From Bali to Lombock

Trip Start Jul 20, 2004
Trip End Jul 20, 2020

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

After Wayan, I stayed with Emil for a couple of days before going to lombok. Emil runs a small travel company booking trips to the Komodore and Rince islands. All bookings can be done through the web site. I rented a car and we went around Bali to visit Tanah Lot, Bali's most famous temple. Then we went up through the mountains to view the three lakes area and then continued to Lake Batur, Bali's largest lake.

I left my pack bag at Emil's place and shouldered my small pack to head for Lombok on Thursday. In Lombok, I was greeted by Am, a friend of verena who works with an NGO in Aceh. I stayed with Am and his family for the first night before leaving to Senaru. Am is the manager of Rinjani Explorer a company with offices in Senaru and Sembalum Lawang that takes clients trekking to Mt. Rinjani. The next day, Am dropped me off at the bus stop, negotiated the price foe me and off I went to Senaru. Senaru is a traditional village of Sasak at the northern foot of Mt. Rinjani, it's surrounded by a wooden fence and has about 20 thatched wooden houses in neat rows. The compound still remote even though many trekkers pass by all the time, as most climbing to Mt. Rinjani use the village as exit point and entry as well.
Senaru is a small mountain town at the foot of Rinjani. I stayed at a cozy and cheap place called "Bale Bayan Senaru" where I had a cottage for myself paying 25000 rupiah. Nothing was happening in the town but the views of the ocean, rice fields and the mountains was stunning. I wasn't going to be able to do the three day trip to Rinjani as I left all my hiking stuff in Bali and I didn't want to pay $100 for three days. I planned on climbing Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo, although Rinjani has a difficult rating of 10 compared to 5 of Kinabalu and therefore would have been much more challenging (which I like). Maybe next time. On Saturday morning, I left about 6.30am to hike up to the crater rim, a 6 hour hike with the most strenuous part the last 1.5 km up the crater rim. It was hard work but so much worth the effort. The view of the crater lake was just stunning. The name is actually Segara anak lake. The huge crater of Mt. Rinjani contains a large, green crescent-shaped lake, Segara Anak, about 6 km across at its widest point. The natural hot-springs on the north-eastern side of this crater are said to have remarkable healing powers, particularly for skin diseases. In the middle of the lake, there is a new cone: Gunung Baru (New Mountain). I could not get my eyes of the lake and the perfect shaped cone of a volcano that stuck out off the crater lake (make sure you check out the photos). To the left was majestic Mt. Rinjani, partially covered in clouds. There was nobody and I felt so close to nature that, if I had had wings, I was ready to glide through the air like birds and take in the scenery from above. I think this was the best scenery I have seen on my trip to Indonesia.

The next day I left for Gilli Island. I stayed a couple of days on quite Gili Air, which is the nearest Gili to Lombok. It is also the least populated and you will find more trees there than the other Gili's. The original inhabitants are: The Sasak and some sailors from Southern Sulawesi consisting of three main ethnicities; Mandar, Bugis and Makassar. It is the only island where you can find their unique culture that is different from Lombok and wonderful beaches. Many of the older generation still make their living as boatmen, fisherman and farming coconuts. I stayed at "Gili Gita" for 35000 rupiah; own bungalow with two beds and mossi net, bathroom and veranda. I liked the slow pace of Gile. It took about 1 hour to walk around the island. Here, I met Rick and Jim from Seattle and a English couple. We went on a half-day snorkeling and lunch trip which was wonderful. We saw turtles and a variety of fish including one small shark. We had lunch at Gili Meno, the next island to Gili Air. There, I tried something new, Urap-Urap which is cooked vegetables with chilli graded coconut. It was delicious. Other dishes that made it on my favorite food list include gado-gado, olah-olah which is similar to urap-urap but the vegetables are cooked in coconut milk and do not include graded coconut. Also on the list are Babi guling, a Balinese specialty of roasted suckling picklet, casawa which tasted like yucca and pecel and soto ayam (chicken soup).

After four days on Gili, I went over to the mainland to meet up with Am and his friends who had a pick-up truck loaded with school books and uniforms to be delivered to the small villages of Sembalun Lawang and Sembalun Bumbung which were affected by a major flood in January. SEMBALUN LAWANG AND SEMBALUN BUMBUNG: 150 km, North east. The traditional Sasak villages of Sembalun Lawang and Sembalun Bumbung lies in the tranquil Sembalun valley, high up on the eastern slopes of Gunung Rinjani. These villages are two of the main starting points for climbing Mt. Rinjani.
The ride to the villages was bumpy but wonderful; lush greenery, small villages with rice paddies and vegetable gardens and low lying clouds. We delivered the uniforms and the books to the first village and then headed up to the second village, Sembalun Bumbung. There, one official showed me the picture of a dead flood victim (there were two victims). Looking at the village, one can still see the damage the flood has caused; big rocks and boulders bulldozing down anything; vegetable fields, roads, houses and bridges. I feel bad for the people who live far away from the next city and have to rely solely on their plantings for food. The village officials invited us for coffee and sweets and I felt very priveliged to be part of the team delivering the goods to the people. We headed back to Mataram where I stayed another night with Am's family and the next day I headed back to Bali after waiting three hours for the ferry to leave. I stayed one more night with Emil and then took the night bus to Probolingo. I planned on stopping at Bromo for 2 days before heading to Surabaya.
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