Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lombok - Senggigi & Mangsit

2nd-4th Dec 2013

Lombok...ring any bells?
When I told people I am going to Lombok, people gave me the look. Huh? Where's that?

Lombok is the lesser known Indonesian island just east of Bali. This is the story of our little getaway to this secluded island. Armed with no plans and no expectations, we headed to the island of Lombok looking for a moment of relaxation. 

We arrived in Lombok International Airport. A long line formed in front of a single custom counter and I was thinking, lucky we got out early otherwise we'll only get the clearance 1 hour later. I was just a person away from the customs and suddenly out of nowhere, an old Lombok lady appeared next to me. A young lady who was queuing back in the line exclaimed "She cut the queue!". Now, now, I really hated people who cuts queue. I called upon the old lady. She pretended as if I was invincible. I asked her again in Malay "Ain't she from back there?" She again act if I wasn't there....and just mumbled something like long queue...well heck that doesn't give you the green light to cut the queue!

We got our bags and left the terminal. Unlike Bali, I did not hire any guide as we don't plan to go on a full fledge exploration. Outside, we were swarmed by drivers and touts. Following us around. A man came up and asked for our passports. I was laughing. Are you nuts? But I guess this is a tactic to fool tourists who are naive and confused over the bombardment. Once your documents fall into their hands, you're bound to get "lucky". I found a security guard and asked where to get the Damri bus tickets. The public bus charges IDR30,000 to Senggigi while a private car or taxi charges IDR250,000-350,000. So, what are you waiting for? I also read that some pretended to sell Damri bus ticket. Even though its stated clearly as the Damri counter, I continued to scan their uniform for a Damri label. I must be paranoid. 

After buying our tickets, we headed to the blue Damri bus. I guess we were the last to board and the bus took off as soon as we're seated comfortably. I heaved a sigh of relief and feeling excited to leave the airport. 

I read there are a lot of bad reviews about the bus being not on time, slow etc. Well, it's totally NOT the case. Perhaps they have improved a lot. The bus arrived earlier than scheduled and departed on time. On the way, we overtook some taxis so it's not slow after all. The bus stopped midway and I was wondering why it stopped in front of a paddy field? Then came up a personnel making head counts and off we go. I guess they wanted to ensure there are no free joy riders in the bus. The journey gave a preview of Lombok with sprawling paddy fields and kampung houses. There are no tall buildings around and it has the village field. The bus made a stop over in Mataram to pick up and drop off passengers. Then headed to Senggigi. We took about 1.5 hours from the airport and it's almost the same as the time taken by taxis. 

It started to pour as we arrived in Senggigi. As we hit the road, taxis, private drivers, bemos, people from shops approached us for rides. We hid in a restaurant and decided to have our late lunch there. 

We were talking to the guy working in the restaurant while waiting for our food. He was friendly and speaks to us in English. Then he introduced us to all the available guided travel around Lombok. That's when we realized, he ain't from the restaurant and simply a travel agent trying to sell us his tours. We have yet to book our trip to the Gili Islands so we took down his IDR300,000 per pax price but didn't make any promises. He was nice to leave us with our meals. Rain poured heavier and the place we were sitting started to flood. We shifted place and a small old man came in for shelter in the pouring rain. While waiting for the rain to stop, we chit chatted with him about his brother working in Malaysia but he doesn't want to leave Lombok and wanted to make a living on his own here. Then I got a feeling ... here it comes. He brought out all his goods. Bracelets of pearls and I continued to declined his offer. I just disliked to have a friendly chat and turns out the person is being friendly to me because they wanted to find a way to sell his goods. Seeing that he has no luck in selling his goods, he then transformed his profession into a driver and asked if we needed a ride to our hotel. He has a bike and charges $1. I was imagining myself sitting in the bike holding my luggage over my head all the way to my the rain. Erm...maybe not today. 

