It has always lived in the metaphorical shadow of Bali but is coming into its own with the tourist market.
Lying to Bali's east is the less developed and slower paced island of Lombok. A two-and-a-half hour boat trip will show you a totally different culture and you get to meet locals on their own turf. It has always lived in the metaphorical shadow of Bali but is coming into its own with the tourist market.
Lombok has three main attractions. The Gili Islands off the north-west coast are three small and beautiful islands, with white sand beaches and crystal waters perfect for skin divers and inexpensive bungalows.
Adventurers can climb to Mt Rinjani's summit to the island's north. It is Indonesia's highest peak after Irian Jaya and holds great significance for Balinese and Muslim Susaks who believe it to be the home of departed spirits and the highest possible seat of the gods.
Those who want to enjoy the surf, sun and gorgeous scenery love the south of Lombok stretching from their own Kuta, eight kilometres to the horseshoe shaped bay at Tanjung Aan.
Tetebatu is a village of around 5000 people and is on the slopes of Mount Rinjani, an active volcano which has been quiet since 1994. It has many houses and shops, and is bustling when the morning markets are open on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Villagers live very simply and probably the main reason accommodation was built was for people starting the Mount Rinjani climb. Others like to hike through mahogany forests, home to black monkeys. Although they have been severely cut back, there is still thick vegetation to enjoy.
Most homes have packed mud floors and thatched roofs and the inhabitants exist by growing subsistence crops, including tobacco, corn, rice and cassava. Each village has its own dialect but everyone communicates in the common Bahasa Indonesian language. The predominant religion is Muslim, but there are also Hindus, Christians and animatists, those who believe in their ancestors' spirits.
Lombok is known for its silk and there are many weavers in Tetebatu turning the richly coloured thread into beautiful fabric. Each village creates original designs and in fact all crafts vary from family to family. It's amazing to watch nimble fingered girls turning rattan and bamboo into all sorts of intricate objects using techniques passed down through generations.
The Soedjono is one of the better places to stay in the area. They are lumbung or rice huts with marvellous views, particularly as the sun rises above the sacred Mount Rinjani.
The local transport is called a cidomo, a horse drawn cart which can be pretty cramped and packed to the rafters, but it's a way to meet the locals, and fares are very cheap. Motorised bemos are available for longer trips.
Village children attend school twice each day, always neatly dressed in uniform. Some tourists take pencils, pads, exercise books, erasers and so on to the schools, and they are always gratefully accepted.
Tetebatu Village in the centre of Lombok Island.
Freestyle Holidays has a four-night package, staying in Tetebatu, starting at $1063 from Darwin; $1098 from Perth; $1322 from Adelaide; $1336 from Brisbane and Melbourne and $1349 from Sydney. Prices are per person and include return airfares, twin-share accommodation, breakfast, boat transfers and village tour.
Qantas flies daily to Denpasar.
Please note that prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowlegde are inclusive of GST.
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