Beach holiday at a resort is my favourite kind of holiday. Last year this time we went to Jogjakarta and then a few months ago to Phuket. This February, we went to Lombok and might just be the best of it all!
Bigger than Bali, Lombok probably have twice as much greenery and half the amount of buildings. What makes up Lombok? Abnormally tall coconut trees, green paddy fields, clean beach, brown cows, tropical fruit carts and vast blue sky!
We stayed at Shereton. Despite the bad reviews online, we find our stay very pleasant. But Lombok is too beautiful to stay put in a hotel. If you’re not picky with your accommodation, any decent lodging will do as you will find yourself enjoying the outdoors all day like we did! What I did at Lombok…
1. Discover local snacks/ souvenirs (oleh-oleh)
Mama C love buying snacks. Every country we visit, she must stop by a tidbit shop to buy local, savoury bites. I thought Indonesia only offers the usual keropok and biscuits which are available in Malaysia but I was wrong. I found fried eel and wild horse milk! The latter claims to be an aphrodisiac!
2. Wood carving
Indonesian’s wood carving is beautiful. I will surely furnish my home with some pieces. Here’s a photo reminder:
3. Visit weaving village
We were on a day tour to visit craft villages. My favourite of all is Panji Sari. It’s where we saw women weaving beautiful songket, which may take weeks to complete. I bought one for about RM 100 to support these hardworking women.
Oh, and I found some goats too. I love farm animals! Since it’s year of the goat and they are so cute, I took heaps of photos (?!)..This and the mountain goat at Nagarkot Nepal hee hee!
4. Eat Sasak Food at Kuta Beach and Ayam Taliwang at the village
Everyone say we must visit Kuta beach, but we find it very commercialised and it reminds us of Bali’s Kuta which we weren’t a fan of. There are people selling t-shirts and all kinds of things and our driver, Tan, told us that they can be quite aggressive. So we enjoyed some food at a restaurant instead. Naturally, we have to try Sasak food and after doing #5 I really wonder if that’s true Sasak food…
Another must-try is Ayam Taliwang, fried spring chicken with chill dip exclusive of Lombok. The most popular restaurant is the Taliwang Irama at the Taliwang Village. Order soup buntut too (its made from tail bone not backside). I think it’s called bebelung. Delicious oxtail soap full of collagen/gelatin! I went to the supermarket at Midvalley yesterday to find oxtail bones but to no avail. Sigh
5. Visit Sasak village
I was both amazed and shocked to see the lifestyle of aborigines here. There are 150 traditional homes which houses 700 orang Sasak and they are all related! Why? Because a dowry to marry to another village is at least two buffalos which cost 50 000 Rupiah each.
As they can’t afford it, they choose to marry their cousins because they wouldn’t have to pay a dime. There are no wedding ceremony whatsoever. Their tradition is to kidnap their brides! Houses are made of bamboo, straws, clay and their floor ‘cleaned’ with cow dung. But everyone seems happy. I think life is good for them.
7. Buy local handicrafts
It was quite difficult to see their living conditions and any effort taken to improve it should be rewarded. So we bought some handmade crafts. This old lady was spinning threads. I have only heard of it in Sleeping Beauty but never actually seen one. It seems fun! When I’m old and bored, I shall get one and maybe grow some cotton trees (?!).
6. Enjoy Sasak Dance
We were lucky that the Governor of Lombok came and the villagers welcome him with a local dance. (The governor is unexpectedly young and handsome!)
8. Have seafood by the beach (Furama Sengigi)
At Bali, we had seafood dinner by the beach too. I remember we could see the airport but no longer remember the name of that place. Sigh! Why didn’t I do ’10 things I did in…’ much earlier?! This I feel this place is more beautiful, though I think at Bali the food were more fancy. We order mussels, fish, calamari and of course my favourite coconut drink. The meal came with rice, kangkung and fruits.
