Grandmotherly Java-Murut Styled Massages
You really ought to have a go at this if the chance arises.
As my hotel (Puri Saron) is sited on the beach itself, but fenced off from the beach, there were plenty of vendors hanging around the back-door leading to the beach. The pool was located here as well. Well, to cut to the chase, me & my mate came down for a swim and saw these 3 British ladies getting massages from some grandmothers by the pool whom they had called into the hotel. We decided to have a go too. It turned out to be one of the best massages I ever had.
There I was, lying comfortably on a pool deck chair and having this grandmother (who probably kneaded things for a living) expelled every aches and pains from my body for the next 2 hours. Decadently blissful. I could hardly walk properly after the 2 hours as my body felt as light as a feather.
Anyway, for 2 hours, it was a mere S$10 (50000 Rupiahs). Of course, this being circa 2001, the prices may have changed.
"KEN AND EDNA IN LOMBOK"
EDNA FIGHTING OFF SCURVY WITH THE HELP OF THE LOCAL FRUIT SELLER IN SENGGIGI BEACH LOMBOK
31/03/01 JUST BACK FROM BALI/LOMBOK
To all those people who are interested in going to Lombok, do it.
We spent 5 days in Lombok and had a ball.
Don't worry, Lombok is very safe, and the people seem much friendlier than in Bali.
In Bali you can get hounded to buy something (watch, rings, sarong, etc) the same happens in Lombok (we stayed at Senggigi Beach), but when you show that you are not interested they sit next to you and get into a conversation (of course somewhere along the way they still try to flog off their wares).
They did have some problems in Lombok last year but it was not as bad as the paranoid media made it out to be.
The trouble was very isolated and the locals and ex-pats we talked to said it was just a media beat-up and various embassies got it wrong then they discouraged people to visit Lombok.
There are none of these problems in Lombok now.
Below is some information as well as the history of Lombok and other islands East:
As far as a tourist destination goes, Lombok is different from Bali, and is unique in itself.
In Lombok one can find aspects of Balinese life but not vice-versa in the case of Bali. In the western part of Lombok, Hinduism and Islam co-exist, and there is a strong influence from Shiwa Buddhism. This influence originated from Java which subjugated Lombok before the arrival of Islam.
In the 17th century, the King of Karangasem on Bali island subjugated Lombok, weaving the histories of both islands. Lombok prospered under the new ruler and became a centre of Hindu-Balinese influence.
Today, though the Balinese are a minority group, they still have considerable influence on the western side of Lombok.
Vestiges of the Karangasem influence can be seen in the city of Cakranegara. A famous landmark, for instance, is the Pura Mew Temple, built in 1720 by Anak Agung Karang and is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Wisnu and Shiwa. Also of Balinese origin is the famous Taman Narmada built in 1727 by Anak Agung Gde Ngurah Karangasem, which is both a recreational park and a place to worship Shiwa.
Islam came first from Java, and then from Sulawesi, whose sea-faring Bugis set up the Eastern Kingdom of Selaparang in the 17th century.
So the religious mix is complex.
Most of the Sasak people of Lombok follow a brand of Islamic orthodoxy professed by traditional teachers, which is known as "Tuan Guru". Others follow the syncretist tradition of "Wetu Telu". Instead of praying five times a day as Moslems do, they pray only three times a day, and have a cosmology influenced by Hinduism.
There is even a temple in Lingsar where people from Hindu and Islamic traditions meet for common prayer.
Besides the Balinese and Sasak, there are also Bugis in Lombok Islands.
The region of the Lesser Sunda islands, of which Lombok is but a part, covers an area as wide as Java. It has a great variety of ethnic groups, with an increased Melanesian influence the further one goes east. There are at least 33 main languages. Some islands are highly Islamic (like Lombok and Sumbawa).
The area is no less varied geographically. The Nusa Tenggara islands are the most varied in Indonesia: their landscape ranges from Lombok's volcanoes to Sumba's and Flores' dry savannahs. There are also colorful atolls in many parts of this region.
Lombok is where the transition towards Eastern Indonesia begins, both naturally and culturally. The northern part of Lombok is mountainous with tall trees and shrubs covering the land. One finds none of the large Asian mammals. The western part of the island is the greenest and most humid. As one moves east, the dry season becomes more pronounced, and in many areas corn and sago, instead of rice, are the staple foods
Lombok's principal mountain is the 3726m high Mt. Rinjani, third highest in Indonesia. Still active, it last erupted in 1901. Mountains play an important role in Sasak tradition. Both the Sasak and Balinese people have a yearly pilgrimage to Rinjani's summit, which several sulfuric lakes with curative virtues.
Mount Rinjani also offers trekking through the rain forests.
Mataram, the capital of West Musa Tenggara, together with Ampenan, the port, and Cakranegara, the old Balinese capital, make up the largest urban area in the Nearby Sweta and it has the largest traditional market, including birds. Very different from the atmosphere of urban Lombok is a traditional village such as Sukarare, famous for its weaving, and Penunjak, famous for its pottery.
Lombok has a large array of beautiful beaches. Kute Beach (also known as Putri Nyale Beach), is on the south coast of Central Lombok. The answer to Bali's Kuta, albeit much less developed, Kute is one of the most scenic and unspoiled beaches on the island. From Kute to Tanjung Aon, five kilometers away, there is an unbroken stretch of sand. The sea is safe for bathing and swimming.
