Donald Begg
Sun 23 Sep 2018 07:36
Lombok is a contrast to Darwin. It is colourful, third world, Muslim. Women are veiled, the call to prayer travels across the water to Gilli Gede marina five times a day. The marina is like a hotel on the Costas in the seventies, it is there in principle but still a good way from completion. You need to get waypoints from the marina for your approach, the channels are strewn with uncharted and unlit pearl farms. There is litter everywhere, regrettably much of it plastic. On the plus side there is a charming restaurant within easy walking distance of the marina, run by Frenchman Alain who has gone native, and two un-busy hotels with open verandahs and public spaces in a style redolent of Gaugin and Somerset Maugham. The cost of living is low. You are greeted with a friendly hello by most people, especially the children.
We had a two-day coach tour of the island up to the volcano Mount Rinjani in the North, with visits to an old temple, to traditional villages, and to colourful markets. Most of it is a continuous sprawl of townships. Eighty percent of personal travel is by moped, often a whole family on a single bike. The style of driving is similar to that in India, you throw your vehicle onto the road with a hoot of the horn, and negotiate each other vehicle or obstacle case by case.
The island was struck by two earthquakes last August. Whole villages lie in ruin, of course the poorest are the worst affected, and reconstruction will take a long time. Good luck, Lombok, I hope that our visit helped the economy in a small way.