A Peek Into the Traditional Sasak Village in Lombok

It was our last day in Lombok, where we were supposed to visit the Sasak Village – a must-see attraction for any visitor to the beautiful island, also known as the “Brother of Bali”. Why is Sasak Village not to be missed? Because the Sasak tribe is the largest tribe in Lombok, comprising about 85% of the island’s population.

There are 2 main traditional Sasak villages in Lombok, one in Sade & one in Rambitan. The Sade Sasak Village is apparently the larger one though more touristy than the Rambitan Village, but both villages still have the presence of Sasak villagers living in them. Since both are located down south in the Central Lombok Regency, we checked out of our hotel by Senggigi Beach in West Lombok after breakfast to travel down south, checking out some local traditional shops along the way.

A mobile fruit stall selling native fruits like the addictive Salak (front)

A mobile roadside fruit stall selling native fruits like the addictive Salak (front)

Besides the usual “compulsory” souvenir shops that we had to stop at, there were interesting finds before our lunch stop. The first was a lorry by the roadside peddling loads of fresh fruits, so our guide suggested we made a brief stop here. It was a first for me to taste the Salak fruit – a species of palm tree native to Java and Sumatra. Commonly known as the Snake Fruit because of its scaly skin & prickly texture, my first bite into this exotic fruit felt kinda weird. Not really sure how to describe the taste, but it was a bit sweet yet acidic tingling taste in the mouth. But subsequent tries made me addicted to the sweet yet “pungent” fruit, & I even bought some back home to share with my parents (500g for IDR 12,000 = S$1.20)!

A tour at the Rismunika Astuti Artshop

A tour at the Rismunika Astuti Artshop

The next stop at the Rismunika Astuti Artshop was also interesting in the sense, because not only did we get to see the locals work on the handicrafts, but we also witnessed a “magic performance” by our tour guide. He showed us how water in the handmade pot wouldn’t spill despite turning it upside down. Not really magic, but it was simply due to the creative design of the pot.

Lombok batik makingEnroute, we also visited the traditional Batik shop where we caught a live batik-making process by the local women. Indeed it is very delicate and fine art that not everyone can master, must respect these ladies! Some of my tour mates also took the opportunity for a free batik fitting + photo-taking at the batik shop, nice. :) It was too warm so I didn’t feel like putting on additional layers of clothing on myself haha.

Soon, it was time for lunch at a local restaurant in Segara Anak Hotel along Kuta beach. The hotel doesn’t look impressive but it has a great location very near to the tranquil Kuta beach, & the food was quite sedap (Indonesian for tasty) too. We also made a really brief stop at the beautiful Kuta beach for some quick photo-taking. No one seemed to want to stay there longer despite the stunning views because it was really burning hot! It was so hot even the trees along the road were dry & botak (bald-headed hehe).

Heavenly beach!

Heavenly beach! Personal opinion: this is nicer than Bali’s Kuta Beach :P

It was a short 15-min drive to the traditional Sasak Village from Kuta Beach & we were brought in by a local Sasak guide.

Sasak Village entrance

Glimpses of the village

Different views of the village

More of the rural village

More of the rural village

To be honest, I didn’t think the village guide really did his job as he only gave a brief introduction at the beginning of the tour when we entered one of the traditional houses & thereafter he just walked ahead expecting us to follow him without anymore guidance. Inside the house made of cow dung, it was quite cooling despite the scorching sun outdoors. There was no unpleasant smell too.

We also saw several villagers, mostly women & children selling their handmade handicraft work outside their huts as we walked, but don’t think anyone of us bought anything since we had enough of souvenir shopping. All the huts were built close to one another with just narrow laneways like you see in the photos above. One interesting thing to note (I found out online) was that the men usually sleep outside their houses to guard their family from danger. Boys will follow their fathers to sleep outside in the small hut seen in the 1st collage leftmost pic from the age of 12.

At the end of the short tour, apparently the village guide asked for tips directly although we had already paid the admission fee upon entrance. I didn’t know of this till we were all on the bus because I was one of the earlier ones to finish the tour. Gosh! Like what our Lombok guide had cautioned us before, Sade Village is very touristy compared to the other one just opposite. We should have visited that one for a better native experience… Next time you visit Lombok, think twice before deciding which village to visit – the larger but touristy one or the smaller yet more native one!

