Lombok is said to be Bali before the mass tourism, and it’s clear to see why; for one, the island is a lot quieter (with the exception of prayer calls), traffic is practically nonexistent and tourists are few and far between.
Unlike Bali, which is predominantly Hindu, Lombok is a Muslim country littered with mosques, which is clearly where the islands money goes. Amongst huts, roaming chickens and barefooted children will stand an opulent mosque adorned with fancy tiles and a brightly hued dome roof; a mosque that plays prayer calls all hours of the day and night.
Whilst I completely respect all religions and peoples individual beliefs, having to constantly listen to prayer calls for 5 days did become grating. Especially as our place of residence was only a few meters from a mosque that seemed to repeat the same prayer call every few hours.
Anyway I digress, Lombok wasn’t exactly what any of us expected…
Where We Stayed
We stayed in a 2 bed villa with a pool which was part of Dream Estate. It was well kept and enveloped by green hills and palm trees but lacked self catering facilities like a washing machine or cooking equipment.
The first thing that concerned me was that during the 40 minutes we had spent in the car, travelling from the ‘harbour’ (boat parked on the beach) to the villa, I hadn’t seen a single shop. Not so much as a vegetable stand.
Concerned, I asked our taxi driver where we could purchase food as we were self catering. With a bewildered look he replied “No supermarket here. We go market or we have mart.” There are many ‘marts’ on Lombok selling ‘essentials’. Now to me, essentials are vegetables, fruit, eggs, bread, milk, water etc. To the people of Lombok essentials are sweets, sugary snacks, crisps, mysterious tinned items including ‘corned beef’ whose ingredients stated ‘2% beef extract’ and washing detergent.
The food struggle was real. After embarking on a 2 hour hike with my dad to suss out the area it became painfully clear that there were no restaurants, no supermarkets, no markets near and no sign of vegetables. However, just when we were about to drown in our own sweat and call it quits, we found a tiny shop that sold some eggs, cucumber, greenery and melon.
All I can say is thank god I packed some protein powder, nuts and rice crackers because for the next 5 days my diet was basically: vegan protein powder, rice cracker and melon, rice cracker and egg, rice cracker and cucumber. Honestly, I have been back for weeks and still can’t bear to look at a rice cracker.
By 6:30 am I was up and at it, getting a quick HIIT session in before the sun got too hot. I also had a daily dip in the pool which was just about big enough to get a few strokes in and I had a travel mat to practice yoga.
The main thing that almost killed me daily was the hiking. Hiking for food, hiking to see waterfalls, hiking to find any signs of life. One day we decided to visit a nature reserve and waterfall but after hours of walking up and down steep gradients it became apparent that the wild life had f***ed off and the waterfall had dried up.
On the plus side, I did get chatted up by 2 men. As my mum said, my sister picks up stray animals, I pick up stray men.
Wanting to explore further afield we decided to hire a car for a couple of days. I say hire, whilst walking my dad and I stumbled upon a car hire place (a hut with a sign that read ‘hire car here’) and inquired about a 2 day rental. Despite there being no sign of any vehicles, 10am the next day sat a car all ready for our use.
I did get to ride on one of the guys motorbikes though.
On the first day of having the car we headed north to seek out waterfalls. The journey was long and involved me pissing in a hole on the side of the road (a theme throughout my stay in Lombok) but eventually we arrived at Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfall.
To my dad’s annoyance, having a guide was non negotiable. Our guide insisted we had something to eat so I ordered eggs and vegetables as it was the only dairy and gluten free option, or so I thought. It was in fact HOT tobacco sauce, an egg and very sweet rice with dyed crackers.
The walk to the waterfalls wasn’t too arduous and our guide was lovely. In fact, he not only saved my family from slipping on wet rocks into the water on various occasions, but also trekked all the way back to the waterfall to collect my dad’s hat that he foolishly left behind.
All in all, a pretty good day.
The next day we headed south to what a brochure had described as ‘a scenic cost line dotted with picturesque beaches and quaint cafes’. After hours in the car, having to piss in a hole again (damn you baby bladder) and finding nothing, we parked up at the side of an empty beach.
Sadly we couldn’t swim because as we waded out into the inviting turquoise waters, we were met by jelly fish. The sand was not so welcoming either; ginormous ants marched up my legs and got dangerously close to my nether regions. Ants in your pants much.
Would I go back? Probably not. I think it’s a place you go either as a back backer looking to go off grid or as someone who wants to stay in an all inclusive resort and lounge on the beach. One thing is for sure, it’s not for self caterers.
Happy travels everyone. Let me know about your favourite destinations and travel experiences. x
………Coming soon, the final stage of our Indonesian adventure in Seminyak.