Lombok: A little piece of heaven on earth
As the plane prepares us to land at Praya, Lombok’s international airport, we see the silvery crests of waves breaking on the island’s shores. The urge to sink into them grew stronger. Cradled by the Indian Ocean to the south and the Bali Sea to the north, Lombok and the neighboring Gili Islands are blessed with an abundance of coral reefs and underwater life.
Rising like a phoenix after the devastating earthquake of 2018, Lombok Island in Indonesia is a small island that offers a mix of hectic outdoor adventure activities with a healthy dose of centuries-old unique cultural treasures. Despite several leadership changes, the Sasak tribe of Lombok has managed to not only survive, but also thrive and preserve their heritage, traditions and practices. We quickly came across the rich culture of the people of Lombok. The village of Ende Sasak tells the most intriguing story. The village presents all their activities of daily life, their lifestyles and their houses. The imposing rice granaries, overhanging all the houses of the village, are proof of the importance given to the storage of food for survival since Antiquity!
Villages of Sasak tribes like Ende, Sade, Sukarara who have retained their traditional practices are ideal places to get an insightful insight into Lombok culture. The Peresean, a traditional stick fighting competition, is a feast for the eyes. With rattan wooden sticks and their thick, tough buffalo hide armor, the scene becomes more dramatic as thak thak, the sound of vigorous attacks increases. Until a few decades ago these fights ended in bloodshed, fortunately this practice has come to an end.
In Lombok, every female member must learn weaving. Little girls are introduced to this art from childhood. The tradition is so rigid that girls remain celibate if they don’t learn the art of weaving! Lombok is popular for Ikat and Songket looms. The pottery here has unique variations with shells, wicker, cane, and wood. They are unusual combinations and make amazing works of art. Pottery Cukli art, from Banyumulek village, makes a great souvenir to add to your collection.
A myriad of activities
When you’re ready to dive into nature, you don’t have to go far. To the north is Mount Rinjani. For a serious adventure, hike this 3,726m high mountain. Gunung Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia and holds spiritual significance to the local people. The management of the national park uses income from tourism activities and entrance fees for the conservation and maintenance of the Rinjani Trek, an ecotourism project in Lombok.
After the trip to Benang Kelambu waterfalls, I was convinced that one could venture alone to the nearby Benang Stokel and other nearby waterfalls. They are actually five! They make an ideal retreat to refresh your aching limbs after hiking. These falls include Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfalls, Mayang Putek waterfall (the most unique which is said to have healing properties due to its sulfur content), Jukut/Jeruk Manis (sweet orange) waterfall and Tiu Tedja waterfall, the easier to reach among these. With divine beaches all around you, you will be super quenched in your search for sunrise and sunset photographs. We took a short hike up Merese Hill to catch a glimpse of the setting sun. The water under his influence showed a different play of colors ranging from yellow to golden and finally dark purple to the darkest blue, almost black! There are some photo hotspots like Pink Tangsi Beach in eastern Lombok and Batu Payung, a uniquely shaped rock in Tanjung Aan – favorite haunts of Instagrammers.
Stay & catering
Fortunately, the stay took place in good addresses with guides and gourmet meals. Budget stays would mean basic services. The mid-range offers better, well-maintained facilities. But we also made occasional stops at other restaurants to sample local cuisines that may never win culinary awards but are bursting with ethnic flavors.
Lombok’s most popular – Plecing Kangkung – I can go back to Lombok again and again for this simple dish! Made with the least effort, it’s water-blanched spinach, served cold, with a dollop of special chilli sauce as a garnish and with vegetables like bean sprouts, green beans and coconut. grated. Healthy food! Other signature Lombok dishes are Ayam Taliwang, grilled chicken served with sambal (chili paste) and Sate Bulayak.