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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in lombok
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Located just east of Bali, Lombok has been promoted as "an unspoiled Bali" for quite some time, with beautiful beaches and the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani. However, an impending tourism boom was severely disrupted by riots in 2000, with Muslims and Christians clashing violently. The following years have been quieter, but tourists have continued to stay away.
Lombok's people are 85% Sasak, culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike Bali's Hindu they are Muslims. A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu ("Three Prayers"), who as the name says pray only three times daily, instead of the five times required in the Quran.
While tropical, hot and humid, Lombok is drier than neighboring Bali, which makes it a particularly attractive option during the October-December rainy season. (It rains on Lombok too, but rarely for more than an hour.) The peak of the tourist season, though, is May through August.
The main local language is Sasak. Bahasa Indonesia is universally spoken and English is common in the resort areas.
Lombok's only airport is Mataram's Selaparang Airport (AMI), which occasionally also shows up in flight schedules as "Ampenan" (hence the seemingly odd airport code). There are frequent connections to Denpasar on Bali (30 min) and Surabaya (1 hour) on Garuda, Merpati and Germania Trisakti ("GT Air"), but only a single flight per day to Jakarta or Yogyakarta (both on Garuda). International flights are limited to Kuala Lumpur daily on Merpati and Singapore thrice weekly on Silk Air, with visas available on arrival. Lombok Network maintains a useful, mostly-updated flight schedule (http://www.lombok-network.com/flight_schedule.htm) listing all flights to the island.
Slow boats from Padangbai on Bali leave every two hours for the four-hour trip to Lembar (Rp 7,100).
Fast ferries run from Benoa on Bali to Lembar on Lombok twice daily in season, one daily in the off season. The trip takes just 2 hours but costs US$25/30 depending on class. Perama Tour (http://www.peramatour.com/cruise.htm) also runs daily cruises from Padangbai directly to Senggigi for Rp120,000.
Bemos (converted passenger-carrying minivans) are the main means of long-distance transport on Lombok. They can be hailed down on all larger streets, and will happily take you even short hops around Senggigi. Fares are cheap: for example, as of November 2005 the official fare from Mataram to Senggigi is Rp. 1500/person, but tourists tend to get charged a bit extra and empty bemos will expect you to charter them for a higher price yet. Travel agents can also get you on semi-regular shuttle services, which connect Senggigi, the airport, and the harbors of Lembar (for Bali) and Bangsal (for the Gilis).
Metered taxis are a fairly new development on Lombok, but they have become quite common in Mataram and Senggigi. The largest operator is Blue Bird, although there are a few other companies competing for your custom. As of November 2005, flag fall is Rp3,850 and the meter ticks up a few hundred rupiah for every hundred meters past 2 km. Figure on Rp10,000 for hops around town and around Rp30,000 from Senggigi to Mataram.
By horse cart
Horse-pulled carts known as cidomo are very common on Lombok, and while a bit touristy in Senggigi and the Gilis, they're still a serious method of transportation elsewhere.
Traditional fishing boats known as perahu ply the waters around Lombok, and are instantly recognizable due to their rather unusual feature of having two logs attached by bars on both sides like a catamaran, for greater stability in heavy swells. They can also be chartered, either directly from owners (in which case some knowledge of Bahasa will come in handy) or via any travel agent, who will of course take their cut. Some prices to aim for are Rp.100,000 from Bangsal to the Gilis or Rp.400,000 for a full day.
Given that the very word lombok means "chili pepper" in Bahasa Indonesia, the local cuisine isn't quite as spicy as you might expect. Probably the best known local dish is is ayam taliwang, chicken stewed in a rich sauce of galangal, turmeric and (of course) chili.
Although Lombok is a safe and stable place, these tips may help you along the way:
1. There is no written curfew, but when travelling in villages or non-tourist areas you are best to stay indoors after dark.
2. Always have locks on the zips of your bags. Not only do they keep thieving hands out they also prevent people slipping prohibited substances in.
3. Dress modestly in village places and religious sites; long pants or sarongs are suggested and a blouse that covers womens bust and shoulders should do the trick. this is not so much a safety measure but does save you and the onlookers from embaressment.