Here is your travel tip of the week…
Go to Lombok. Bypass Bali and head to the next island down the chain.
Why? Well, the island had been described to us as what Bali used to be like many years ago, and I’d definitely say it is more laid back.
It is easy to find small villages of bamboo huts (and satellite dishes) We stopped by one village that
had a weaving cooperative. There was one woman weaver in her 50s who spoke no English and no Indonesian. Rather she spoke a traditional Sasak language. Indonesia has been an independent country for 70 years, so this woman’s been living remotely well enough and recently enough without any exposure to the national language.
Traffic is far less,so far. The island is big, so it still takes a while to get places though. The roads are small and wind through forests with troops of monkeys and at times are clotted with herds of water buffalo.
Wait, did he say water buffalo?! Yes! Where do you see water buffalo? Right there on the flipping road. And, can I say that a baby water buffalo is pretty darn cute.
They still use these animals to plow fields. They are slowly being replaced by tractors, but because of the way water buffalo walk and how deep they step, the grass and the weeds grow back slower, so, though the tractors are easier and eat less, farmers have to spend more time weeding in the fields.
Besides the beasts of burden, many people get around by cart and horse. In true rural fashion, the cart and horse drivers sometimes gather on Sunday afternoons and drag race their horses and carts. In fact, on occasion they’ll hitch up their buffalo and race through the fields.
I am telling you. You gotta get here.
Now, if you’re not into scenes of pastoral weaving or machismo, they have standard island fare as well.
Beaches are many and vast. Kuta Beach and Senggigi are nice and long and fairly clean. Kuta beach still has room at one end for motor scooter races by some of the locals. It looks easy to find your own isolated beach with very few people.
Surfing is good, as is diving and snorkeling. We’re told it’s some of the best. Alas, a communication misfire kept us from trying, but we’re are headed back.
There is a nice waterfall hike that most people could do and the more adventurous can hike 2 to 3 days
to the top Indonesia’s 2nd highest volcano.
But, get here fast! It is not totally pristine. Touts and tourist traps and karaoke dives are cropping up. The dozing giant of development has one eye cracked open. The Sheraton is there and it is pretty posh. It is just a matter of time, before others come.
In one area of the island they’ve started illegally mining for gold, chewing up water resources and indiscriminately pouring mercury over the earth. Everyone is aware of the damage this can cause, but in the words of our driver, “Safety is #10 in Indonesia.” The government has come around and given out warnings, but there are no attempts to hide any of this activity.
I don’t want to put anyone off. My point is, before the rivers run dark and the weavers die off and the water buffalo babies move off to greener pastures, take the short ferry from Bali, or fly to Lombok direct and check it out. Maybe we’ll see you there.
Here are some high points for you….
Coco Beach Warung. Very nice relaxed place to enjoy the beach and the sunset. Great food. Great prices. Great staff. Could sit here all night. Bring bug spray though.
The Studio Villa. Up the hill from Sengiggi Beach. A little hard to get to/from, but taxi’s are cheap and easy to get with staff’s help. Nice views. Attentive Staff. Fresh breakfast prepared in your villa every morning! http://www.thestudiolombok.com/
Scuba Froggy. While we didn’t dive with them we had some dealings and they seemed fair and better yet, safety conscious which is good when there is no great medical care on the island. http://www.scubafroggy.com/