Lombok is a beautiful island just east of Bali in the eastern part of Indonesia, South East Asia. Administratively, Lombok is part of West Nusa Tenggara province together with Sumbawa island. The island is inhabited predominantly by native Sasak ethnic people along with portion of Balinese and other smaller ethnical groups.
Lombok started to attract travelers’ attention in the early 1980s especially by visitors to Bali who wanted to explore more of Indonesia’s 17,000 tropical islands. They found Lombok to be similar in nature to Bali but quieter and not so touristic. Tour operators then promoted Lombok as a sister island of Bali, a place where you can have similar experience as Bali but you can have another experience that you cannot have in Bali.
This is so true as Lombok has everything Bali can offer namely beautiful beaches, deserted isles, mountainous resorts with cooler temperature, iconic terraced rice fields, traditional life styles of the people etc. But Lombok also has something completely different from Bali to offer namely more secluded and peaceful island with an Islamic culture and community. A famous adage during the 90s as that ‘you can see Bali in Lombok, but you cannot see Lombok in Bali’.
Although today Lombok has transformed from a traditional setting into a more modern one, there are some aspects of Lombok that remain the same. Modern hotels and shopping malls have now sprung up in Mataram making the province capital and also the largest city on the island a busy city and more enjoyable to live in and stay for vacations. Traffic has become more congested during rush hours. The brand new Lombok International Airport now has become busier with more domestic and international flights everyday. Ferries from Bali taking groups of visitors in large buses and fast boats taking tourists to the gilis make Lombok even busier. Modern concrete houses have mostly replaced traditional bamboo or wooden houses.
But in modern Mataram city you still can see the traditional lifestyles. Local cidomos horse carts are still serving their passengers, traditional markets are still open, rice fields are still abundant, some people still take a bath in the rivers and almost on the weekends you can see traditional wedding parades or nyongkolan along the busy streets. Traditional fishing boats are still found along the Senggigi beach.
So, Lombok is a combination of traditionalism and modernity set up nicely in a small but beautiful island with warm and kind people.
Don’t die before you visit Lombok.
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