Sitting towards the front of a speedboat on a choppy sea is a back jarring experience, to say the least! Along with an overwhelming smell of fuel I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the two hour journey across the Lombok Strait to Senggigi. Needless to say it wasn’t where I wanted to sit, but as Amelia and I were last to board, we didn’t have any choice on the crowded boat. Luckily, Amelia was able to sit towards the back and out in the open which was a little more convenient for her, especially considering she was already feeling a little ropey that day.
Amelia and I had a rough idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see in Lombok, but had no idea how to go about it. Finding information on the internet with regards to ‘getting around’, was like trying to get blood from a stone, so we decided to book one night in advance at the cheapest place we could find in Senggigi and ‘wing it’ from there.
The boat company we’d used to get to Lombok, were also able to offer a free transfer to our nominated accommodation, so along with a few others we were picked up at the ferry terminal and taken by minibus.
The homestay called ‘Ressa’ was clean and tidy, but it was a lot further away than we expected, in fact it was completely out of the way of the main area and located next to a local village containing a deafening mosque. Not ideal. But it was just for the one night, so we decided to get ourselves settled and figure out how we were going to tackle Lombok.
Lombok is a relatively small island and known as the ‘island of a thousand mosques’. It’s a lot less travelled than its neighbour, although that is starting to change due to a recently built international airport just outside its capital Mataram.
The upside to being out of the main touristy areas is the noticeable cost difference for food and drink. After a short walk down the beach, we made our way inland and onto a busy road bustling with an array of food stalls. Unlike the food stalls you find in lots of other SEA countries these had no tables or chairs, it seemed the locals were ordering for takeaway. Never one to shy away from trying something new, we dived straight in, even with our lack of Sasak (local language).
A smile goes a long way, along with little bit of guessing, pointing and nodding we were able to order ourselves quite a feast. The total bill came to 32,000 rupiah (£1.50ish)! Which included two portions of nasi campur (rice with chilli, veg and chicken), two omelettes, twelve skewers of chicken satay and a dessert of six glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar and coated in coconut. We took what was possibly our best value meal to date back to our room and ate on the porch, whilst listening to half decent ‘jamming’ session by the homestay owner and his friends.
After many hours of trawling through the internet and reading the Lonely Planet, we found the only realistic way of achieving what we wanted, would be to find our own means of transport. So utilising the homestay’s small scooter, we went in search of some suitable transport.
It was about half an hour on the moped to reach the main area of Senggigi and once there we had plenty of choice, from mopeds to jeeps. We decided the best choice for us, in terms of convenience and safety, would be to hire a car again.
Our first choice, as it was supposedly cheap, was a Suzuki Jimny. But after speaking with a few rental agents we were put off. Most decent rental companies had now replaced the old, now unreliable Jimnys with new Daihatsu Ayla. Luckily one agent was willing to offer a similar daily rate to the cost we’d got for Faith in Bali. We snapped up the deal and agreed to take the bright white Ayla (which we named Priscilla after hearing the sad news) for at least a week.
Just outside Senggigi is an old temple called ‘Gunung Pengsong’. Unlike its neighbour, Bali, there are relatively few temples in Lombok as the main religion is Muslim. The temple was mentioned as a ‘must see’ in the Lonely Planet. We normally take the Lonely Planet’s recommendations lightly, as more often than not they’re overrated. But the description in the guide sold it, and we decided to give the book the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately we were right to be sceptical, we arrived at a dusty deserted carpark covered in litter. If it hadn’t been a free entrance, we probably would’ve turned around right then and there.
The temple was on top of a hill, and to give the Lonely Planet a little bit of credit, once we'd clambered up the rocky steps we definitely appreciated the views out towards the sea. Unfortunately though, they were not good enough to make us overlook the disgusting amount of rubbish gathered all around. The temple was also littered with dozens of macaques so we decided not to hang around and return to the car, where a local man appeared looking a little worried. He couldn’t speak a word of English, so we had no idea what to expect! It turned out he thought the surrounding monkeys had stolen a part off the car that was already missing. The old man was looking very bemused as we drove off towards Kuta…