Warung Menega, Lombok – BBQ Dinner With A Sunset View

It’s our final night in peaceful Lombok and thought it’s worth recommending the restaurant where we had our palatable farewell dinner with a lovely sunset view by the beach.

We were brought to Warung Menega in Mataram (Jl. Raya Senggigi No. 6, Senggigi, Kec. Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Bar., Indonesia) which serves Ikan Bakar (grilled seafood in Indonesian). The restaurant is in a scenic setting by the beach, but you have been warned, there’s a lot of flies here! :P Not sure if it is deliberate or what, there was a large old tree, with sturdy branch where you could find a swing dangling. Skinny kampung chickens were also roaming freely on the beach (or shall I call them free ranging? Haha). Alongside the cool sea breeze and traditional boats parked on the shore, this site just felt very rustic, I like (minus the flies though)! ;) See below for some of the nice photos I took. :)

Long table on the sandy beach for us to enjoy dinner with a view

Long table on the sandy beach for us to enjoy dinner outdoors with a view

Warung Menega dinner view

The beautiful sunset!

The beautiful sunset!

OK, back to the food here. Menega is famously known for its grilled seafood. Frankly, I frowned initially when I heard dinner would be seafood because, gosh, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy when the only seafood I can stomach safely is fish… Fortunately, when the food was served, tour mates sitting near me were generously passing on their grilled fish to me as I gave them the prawns, octopus etc. I think I could have eaten more than the others who only ate “faithfully” their plate worth of items haha.

Sambal Kangkong (top) & the Ikan Bakar platter

Sambal Kangkong (top) & the Ikan Bakar platter (bottom)

Do not judge the food by its looks. The Sambal Kangkong may look raw & hard, but it was very appetizing! Bet must be due to the yummy sambal chilli. Likewise, the Ikan Bakar platter doesn’t look like so tantalizing to me, but I guess the special sauce created by the chef really helped to make the grilled fish very flavourful! Just eat with caution because of the small bones in the fish & it was really quite dark after the sun set. The dim lights provided by the restaurant didn’t really aid in our vision so it was a “romantic” dark but yummy dinner by the beach. ;)

A wonderful farewell dinner treat I must say! The restaurant was visited by locals mostly during our visit, so I guess it must be quite authentic? Do visit this restaurant if you visit Lombok next time for some local Ikan Bakar. :)

Hotel Inspection at Vila Ombak, Gili Trawangan

Time for “work” after enjoying a nice buffet lunch by the pristine Gili Trawangan beach, as we had to do a hotel inspection of Vila Ombak. Well, there’s no free lunch in the world since we had our lunch at its seaside bar cum restaurant so it’s pay-back time. :P

Vila Ombok entrance from the beach. See the Cidomo just in front of the hotel sign? ;)

Vila Ombok entrance from the beach. See the horse cart aka Cidomo just in front of the hotel sign? ;)

The first room we viewed was the Superior Lumbung Terrace, the lowest priced room here. At about S$110 per night, this is a spacious & cosy-looking room.

The bedroom & bathroom are about the same size!

The bedroom & bathroom are about the same size!

Next, we went to the Traditional Lumbung Hut – a 2-storey traditional hut with an outdoor bathroom & an open area with a day bed. Suitable for a romantic getaway with your other half with the hut set within the lush gardens.

Clockwise from top left: bedroom on 2nd storey, the outdoor shower, & the open-air day bed on 1st storey at the entrance

Clockwise from top left: bedroom on 2nd storey, the outdoor shower, & the open-air day bed on 1st storey at the entrance

There was 1 type of room, or rather villa that was my favourite amongst the many room types shown. It was the 1-Bedroom Pool Villa, as it gave me a very private & exclusive feeling with its pretty interiors. The villa features a private pool (about 4 x 3 m) with deck chairs, a fully furnished spacious open-air living area, an indoor day bed that can be used to relax by day or fitted as an extra bed at night. Of course for such exclusivity it doesn’t come cheap, 1 luxurious night stay here costs at least S$570!

