Lombok – A Parched Paradise

After a busy couple of weeks exploring Singapore and Bali, we yearned for some quiet time on a beach, with nothing to do but read a good book or do a good puzzle; lately, nonograms are our favourite.  With that in mind, we set our eyes on Lombok, the Indonesion island east of Bali, reputed to be much quieter, less developed and thus less touristy. We know that Lombok is recovering from a very serious earthquake that hit in the summer of 2018, killing over 600 and injuring more than 7000. Unsure of the condition in the north, we headed south.  We did not know that the south is in the grip of a severe drought.

The scenery from the airport to our hotel is an eye opener. We were expecting a lush, tropical island paradise.  Instead, the land appears dead, the reddish brown soil deeply cracked from lack of rainfall, and the hills and valleys are nothing but lifeless dirt.  There are pockets of greenery, mainly in the valleys, but overall the bleak landscape is dry and dusty. 

Segara Lombok, home for the next week, is a newly opened boutique resort that turns out to be the perfect spot for us.  It is a small green, manicured oasis comprising just 8 bungalows facing the sea.  The open air restaurant serves delicious meals, albeit on a limited menu.  An infinity pool overlooks the sea, flanked by comfy deck loungers, sturdy umbrellas, and plush towels.  

Just beyond the pool, bamboo beds offer a shady repose perfect for an afternoon siesta.

The crash of the distant surf is ever present; turns out this beach is a magnet for surfers.  It is not really a beach for swimming, nor for beachcombing as we sink into the coarse sand like quicksand.  It is like walking through deep snow in your sandals (just thought our Canadian friends who are now enjoying an early start to winter could relate). But of course, we are enjoying perpetual sunshine and temps in the high 30’s.  Not quite the same, I guess. So even though it wasn’t the easiest beach to walk on, the ocean is wonderful to watch, ever changing with the surf and tide.  Shortly after check in, Chris laid out on one of the bamboo beds and promptly fell asleep for several hours! Yup, that pretty much set the tone for the week.  It is deeply relaxing; we enjoy extremely comfortable accommodations and attentive five star service throughout our stay.

We spend much of the week hanging out at the resort, but we do head out for a few adventures on the scooter – one day going east, another day to the west. Another day, we indulge in an Indonesian massage that would take a few days from which to recover. We particularly loved the neighboring Selong Belanak Beach, renowned for its small surf, perfect for beginner surfers. Conveniently, the beach was lined with surf schools. I entertained the idea of taking a class or two, but a dinner on the beach a couple of days later changed my plans requiring me to stay close to the bathroom for a while. Despite our best efforts to protect our bowels, drawing on our extensive experience from the last time around, occasionally, we do get hit – and it isn’t pretty.

Neither of us have been on a scooter since our last big trip, so we are a little nervous at first.   It doesn’t help that the terrain is mountainous with steep ascents and harrowing descents, razor sharp turns, a so called two lane road the width of a laneway, and of course, crazy drivers that follow their own set of rules. We share a scooter, with Chris driving and me on the back, navigating.  Chris does great, with only a single casualty – the poor little chicken didn’t stand a chance sadly. After that he is quick to use his horn whenever something ventures into his path, whether it is a goat, a cow, water buffalo, chickens or dogs.  To be fair, I take a shot at driving the scooter on our way back one day, with Chris hanging on for dear life behind me, and I almost take out the terrified security guards and their hut as I have difficulty navigating the sharp turn into the resort.  Chris makes it look so easy!

Below is a quick video I spontaneously took from the back seat one afternoon, using my iPhone. It’s a little bumpy, but I think it might give you an idea of what it is like driving around southern Lombok on a scooter.

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