The Island of Lombok, Indonesia
Jun 23, 2004
Hope this journal entry finds you all well. We are currently on the Island of Lombok. We left Gili Air last Friday to spend a week on this island.
A few facts on Lombok kindly provided by Oliver's mum, Anne: Lombok is about three-quarters the size of Bali and is estimated to have, surprisingly, approximately 2.5 million inhabitants making it slightly more densely populated than Bali. As well, Lombok lies only 8 degrees (375km) south of the equator. As such the weather is tropical. The daytime temperature averages between 27o C to 32o C ( 80o F to 90o F) along the western coastal area (the main tourist venue). Average temperature inland is 29o C to 34o C. Lombok's tropical monsoon climate has two distinct seasons; dry (May to September) and wet (October to March). Monsoon refers to the wind, not the rain. However even in the wet monsoon the rain tends to be short lived and localized.
We took a tour the first day we arrived and visited some inland little Lombok villages that specialize in grass weaving and tapestry making...at which I tried my hand! It is amazingly intricate and detailed work with one tapestry taking over a month to make.
We also visited a monkey forest and a Hindu temple where lots of monkeys reside. We spent the equivalent of 10 cents on about 10 bags of peanuts that I fed to the sweet little monkeys with mohawks! Their little faces are the sweetest thing...and their expressions are like little old men! The large male of the group was distracted by our guide with 5 packets of peanuts all to himself, so I could happily feed the rest of the little ones and the mothers with their babies. It was one of the highlights of the trip so far (I know I have issues! :) Oliver stood by and took photos until I ran out of peanuts. When I did run out, the mother I had been feeding (who had a slight attitude problem and relentlessly bullied the other smaller ones and who we guessed was (though we are undoubtedly not primatologists) most likely the partner of the big male, smacked me on the hand when she discovered the last nut shell did not contain a nut and that I was out of peanuts. We quickly vacated before they became more violent...we have heard stories of the monkeys getting aggressive and biting and didn't want any part of that! Anyway, enough of monkeys...
We have been staying in the LOVELIEST little cottage on the ocean! We have a clear view of the ocean and of the island of Bali and it's volcano at sunset as we sit on our porch hammock. The restaurant only serves vegetarian food in a commune-type setting where all guests dine together a one big long table where you sit cross-legged. This inspires interesting conversation and the sharing of travel, lodging, hawker-survival tips (remember the hawkers are the pesky locals that relentlessy try to sell us "Rolex" watches and the likes). Our bathroom is private open courtyard style, with a small garden in the center. Our shower is a large pot that we fill with water from a tap in the morning so it can warm all day in the sun. We pull out the stopper and it's shower time from a pot! Never dreamed I would be showering this way, but it is very relaxing and refreshing. And all for around $10 a night! Here is a link to where we are staying if you want to take a look: http://www.santaibeachinn.com
We have rented a knackered out little moped for a few days...it barely makes it up Lombok's steep hilly roads (we almost had to get off a few times, but it finally lumbered up). It has been really nice to have our own wheels to go off and explore the Western side of Lombok. The beaches are breathtaking with the big rocky cliffs. Yesterday, we found a remote little stretch of beach that was all our own, where we found some perfect little shell specimens. Unfortunately, most of the beaches are coral grave yards from all the dynamite fishing that has taken place until recently when the government started cracking down a bit (though it is still done where & where the locals can get away with it). Tons and tons of broken coral pieces make up the beaches, but they are still beautiful. Some of the beaches also have black sand as they are very volcanic in areas.
So tomorrow we are flying back to Bali on $20 flight that takes 25 minutes! We got to Lombok on a four and a half hour ferry ride in the hot sun, so decided to take the easy way out on return. Plus, we are meeting our friends Chris and Sheila in Denpasar, Bali at the airport tomorrow night. They have a 32 hour trip to get here (not to mention going forward 13 hours in time) so will be quite tired upon arrival. Oliver and I hope to have found a nice little spot in Sanur (southern Bali beachy town fairly close to the airport) by the time they get here where we will stay for a few days or so.
Oh, one more thing about Lombok...the S.A.S. mosquitoes (S.A.S. stands for the revered British special forces, the "Special Air Service"). I have been attacked from top to bottom and am basically one big mosquito bite...of course, they don't like Oliver as much and so he has escaped pretty much untouched! We are constantly burning mosquito coils (similar to citronella candles) and have mozzie nets over the bed, but to no avail. I call them, "SAS mosquitoes" because the first night we were here, I asked Oliver to make sure I was properly sealed inside my mozzie net (which we have pegged closed with tons of pegs), and he laughed (as I had bought some clothes pegs and used about five to peg the mozzie net closed) and said, "They're not S.A.S.!" I said, I didn't want to risk it as we knew that they can carry malaria on this island and I ALWAYS get bitten. Well, one little S.A.S. mosquito did clandestinely burrow his way in and bite me to bits in the night. I even had a bite on my eyelid and couldn't open my eye fully due to the swelling in the morning. Of course, Oliver laughed at me and said he was going to have to "veil me"...like some of the local Muslim women! We laughed, and I said it might not be such a bad idea :)
Other than that...we're getting a little tired of eating the same Indonesian curries as they all seem to taste the same...even the spaghetti no matter where you get it from tastes the same. I have been dragging Oliver back to the same little brick oven pizza restaurant for the last few days since we discovered it. I love my pizza and have needed to get my fill of it when I have found some as the Indonesians have a very hard time making edible pizza...even at the Western and Italian owned hotels and restaurants.
Anyway, we miss you all as always and hope you are well!
Lots of love,
Kim and Oliver