Ahh Lombok, such a refreshing change from Kuta, the dirty armpit of Bali. A more relaxed pace, the people are nicer, the island is beautiful and far less tourists make the effort to cross just 50km of water. We took rest in Senggigi, a small series of towns and beaches in the west of Lombok before seeing some of what the island has to offer.
A taste of Kuta
Unfortunately I had to spend a night in Kuta, Bali to meet up with my amigos. I told myself I never would go to Kuta and the plan was to jet straight on to Lombok, but alas, that wasn’t to be.
If you don’t understand why I’m so harsh on Kuta then click here to be educated on the lowest forms of Australian culture. Fortunately, I didn’t really see any of that crap, but the place bothered me from the get go.
I flew into Denpassar from Surabaya in Java. Taxi touts at the airport blatantly lie to you about pricing. There’s a sign that says the price is 70,000IDR to Kuta beach, yet they tell you the price is 250,000IDR. They’ll tell you your hotel is in north Kuta and therefore a different price, yet my hotel was at the southern end of Kuta Beach right next to Google Map’s label for Kuta itself – pretty central.
So I ignored them and took a motorbike for 80,000IDR. Then even the motorbike guy tried to rip me off and pretended to fumble around inside his empty bum bag for the change when he clearly knew it was empty. He looked at me to check if I was watching and then continued to fumble around despite there being nothing in the pocket. So I rolled my eyes and let him keep the change.
Walk for 5 seconds in the street and people will hassle you to buy anything and everything. “Hey boss!”, they say or just a shrill call of “massssaaaaj”. Apparently every make up clad woman in the street is a masseuse. You can buy car stickers that say “Stevo is a cunt” and all sorts of lovely things. The streets are lined with McDonalds, Burger King and Starbucks. It’s a trashy place.
There was one place I liked in Kuta though. A small warung with a lady who was the only person not to hassle me or try and rip me off. I was quite happy to pay her Kuta’s inflated western prices for her cheap local food.
I’m sure there are great places and rich culture elsewhere in Bali, but I specifically came here for Lombok after all.
From Bali to Lombok
The next morning we used the Go Ride app to get to the Bali bus station. No buses went from here to the Padangbai ferry, but we hired a minivan to go the rest of the way.
At Padangbai we were offered a fast boat to the Gili Islands for 250,000IDR and next time I will take it. On the way back it only cost me 300,000IDR to take the fast boat and a shuttle bus from Gili Air to Denpassar Airport (4.5hrs). Whereas we took taxis, the slow ferry and more taxis on the other side just to get to Senggigi for the same price and more time (9hrs). It’s another 75,000IDR and at least 1hr to the Gili Islands after that.
So Andrés and I went to Senggigi whilst Carlos headed to Kuta, Lombok and Tanjung Aan – which both looked like places to go next time.
We stayed at Sonja’s Guesthouse for just 50,000IDR each. It’s a very modest place and we shared a bed, but it was no biggy. Sonja was very kind and helpful despite someone’s harsh review online that said she was a “sour bitch”.
She brought us a dessert on our first night and there was also some fruit, banana pancakes and tea for breakfast. Not a bad place at all for $5.
The beaches in Senggigi are okay. The sand is very brown, but there are lots of fancy resorts and we were enjoying one until security busted us and threw us out.
Lombok is a mix of Hindu and Muslim cultures so there is a small Hindu temple at the southern end of Senggigi called Pura Batu Bolong. They accept donations for entry and will tie a golden sash around your waist as is the custom.
The temple is actually built on an outcrop of rock jutting into the sea. It’s quite a peaceful place. There was a prayer area, but we saw a tour guide take some tourists up there and we followed suit. Andrés laughed as I did some yoga while we waited for the sunset.
There are some nice warungs where you can find Gado-Gado and the like plus some Western style bars for the tourists too.
Actually, instead of that we wandered down the road and found a small bar with some locals drinking and smoking shisha. We bought ourselves a Bintang and they welcomed us to join them. They very generously shared their rice wine with us. Apparently it can be bought super cheap in plastic bottles on the street. I actually preferred it to the beer, and better yet, mixed with the beer. Apparently it’s not as lethal as aruk so I suggest looking for some and trying it.
The guys were super chill, maybe a little bit high, played good music and it was good to hang out with them. Maybe just be a little more cautious around them if you’re female is all I’d say.
We tried to negotiate a tour for Mt Rinjani, but of course the prices were in the millions of rupiah and there were plenty of great excuses. My favourites were “if you book in Senaru it will be more expensive” and “if you don’t go with a tour company you will be arrested and deported”. Of course, how silly of me, adding a middleman is always cheaper and immigration police often wait in remote areas of national parks to arrest tourists hiking without a guide.
In the end, Sonja can actually do transport to or from Senaru for 300,000IDR and we decided to sort things out on the spot in Senaru.
I bought a bunch of supplies from the supermarket and we headed off the next day with the intention of hiking alone (since I had my tent) or booking just a guide (no need for a team of porters).