Vis­it­ing a few from thou­sands

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Next door to world-fa­mous Bali, Lom­bok of­fers many of the same at­trac­tions as its bet­ter-know neigh­bor: wa­ter­falls, white-sand beaches, snor­kel­ing and scuba div­ing, but with a frac­tion of the tourists. Here are some of its top des­ti­na­tions: Seng­gigi. Lo­cated on the north­west part of Lom­bok, Seng­gigi is the main tourist area lined with ho­tels, restau­rants, sou­venir shops, mas­sage par­lors and more. The town of Seng­gigi is where vis­i­tors can set up tours or find guides to take them to dif­fer­ent parts of the is­land.

Sen­dang Gile and Tiu Kelep wa­ter­falls: Icy, cold and slip­pery, these wa­ter­falls are prob­a­bly some of the most awein­spir­ing sights on the is­land. We hired a guide to lead us to them. Au­then­tic hand­i­crafts: Banyu­mulek is a vil­lage known for its world-class pot­tery. We vis­ited a fam­ily of three gen­er­a­tions cre­at­ing pieces of var­i­ous sizes. Far­ther in­land, Sukarara is a com­mu­nity where vis­i­tors can learn about the process of tra­di­tional hand-weav­ing and at­tempt to give it a try them­selves. Pot­tery is avail­able for pur­chase at Banyu­mulek, and sarongs, wall hang­ings, blankets and scarves are avail­able for pur­chase at Sukarara.

A string of three tiny is­lands off the north­ern coast of Lom­bok, the Gili is­lands are pop­u­lar for their laid­back feel and lack of traf­fic. We headed to Gili Air be­cause it was the clos­est, hir­ing a pri­vate speed­boat and driver and spend­ing a few hours walk­ing around the is­land and jump­ing in and out of the water. Don’t for­get to get your pic­ture taken at one of the well-known water swings.

Known mainly for be­ing the jump­ing-off point to Ko­modo Na­tional Park, a UNESCO World Her­itage Site, the is­land of Flores is much larger than you may think. I made the mis­take of think­ing we could fly into the city of Maumere - the largest town on the is­land - and take lo­cal trans­port to the west­ern side of the is­land and head on to the Ko­modo area. I was wrong. It turned out to be at least a 12-hour drive, and with just a few days on Flores, we de­cided to stick around Maumere in­stead of be­ing rushed. But we were not dis­ap­pointed. One in­ter­est­ing as­pect of vis­it­ing Flores was the Chris­tian in­flu­ence here. In­done­sia is the world’s largest ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim coun­try, but here Chris­tian churches and a large cross can be seen along the coast. Flores means flow­ers in Por­tuguese; it was a colo­nial out­post for Por­tu­gal in the 16th cen­tury.

Other at­trac­tions here

Lo­cal mar­ket: An au­then­tic slice of life here, with ven­dors sell­ing fruit, live­stock and chat­ting with each other and cus­tomers.

We de­cided on the fly to try to visit Panga­batang Is­land, an un­in­hab­ited is­land about an hour off the coast of Flores. With the help of some friendly lo­cals, we flagged down a bemo, a pub­lic trans­port van, found out one of the women on board was mar­ried to a boat cap­tain, and headed to meet him at the fish­ing vil­lage of Nan­ga­hale. He spoke no English, but I was able to com­mu­ni­cate with my rudi­men­tary In­done­sian lan­guage skills, and we hopped on his rick­ety boat. We sat in stunned si­lence snap­ping pho­tos of some of the most scenic water views we’d ever seen. Once at Panga­batang, we sun­tanned, jumped in and out of the sea, and, of course, took self­ies. One note of warn­ing: Ferry sink­ings and boat ac­ci­dents are not un­com­mon - in­clud­ing a glass-bot­tomed boat that cap­sized off Bali in early No­vem­ber, killing three peo­ple in­clud­ing a Ja­panese tourist. So use your judg­ment on boat rides, es­pe­cially if trav­el­ing with kids.

Hik­ing Mount Egon takes sev­eral hours and lots of stamina. It’s very steep with lots of loose gravel. We hired a guide to take us up to the sum­mit, where a vol­canic crater and out­stand­ing views made the trek worth it.

Learn a lit­tle bit of the lan­guage, Ba­hasa In­done­sia, and it will help tremen­dously. Be­ing on time is rel­a­tive. A 7 am meet­ing time with your guide may ac­tu­ally mean 8 a.m. Sip some cof­fee and wait.There are three time zones across In­done­sia. Keep this in mind when book­ing flights. Ap­prox­i­mately 13,000 In­done­sian ru­piah equals US $1.

Sev­eral di­rect flights go from the In­done­sian cap­i­tal city of Jakarta and from Bali to Lom­bok each day.

Get­ting to Flores is more com­pli­cated and takes longer. From Jakarta, flights can con­nect through Bali or even Ku­pang. Be ready for small planes, small air­ports and ad­ven­ture. Slow fer­ries be­tween the is­lands are also an op­tion. — AP

A lo­cal cap­tain guides his boat near Panga­batang Is­land in In­done­sia.

Pot­tery for sale at Banyu­mulek on the is­land of Lom­bok in In­done­sia is seen.

A woman cuts fish at the lo­cal mar­ket in Maumere on the is­land of Flores in In­done­sia. — AP pho­tos

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