Sep 3, 2007
Lombok & Gili Trawangan, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Breathing the dirty Jakarta air for only 40 hours after my trip to Malaysia, I was back on the “run” to another journey, Lombok Island, in the central part of time of my own country, Indonesia. Departed at 9:15 PM by the one and only Garuda Indonesia (it was scheduled at 8:00 PM, but of course they just had to delay..), my Dad and I came to the airport by DAMRI bus from Blok M, costing us only Rp 15.000,00 per person. The plane ticket for return trip itself was about Rp 1.600.000,00 per person. The trip took about 2 hours, landed on the airport in Ampenan, Lombok.
Because the main purpose of the trip was my dad as a speaker in a seminar, the committee had booked a hotel room for us, the same hotel where they were having the seminar, the Lombok Garden on Soekarno Hatta street, in the capitol city Mataram, only about 20 minutes drive from the airport.
DAY 1 – Saturday, August 25, 07
The hotel’s standard room (which was I think the room where we stayed in) was Rp 300.000,00 / night. Clean, came with 2 bottles of water, towels, etc, just like the usual hotel, only without carpet (who needs it anyway). The open-air style of the hotel with porches outside each room was perfect for enjoying the sunny and windy air of Mataram (and probably the whole small island of Lombok).
While Dad was giving the seminar, I was having my laid-back time around the hotel. I found out that there was an open gate connecting the hotel to another hotel behind it, called Lombok Raya. From the looks of it, Lombok Raya is slightly higher class. And from there, one can just go across the street to get to the Mataram Mall (but I didn’t).
Lunch was best served in the porch of our room, especially the menu was the very famous Taliwang chicken (BBQ or fried). What makes Taliwang chicken (or fish or anything Taliwang) special is the sauce, the spicy reddish brown sauce which I don’t really know what it’s made of :P But trust me, if you love spicy sauce, you’ll love Taliwang sauce too.
After lunch, Dad had another session of the seminar, and I was out with a driver and a local girl from the committee to check out the also famous pearls originally from the island. The shop is at Pagutan, only about 20 minutes from our hotel (nothing is really far away from anywhere since it’s a very small island). Being a necklace fan that I am, I just couldn’t help but purchasing several pearl necklaces. To prove the genuineness of the pearls, you just bite the pearls. If it feels sandy, then it’s real. There are 2 kinds of pearls; the seawater pearls which is expensive, and the surfacewater pearls which is way cheaper. As an example, one of the necklaces I bought with the length of 4 times the neck-round cost only about Rp 60.000,00 whereas just one single bead of seawater could cost like Rp 200.000,00!! It’s got smoother surface and shape, but luckily I have no problem with such imperfection, so I was happy with the cheap pearls :D
There is another place not far from Pagutan which has many many pearl shops and more popular than Pagutan.. (oh I forgot the name.. Sekarbela or something.. ) but the new local friend of mine, Yana, told me that this shop at Pagutan has cheaper prices since they are one of the sources of the goods for other shops.
On the way to and from Pagutan, we passed by a long street from where we could see the famous high Mount Rinjani.
At night, Yana took us for a motorcycle ride (it’s like everyone owns a motorcycle on this island) to the most happening place to eat out especially on Saturday night. I forgot what the street is called, but it's very popular, motorcycles parking on the sides of the long street, and people sit on provided rugs or mats on the grass. The main menu was Sate Belayak. It’s of either chicken or beef, and bulayak is the name of the leaf that wraps the rice lontong.
DAY 2 – Sunday, August 26, 07
This was the time that I had really really looked forward to.. Dad and I decided to pass the culture trip that the committee had kindly planned for us and other seminar speakers to some places like Kuta beach, Narmada, etc, where we could see the historical places of Lombok and the making of their traditional cloths, and went on our own trip.
Destination: Gili Trawangan.
One of three internationally known tiny islands northwest of Lombok island. The other two are Gili Meno and Gili Air. Of these three, Gili Trawangan is the furthest from Lombok island, also the biggest and said to have the clearest water, hence best for snorkeling and diving.
