If I have to ask 70% of my readers who are mostly Filipinos if they know where Lombok is I’m sure that most of them would have no idea. If I ask my friends where will they go if, given a chance to fly to Indonesia, I think the majority of them will answer, Bali.
I, myself didn’t know that there’s a beautiful island called Lombok a few hundred miles away from Bali. Lombok has been overshadowed by its more popular neighboring island, Bali. In my few days stay there, I instantly fell in love with its laid-back ambiance, fine, white sand beaches, and colorful underwater world.
Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province and east of Bali. Its capital (and largest city on the island) is Mataram. The island is surrounded by a number of smaller islands locally called, Gili. While every year, million of tourists visit Bali, many islands of Lombok are still untouched. In this part of Indonesia, tourism is just starting to grow.
If you’ve had enough partying, surfing, and temple hopping in Bali, there are 2 ways to move to Lombok. First is to take a short flight (30 minutes) from Ngurah Rai International Airport to Lombok International Airport, second is to take a public ferry that departs from Padang Bai (Southeast Bali) and Lembar (Southwest Lombok) every hour. Travel time is approximately 4-5 hours.
Coming from Bali, we took a short domestic flight to Lombok and reached a more peaceful paradise of Indonesia. I would like to let you know that Lombok has a lot to offer aside from diving spots and pristine beaches. It also has a rich and colorful tribe that is home to approximately 3 million residents.
A visit to Sasak Sade Village, home of Sasak Tribe, the largest tribe in the province was our first stop in Lombok. Our team was warmly welcomed by its people through their vibrant and lively cultural dances.
It started with a loud sound from a dance and musical performance called Gendang beleq. Gendang beleq is a Sasak language, which means “big drum.” It was followed by a group of young charming boys who did the Petuk dance, a dance that is performed during circumcision. Surely, amak tempengus will entertain you, wherein a clown/jester made a fool of himself, which drew laughter from the audience. This dance was originally performed to entertain the Sultan. The show ended with a mock warrior duel but with convincing hard blows of the stick on their shield. It’s called peresaian, a traditional Lombok stick fighting performance.
But what more fascinating about the tour in their village was to see the warm smile of its people, its quality and colorful weaved sarong, a visit to their traditional houses made of wood, nipa fronds, bamboo, and their floor comes from a mixture of soil with cow dung.
The next day, the highlight of our Lombok tour has come, a visit to Gili Trawangan, the largest of three islands near Lombok (others are Gili Menor and Air). From the northwest mainland of Lombok, it took us less than 30 minutes to reach Gili Trawangan. Out of all the Gilis, this is the most visited one probably because of its complete facilities. The island is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, bar and it’s a short distance to the diving sites.
On our way to Gili Trawangan, I can feel that I’m somewhere in Camiguin in the Philippines. Basically, because of the view of white sand, the water is clear and blue with a volcano in the background. Lately, I discover that Lombok is the home of Indonesia’s second highest volcano – Mount Rinjani.
If the beach of Gili Trawangan is stunning, the underwater world was also impressive. The freedom of swimming here was intoxicating as if I’m diving with my favorite alcohol – Vodka. I can move in any direction freely or just stop and float for a while. I find it one of the best places to do snorkeling or diving because the water is calmer allowing me to move more easily.
The scenery under the deep blue water was lovely, once again, I felt like I’m entering a different dimension. The water was very clear, there are schools of bright-hued fish and there are different colorful corals decorating the sand floor.
Some of my friends had the chance to swim with turtles, too bad our boatmen didn’t bring us there but on our way back to Gili Trawangan we easily spotted some turtles. No doubt, because this place is known to be the turtle capital of the world.
We spent most of our afternoon roaming around and feeling fascinated to the totality of Gili Trawangan. Did you know that all motorized transports are not allowed here? Meaning you won’t hear any irritating machine on your entire stay. Instead, the only way to get around is by foot, by bicycle or by pony carts known as Cidomos.
There were line of bars and restaurant at the long stretch of the beach. I can imagine how fun to party on this island while on the other side are hotels, luxury villas, and bungalows. The street was calm since you won’t hear any raging machine and at the same time you will feel relax because of the view and less noise.
For me, this is how we should balance a piece of paradise with a touch of modernization. I only hope that the local government and other concern bodies can keep the good vibes of Gili Trawangan forever.
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Note: This is a sponsored FAM Tour by Ministry of Tourism – Indonesia to promote the Island of Lombok. All views, posts, and opinions shared here are my own.