9. Enjoy Lombok’s coastline
Lombok reminds me of the beautiful Amalfi coast in Italy! Lemon trees are replaced with coconut trees. There’s no limoncello but who cares when one can have refreshing coconut water? Food is surely better and chapter than Amalfi Coast. That’s me feeling very happy I’ve found a better holiday destination!
I bought what I wanted to used as a table runner but realise its soft enough and look good on my neon green dress. So I wore it around and feeling very happy with something made with time and love.
10. Visit Gili Island
I never knew God meant us to see though sea water and enjoy the corals and creatures that are in it. As no river flows into this sea (according to our driver), this is the clearest most beautiful beach I’ve seen (Okay maybe Nikoi was also good but I couldn’t swim when I visited it about 6 years ago). I love this place!
It was so hot we had to rest and get some drinks. We had some cold drinks and some food at a restaurant in front of the Trawangan Dive. Pick another place. Food was bad and they don’t offer coconut water so I had to drink beer…
11. Go on glass-bottom boat
We rented a private glass-bottom boat for 1 million rupiah which gave us the most amazing experience. The boat has two window sized glass on the bottom. The ocean was so clear we could see beautiful corals and fishes right through it! Our guides knew where to show us the famous blue corals, colourful fishes and turtles and took us around the islands. We stopped at three places for snorkelling.
12. Snorkelling (trying to catch fishes and chase after turtles!)
Oh, I can write an essay on how amazing it was. Our GoPro died on us. Such as pity! So I only have some photos from the phone.
I conquered my fear of water and learned to swim the past few years. This is my first time being in the ocean and snorkelling.
The moment I immersed myself in the water, I felt like being in a big aquarium. The corals were beautiful (some looked like brains!). There were neon blue fishes and even a shocking pink one which I tried to touch.
The best part? Our guide took us to a place where turtles live. I saw it resting. He swam to it, touch it and the turtle began rising! I was so excited I used all my might to paddle towards it (?!) but the turtle was gone before I knew it. Ok, I am no Emmeline in Blue Lagoon. One day, I will swim so well I can do without the life jacket and swim amongst the fishes! *you can do it!*
13. Check out horse cart
Gili island is truly a small island and has no automobile. So you can only go around on horses. It’s like Buyukada in Istanbul (another lovely country I wish blogged about).
14. Eat ikan bakar
Along the coast on the way back to Sengigi from Gili islands, we dropped by the long row of warung selling only ikan bakar (BBQ fish). Stopped between two stalls each asking for our patronage, we decided to be fair and order one fish from each.
Then, I helped one of them cook the fish for us! With a bamboo fan, I made fire which cooked our fish and smoke from burning coconut husk which turned my eyes to tears. It was when I decided I shall never bargain for roadside BBQ. It’s really tough work especially in Lombok’s hot and humid weather.
The fish, I must say, is one of the most delicious I’ve tasted. The fish was fresh from the sea, seasonings made with a unique local chili, belacan, tomato and sugar. It was literally finger licking good as we had to use with our hands. So yum I wanted another one but it was getting dark and the lights were too dim for me to separate flesh from bones…
15. Visit Art Market
A fan of artisanal products, we visited the Art Market which conveniently was situated right beside where we stayed (there’s a police station in between). I’ve bought some placemats made from grass which I’ve liked for a long time (for 65 0000 rupiah each) and eyed on a beautiful tray made of shells. Things here seems to be cheaper than in other areas.
- Go back to snorkel. One day I shall do it without life jacket. Like our snorkel companion, I shall swim into the shallow ocean floor, touch and chase after turtles!
- Snorkle at the legandary pink sand island and eat grill fish on a boat
- Check out monkey forest
- Chill beside the Gili beach with coconut water and a book. (I bought one about Jamu at the airport for this purpose)
- Get a dictionary for Tan, our driver, who wants to learn to speak English. He always offers me local snacks like peanuts, edamame and rambutans!
Can’t wait to go back soon!