- part 1: the northern part of north sulawesi (bunaken, tomohon)
- part 2: togean islands, sulawesi
- part 3: fancy foods and foreign funerals (tentena and rantepao)
welcome to lombok
compared to sulawesi, lombok was very different in many respects: in sulawesi, what stood out above everything else was the friendliness of the locals, even when they weren’t going to try and sell you anything. in lombok, we suddenly felt we had to be very careful who to make eye contact with, because almost everybody seemed to just want our money.
coming from makassar, both of us were still at least partway ill: we had caught something “stomach-flu-ey” one or two days before. maybe that explains part of that (very mild) “culture shock”. it is also the reason why we coudln’t do a multi-day rinjani trek and see (and camp near) the crater of indonesia’s second highest volcano.
we took a taxi from the airport to bangsal, and our initial destination was as at least bad as it’s described in the travel guide (“beyond annoying”): bangsal harbour was crawling with touts trying to sell virtually anything. even at the official ticket office for public boats, we were ripped off and got a “special” ticket – with the original price crossed out and twice the price handwritten below it.
next stop: gili meno.
the little “honeymoon island” is indeed a very nice place. all the partying folk are on one of the other gili islands, so it’s quiet and perfect for relaxation (and fighting off germs). there are a couple of very nice warungs, restaurants and cafes (diana cafe being our favourite), one or two dive shops, nice beaches, and even baby sea turtles.
what’s marked in lonely planet’s island map as a “medical clinic” is really just the floor of a nurse’s hallway and a small open box with antibiotics and such. yes, it’s that small-scale.
we were happy to find a seemingly cheap bungalow (off-season prices are said to be lower) at mallias child, where staff (especially the manager) were friendly, and the rooms were clean. however, we were disappointed to find out that the price had magically doubled when we wanted to check out 4 days later. we had made sure they weren’t telling us a per-person price either.
if this happens to you as well, and you don’t have enough cash with you, remember that there is an internet cafe with credit card cash advance close to gili meno bird park.
in the food category, diana cafe (on the island’s even quieter western side) was superb, with shakey two-storey beach huts, great food and drinks and (or rather but) very relaxed staff. “ya ya warung”, just north of the boat landing, also had very good local food.
after gili meno, we followed the advice of some other travelers and headed for kuta, in the south of lombok.
we had planned on taking public transport, but ended up in a situation with foreseeable waiting time in the hours and a minibus driver threatening to go without us, but with our luggage. :|
going by taxi, as it turned out, was even cheaper for two passengers than booking the special shuttle bus.
kuta is a relatively quiet fishing village with some nice beaches, great waves for surfers, and small secluded bays. (due to the involvement of a dubai development concern, it is also rumoured to change into a field of luxury hotels and golf courses within a few years. but for now, it’s a great place to visit.)
the touristically active part of kuta consists of a road parallel to the beach, with many choices in accommodation, restaurants and souvenir shops. (and transport & motorcycle rentals, but you’ll hear about that often enough from the locals.)
we stayed at “the spot”, which was not the cheapest option but paid off. there are very clean, all-bamboo bungalows, wonderfully comfortable hammocks, great service and friendly staff.
good places to eat were lombok lounge (the “finger-licking, meaty chilli crab” is still as amazing as it is said in the travel forums) and pretty much any warung.
hotel recommendations for lombok:
- malias child turned out to be a very bad choice for us. bungalows were o.k., but the price was doubled when we checked out. see above for details.
- the spot is a swiss-owned bungalow place, and, simply said, the place to stay. see above for details.
- oka homestay is a nice little, family-owned b&b situated in a clean garden. clean rooms with fan, but very basic.
- bidari hotel: if you consider this place (it looks nice and it’s very centrally located), just don’t take the room on the ground floor. we had a very bad smell creep in through the bathroom’s “vent opening” later in the evening.
as usual, photos are available in the gallery (en, de) or after the break.