The private pool is in between the day bed & cosy bedroom with a relaxing bathtub & shower area

The private pool is in between the day bed & cosy bedroom with a relaxing bathtub & shower area

The 2 other rooms we checked out were the Deluxe Terrace Room & Deluxe Ombak Room which look somewhat similar to the Superior Terrace Room except for a larger size, so can skip the photos haha. The hotel occupies a large area hence the rooms are not cramped together with plenty of “breathing space”. The pools are pretty big too, looks relaxing to have a dip in there!

Not sure when will be my next trip to Lombok, but Vila Ombak does look like a resort hotel that I’d like to chill in, when it’s located near to the lovely beach with such cosy rooms. :)

Gili Trawangan – A Popular Resort Island in Lombok

Part of an archipelago of three small islands known as the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan is the biggest and most popular resort island off the northwest coast of Lombok. Getting to the island is convenient & easy with just a 30-min boat ride from Sengiggi.

After breakfast, we had a quick drive to the pier to board the 30-min fast boat ride (as the locals call it) to beautiful Gili Trawangan. Enroute, we were all mesmerized by the scenic coastal views.

Splendid view of the coastline enroute to the pier

Splendid view of the coastline enroute to the pier

As with all tourist spots in Indonesia, there're a few peddlers here trying to earn the tourist dollar ;)

As with all tourist spots in Indonesia, there’re a few peddlers here selling hats & souvenir tees ;)

It was a breezy & smooth boat ride to Gili Trawangan. If you wish to visit the Gili Islands, do wear flip-flops/ slippers & bermudas/shorts because often, the boat will disembark passengers when it hasn’t even dock at the pier, so you may need to tread in water (probably up to knees depending on your height) to get on land. See what I mean in the photo below:

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Anyway, our first island activity was to check out the beautiful corals in the clear shallow waters with a 1-hour ride on the glass-bottom boat (IDR75,000, S$7.75). Nothing too unique about the wooden boat except that it is fitted with glass panels in the middle to allow passengers to view the corals below. The glass panels weren’t spotlessly clean so frankly we couldn’t really get a perfect view of the corals. It was better through the naked eyes than through the camera lens haha. So don’t dismiss the corals based on my photos below haha…

A glimpse of the side of glass bottom boat :)

A glimpse of the side of glass bottom boat :)

This was 1 of the clearer pic of corals I managed to capture

This was 1 of the clearer pic of corals I managed to capture

View of the corals just beside our boat

Photo taken of the corals just beside our boat

One of the popular activities to do on the island is to snorkel to spot the dynamic coral reefs & marine life. We could see many people doing that too:

A great way to explore life under the clear shallow waters

A great way to explore life under the clear shallow waters with a snorkel

The original plan for us was to have some free & easy time on the island to roam about. But probably because of the super-warm weather, most of the group didn’t want to spend time getting burnt in the sun. So my wish to go on a local horse cart tour round the island had to be abandoned. :( I had thought it’d be quite an interesting experience on the Cidomo (local way of calling the local horse cart) since no motorised vehicles are allowed on the island, too bad… only could watch them pass by…

Cidomo - the most common transport on Gili Islands

Cidomo – the most common transport on Gili Islands

So all we did on this lovely island were taking a glass bottom boat tour, having lunch by the beach & inspecting Hotel Vila Ombak. Maybe it means I’ve to come again for a relaxing free & easy tour on the island on my own next time! Haha… I shall end this post with an awesome sea view during our lunch that day!

Gili merged 2r

Kila Senggigi Beach Hotel Lombok

A short 30-min flight away from Bali is Lombok – an Indonesian island east of Bali known for its scenic beaches. Upon arrival at Lombok International Airport, we had a yummy traditional local dinner before we checked into our home for the next 2 nights – Kila Senggigi Beach Hotel.

Although the time we arrived at the hotel was only around 7.30pm, it was pitch dark already so we had some trouble locating our rooms scattered around the resort compound. Unfortunately, we got a corner room on the 2nd level of a block of sea-viewing rooms & had to try our best to drag our luggage up the flights of stairs (no elevators since this is chalet/ bungalow style).

