to visit them.
The next morning we got up pretty early. At this time of year, the island can be pretty chilly for a tropical country. A thin blanket really helped us sleeping. When sunrise peaked in, we hit the beach, which is just in front of the villas. Mallias turns out to be an excellent place, because on a clear morning, the sun came up from behind the Rinjani mountain. Excellent! We just hung, enjoyed the sunrise, and took pictures. The sun light was golden yellow, and mount Rinjani looked really mighty. Especially considering the many stories of those conquering it and some that failed and lost their lives in trying so.
While waiting for the right temperature to take a dip, we went for a stroll to the turtle hatchery not far away. Here, the olive back turtles were bred. This project is quite interesting. It started with not more than 100 dollars, but it can help the conservation of the turtles. The tourist may release an 18 month old turtle by paying Rp 100,000. And the money will help fund the project for the next generation of turtles. Interesting practical effort, I say.
Reaching Gili Trawangan, Panca and I decided to get something to eat. We chose Dream Dive and Restaurant for no particular reason. Panca ordered the calamari, I ordered jaffels and Lombok milk coffee. Luckily it was all delicious. The squid was perfectly cooked and the coffee was COFFEE!
What you will come to understand about the atmosphere around these islands is that it’s really laid back, and the locals still can catch up to what you want for a vacation. For instance, the restaurant where we had brunch had really friendly waiters, great décor and seating area, and also great food. There are bikes, snorkel and diving gears to rent. I guess underwater sports is the hu ha of the islands.
Trawangan itself, I think, comes from the word terawang which means looking beyond. I happen to go snorkeling at the north east part of the island, where most of the snorkeling is done. The corals are not so tempting but the fishes are. You won’t find them in huge schools because it is quite shallow but you definitely find various kinds. For beginners it’s a great place to start. From this I concluded that it was diving that was the main attraction.
There are also high end and low end accommodation, and almost everyone can speak English. I know this really helps on a vacation, a great plus plus, but don’t be hesitant to at least learn the word “terima kasih” which means ‘thank you’. You’ll sound exotic in no time!
It’s everything you imagine to be from a tropical get away that is young and hip. Now THIS is where you find the young bunch! Unlike Gili Meno which more to the older range that are looking for a relaxed ambience.
Monday nights are very famous for the Monday Night Party at a certain venue. Pardon my memory but I can’t really remember where. But If you do happen to be in the area at that moment, you’ll definitely know where to go… cause the whole island will talk about it and will be there.
Daddy and Mommy tuwtles!
The three islands are most known for the diving. Snorkeling in most parts aren’t as spectacular as the diving, many have said. But for those that can not, don’t be small hearted. You can still swim with the turtles. They are most found at the north coast of each island. Local guides would know best, but you can try your luck. Ask around and people would tell you where to find them. I didn’t have the luxury since I didn’t have much time. And if luck is really on your side, you can meet some dolphins and sting rays.
Round And Around We Go!
After brunch by the beach, Panca and I decided to walk around the island. It’s a great 1,5 half slow walk around the island, and quite romantic to those that are visiting as a couple. The walk offers a quite natural atmosphere and various sceneries. Once you’ve reached the other side, you’ll find other accommodations to choose from. Not to mention there are a few other venues to enjoy meals and drink. Panca and I didn’t have the luxury to enjoy it, but if in the future we do, we definitely will keep you updated.
After this trip, and several others, I finally understand the Bentoel cigarette ad years ago. It had a jingle about the ‘Blue of Indonesia’. I totally agree with it. Even though Indonesia is also decorated by luscious green scenery but it’s all in the ambience of blue. From the air (in the plane) or even on land (like the hill strip from the distance), it has that blueish taste to it.
The Hotels Motels
I guess this is an addition to Vira’s story of the island. I spent two weeks there. And since I was on stand by, unfortunately I spent most of my time at the accommodation I was in, which was by the way belong to my boss (at that particular time).
This particular venue was actually excellent! Totally my kind of accommodation. Let me give him a little hand of promoting it.
It’s called Meninting Raya, located of course at Meninting, on the Lombok island, just in front of the Regency housing complex. It consists of about 6 bungalows. Each one is about… and get this… 121 m square! Which is about 10 by 10 m, and I had one to my self, YES! Why do I love it? It is designed to be all natural looking. Visible brick walls, wooden furniture and floor, and the most amazing bed and pillows. Each bungalow consists of a master bedroom and bathroom, a children room and an outdoor shower, and… a guest room! Not to forget a small terrace around each bungalow. So for some one as small as me (uhumm small is relative) that place was huge. The best part is that it had a high thatched roof with a fan that really helps circulation and the heat. Air conditioners are unnecessary!
By the way, you could just walk to the beach. It’s about a 5 minute walk to the beach located behind it.
Meninting Raya was also equipted with a swimming pool. Not too big, but enough for the morning and afternoon dip. And the food is great. REALLY!
Now the fair bit, it cost Rp 450,000 a night for a bungalow, breakfast included for 4 four people.
You can see more at www.meninting-raya.com
By Taking One Step Forward.. and then a plane trip
I’m a bit embarrassed to say this but I don’t know exactly how much it costs to get there. Tickets and accommodation were already prepared for me. But you can always check the Garuda Indonesia site (www.garuda-indonesia.com) and peek at the prices. And don’t forget about the seasons, high seasons are June-July and December-January… as it has always been.
As how to get to the Gilis was already informed by Vira in the previous article, I will just add that there is a hopper between islands. It cost about Rp 13,000 per person to get to Gili Trawangan. The boat leaves at about 8.30 AM from Gili Air and arrives at 8.45 AM at Meno port. It will then take off as soon as the passengers are set. So there is no certain time when it will depart. It’s better to stick around as soon as you see the boat approaching in the distance. The trip takes about 20 minutes and shows you the south part of Gili Meno.
If it’s a sunny day, don’t forget to peak out your window and look for these islands when you arrive and leave by plane. The Gilis are a sight for sore eyes!
I didn’t actually spend much of my own money here, my boss mostly paid for it. But I will give you what I know about costs here:
– Taxi from Mataram to Senggigi : Rp 35,000
– Chartering a boat from the port to Gili Meno: Rp 160,000
– A night at Mallias Child : Rp 150,000
– Baby turtle release : Rp 100,000
– Coffee and Calamari at any mediocre cafe: about Rp 20,000
– Trip back to Bangsal port with the local boat: about Rp 10,000
– a short freshwater pearl necklace: Rp 25,000
– a real natural pearl: about Rp 150,000 / gram
– Bungalow: Rp 450,000/night