Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Kuta Lombok, Indonesia

Today I got up at 6am, had breakfast, hopped on my scooter loaded with my longboard and set out in the rain towards the fishing village called Grupuk in the mountainous tropical island of Lombok, Indonesia.

I passed through rice fields, poor bamboo thatched villages, over crumbling bridges, past smiling faces and empty white sand beaches while avoiding obstacles such as pot holes, chickens, and numerous cows.

I hired Ali for 6,000 Rupiah, about six dollars, to take me out on his wooden fishing boat to the surfing area. He anchored the boat and waited while I surfed for a couple of hours. The winds can be quite strong in the afternoon, pushing you in the wrong direction so you have to make sure you have enough strength to paddle back to your boat. It is too shallow for them to come and get you on the other end.

It still amazes me how difficult surfing is. A local named Bong, who owns the Bong café, told me that if you surf three times a day, every day for six months then you might get pretty good at it. I caught one really nice wave and took it for a long ride. That felt great. Having at least one nice ride is your reward for all of the paddling and all the work it takes to be in the right position.

Driving my scooter randomly around hilly southern Lombok for hours has been a real joy. I stumbled upon incredible beaches, more remote villages, breathtaking vistas, corn fields, and I had to stop several times to let the cows or goats pass. All of the people are so kind and friendly.

The area is very undeveloped compared to the Kuta in Bali but things will change soon as they are about to open an international airport. An acre of land here can be purchased for about $700! No beachfront property. The government owns all of that.

Lombok is mostly Muslim, with its own variety called Asak while Bali is mostly Hindu. So for me that means new food to try! Mild curries and amazing fish served with rice is common.

For New Year’s eve I am going back to the tiny island of Gili Trawangan. It is known as the “party island” and has great scuba spots. I spent Christmas there.

On Christmas eve I met some Canadians that were in Bali for the climate change conference and had dinner with them. I was the big spender and had the barbequed lobster, the best ever, with a beer for less than $20. You can have an excellent meal anywhere for $5. Rooms are anywhere from $10 to $25 on average. Later we ended up at a Jamaican bar with a live Indonesian band playing karaoke in a downpour. The sign above the band read, “We wished you a marry Christmas and a happy new year.”

On Christmas day there was a nice turkey dinner at the Irish Bar, Tir Na Nog, with a gift exchange. My gift was a gift certificate for ten small Bintangs, the beer of Indonesia, in return I received two bottles of Arak, kind of like Indonesian moonshine made from palm trees. The trademark drink from it is an Arak Attack.

There are a lot of characters young and old from all over the world that just hang out here for months. This place is not reality. Time has no demands. Everyday is Sunday and every night is Friday.

I was telling some people at the Irish bar about my plans to go surfing in Lombok. They seemed surprised. It took me a while to figure out why. They were surprised because I was actually getting out of bed, and, I was actually doing something. Wait until they hear that I got up at 6am to drive in the rain to go surfing. They won’t believe it.


Blogger CanadaGood said...

Thanks for the nice photos.

I am a fellow Vancouverite currently working in Edmonton. (Only -6 C this morning). In 1975 I spent a few days on a yacht anchored on the south coast of Lombok. We were probably the only tourists on the entire island the week of our visit.

It is strange to see how these places have changed. They have apparently changed from untracked jungle and ancient culture to being a combination of Surfer's Paradise and Disneyworld in just a generation or two. I am not sure that I want to return and have my old memories erased.

You might be interested in my web pages and photos at http://www.notsorry.com/defaulttrip1975.asp.

January 02, 2008 6:20 AM  
Blogger Dean Hannas said...

Thanks. Your photos are great. You would freak out if you saw Kuta, a total tourist trap. I drove a scooter around part of Kuta in Lombok and it's still filled with farmers. No starbucks ... yet. Oh, they're putting an "international" airport in Lombok.

February 02, 2008 7:50 PM  

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