How to get to the gilis (gili = small island) from Lombok island?First, go to Bangsal port, about 40 minutes drive from Mataram, up north. You could take a cab (Blue Bird taxi is available in Lombok), motorcycle, or maybe also the public transportation called “bemo” (bemo here is equal to what they call ‘angkot’ in Bandung, it’s the usual minibus) and then continue with what they call “cidomo” (it’s like dokar or delman in Jogjakarta, but they use tires as the wheels).
Second, take a boat to cross to the gili.
There are 2 kinds of boat service that can take you across. The boat for public, where one passenger would only have to pay Rp 8.000,00. Very cheap, but you’d have to wait until there are 20 passengers in the boat including you. So the departure time is not fix to any schedule, all depends on how many people are going.
If you didn’t have time to wait, they’ll offer you to charter a boat for yourself for Rp 250.000,00. Do bargain, cos we and the boatman finally agreed on Rp 175.000,00.
After having breakfast at a ‘warung’ near the port, we went on the boat at about 8 something AM. We were kinda surprised that there were also some other passengers that hopped on our boat. They were the local Gili Trawangan people who wanted to go back there.. using our chartered boat.. without permission..!! Oh what the hell.. what could you do to the locals, right..?
The sea was pretty quiet that morning. I was told that it’s usually quiet in the mornings, and then it’d get more and more wavy towards the night.
And there we were.. at Gili Trawangan.. the heavenly island..
It was my first time snorkeling. Being a not-so-good swimmer, I didn’t go far from the beach although I was wearing the lifejacket. It was not bad, I got to see quite a lot of fish. The plain black fish, the ones with colors in stripes or blots, small and big. Too bad I didn’t see any turtles. Maybe they were in different parts of the shore.
The rent of the snorkeling apparels was more or less Rp 35.000,00 / person for the whole day.
If you wanna spend the night on the island, there are many choices of hotels / hostels, varying from Rp 100.000,00 to Rp USD 3.500.000,00 a night. But in the low season, the cheapest can be only Rp 50.000,00 a night. June – August is usually high season.
For meals, there were lotsa restaurants with cozy atmosphere. And there were also lots of bike rentals. The one that I rented cost Rp 15.000,00 / hour. Since I only rented for (even less than) half an hour, I only had to pay Rp 7.000,00. I would’ve rented longer and biked around the island if only we didn’t have to hurry back to Lombok island that noon. This time, we were lucky because a lot of people were going across, so we only paid Rp 8.000,00 / person.
The waves were a bit crazy, but the boatmen seemed so calm, so I figured that was nothing. I enjoyed the “ride” very much, and my dad was even asleep most part of the trip cos he was so tired after snorkeling 1 – 2 hours.
Back in Bangsal again, I phoned Blue Bird taxi to pick us up and take us to Mataram. The fare would be about Rp 90.000,00, they said. But because it took so long (the cab probably waited for a passenger who wanted to go to Bangsal from Mataram, then pick us up), we decided to just take the offer from the local Cooperation people, we chartered their minibus (which turned out to be without Air Conditioner) for Rp 150.000,00. Oh well, my dad had to be back in Mataram soon for his next session of seminar, so we had no other choice.
And then at night, I cancelled my plan to go swimming in the Lombok Raya hotel because I felt so tired. So I went across the street, had my dinner there.. again, taliwang chicken (I was going for taliwang fish, but they weren’t ready with fish while I was starving already), and it was much much better than the one I had at the hotel.
DAY 3 – Monday, August 27, 07
It was our last day in Lombok. Packing in the morning, and our flight back to Jakarta was at 12:35 PM. Arrived at Jakarta in the afternoon, I went straight to office after dropping off Dad at my cousin’s.
Definitely I will be coming back to Lombok again someday, with my friends, especially Gili Trawangan. Spend 2 – 3 nights in the heavenly island, take a little more risk when snorkeling (hahahaha..), and maybe go check out Gili Meno and Gili Air as well..