The room we got was pretty spacious too, maybe just a little smaller than the one at Ramayana Kuta Resort Bali. The wooden furnishings & colour scheme in the room really evoked a beach-resort feel. We could open the backdoor to a sea-facing balcony but since it was already dark, nothing could be seen haha. But I checked out the view the next day morning & it was quite a refreshing sight.

Kila Senggigi Beach Hotel room

Some of my tour mates claimed that this was the best hotel for the trip, but maybe I was unlucky, our room had a few faults. 1st, the toilet flush was faulty. 2nd, the LCD TV wasn’t working well & we had to bear with the glitching & blur images. 3rd, no matter how we tried to adjust the air-con temperature, it still remained warm. We asked for maintenance to come & help solve our problems but only the toilet flush problem was resolved. The staff claimed that the blur images on TV couldn’t be helped due to antenna cabling issues. So well, no choice just have to skip watching TV & not cover ourselves with the blankets when sleeping haha. Fortunately, other than these hiccups, the 2 nights’ stay was still quite pleasant. At least, this was the only hotel with electronic room keys & we didn’t have to share 1 key per room! :P

Kila Senggigi Beach Hotel breakfast

(Top left): The block we stayed in; (Top right): View from our room balcony; (Bottom): Lovely view of Senggigi Beach at the hotel

(Top left): The block we stayed in; (Top right): View from our room balcony; (Bottom): Lovely view of Senggigi Beach at the hotel

Breakfast was at the open-concept Rinjani Restaurant by the swimming pool. The buffet spread was decent like Ramayana, although not superb. Because the hotel is located in the oldest & most famous Senggigi resort area, taking a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Senggigi Beach was very convenient.

On our last night in Lombok, we also explored the Senggigi Beach Road, just a convenient 7-min stroll away outside the hotel, where a number of bars, restaurants and spas can be found. Most of us settled for a body massage (1 hour IDR 80,000, about S$8.20) at the Orchid Day’s Spa & Beauty Salon as it was brightly lit, not sleazy-looking with competitive pricing. Mixed reviews about the quality of the massage from the group, while I thought it was average. In case you are interested to get an affordable massage in Lombok, I shall end this post with a photo of the salon for your easy reference. :)

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Exploring Kuta in South Bali

Probably the most well-known tourist resort area in Bali, Kuta is one of the island’s first tourist developments located in the south near its Ngurah Rai International Airport. The 5km long sandy stretch of Indian Ocean beach-front is a popular surfing paradise for surfers all over the world, and friendly for beginners due to the absence of dangerous rocks or coral. Peak seasons are typically from July to August, as well as festive seasons like Christmas & New Year.

Finally we were given free time on the morning of our third day in Bali. Thanks to the strategic location of the hotel we stayed in (Ramayana Kuta Resort Bali), a few of us actually managed to take a short tour of the tourist district after gala dinner on the second night, & even went for cheap & good massage together.

This was where we had a good massage ;)

This was where we had a good massage ;)

After checking out the look & feel (must not look sleazy!) as well as prices of a few spas in the vicinity, we decided on Kimberly Spa. It is located down the same street as Ramayana at Jalan Pantai Kuta No. 200, Kuta 80361 & opens from 0900 to 2300 hrs daily. I did a foot massage + pedicure (IDR 90,000, about S$9.20) while my tour mates had the 1.5-hour full body massage (IDR 85,000, about S$8.70). One interesting thing to note for the pedicure was, the quoted price didn’t include nail colours, so need to pay extra for that! Well it wasn’t expensive but was somewhat of a “culture shock” for me haha. My tour mates commented the body massage was very relaxing, so was my foot massage.

The next day, after breakfast in the hotel, we first explored the nearby market. It was something like Bangkok’s Pratunam Market, but of a smaller scale. Most shops were selling similar stuff such as beach wear, batik, casual clothing and silver accessories. As the weather was too hot, we didn’t spend too much time there. There was also a souvenir market just somewhere across from Ramayana. We also walked to Hard Rock Cafe & realized there are 2 rock shops just a couple of streets apart. Although I’d usually buy HRC tees when travelling overseas, the designs in the shops didn’t entice me this time & I left empty-handed… :P

Kuta streets

The main Hard Rock shop at Jl. Pantai Kuta

The main Hard Rock shop at Jl. Pantai Kuta

Despite perspiring profusely under the scorching sun, it’d be silly to say I’ve been to the famous Kuta region in Bali when I didn’t check out its renowned beach? So we braved the heat to get to the beach. I finally get to witness the beautiful white sandy beach that is so popular all over the world! :)

A panoramic view of the pristine beach

A panoramic view of the pristine beach

The sand was so hot that I felt my feet were burning as I strolled along the beach. We left the beach shortly after taking some photos before the heat became unbearable haha. Great leisure time passed by quickly, & soon we had to report back to hotel for our last lunch + shopping stop in Bali before we depart for Lombok.