The tour agent came back and provided us his contacts. Then he helped us to hail a taxi. The first Blue Bird taxi went past and a white taxi came by. I read that we got to take the more reliable Blue Bird taxi. However, since the taxi was hailed and rain is pouring, we just got in. I insisted for a meter and he of course started the meter. If it's not for the rain, we would have walked as our hotel is just nearby. We arrived in Sunset House in less than 5 minutes. Meter showed IDR7,560 but the taxi demanded IDR20,000. Showing us a minimal charge of that price. We were tired and decided to just gave up and gave it to him. 

We checked into our 1-star Sunset House. It got me laughing as I wondered how or who gave this underwhelming rating? 

Our beautiful boutique hotel was divided by a street. Our garden view room is across the street from the main building which houses the restaurant, sea view rooms and the pool. It was still drizzling but that didn't deter us from checking the beach front of the hotel. We rested in the canopy overlooking the sea as we admired the orange sunset sky. 

The hotel next door

It's only 6PM and we were kind of hungry. Walking down the darkened street looking for a restaurant. 

There was one nearby but has nobody inside. Then further down was a warung. The smell of satay filled up the atmosphere and there were a couple of people buying it. It started to rain again and we quickly bought 10 chicken satay around IDR17,000 as there wasn't much choice around. The satay as I ate tasted weird. It doesn't really tasted like chicken meat and I rather not think about it further. It was only 7pm and we have no more plans for the day. I guess it's an early bed time tonight. Which is good as I rarely get to sleep early. 


We woke up the next day for our breakfast in the hotel. As we stepped outside, drivers who seemed to hang out forever in the hotel entrance eyed us like hawks. "Are you going anywhere?" "You have any plans?" "Need transport?". Ignoring them we went in for our breakfast. Breakfast was simple but nice. As we ate by the beach front, hawkers emerged trying to sell us stuff. "Do you want to buy these bracelets?". Then another showing off batik. They were somewhat annoying but funny as they were like live advertisement. Plucking out different wares and parading in front of us while we ate. 

Today, we rented a bike to explore around town. Bike rental was IDR60,000 for a day. We rode up to Mangsit. Stop over at the viewing deck of Senggigi beach. 

Rode further up and saw more villas and hotels. Some looked really exquisite like the top rated Qunci villa.Then we went further into the kampung. Unlike yesterday where it rained hard, today, the sun was blazing hot. I wanted to hide in and longed for a massage. We headed to Marshander Spa as it was highly recommended by many visitors. Took the 60 mins back massage for IDR90,000. To me, it was a steal compared to the price back home. The place looked dated as what the other visitors explained and the toilet was kind of eeks. Hair saloon was downstairs while the massage rooms are located upstairs. I entered the massage room and pulled the curtain that shielded the privacy of the room. "Klang!" the whole piece of cloth and stick came tumbling down the floor. "Sorry!", I embarrassingly exclaimed. The girls were giggling at my clown act. The bamboo stick holding the curtain was just layed on top of the wall and of course it must be handled with gentleness. The massage was awesomeeeee.......ahhhh....really awesomeeee....It's kind of different from the traditional Balinese massage. The massage was performed in a slow relaxed pace and consists of light treading of fingers on your skin and light stretching. Not sure if I am seeing things but the massage ended 15 minutes later than the said duration. In massage language, this means bonus~! Definitely recommended! Hot ginger tea was served after the massage. We walked back out to the blazing hot sun. My head started to ache from the hot sun. 

We stopped by at warung Ijo for some light snack. Before we knew it, we were ordering rice and it turned into a full fledged lunch. Every time you ordered something, you'll be given a bright orange price tag. It's really cool as we collected quite a number of them. Unlike the roadside warung, we got to sit in a clean and comfortable environment. To top if off, food was sold at a warung price and it was really tasty as well. We liked it so much we ate twice at this place. 

Ayam penyet....spicy & yummy. The ice lemon tea was not like the typical pre-mixed at home. It was a pure tea with freshly squeezed lemons and it tasted heavenly in a hot weather. 

Next, we headed to a nearby Pura Batu Bolong (rock with hole). A yellow sash will be provided and donation is compulsory. Now, a lot of visitors became cranky as what does it mean by compulsory donation just to enter a temple? It's debatable. Personally, I felt a place of worship must be free for all. Besides, I don't see the sign saying donation is compulsory. So, I guess it's made up. As I was thinking about this fact, I saw a couple of tourists refusing to take the sash and donate. The caretaker was adamant. 

