Flores to Lombok
Trip Start Apr 30, 2004
88Trip End Jan 28, 2005
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Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if we were visiting Indonesia again we'd skip the Riau Islands and Jakarta and spend more time on Flores, it's an incredible place. As it is we're making our way back to Surabaya and today we are starting a 24 hour journey to Lombok.
Labuanbajo slowly disappeared from view as we began what turned out tobe a pleasant but uneventful 8 hour ferry trip. We docked in sape at about 4.30pm and having fought our way through the usual scrum, boarded the standard small battered bus to Bima, where we transfer to a big air con tour company bus for the overnight drive and ferry to Lombok. We have one ticket that gets us all the way to Lombok, so we;re not having to pay seperately for ferries and buses.
The port of Sape in Eastern Sumbawa could be called a one horse town, small and dusty. Only instead of one horse there are hundreds, little ponies covered in bells and pom poms, pulling brightly coloured two wheeled buggies full of people and produce. Dokar is there proper name though the locals call them 'Ben Hur' for obvious reasons. They are an amazing sight and driiving through the narrow street of Sape, in a (stage) coach, with wooden buildings either side, surrounded by ponies and clouds of dust, we could have been in the iwld west. Well I was, Rene had morphed into John Wayne and we were racing to head off the injuns at the pass. Sunstroke.
The road loops and climbs and winds and descends all the way to Bima, it's too narrow for large buses. Small villages we pass through still have the decorations out from yesterdays Independence Day celebrations, bunting made from painted plastic cups and Indonesian flags everywhere. The streets are busy with people, goats and dogs. Outside the villages we see small groups of long tail macaques sat by the roadside.
It's just getting dark when we arrive in /bima. This is Sumbawa's main port and it's a bustling bus station we are dropped in. Banana fritters and vegetable fritters for tea from a nearby hawker, cold but tasty. As overnight bus rides go, this wasn't bad. It wasn't full so we had 2 seats each but the air con was icy.
Expenses (16.500 rupiah/pound): Boat/bus ticket 270000, water 3000, mattress on boat 12000, snacks 9000, dinner 11000.
Thu 19 Aug - Day 109
Being reasonably comfortable was reason enough to skip the 2am meal stop. From then on we drifted in and out of sleep until the bus drove on to the ferry to Lombok. 1 1/2 hours later we arrived at lubuhan Lombok, there's not much to see here except great views of Gunung Rinjani (3726m) an active volcano that soars above Lombok.
It's a fairly small island, about 80km east to west and the same north to south, so driving to Mataram on the west coast only takes a couple of hours.
With the nerby Gili Islands and the mighty Gunung Rijani, Lombok is the most popular destination in Nusa Tengarra. From the capital of Mataram, another swarming, dusty city, with roads overflowing with bemos and Ben Hurs, we bemoed the 1/2 hour to Senggigi.
Senggigi is Lomboks most developed tourist resort with lots of hotels, bars and restaurants. But it's been hard hit since the bali bombing with tourist numbers plummeting so there are bargains to be had.
With this in mind we decide to spend a little more on accomodation tonight, which may buy us a little short lived luxury. My turn to look, so I head off like a dog with two bones to look at posh hotel rooms.
The Graha Hotel fitted the bill nicely. Large en-suite room, with hot water, bath, shower and toilet, not a mandi or squat to be seen. Double bed with folded corners and flowers on the pillow, TV with BBC World, a fridge and room service. The hotel also had a beautiful pool and gardens and fronted onto the beach. The room rate was 175,000 (11 pound) per night including breakfast.
Having tried everything in the room we go in search of internet. Being out of touch with the world for a week is a strange feeling and we are eager to read our emails. We had a pleasant hour reading them all, especially one from John and Sue telling us that they have a 5 month rent for their house, which is gret news for us financially. We cartwheeled and backflipped all the wayy to the hotel pool. The rest of the day was spent reading and swimming in blissful isolation. No need to get all Germanic with the towels here, there's noone about.
Expenses (16500 rupiah/pound)
Bemo 30000, accom 175000, internet 21600, lunch113000, phone 67200, beer 31000, internet 31000, dinner 100000
Fri 20 Aug - Day 110
To give us time to maybe visit Bali we spent time on the internet yesterday seeing if there were any flights from Bali to Malaysian Borneo or Brunei, instead of taking the boat from Surabaya on the 23rd. No flights to Borneo and the only ones to Brunei would require a loan from the Sultan himself to meet the bill. So Surabaya it is. Another 20 hour bus/boat/bus/boat/bus journey.
I spend some sport time on the internet and learn to my amazement that Liverpool are on the verge of signing Yabi Alonso from Real Soceadad; being a football saddo at home I watch the Spanish La Liga and know how good this lad is. He was earmarked for Real Madrid, so it's a miracle if he's joining us. At last a bit of quality for Steven Gerrard.
Are England playing cricket John? or are the Windies not up to much? Guess which competing country is the only one not to have bought any of the TV rights, not even a 1/2 hour highlights slot. Indonesia. So not even a sniff of the Olympics at this end.
Once again we have the monopoly of the poolside loungers and spend most of the afternoon lounnging poolside. At 4pm Rene forced herself up to get her hair beaded, and very good it looks too.
Our best meal in Senggigi was at Cafe Wayan, a bit of a walk but definitely worth it.
Expenses: accom 175000, dinner 140000, laundry 26000, internet 53000, lunch 50000, hair 90000.