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Robbietravels Indonesian Odyssey: Part II Lombok

Robbietravels Indonesian Odyssey: Part II Lombok

Jun 19th, 2009, 09:08 PM
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Robbietravels Indonesian Odyssey: Part II Lombok

The waiting lounge for the flight to Lombok was overflowing with people; most looked like they were returning home rather than going on holiday. The ‘loungees’ seemed dour and haggard compared to the Javanese we’d encountered. Sitting in this confined area, the air, thick with humidity, smoke and unwashed bodies, I felt unwelcome and uncomfortable in a vague, eerie way. I reviewed my attire, reconfirming it would not, to my mind, be the cause of any offense. I hoped this vibe was not a harbinger of days to come. The flight was late and we arrived at Quinci Villas on the west coast of Lombok around eleven at night.

Our first day at the beach, on north end of Senggigi Bay was given over to doing as little as humanly possible. I lounged by the pool that paralleled the breaking waves of the Lombok Strait. After a delicious, substantial breakfast I took an orientation walk on the beach and when I reached a headland I walked east and continued along a beach road. On my walk back, I stopped by Puri Mas Boutique Resorts & Spa with twenty four villas, suites and cottages. It looks quite appealing. Web info at www.purimas-lombok.com. I returned to Quinci and swam in the clear, warm ocean amidst four or five little brown, naked, giggling boys.


I am reading The Mute’s Soliloquy, a memoir by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, widely considered the best writer Indonesia has ever produced. It was written during his fourteen year detention at a remote island penal colony and smuggled out of prison by friends and relatives. It was banned in Indonesia after its publication in 1997 (the English edition was published in 1999). He was never tried or convicted of anything; his crime was being an intellectual, an early proponent of Indonesian independence, a free thinker and the son of a nationalist (and left leaner) and incorrectly dubbed a Communist and dangerous individual. This memoir is a poignant testimony to all that is good and all that is evil in how we humans relate to each other and makes clear why Pram is Indonesia’s consummate man of letters.

We partook of happy hour while watching the beautiful last act of the day, compliments of Mother Nature. The sunset and it aftermath, viewed from the Quinci chaises is a moving spectacle. Only when the sun is very low, do the Gulung Ayung mountains of East Bali come in to view. This evening extravaganza became a sacred ritual for us while at QV.

For dinner we tried the restaurant of Hotel Alang Alang, recommended on this board, a few blocks south of Quinci. Lovely setting with tables on the beach. Food was well prepared but boring. The beach-facing hotel units of this hotel looked handsome and empty, they can be checked out on their website: www.alang-alang-villas.com.

Our second day, we hired Kur (thru Quinci) to drive us around west and central Lombok to glimpse something of the island and the islanders. Our first stop was the local market in Ampenan. Kur pointed out produce and implements unfamiliar to us. We checked out pottery at Benyumulek, one of several pottery making villages. This village specializes in decorated terra cotta pots, some have woven fiber edge decor or eggshells incorporated in the surface design. I zeroed in on a slender pitcher with a hand painted batik motif. This piece will need to be heavily clad in my bubble wrap. We walked around the town of Kediri to watch daily activity. Pony driven carts stuffed with families were returning from morning market, their straw and plastic bags overflowing with produce and such. The greater orthodoxy of the dominant Muslin population in west and central Lombok was evidenced in the women’s more conservative dress and head coverings. The young girls here were more fully covered, many in white long garments. Private Muslin school were all around.

The countryside was very green and lush. Farmers, men and women, were working their rice fields; the tall, jagged mountains in the distance made a dramatic backdrop. The weaving village of Sukarara was small and poor; a pretty young woman gave us a village tour. Women used back strap looms to create their ikat or songket (with silver or gold threads) weavings.
Robbietravels is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 09:10 PM
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The huts I visited were very dark inside with a single electric bulb illuminating the looms. Electricity had only recently come to this village and the low light must have ruined many pairs of eyes in the past. The weavers created designs of traditional patterns or of their own creativity. Only a few weavers produced intricate or export quality work. The village relies on tourist business so our guide did her best to whet our appetite for weavings. After a nominal purchase at her shop, Panji Sari., I visited the guide’s family compound and met the guide’s mother and daughter.

We drove further south and east to the south coast around Kuta beach. I’d hoped for lunch on the beach but there were only a few snack shacks to which my stomach yelled “No”. So we settled for a tourist restaurant in a garden setting across the road.
A few miles east of the beach at Kuta is Panjungan beach, set in a pristine cove. I took a swim in the warm Indian Ocean, surrounded by giggling local kids. I expect this unspoiled series of bays will be given over to hotels in the future, reminding me of Joni Mitchell’s lyrics on this theme.

The drive back to Quinci was a long one and I was regretting that our outing consumed so much of our day. Quinci is a place to chill out for four to five days in my view. The reply to my lament came when we returned to the hotel. Our 8 a.m. flight to Bali had been cancelled for the day after next. We’re rebooked on the 4:30 p.m. Merpati flight, giving us an extra day to enjoy this quiet laid back place.