Back in the temple, legend has it that maidens were once sacrificed or committed suicide due to heart break by jumping off the temple's cliff into the sea. I just got to know this when I came home else I will be freaked out. 

The rock hole

This Hindu temple is small but provides a majestic vibe as one walks over the narrow rock on top of the sea towards the Gods.In the distance, one can see Bali's Mount Agung.

We rode down south and the traffic becomes more congested as buses, cars, bikes, cidomo (horse carts) cramped the roads. We were heading towards Mataram and I really dislike the havoc in the area. Remember, the trip is to chillzzz. So we headed back to our hotel and enjoyed a quiet and an even more beautiful sunset by our canopy.  

Good night....


We woke up to a bright sunny day. We'll be checking out Sunset House and move to another hotel slightly up north.

To avoid hawkers, we took a our food to the upper terrace. Now, we can eat in peace but with the occassional lalat (fly) swapping around.

The driver dude outside of Sunset House was already eyeing us as he knew we are going to check out today. He appears to be the head organizer in this area and drivers must go through him to pick up passengers. Over the past days, he has been helping us to stop cars so we can cross the streets and even gave us free ride to the bike rental shop. He even gave us tips of travelling with bikes. I guess this made us felt obligated to honour his help by at least taking his car to the next hotel. The hotel is just around the corner and when asked how much is the ride (since he's not an official taxi fellow), he's like "It's very near, you can pay any amount as you wish" Our jaws dropped. Hmm....over the past few days, we have been cautious over people that approached us. We got a mixed feeling about this. So we gave him IDR15,000 and tips and took one of his people's car to the next hotel.

While checking in, we were served with the most delicious lemongrass juice.

Senggigi beach hotel is huge, boasting various facilities that you can imagine. Walking from the lobby to our rooms took 5 minutes. I've never been in such a huge resort. A plot houses max of 8 rooms and the resort itself provides 148 rooms. Do the math. It even has a couple of bungalow villas overlooking the sea. We entered our room and bing....the furnitures looked outdated. Felt like I am back in the 80s. This 4 star resort is even smaller than our 1 star hotel yesterday. The toilet had this drain stench. It's not that bad and I was too lazy to ask for a room change. The good thing is, it has its own patio overlooking the garden. But in the hot weather like this, I am standing under the air-cond.

After resting for a while, we headed out for lunch. Again, we were honked and pestered by taxis and drivers. By the time we left Lombok, we got used to all these and mastered the skills of ignorance. Lunch at Papa Besar Cafe was nice. It was another recommended eatery by visitors. I just wanted somewhere clean and with air-cond (spoilt tourist). 

The food was good just like what visitors mentioned. We ordered a thirst quenching and delicious Frostino (IDR20,000) made of strawberry, banana, pineapple, milk and honey. English Twinning (IDR10,000), chicken curry (IDR44,0000) and nutty chicken  (IDR50,000)

Heading back to our hotel, we came across deserted shops. Ever since we came here, Senggigi looked pretty empty. I expected lots of tourists but there wasn't many hanging around. Probably the place might be more happening at night? Low season? Or most of them are in the Gilis?

The rest of the day was spent exploring our resort. 

The beach front was amazing. It's almost like having this beach all to ourselves. However, a closer look of the beach revealed an ugly revelation. The shore was filled with rubbish! What an ugly sight!

It's such a pity that they don't take care of the beach's cleanliness. How will tourists return? We turned back to the hotel and tried to forget about the ugly sight out there. 

We walked to the other side of the beach and it was cleaner. However, it was sad to see dead corals lining up the shore. It looks like a massive coral grave. It's prickly and hard to walk bare-footed. We headed back to the lazy chairs of the hotel. Enjoying the cool breeze and sound of the wave. The sun begins to set while a live band plays on. Suddenly, my phone beeped. Wow, I can even catch the hotel's wireless from out here. Nice!

Tomorrow...heading to the Gili Islands

1 comment:

Jamie Young said...

Which airline did you take, is it reliable ?