Taking an afternoon flight from Bali to its neighbor island Lombok, I arrive just after sunset and my first step out of the airport feels like a step into twilight zone. I can’t quite assess the atmosphere and feel a little bit lost. I have no idea what is waiting for me on this island, I just heard it is supposed to be like Bali was 10 years ago…. I have to admit, after two weeks on Bali, I need a change of scenery and I want to get away from the full lineups and the hip cafés, I want some real Indonesia, I want Nasi Campur and empty beaches. At this point I don’t know yet that Lombok will give me all of that and more.
I’m thankful that I find my driver quicker than expected and am happy to hand over the resposability to bring me safely to my guesthouse to him, I’m tired and can’t wait to have some time for myself and, finally, my own room. After 6 weeks sharing rooms with people, I have chosen a guesthouse called Batu Bambu that was recommended to me by a friend and is owned by a German girl. At this point I don’t know yet that Batu Bambu will feel like a home away from home very soon and I will extend my stay, twice.
I am welcomed by Mukhla, the Indonesian manager and Lotte, the dog, get handed some water with lemon and a personalised map of Kuta. Yes, the town in south Lombok is called like the city on Bali that is well known for it’s parties, punched alcohol and crowded beaches, don’t mix it up, because I can promise you, they are nothing alike. Also a scooter is waiting for me on standby, so I decide to leave my backpack in my room and join some people for dinner. The weird thing about arriving somewhere in the dark is that you have no orientation at all, so after dinner, I am relieved that I find my way back home by myself. The amazing thing about arriving somewhere in the dark is, that you wake up the next morning and everything you will see that day is a surprise. It’s like waking up in wonderland. At this point I don’t know yet that Lombok is a real wonderland.
After pineapple pancake and ice lemon tea for breakfast, I go exploring. I take my scooter and drive to the west, up the mountain and around the corner and suddenly have a fantastic view over the ocean. Whenever you go up a hill on Lombok, you will see a landscape that reminds you more of something you would imagine what it looks like in a fairytale or a Harry Potter movie, but not real life. Driving through little villages and rice fields up and down the hills, I feel something inside of me that nowadays has become my favorite feeling in the world: freedom.
At this point I don’t know yet that driving around on my scooter will soon be one of my favorite things and will always give me the same feeling all over again.
When you go exploring, you will find places you didn’t even know, you were looking for. Of course other people found them before you, but it sometimes feels like you are the first person to discover them, because on Lombok the roads are still a challenge and you will have to stop for cows. A lot. On the first day I find Are Goling, a beach west of Kuta bay. Laying there in the afternoon sun I can’t help but ask myself how in the world there are still beautiful places like this with no one else there to steal the moment from you. On another day, I ‚find‘ Tanjung Aan, a beach east of Kuta bay. Even though a little bit more busy, this one has a very special atmosphere and everything that you could wish for from a beach, clear water, white sand, a wave further outside and swings. Yes.
At that point I don’t know yet that I will go back there a lot, drink a coconut and think about how awesome life can be sometimes.
Of course I was also on Lombok to go surfing, the best spot to do so is Gerupuk. A big bay that has three different spots you can surf at. ‚Don don‘ is only working when the swell is really big, but then it has perfect mellow waves and is very empty, since most people go to ‚Inside‘. This spot works everyday but is very crowded, since everybody goes there, from beginner to pro. And then there is ‚Outside‘ which I can’t tell you anything about, because it’s very difficult and I didn’t wanna die, so I didn’t go anywhere near it. You will go to the spot by boat and I was lucky enough to find the best captain in town via the guesthouse. Oki has been surfing on Lombok since 20 years and is a true local pioneer of surfing on the island. He will not only bring you to the spot and back but will also surf with you and encourage you to get better every day. At this point I don’t know yet that Oki and I have the same taste in music and would sing along to Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber on the boat every day very loudly.
On the days I don’t go surfing, I practice Yoga. There are a couple of good Yoga places in Kuta already, but I soon found my favorite one. Ashtari is situated on a hill top, overlooking Kuta Bay and just seeing this view is producing a spiritual feeling inside of me. Combining that with Yoga practice is just priceless. On Lombok, I also got the opportunity to experience another spiritual event, I got treated by a healer. Some might say that this won’t do anything. But Akim, the magic man, has a knowledge that has been built up over generations in his family and yes, he is insane, but in a perfectly normal way. When I meet him I feel like he already knows everything about me. At this point I don’t know yet that I will cry tears of pain and relieve and that when he leaves me after three treatments, I will feel reborn.
At the end of many perfect days, I go up to the sunset point in between Tanjung Aan and Seger Beach. Locals and tourists alike will gather here every evening to soak in the last light of the day and say goodbye to the sun for another night. I will never get tired of experiencing how everything goes in circles and I think one reason why I love sunsets so much is because they remind me that sometimes, saying goodbye can be beautiful.
And even though I know that, saying goodbye to Lombok and the people I have met there is still one of the hardest goodbyes I have to say on my trip so far, because at this point, I already know that I fell in love with this island. I never would have thought, that it is still so pure, so original, so real. So painfully beautiful, so quiet, so perfect for me. I didn’t know what is waiting there for me, but now I know. And when people say, Lombok is like Bali was 10 years ago, I can just say, that I hope it doesn’t go through the same development as its neighbor. But I know it’s probably wishful thinking, because already there are road constructions going on and resorts are being built and as sad as this is, I will therefore just treasure the memories of my happy days on Lombok even more and am grateful that I got to see it at this point.
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