With each day I came to appreciate more and more, the charm and simplicity that is Quinci Villa Hotel (not to be confused with their new sister property next door, Quinci Pool Villas). The rooms are small and spare; our room, #8, is the only one whose comfortable balcony affords a full ocean view. The resort is small (22 units) and intimate with a long pool that runs parallel to the narrow beach in front of it. Breaking waves can be heard from the restaurant, the pool area, our balcony. The staff are delightful, helpful and unaffected. The food is excellent, really no need to go off site.
Robbietravels is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 12:31 AM
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Great start, Robbie! Lombok is on my short list.
lcuy is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 04:24 AM
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Nice reporting, Robbie - Lombok is on our list for the next time we visit Bali.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 05:13 AM
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you have captured lombok and qunci....we loved the place...i suspect that what you see is somewhat like bali must have been 25 years ago, before we all hit it...

question....the boys were naked and so were you? what about fred?
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Jun 20th, 2009, 05:25 AM
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Robbie...is the Puri Mas new? I don't remember seeing it when we were at Qunci villas. It is a lovely self contained piece of heaven....no need to leave the site.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 05:40 AM
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Robbiie-thanks for the detailed report. You know it must be good when Karen chimes in. A rare occurrence. Your description of the Quinci Villas was superb. On a busy day, I long for the relaxation of QV.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 08:22 AM
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I'm so glad you enjoyed Qunci Villas - we loved our quiet time there.

Karen, Puri Mas was there when we were at Qunci in 2004, so it's not new. There were people staying at Qunci when we were there who were attending a wedding at that hotel. The aesthetic is more orate Balinese as opposed to the minimalism of Qunci. The thing everyone said about Puri Mas was that the food was bad, and the people from Puri Mas came to Qunci for dinner.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 02:44 PM
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Glad that Lcuy et al and Craig and Jeanne will be visiting Lombok, you won't regret it. Kathie's info may explain why Puri Mas looked deserted. Small geographic disclosure: the Senggigi coast area, is not shown on the map as Senggigi Bay, just as the west coast of Lombok. Hey, Karen, thanks. To clarify the bathing attire matter: I was in bathing suit, only the boys were in birthday suits.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 02:51 PM
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Next morning I took another walk through Babussalam, the village directly across the road from Quinci. I wandered along one dirt path after another. This village, like ones we saw on tour yesterday, is much poorer than villages we visited on Java. The babies and young children show a variety of skin rashes and disorders. Cows and goats are everywhere. Several young fathers, playing with their young children under the sheltering shade of a thatched platform, spoke some English and we exchanged pleasantries. When I came to the Babussalam Play Group (a kind of pre-school), I paid a visit. The teacher appreciated the marker pens and paper I gave her and I hope the children enjoy using them.

After lunch I read on a chaise on the sand. Once the hawkers concluded I was not a buyer, they engaged in chat and that was fun. One masseuse asked if I wanted a massage; I had a quality therapeutic one hour massage in my chaise on the beach for $10.

On our last (extra) day I rented snorkel gear and walked to Mangis beach in front of the Alang Alang Hotel, considered the best beach snorkeling area around. I’m not an avid snorkeler so I wasn’t interested in a whole day’s outing to the Gili Islands off Senggigi bay. The snorkeling yielded modest sightings of some colorful fish. While making my way back to shore, I managed to get banged up on the rocks owing to the strong current, heavy undertow and then losing my balance.

When we left that afternoon, I was sorry to go. The stay had been so relaxing. Although Quinci Villas is always fully booked, it appears that the rest of the hotels in the Senggigi beach area are suffering from a dearth of tourists.

Thank you Bob, Andy and Kathie for your reports that inspired us to visit Lombok and stay at Quinci. So now I need to go finish unpacking and going through the mound of paperwork that piled up in 3 weeks and then begin on the Bali part of this report, probably next week.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 04:12 PM
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you are welcome robbie....you haven't mentioned fred, did you leave him at the beach??

qunci is simply fabulous....food is excellent and the simple rooms are comfortable and the porches are lovely....i long to return....

did you get a chance to look in at their villas at all?

bob
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Jun 21st, 2009, 11:15 AM
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Bob I didn't check out the villas. Yes, I couldn't believe how good the food was for such a small operation. Oh Fred; he stays glued to a pool lounge or the balcony sofa reading. He missed my swimming and snorkeling escapades. He and I did share our meals, tours, sunsets and other memorable times while in Lombok.
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Jun 21st, 2009, 12:51 PM
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he was not looking at the bakinis at the pool was he??
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Jun 23rd, 2009, 06:34 PM
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No, he was looking beyond; he is not a superficial man.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 05:42 AM
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lol, Robbie!
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Jun 24th, 2009, 05:48 AM
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yea!!!
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Jun 24th, 2009, 05:20 PM
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LOL!
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