Many visitors to the Gili Islands arrive from Bali. Be aware that unlike Hindu Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands are regarded as a largely Muslim society. Bali has a liberal attitude to western attitudes brought on by years of dealing with tourism. Lombok is less exposed to western culture and this is something you should be aware of when visiting Lombok and the Gili Islands. Most of the islanders are of Muslim faith and visitors should be respectful of their more conservative attitudes to dress, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex and general social conduct. The islanders are too polite, shy and dependent on tourism to correct you if you offend them and their culture so even if you feel that they are fine with your conduct be aware that you may still be causing offence. It’s ok to wear a swimsuit/bikini on the beach but away from the sand you should cover up. Avoid blatant public drinking, smoking, drug taking, dancing and displays of affection! Around the strip of bars on each island is where you should limit your partying. On Gili Trawangan most of the islanders live in the village further north so sticking to the touristy areas for partying and socialising should avoid causing offence. Another idea is to familiarise yourself with prayer times (you’ll soon get used to the call to prayer from the mosque anyway) and avoid public consumption during these times. This will make both your stay and the islanders lives more pleasant.
I didn't find Mataram, the capital of Lombok, particularly interesting, but I did enjoy the friendliness of the local people. In the early evening food vans are set up on many of the main streets to catch the custom of people as they return home from work. Included amongst these are Roti Bakar stalls - literally 'burnt bread' or toast. At these stalls, a whole loaf is grilled on a hot plate and filled with sweet spreads such as jam or chocolate spread. Enjoy one with a coffee! The locals are up for a chat.
Lombok is mainly Muslim, but even so, in most places in Asia people aren't used to seeing people wandering around with half their clothes off, so it's always worth taking a t-shirt and a pair of long shorts/trousers or a sarong (ladies or men!) out with you, whatever country you're in.
I found it especially useful when visiting some of the villages because although the people who work at the beaches and hotels are used to the guests wearing few clothes, the people in the more rural areas most definitely are not and you'll get treated with more respect if you cover up a bit.
apart from anything else, you're less likely to get bitten by mozzies and that's got to be an incentive, even if upsetting the locals isn't!
Fighting cocks are regularly cared, massaged and trained every day; a special meal is prepared for them (selected grains, chopped grilled meat and jackfruit), and even each one has a name. I didn´t see any cock fights in Lombok, but in the Mayura Park, i saw how there were massaged and kept in special cages.
Cock fighting is a cultural part for Lombokese and Balinese people, and is not just a matter of gambling, it has interwooven in social and religious life in both islands. Officially the fights were banned in 1981, but in some religious ceremonies as the Tabuh Rah (in wich cocks are sacrificed to the devil) three or four rounds are allowed and legal.
This is the way of the lady carry their stuffs... put on the head... and they sell the cloths also like this.... I see so many on the beach, everywhere... and if you don't want buy just don't say a words, otherwise they will chassing u and insist u to buy it!
On this island of cats,
dogs are unwelcome.
It is believed by the locals here that
you should never wash a cat in the ocean.
If so, it is believed on the island
that it will cause huge waves.
I wonder if ,
the bigger the cat,
the larger the wave.
Lombok is home to the Sasak Muslims and they are considerably much more conservative compared to the Balinese (who are incidentally Hindus) just next door.
[The island's inhabitants are 85% Sasak (a people, closely related to the Balinese, but mostly practising Islam), 10-15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Chinese, Arab, Javanese, and Sumbawanese]
Unlike the Muslims in general, the Sasak in Northern and west Lombok have a caste system. There are four caste castes, the highest being Datu for men and Denek Bini for women, the second Raden for men, and Denda for women, the third Buling and the fourth Jajar Karang. In Central and East Lombok, Lalu for men and Lale for women.
Religion, that is, Islam is a driving force as a way of life and the Sasaks are pious Muslims. Me & my mate invited our waiter to sit down at our table (us being the only customer anyway) and had a good chat with him and me & my mate realised that while the people on Lombok wanted progress, they wanted none of the debauchery that usually comes along with it. They greatly treasure family life and many locals having sought and received their fortunes elsewhere, will usually return to their true home eventually. Many of the locals were glad that the promised tourism boom never came but they were also wistful that the progress they wanted in material improvement also vaporise along with the boom that never was. It's a catch 22.
There aren't a lot of nightlife on Lombok compared to the rowdiness on Bali.
Adult men swim in long pants and women fully clothed with tudungs (headgears). You prancing around on the beach in skimpy bikinis and low trunks would probably invite quite a few different kinds of look, most of them disapprovingly I am sure.
Very lucky to encounter a Lombok-style wedding. Great photography opportunities!! Was really puzzled why the bride was not smiling at all!
Young couples in Lombok have a choice of three marriage rituals; an arranged marriage, a union between cousins and elopement. The first two are uncomplicated: parents of the prospective bridal couple meet to discuss the bride's dowry and sort out any religious differences. Having handled the business arrangements, the ceremony called "Sorong Serah" is performed.
The third method is far more complicated and dramatic. Theoretically a young girl is forbidden to marry a lower caste man, but this rule can be broken through "kidnapping" and "eloping" and thus still is a widespread practice on Lombok, despite the fact that in most instances, the parents of the couple know what's afoot. Originally it was used to elude other competitors for the girl's hand or to avoid family friction, but it also minimised the heavy expenses of a wedding ceremony. The laid down rules of this ritual must be followed step by step. After the girl is spirited away by the boy, he is to report to the Kepala Desa (Village Chief). The Kepala Desa then notifies the girl's family through their village head. A delegation from the boy's family visits the girl's parent, and between them they settle on a price for the bride, a fine (uang adat) which is distributed among members of the bride's family in recompense for losing her.
Traditional dowries are worked out according to the caste differences; the lower his caste and the higher hers, the more he has to pay. Once settled the wedding begins. Generally the bride and the groom are dressed in ceremonial clothes, carried through the village's street, accompanied with sounds of traditional music (gamelan) mingled with the shouts and laughters of the guests as the couple are swooped up and down and around on their way to the wedding place. Throughout the whole ceremony, the bride must look downcast and unhappy at the prospect of leaving her family (Lightbulb!!).
It is always nice to learn and get adapted with the locals in Lombok. Here are cultural tips to make your visit more enjoyable:
1.Smile and greet people, especially elders.
2.Shake hands, gently.
3.Accept hospitality and food. You do not have to eat and drink, but it is polite to ACCEPT.
4.Say goodbye and thank you when you leave.
5.Dress modestly. Women should keep upper arms and thighs covered.
6.Bend down and walk around seated people when you need to pass.
7.Use only your right hand to eat and to hand objects or money to someone.
8.Be sure to sit at the same level as other people.
9.Wear a sarong when entering the house of Melokaq (Adat leader) and when participating in ritual and adat ceremonies.
1.Enter houses, building or village without being invited.
2.Wear shoes inside a house.
3.Point at people with your finger. Don’t ever use your foot to point at objects or people.
4.Point the bottom of your feet directly at people whilst sitting on the floor.
5.Touch anyone’s head.
6.Step over people or food on the floor.
7.Eat with your left hand, or use your left hand to give or accept objects or money.
8.Raise your voice, especially in anger.
Lombok's indigenous Sasak tribe live in unique traditional houses made up of bamboo and thatch. They mainly live from farming and rigidly hold onto their customs, in particular those that relate to the forces of nature that act upon life and farming.