Kathie's Report on Lombok

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Dec 10th, 2004, 05:34 PM
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Kathie's Report on Lombok

This is the last installment of the reports on my recent trip to Asia. I have posted each destination individually (KL, Singapore and Lombok).

This trip was planned to be different from most trips I plan. I usually spend most of my vacation exploring new places, learning about different cultures, visiting wats, musems, and archaeological sites. This vacation was heavily weighted toward relaxation. Eleven days of our twenty-two were on Lombok.

We had visited Lombok for a day on a previous trip to Bali. We enjoyed the craft villages and the quiet, laid back atmosphere of the island. Some people say that Lombok is where Bali was 50 years ago in terms of development.

Of course, Bali and Lombok are very different culturally. Bali is predominantly Hindu, Lombok is predominantly Muslim. The two islands have very different craft traditions as well.

There are few international hotels on the island. There is a Sheraton in Sengiggi that has perhaps 70 rooms, there is an Oberoi, and there is a Novotel. Other than that, there are very small resorts.

We chose the newest small resort on Lombok, Qunci Villas, which has been open for 18 months. We found this place on www.asiahotels.com, where it received rave reviews. The rates were very good: we paid US$70 per night, which included tax, service and full breakfast. Our airport transfers were included as well.

The resort has 20 rooms, all located in thatched-roof villas. Some of the villas are two stories, holding two rooms. Each room has a patio or a balcony with a large divan. The rooms are very well designed. Everthing is built-in (a platform bed, a window seat, a desk. the bedside tables). The bathroom has a large shower, no bathtub. The floors are stone, the walls are plaster, and there and beautiful wood beams and trusses. The esthetic is a modern and minimalist interpretation of the traditional thatched-roof abode. My only complaint about the room is that there is one chair in the room and a matching one on the balcony which are totally uncomfortable. It may be that very tall men like these chairs. They were worthless for a short woman.

The resort is also well-designed, with water features and fountains as you enter the property, and similar water features at the other end of the property, just before the lovely infinity pool and the beach. The landscaping is lush and lovely. There is a small open-air restaurant. You can eat in the restaurant, on your balcony or patio, at a table by the beach, or at the pool.

The resort is owned by an American who lives in Jakarta, and was designed by a Dutch architect. The attention to detail on design and construction is apparent everywhere. Even the dishes used by the restaurant are consistent with the esthetic.

The staff are wonderful, warm, and accommodating. They often offered asistance above and beyond what was requested (decorating the table with flowers and sprinking flower petals across the tablecloth for our special dinner on our balcony; accompanying us to several special places for shopping)

The beach is lovely. It is very clean. We walk the beach at dawn, and never saw any garbage washed ashore. The beach is long, and you can walk for miles. There are some vendors on the beach, but no crowds of them like in Bali.

The food in the restaurant was very good. A full breakfast is included in the room price. You can choose from several different breakfasts, (eggs, banana pancakes, a continental) but all include a lovely plate of fresh fruit and freash fruit juice.

The lunch and dinner menus include a good assortment of both Indonesian and international dishes. The food was very tasty, fresh, and well prepared. There is a full bar, and they have a two-for-one happy hour every day from 4:30-7:00 pm. (Actually, they call it a one-for one happy hour, you buy one and get one free.)

This is a perfect place to relax.
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Dec 11th, 2004, 02:39 AM
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Thanks Kathie for all of your reports. My curiousity has been piqued. Will pictures be posted, so that we can be even more jealous?
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Dec 11th, 2004, 09:18 AM
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kathie; great reports. did you, at any time, feel unsafe on lombok?

gpanda; great reports too. i am presently in the design stage of the flying latern. .
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Dec 11th, 2004, 11:05 AM
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Yes, we will be posting photos eventually... we took more than 500 photos on this trip, so it will take a few weeks to get them sorted and choose the ones to post on the website.

I felt perfectly safe on Lombok. The resort has a security guard at each entrance - the road and the beach. The sercurity guards make sure the only people coming and going are staff, guests and visitors. Touts are not allowed on the hotel grounds.

I will be posting a bit more about lofistics and some other details soon.
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Dec 11th, 2004, 11:05 AM
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oops - that's logistics
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Dec 11th, 2004, 11:49 AM
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Some additional notes on this trip:

Flights: We flew from Singapore to Lombok non-stop on Silk Air. There are flights three times a week. Otherwise, you have to fly Garuda to Jakarta, change planes and take another Garuda flight to Lombok. I understand there is now a budget airline that flies from KL.

Visas: Indonesia now requires visitors to have a visa. You can get one from the Indonesian Embassy in your own country before you go, or you can get one on arrival. We got ours on arrival. The cost is US$25, and the process was very efficient. Indeed, the line for those of us getting visas on arrival moved more quickly than the line of people who already had visas.

