Monday, October 23, 2017

L O M B O K

Our second destination in Indonesia was L O M B O K. This island, while still catering to tourists felt much more undiscovered, raw and pure. The area we stayed in on the west coast is home to pretty beach towns Senggigi and Mangsit. The capital city [of the West Nusa Tengarra Province] Mataram is located just south of Senggigi and is where a lot of the locals we chatted with grew up. There is solid infrastructure present but mostly Lombok seemed rural and peaceful. In contrast to Bali's Hindu religion the indigenous population called the Sasak Tribe are primarily Muslim. It was meaningful then, since we flew all the way across the world to experience a different part of Indonesia. 

Lombok was really special and I would go back in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, it sparked a desire to visit more of the Indonesian islands. We couldn't help but wonder about Komodo and Java and what else is out there?!

Our hotel Puri Mas Boutique Resort + Spa was a dream. Embodying tradition, luxury and style, we had an incredible stay and I cannot recommend enough if you are looking to spend time on Lombok. 
Puri Mas is actually a dual location hotel - the beach resort houses the main accommodations and the spa resort where we stayed houses just two guest villas plus the managers suite. Surrounded by a lush mountain landscape, it basically felt like we had this extraordinarily landscaped garden with colorful flowers, a sparkling pool and sprawling zen relaxation areas to ourselves.
If you book a villa at the spa you also receive a complimentary aromatherapy massage per person. The spa itself has won all kinds of well deserved awards such as 2017 "Luxury Hideaway Spa", Asia

When we awoke each morning under the gauzy white canopy curtains surrounding our bed and stepped outside to our sun streaked terrace, a waiter would whisk over with hot coffee and breakfast menus. We spent leisurely mornings listening to the Muslim prayer rituals from the neighboring mosque over pineapple pancakes and eggs Benedict, thick cut french toast and sunny-side up eggs, or waffles with fresh fruit and capsicum omelettes. We really didn't hold back. Neither do the Muslims when they pray. One morning they were up chanting at 4 am and we had NO IDEA what it was at first! We quickly grew accustomed to the pre-dawn morning prayer.
More on the hotel since I found every aspect of it so fascinating: The beach resorts main villa was originally the owner - Dutch businessman Marcel De Rijk's family residence dedicated to his grandfather and mother who were descendants of Indonesian Royalty. Once the law prevented such an estate for personal use he built the resort guest rooms up around his villa to comply with the law. His personal antique and art collections from all over Indonesia - musical instruments, sculptures, statues, paintings, crafts and more decorate the resort everywhere you turn and additionally many sit on display in an open air museum space. All of it is really, really beautiful. The spa grounds double as a a home for Marcel's many pets. All kinds of tropical birds, iguanas, even monkeys and a snake.
Oh, I can't forget the three dogs always running around - Raja, Lisa and Sultan. We loved them!

After a day spent exploring we'd hit up the infinity pool at the beach resort or walk along Mangsit Beach for the late afternoon sun as it lingered on into a gorgeous sunset. 
The locals on Mangsit beach were so friendly - like those surfer kids and then the joyful group of little ones wanting me to take their photos! Everyone wants to say hi and see what's up.
 
The beach resort is situated along a stone wall walkway with daybeds over looking the ocean. The sandy beach is directly to the right.

From Lombok you can see Bali but from Bali you can not see Lombok. That is because Lombok's western facing shores illuminate Bali at sunset. Pictured below is Bali's Volcano - Mt Agung. 
Travel Tip: Mount Agung is highly active - it has been ominously rumbling now for weeks. When we were there many earthquakes and evacuations up to 12km took place. Nothing affected us thankfully but we were on alert. Travelers to Bali right now should be aware and informed. That is not a cloud on top of it - that is volcanic activity! The steam plume still rises....

One night we ate dinner at the beach resort restaurant where incredibly talented locals put on a show.
 This traditional dance was fascinating - never seen anything like it!
The owner is also an awarded professional dancer who started a dance program on the island. The performers were some of the students as well as hotel staff. The young man holding the Puri Mas shield who just performed an intense fight scene on stage - yes he was also our masseuse later that week.

I knew we would have amazing experiences here, but it was really unexpected to have such a noteworthy and culturally enlightening time at our hotel. 
For nights out on the town, Senggigi Square was just a $1.25 taxi ride away. We ate dinner at Square and at Lotus Bayview. My entree at Square was Gurami Goreng Saos Taushi which is crispy deep fried freshwater fish with ginger and salted black bean sauce. This was very good and unlike any fish dish I've ever had. At Lotus we dined right on the beach where tables in the sand and a fresh shrimp + terrific homemade pasta special hit the spot. 
Senggigi has some fun bars with a live music scene and in addition to that Senggigi Sunset Jazz Fest was going on. Live Jazz on the beach one evening was another unexpected treat!
The classic elephant harem pants I am wearing were perfect for Lombok nights, they are lightweight and comfy making them ideal to travel with. (I want to purchase more pairs!) They were gifted to me from an incredible company called One Tribe Apparel, specializing in handmade bohemian fashion. Check them out!!

Travel Tip: We settled on this area of Lombok because Senggigi is a major ferry port and felt central to exploring. We knew we wanted to check out the famous Gili Islands to the north and the lesser populated beaches in the south. I found most beachfront hotels in this area to be remarkably affordable.
On our day trip to South Lombok we visited a traditional weaving village called Sukarara and three beaches - Selong Belanak, Mawun + Kuta
I am absolutely cracking up at the photos they took of us in Sukarara. It looks as if we eloped in a Sasak weaving village.
Selong Belanak is stunning with crescent shaped pearly white shores; one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever been too. We sunbathed and swam and had lunch in the sand at whitewashed Laut Biru. There are fisherman from the local villages situated on one end, plus a row of warungs, lounge chairs for rent and plenty of surf lessons going on.


If we ever come back to Lombok I would love to stay around here and then spend a couple days on one of the remote southern gilis....


So.much.wanderlust.
While we saw locals everywhere we went Pantai Mawun is the true local hangout. Tribes of girls selling string bracelets were equal parts sweet, sassy and fierce. Pictured is Siyah and her crew. Once we bought their bracelets they just wanted to chill with us and I loved that.
Pantai Kuta Mandalika area is more populated (versus Selong Belanak + Mawun) with accommodations, tourist stalls and restaurants. I would have been open to exploring but it was the end of the day and we still had a long drive back to Mangsit. A quick swim and we were off.
A look at our day snorkeling reefs off Gili Meno is up next. Then we fly back to Bali!

3 comments:

  1. Wow, just wow! I'm thoroughly enjoying living vicariously through you as I read your posts!

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  2. This place is such a dream! Hoping to be able to use all your amazing travel tips some day.

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  3. The local flare with the children & their wares is really sweet!

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