Further to the west are several surfing and windsurfing beaches.
Each year, on the 19th day of the tenth month of the Sasak lunar calendar, when the Nyale fish come to sea surface, Kute beach hosts the famous Nyale Festival.
But Lombok's chief resort is Singgigi beach, offering a range of accommodation, with the best hotels on the island situated here. A recommended choice is Puri Saron and the Lombok Coconut.
Corals can be seen in abundance just offshore.
Gili in the Sasak language means island. The three Gili Islands, Gili Air, Gili Trawangan, and Gili Meno are idyllic islets just off the northern coast. A favorite with backpackers, the islands abound with coral gardens. Gili Air, the nearest island, can be reached in 10 to 15 minutes by boat from the mainland.
One of the best ways to enjoy the splendor and beauty of the Gili islands is to go on a cruise on the 5-star luxury catamaran, The Bounty Cruises. Equipped with international standard safety equipment and computerized stabilizer, it makes the sea journey from Benoa Harbor in Bali to Gili Meno in just two-and-a-half hours. During the journey, guests can enjoy deck and in-house videos or simply sunbathe.
At the island, The Bounty Cruises will moor alongside a pontoon, allowing opportunities for snorkeling or scuba diving. The blue tinted staghorn corals are one of the attractions here.
On Lombok, nature enters a new geographical zone, the intermediate zone between Asia and Australia. The staple foods are sago, corn, or cassava. Paddy is scarce as cattle rearing replaces agriculture as the main activity of the local people. The other important economic activity is the making of pottery, which is gaining worldwide fame. Pottery is produced mainly in the villages of Banyumulek, Masbagik Timur and Penuiak. Here, women have been involved in this craft since the decline of the Hindu Kingdom of Majapahit in the early 16th century. Technically, there are few differences in the processes used in the three villages except that the designs of the pots are different.
Since 1988, the Lombok Crafts Project, Jointly run by the Governments of the Republic of Indonesia and of New Zealand, has been providing technical and marketing assistance to these women potters. It has assisted them to process their clays in ways which produce a stronger product.
The earthenware clay used is greyish brown in its natural state but becomes a beautiful rich red brown when fired. Finished pots are coated with a slip made from the same clay, sieved to produce a fine surface which is later burnished with stone. The clay used to produce Sasak pottery has been approved for food safety by the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Such pottery items, ranging from food storage containers to cooking utensils and water jars, are available from Lombok Pottery Centre in Cakranegara. Totally handcrafted, Sasak pottery is intrinsically fragile but if handled with care will last many years.
The island of Sumba is renowned for its intricate Ikat handweavings, onto which people symbolically record moments in their lives, and the history of their communities. Corn and sweet potatos are the staple food in Sumba.
Some Sumbanese still follow the indigenous Harapu religion, and there are many remnants of this ancient tradition in the hinterland plateau. Rende and Malolo, in East Sumba's hinterland, have traditional communities with Sumbanese palaces and the original Marapu tombs.
Sumba's beaches are unspoiled, being particularly beautiful around Waikabubak, West Sumba. Many remarkable birds and butterflies are endemic to Sumba, and are therefore seriously threatened. A small national park near Waingapu is a good place for watching butterflies and birds.
Another island in the Musa Tenggara chain is Sumbawa, whose 2200m Mount Tambora, erupted in the 18th century, killing most of the local population (about 30,000 people). The biggest town is Sumbawa Besar. The island is predominantly Moslem, with some Christian communities. The palace belonging to the ancient Bugis Sultan of Sumbawa, Dalam Luka, can be visited, as can Bima and Sape, two other interesting places.
Flores means "flower" in Portuguese, and the island which takes this name is one of the main islands in East Nusa Tenggara. It was a Portuguese colony for a long time before the Dutch took over. Many of the local people are of Portuguese descent and still retain Portuguese names. Catholicism is the main feature in the many villages of Flores and of some of the small islands nearby. Every year the Paso Easter procession is held in Larantuka, the town-house of the Black Madonna of Flores. This westernised island has many untouched beaches and pristine underwater coral gardens. There are shark hunter villages in Lamalera and the small island of Lembata.
The mainland is famous for its tricolor Caldera's Lake on Mt. Kelimutu, whose combination of colours change according to the volcanic activity. The women made ikat weavings from Flores are well known amongst collectors. It has many style as there are dialects: about 15 altogether.
Between Sumbawa and Flores is Komodo island, a Jurassic Park of an island, home to the giant four metre long Komodo dragon lizard, which can weigh up to 150 kilograms. June and September are the best months to observe this endangered prehistoric monster up close. When watching this living dinosaur, visitors offer goats as bait to make the monsters demonstrate their "beastliness". But be careful! There are stories of European tourists whose cameras were the only things which returned home. Unusually, the sand on this island's beaches has a pink hue.
On each island of Nusa Tenggara, the traditional houses are particularly beautiful and the traditional markets unique.
Apart from the larger islands of Nusa Tenggara, there are many smaller islands ready to uncover their beauty and richness.
They represent future challenges for the indonesian tourism industry.
So as you can see there is an abundance of history and interesting activities to see and do as you explore East from Bali through Lombok and beyond.
I reckon that the ideal trip would be to hire a motorbike in Bali and island hop East through Lombok to Timor.
What an experience that would be!
Stay tuned, I think Edna may want to do that one day . . .