Security: I felt safe on Lombok. All of my encounters with locals were friendly. The hotel does have 24 hours security guards at both entrances to the hotel, but their primary function appeared to be making sure no touts came on the grounds. I did notice that they made sure the taxis used their meters.

Safes: The rooms at the Qunci Villas did not have personal safes, but they do have individual safe deposit boxes in the front office. These were secure and convenient. We put all of our valuables in the box and only took out money and/or credit cards when we were going off to shop.

Shopping: I am interested in local crafts, so that is mostly what we shopped for. One of the resort staff, Noura, escorted us to a place that made and sold hand-woven fabrics in Mataram that we never would have found on our own. I was able to buy both Songket and Ikat (both silk and cotton) there, including some Ikat that was "primitiv" (make of cotton with all natural dyes, traditional motifs). The prices were very good. We had visited the weaving village where they make Songket last time we were there, and this place had a much larger selection.

Noura also took us to the studio of a local painter at my request. The paintings were all in oils, and were lovely. I purchased a nice oil, about 17 inches by 21 inches for 250,000 rp, about US$29.

The third thing we bought were pearls. Lombok is famous for their pearls. There are salt-water pearls of many natural colors (including the famous black pearls) as well as fresh water pearls. I purchased pearl earrings as gifts. You often have to order the earrings if you want gold (14k or more) posts. For fresh water pearl earrings with gold posts, I paid 300,000 rp (under US$35) per pair for nice, large pearls. Salt water pearls were more, especially for the best pearls. I saw a lovely, large, round black saltwater pearl, of about 10mm for 1.25 million rp, about $145. This is a fabulous price for such a pearl (having purchased black pearls in Tahiti a couple of times), but I wasnít in th market for such a pearl.

Prices were significantly lower than prices on Bali for everything we saw.

By the way, once we went into Sengiggi to shop a bit, and were swarmed by vendors. They were friendly, but VERY persistent.
Weather: We were in Lombok in the rainy season, and it did rain in the later afternoon about half of the days we were there. I didnít find that problematic (Iím from Seattle!) and rather enjoyed the deluge, lightening and thunder. There was only one day when the weather was perfectly clear and we had a gorgeous view of Bali and the sacred mountain. Because it was rainy season, we were not able to visit the volcano.

Internet access: There is dial up internet access at the resort or in town. As you can imagine, access is slow. Itís fine for checking your email, but I wouldnít want to do more than that. At the resort, the cost is 1000 rp per minute, about 9 minutes for US$1. While itís cheaper in town, it certainly wasnít worth it to me to go to town to check my email!

Transport: As I mentioned, if you book on the internet, your airport transfers are included in the price. Make sure you let Qunci Villas know your incoming flight, as they will meet you. If you need transport any time you are staying at the Villas, they will call a taxi for you or can arrange a car and driver for the day (about US$30-40 depending on what kind of vehicle you want). Taxis into town are very inexpensive.
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Dec 11th, 2004, 01:04 PM
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Great report Kathie - makes me want to do a side trip to Lombok next time we do Bali.
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Dec 13th, 2004, 07:52 PM
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kathie---i am searching out your reports and came on this one first....very interesting...
glad you are back safe and sound...

bob
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Dec 13th, 2004, 08:35 PM
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Thanks, Bob. We really enjoyed Lombok.

Craig, It would be a good side trip from Bali, as well as a worthwhile destination on its own merits.
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Dec 14th, 2004, 02:19 AM
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Hi Kathie,
How do the beaches at Lombok compare with the East Coast Islands of Malaysia (Redang and Perhentian)?
Is the sea water crystal clear? Are there pristine beaches, bordered with coconut trees?
Is possible to do one day safe trips to the Gilis islands?

Thanks in advance.
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Dec 14th, 2004, 08:16 AM
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Cy, I can't do a direct comparison of the beach we stayed on in Lombok with the two beaches you mention in Malaysia, as I haven't been to those beaches.

The water was quite clear in Lombok, though the rainy season was starting. The beaches were very clean. The sand is golden and black (I love the areas with the very soft black sand) and there are nice shells and chunks of coral washed up on the beach. There are plenty of coconut palms, but those aren't the only trees near the beach. It is easy and cheap to do a day trip to the Gilis.

You'll be able to see photos if we ever get them all sorted and chosen for the website.
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Dec 14th, 2004, 10:58 AM
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Thanks Kathie,
I suggest you to do the same I did about your photos. It's free and easy.
Check out mine at
http://community.webshots.com/user/jorgeandre100
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Dec 14th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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Cy, I looked at your photos (nice pictures). The beach I was at on Lombok is different - areas of black sand, more shells and coral on the shore... Also, the water is shallow a long way out right in front of the hotel. There were locals surfing there one day, and someone staying at the villas surfed there another day. A number of people went snorkling. I couldn't tell in your photos how long that beach was, but the one on Lombok was very long, you could walk for miles.
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Jan 19th, 2005, 07:56 AM
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The Lombok photos have now been posted:

www.marlandc.com
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