We only had time for a 1-day tour while we were in Lombok. We had heard Lombok is less developed from a tourism perspective and more like what Bali was 20 years ago. Although this is true, you could definitely see that this is going to change rapidly, as we saw evidence of much construction at some of the tourist locations, and lots and lots of traffic. There is a tourist town in Lombok that was full of clubs, hotels, resorts, backpackers, bars, etc. This place rivaled anything we had seen in Indonesia before getting to Bali. The guide dropped me off at an ATM in the main city at a brand new hospital that was a very modern building.
Lombok is primarily muslim, whereas Bali is primarily hindu. But, the hindu and muslims seem to get along fine as we found out at the village we went to later.
We got our guide through the marina hotel. He works part time at the hotel and speaks pretty good English. He also has developed a fine sense of catering to the needs of his customers and made sure we had a wonderful time on our tour. His name is Datoo, and he arranged for a very nice new air conditioned taxi for us.
Here is the photo album from the trip, but make sure you read the story below for details about what we saw:
We started out the tour by stopping at a gas station, but they were out of fuel. No worry there as there are countless people selling small bottles of fuel for the countless motorcycles, and some also sell small jugs of fuel for cars.
We then drove for over an hour along the west coast of Lombok and saw some beautiful coastal scenery, fishing villages, and many crop fields. The primary crop is rice, but we also saw corn, peanuts, tobacco, potatoes, and lots of chilli peppers. Many of the rice paddies have temples in them. The big town to the SW of Lombok supposedly has 1000 mosques. We saw many dozens of them, but its certainly possible for hundreds more to be hidden in the many hills and valleys and behind the trees in that area.
Our first stop was a hindu temple where we walked through the several shrines and prayer meeting places. Lots of interesting stone carvings to look at as well.
Next we went to some village hand weaving and Karen got to try her hand at weaving, and at trying out some of the local clothing. Of course, we had to buy some of the fabric since Karen is a keen fabric collector.
We then visited a pottery maker and saw them hand-crafting some pottery. We bought a small piece of pottery there as well.
Next we took a drive through some more interesting scenery and up into the mountains. There we found a spot off the mountain road (with a stupendous view in the background) where monkeys were waiting and ready for us to feed them peanuts we had bought on the way. The monkeys will pick them right out of your hand. One was carrying a baby and we got some fun pictures. The funniest moment was when one car stopped and handed a water bottle to a monkey. He knew exactly what to do and took off the top and drank it!
Finally, Datoo took us to his own village. His village is particularly known for their flying tops game. They make these wooden tops and throw them spinning onto the ground. An opponent throws his top trying to knock down the other. They then rush to pick them up off the ground with the string, place them on their hand and then walk quickly to boards with little divots in them. The top that spins the longest wins. Frank got to try his hand at throwing a top and finally managed to get one to stay standing up. We of course ended up buying a top.
The village was really nice and we got to see some of the village women making coconut oil, making brooms, and people working the field. We also saw the village mosque. The village nearby is hindu, and our driver has a hindu wife from there.
We had a fantastic time on our tour and we are very glad we had a chance to go there before going to Bali.