Indonesia, Lombok

Again, boat rides and any form of transport involving westerners is heavily regulated and accordingly price hiked. We booked a boat over to Lombok and van ride down the coast to the resort town of Sengiggi for 300k for the four of us. Before we even landed on the beach on Lombok the taxi bandits were wading into the ocean looking to snag an unwary tourist. Our accommodation at the Joje Resort was right on the black sand beach so I fell into a huge beanbag and had a coffee while we waited for the rooms. After the fracas at the last hotel we’ve started booking two rooms now so the kids get their own, it works out almost the same as booking a larger room with an extra bed.

Sengiggi is similar to Candidasa, a main strip of tourist restaurants, a couple of bars and a few souvenir shops. There was nowhere you could buy beer outside of restaurants or bars where it is pretty expensive at 40k per bottle plus service charge and tax, the Indo equivalent of Seven-Eleven doesn’t sell it.

It was bike time the following day, since the northern part of the island rains every day, we decided to head south to Kuta and the beaches. By the time we’d got round Mataram and were half way to the airport we knew we would not make it there and back before nightfall, distances on Lombok are just as deceptive as they were on Bali. We decided to head back and got thoroughly soaked by the daily downpour in the process. Over 90% of the Muslim population of Lombok are farmers, and by the looks of the countryside their product is rice – sodden paddies stretch as far as the eye can see and buffalo is still the man’s machine here.

Each morning on our beach we had the fishing show where an entire family (or two) would spend an hour or more hauling in a huge net for their daily feed as there certainly were not enough fish in the catch to sell at local markets.

The sensible choice the next day was four wheels instead of two so another Toyota Avanza was in order seeing as they seem to be the car of choice in Indonesia and rental rates here are half the price of Thailand. We were heading north around the rugged Lombok coast to a spectacular waterfall on the northern face of Mount Rinjani. Our route took us through tiny ramshackle villages, switchback mountain roads, monkey encampments, and deserted beach roads, driving on Lombok, with a fraction of the traffic, was a pleasure compared to rat-run on Bali.

We had to stop and ask directions a couple of times since very little is signposted in Indonesia but eventually made it to Senaru, the ranger station and base camp for Rinjani. As with nearly everything in this country there was an entrance fee and we had to take a local guide at a cost of 50k each down the steep valley to the falls. The first one was an impressive height but it was shadowed by the second waterfall a couple of kilometers down a jungle trail and across a couple of streams. A huge cascade around 200 meters high enveloped the entire area in spray making shooting photos somewhat tricky.

Back up top we had a bite to each (‘nasi goreng’ again) at a local warung overlooking the valley and ocean. Two hours later we were winding our way back down the coast road to Sengiggi for our final night before onward travel the following day.

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