Here’s a sneak peak into Part-I of my series on Indonesia that appears in October issue of Smart Photography!
Lombok – Bali of 70s
In our second visit to Indonesia, we added Lombok to our itinerary. Since we had some free nights with Oberoi Hotels, the key reason that led to this choice was the presence of an Oberoi property on this island.
After a short layover in Singapore, we landed in Bali. Though the flying time was just 8 hours and the layover around 2.5 hours, we decided to spend the night in Bali as we had flown through the night and were tired because of lack of proper sleep.
We were booked on a Blue Waters fast boat to Lombok the next morning. It took 45 minutes to reach the jetty. The check in process was hassle-free and our bags were loaded into the baggage hold of the boat. Once the boat left Bali, I decided to park myself on the top deck since it promised a better vantage for photography. The boat crew also mentioned that since the sea was calm, I could take my camera up as seawater splashes would be unlikely.
Bali to Lombok
We were travelling east from Bali, and soon, the mist covered mountains of North East Bali started to provide us company to the left of the boat. While we were enjoying the scene, suddenly a roar went up in the boat. We had company! A large dolphin family had decided to escort our boat!
Our boat made its first stop at Gili Trawangan. The etymology of this name is two Indonesian words – Gili = small island and Trawangan = derived from Terowongan that means tunnel. The island has a tunnel from the WWII era when it was under Japanese occupation.
Like all the other Gili islands, even here, no automobiles and motorised vehicles are permitted. Walking and cycling, therefore, are the preferred modes of going about. While we were docked at Gili Trawangan, we found a few more boats docking and spewing out scores of tourists. It sure seemed like a favoured place for backpackers since the island has many hotels that offer the opportunity to chill in the form of cottages, a small pool and a shack-like restaurant with cheap liquor and loud music for the visitors.
And we reach Lombok!
It was another 10 minutes to Lombok. My first glimpse of Lombok made me fall in love with it. The island had a thick green vegetation cover and the waters around were a deep shade of blue!
The first impression was not wrong. Once we disembarked, and left the jetty, we found the greenery accompanying us all along our drive, with the exception of the breaks in greenery filling our eyes with the deep blue of Lombok Strait.
The Oberoi, Lombok is located in the North West of the island, just about 20 minutes away from the Teluk Kode jetty. The facilities and the view took our breath away. And, as always, their hospitality was quiet efficiency personified.
Let’s look at Lombok!
We looked around for things to do in Lombok. What caught our fancy were a couple of waterfalls in the lap of nature. Sendang Gile waterfall and Tiu Kelep waterfall are located around Mount Rinjani, a volcano that offers a challenging three-day trek to its peak and back.
After a 90-minute drive, we started a trek to the waterfalls under the shadow of the volcano. The trek was similar to the one I had undertaken to Bee Falls in Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh. We climbed down about 400 steps along a system of canals that is the lifeline of this fresh-water deprived island.
After 20-25 minutes of descent, as we made a turn, suddenly, this breathtaking waterfall filled the sight. Water in Sendang Gile waterfall falls from a height of 30 metres. The visitors were splashing around the base of the fall and were having a great time.
From here, we backtracked a bit and took off for a slightly more strenuous trek towards Tiu Kelep waterfall. This trek took us over half an hour. During this trek, we also walked through the stream formed by the waterfall. As the equatorial weather was kind, the experience of walking in the jungle was a pleasant one.
While Sendang Gile is a plunge waterfall, Tiu Kelep is a segmented one. If you arrive here anytime after midday and the sun is out, chances are you would be seeing a striking rainbow near the base of the fall.
Climb back to the top was hard but joyful since the vistas of nature were all around us. During our walk back along the small canal, we came across some village kids having fun the flowing water. Another interesting yet common sight was the locals patiently sitting and fishing.
Over the next couple of days, we went around to the fishing village along the coast of Lombok and some farming villages surrounded by rice plantations. In addition to some contribution from tourism, the primary occupation of the island seemed to be were revolving around agriculture and fishing.
While chatting with the local guide, we figured that Lombok is what Bali used to be in the 70s – a hamlet of nature and a haven of simplicity. The natives face hardships with grace and their smiles are genuine. Anyone who is planning a visit to Indonesia would do well to include Lombok in his itinerary. It is as close to nature as you can ever hope to get.