Personal Blog # 6 | A Road Trip Round Lombok
An exhausting trip from Nusa Penida via Bali to Lombok
Getting from Nusa Penida to Lombok in one day was quite a task and weren’t expecting everything to be so time consuming.
Nusa Penida’s ferry service doesn’t really have a fixed time schedule, so it’s a kind of first come first served situation.
We got to Penida harbour at 8:00 am and hoped to reach Lombok by around 4:00 pm. But nothing quite worked out.
We spent 1 hour just floating in the ocean on our way from Penida to Bali, not sure why this was.
Once we reached Padang Bai, the Lombok ferry had just left, so there went another one hour for us to depart.
Finally, at 7:00 pm after 12 exhausting hours we reached Lombok.
I got below deck for my scooter, inhaled the fumes of the smoking trucks, tied our backpacks to the bike and was off. Of course, in the middle of all this Jacqueline had secretly hopped on the scooter.
We drove 45 minutes to reach the capital of Lombok, Mataram. And WOW, we immediately loved the place.
Not that these two cities have much in common, Surabaya is a full blown high end city while Mataram is a bit more laid back.
Our first day was spent chilling around the cool eateries and cafeterias while planning our oncoming days.
Lombok is about the size of Bali and although things to do may be limited, all our activities were very interesting and in a way adventurous.
Our First Adventure Leading To a Misfortune
So after a well deserved day of rest and a plan of 4 days activities we got an early start and headed towards Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu waterfalls.
Our ride began early morning in the dark but once the sun started to brighten up, the surrounding areas of beautiful rice fields, coconut plantations and charming villages were revealed.
We reached what according to google was the entrance to the falls. Even though we weren’t sure if this was the actual entry, we decided to dump our bike and carry on by foot along a path crossing beside green rice fields and streams of water systems.
The first fall we reached was Benang Stokel, actually it is a set of three falls, but being the end of the dry season, in our case there were just two falls.
Heading towards the Benang Kelambu is where things got interesting.
We first headed down a narrow slippery path, ended up in a river and realized we were in the wrong direction and eventually got back on the right track.
On the way passed by a group of monkeys and suddenly heard the gushing sound of the fall.
We had seen pics of Kelambu but nonetheless were impressed by the fall. The fall is basically two tiered curtains of leaves with a curtain of crystalline water dropping into a shallow pool.
Reaching the fall was interesting and our way back to the scooter was even more, well actually this was a headache.
We reached the falls through a not so official path and along the way passed through a banana plantation.
This banana plantation turned out to be a maze once we tried getting out and eventually we ended up getting lost.
After a good 1 hour of going around in circles, FINALLY we found our way out. But our misfortunes didn’t end here.
We reached the scooter and found our right side mirror was missing and if that wasn’t enough, I realized I’d left my slippers in the plantations.
Well, this day so far was a mix of spectacular and unpleasant moments, oh well.
We decided to make our way to Sapit, a traditional village on higher grounds. The route was on and off, bumpy smooth roads.
Must be quite a gorgeous village, at least in the wet season. Loads of tiered fields are along the mountains but as this was dry season, everything was dry and shrivelled up.
So that turned out to be a bit of a bum aching ride and wasted time.
South Lombok Sunset
Following this little time consuming mishap, we decided to make our way back down to Tanjung Aan and hopefully take a dip and enjoy a sunset.
2 ½ hours later we reached the place, so you can just imagine the state our backside was by now.
The area is big, in the shape of a horseshoe and all around are bays and good viewpoints for sunset.
We ended up on one of the more popular beaches and close by there was a good view point.
To the contrary of the beach, where we only had a couple of vendors come up to us, on our way to watch the sunset we got bombarded by beer vendors.
The sad truth is that these were just kids, no more than 10 years old, carrying a bucket full of large Bintangs stuffed in crushed ice.
Not sure if this is really a sad truth as the kids seemed really enthusiastic and cheerful.
So the question I ask myself is, if these kids looked happy, had a thrill running after tourists to sell them beers and had a buzz just sitting next to us playing, is this really sad?
Isn’t our reality also sad? Kids spend half the day at school, do their homework and spare time is spent staring at a computer and barely go out cause their parents are overloaded with work and many don’t even afford to spend time with their own kids.
A Sad Reality Caused By a Devastating Earthquake
We decided to head up north and spend a night there. At least this would allow for us to visit a few highlights on our way and again on the way back.
Our plan was to divide the journey. First stop was for lunch in Nipah beach, a beach known for its restaurants serving some of the freshest fish.
I come from a fisherman family and my dad and four of his brothers used to be out at sea for days. So I’m quite used to fish.
But all this doesn’t mean I actually love fish. In fact, I would choose a steak over fish any day.
But nonetheless, we planned a meal of fish and turned out to be the best fish I’ve had. Hope my dad doesn’t read this, he thinks he’s the best fish cook.
We got into a chat with the owner and from fish, the discussion soon shifted to the sad story behind the 2018 earthquake.