Special mention of the last lunch in Bali, because I personally thought that was the best meal in the “Island of Thousand Temples” where we had Bebek Betutu (Balinese smoked duck with stir-fried curry vegetables, steamed rice, and sambal sauce) at Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurant. ;)

My new favourite - Balinese Betutu, very crispy smoked duck!

My new favourite – Betutu, very crispy smoked duck!

The plate of Betutu didn’t look very appetising when it was served, but 1 bite into the smoked duck, & you can say I was won over by its crispiness hehe. It tasted somewhat like Cantonese-style roasted duck (琵琶鸭). The stir-fried curry long beans was very flavourful too. The lunch was so nice that I wiped everything out on the plate! OK, I admit, not everything, I don’t fancy fried shallots. :P

After the delectable lunch, it was souvenir shopping time at the tourist shopping mall – Krisna Oleh Oleh (note the website is only in Indonesian) just across the road. It is a huge souvenir shop selling accessories, snacks, handicraft, beach wear, batik etc with many people in the shop. Not much for me to buy if you ask me, as it’s the typical souvenirs that we always see like key-chains, aromatherapy stuff, soaps etc. I only bought some Bali snacks back home to try.

With that, the tour in Bali had ended & off we headed to the airport for a domestic flight to Lombok. I’d say the more memorable experiences in Bali have to be the Dolphin-watching tour, pristine Kuta beach & the Bebek Betutu lunch. It was a pretty short Bali trip where I didn’t have time to discover more of Bali’s beauty, what a pity!

Ramayana Kuta Resort Bali

After watching the Dolphin show in the Melka Excelsior Hotel at Lovina, we travelled back towards Kuta in the south to check into the Ramayana Kuta Resort Bali for our second night in Bali. Enroute, we had buffet lunch at Mentari Restaurant by the Bedugul Lake, which I could appreciate better than the Padang-style lunch on day 1, though the food was kinda salty. :P

Mentari Restaurant & its lunch spread

Mentari Restaurant & its lunch spread

Only 2.5 hours after lunch, did we arrive at the resort hotel. This time, the look & feel of the resort hotel was much better than the one in Lovina, at least the hotel lobby was bright and airy. See what I mean in the photos below.;)

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Ramayana Hotel lobby resized

All of us got rooms on the highest floor – level 8 & on the way to the guest rooms was the swimming pool & open-concept restaurant where we would have breakfast the next day.

The inviting pool area

The inviting pool area

The feeling this resort hotel gave me has been good up till now haha. When I got to my room, I was happy to see a spacious & brightly lit room with contemporary decor compared to the 1st hotel. At least I felt like I was really in a resort! :)

Different views of our Deluxe Twin Room

Different views of our executive deluxe twin room

View from the balcony in my room

View from the balcony in my room

The 34 square-metre executive deluxe twin room has a private balcony with a view of the resort’s pools & garden. Finally there was a hairdryer in the bathroom for us! I also like the large 42″ Smart TV that came equipped with international channels. Perhaps the only grouse here would be the mattress was quite high to climb up to, but not too bad as it’s still comfortable to sleep on. :P Buffet breakfast the next morning was also of better standard & variety than previous hotel breakfast. :)

It’s no wonder Ramayana Kuta Resort is a 4-star resort hotel with many ticks compared to Melka. Furthermore, it is pretty centrally located in the Kuta Beach area, with many restaurants, shops and spas along the same stretch. The famous Kuta Beach is also just 1 street away from the hotel. Besides, complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. With all the accessibility, convenience & comfort for a relaxing holiday, I guess Ramayana is worth my recommendation. :D