We didn’t really want to get into such a delicate event but as it was the owner who brought up the subject we felt no harm in carrying along.
The devastation caused by the earthquake was evident once we got further to the north of Lombok.
Lots of construction was underway even bridges were being newly built. Unfortunately, along with the houses that are being built again, many more are just left in a pile of rubble completely. I can just imagine what a heartbreaking story is behind the abandoned houses.
Our attention soon shifted when we heard sirens from a distance heading towards us. To our surprise no emergency car came along but instead, rumbling sounds of massive Harley Davidsons.
We heard a siren, then just a second later I saw flashing blue lights and in no time we had a pack of these huge bikes riding at full speed and coming head on to us. A least 200 Harleys passed by us and must say this was quite scary.
We’ve rode along narrow streets at high speeds while being overtaken by huge trucks but when you have a massive bike come directly towards you and swerves at the very last second, it is quite scary.
Our Interesting & Unexpected Accommodation
A frightening situation and a 5 hour journey later we had nearly reached our accommodation.
But, our accommodation wasn’t what we were expecting, actually we thought google was once again taking a kick out of us.
We were off the beaten path and right in the middle of an authentic Indonesian village.
Cows were in the back yards while chickens and ducks run freely along the only streets crossing the little village.
One of the alleys lead to what supposedly was our accommodation. All we knew was that the accommodation was basic but wasn’t expecting this. Not that I had any problem but in a way we both felt as if we were intruding.
And yes, this was our accommodation. A room part of the family’s house and we too had cows in the backyard, I think there were four.
Wow, this was really an experience, the owners greeted us warmly, brought us tea and meanwhile the kids just stared at us.
No one knew English so I used google translate and tried to read the translation. This didn’t go so well I guess.
Unfortunately we only got to spend 1 night here as we needed to get back to Mataram the next day. But still meeting this family, their joyful kids, seeing this authentic life style and the food, wow the food was great.
For dinner we had fried fish, beans, noodles and plain rice and is definitely one Indonesian meal that I’ll remember.
An Early Morning To The Northern Falls
Waking up early was quite easy here. Once all the chickens started cackling and obviously soon after the cows started mooing, there was quite a racket so…
We did get an early sleep so the 5 am natural wake up call was easy enough.
By sunrise we were already out and on our way to the nearby waterfalls.
A short drive later we reached the entrance, paid the tickets and made our way down the still under construction stairs.
First fall, Sedang Gile, this was right down the stairs and we didn’t have any problem to reach.
But, the best is always saved for last and also like any good thing in life, this was a bit harder to reach.
A lot of the trek towards Tiu Kelep (second fall) passed the beautiful carved out water systems. Not sure why, but these systems really fascinate me and was basically a highlight. Just walking along the slowly flowing stream is extremely relaxing.
The fall really is a resemblance of East Java’s most impressive fall, but on a much, much smaller scale.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline was some distance away while I got a bit too close and got soaked with the spray.
A trek and 45 minutes later we were back at our accommodation packing our bags. Had our spicy Indonesian breakfast, or more like brunch by this time and gave our farewells to the lovely family we had just stayed with.
A Long, Stunning Ride Back To Mataram
Our plan for the day was to stop at a few gorgeous spots along the way back to Mataram.
The route leads through pretty villages, houses which had rice field backyards and a backdrop of the mountainous surrounding.
North Lombok is an impressive land no arguing that, thus our scooter ride was really stunning and must have been the main highlight on this day.
Searching on google maps in satellite mode, I had found a pixelated series of fields nestled within the mountains. So our first stop would be to a viewpoint overlooking these fields.
Must say the view turned out to be just what I was expecting. Loads of perfectly square fields, planted with different coloured veggies and resembling something out of a super Mario game.
From here we made our way to Tetebatu, a small charming village somewhere in the middle of Lombok.
Now, by this time it was already late in the afternoon and supposedly our intention was to reach a waterfall.
But having to trek at this time of day wasn’t really an option. We still had over a 90 minute ride back to Mataram and weren’t willing to ride all the way back at night.
We decided to give this one a miss. After all we have seen dozens of waterfalls over the past couple of months.
Following our Lombok trip we were on an epic 4 day adventure visiting remote uninhabited islands, coming across gigantic lizards and watching amazing sunsets in the middle of the ocean.
So what’s this? Well you find out more in our next post, out in a few days, or hopefully less.
Sum Up Lombok
Even though we only spent a few days in Lombok, our trip was amazing.
We had the chance to see first hand what this island offers and must say, our expectations were exceeded. All we knew was that Lombok isn’t popular as Bali therefore were surprised when we found the island to be pretty much undisturbed by tourism.
Northern and central Lombok were the areas we loved most and is where authentic Indonesian lifestyle is still the way of living.
We have 2 regrets about this trip. 1) We should have spared more days to explore more of the island. 2) Unfortunately Rinjani was closed when we visited.
On a positive note, we still want to do the trek to Rinjani and explore more of the island. Thus, there isn’t much choice than to make another visit in the future.