Wednesday, 22 January 2014

At 5pm I jumped in the car in Pattaya and headed for Don Muang Airport for an 8:30pm departure to Surabaya, the plane is delayed for over an hour and I think we finally take off just before 10pm.

  From memory it is 2am when I arrive in Surabaya and I have to wait until 6:20am to catch my next flight on to Lombok where I will meet Patty for a 3 week trip, after spending over 4 hours at this airport, I nearly miss my flight?! 
The Mataram airport is situated pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I’m not sure why they decided to put it there, but anyway, it costs us 80000 rp, (about $8) to get a taxi down to Kuta, Lombok, the main tourist area where it’s mostly surfer’s enjoying the abundant great waves around the place. 

The scenery in Lombok is vastly different to it’s neighbour Bali and is very dry in the hills and at times quite barren, lacking the thick jungle found west of here.  It is between the 2 islands that we cross the Wallace Line and notice the change in plant and animal species found.
Patty has friend’s here and she has organized a scooter to be delivered to our hotel, Alfa Homestay, possibly the best value place I have stayed at in all of Indonesia.  It is situated a little out of the ‘town centre’ though and is probably a 10 minute walk from the beach and most of the guesthouses and restaurants.  

With a bike, it is not an issue as it takes about 2 minutes to ride in and I actually enjoy the location being a little more quiet and peaceful. 
Alfa Homestay has a great, modern, clean room, AC, wifi, free breakfast and the place has a pool which is awesome even after dark for a swim, unbeatable value at around $16 a night through Agoda. 

We are straight on the bike and exploring the south coast and surrounding area’s for the day, the beaches and scenery are amazing, some of the best beaches and coastline I have seen in Asia.  Aside from the few tourists around the town centre, we barely see any other foreigners, I am quickly impressed with Lombok, it is clearly an under-utilized holiday destination set to boom one day. 
I briefly look into land prices as I am always looking on my travels for that ‘slice of paradise’ I may invest in.  They are not too bad, but some Aussie guy named Steve owns half the island already and is well aware of the future development potential and has set land prices accordingly.  

Not bad value still, but a little too late to make serious money on large land plots.  I will continue my search elsewhere I think, though this place will go ahead in leaps and bounds I feel and there is definitely money to be made here. 
For those people who are looking for a tropical escape, away from the masses and seeking lazy days on beautiful quiet beaches, take a look at Lombok, though for me I struggle with the whole ‘sit still for so long, lay by the pool or beach doing absolutely nothing’ concept. 

I really wish I could at times, but the only place I’ve really been able to do it was the Solomon Islands, though that was only in small doses.   But Lombok offers so much more and should appeal to all sorts of people, the 'adventure traveller' included.
On our first day we end up miles from anywhere in the hills and small villages on very shitty roads and are technically ‘lost’ though I would never call it that, merely ‘finding our way home via an alternative route’.  

This ‘alternative route’ takes us through far more of Lombok than we had planned for our first day, especially as neither of us has slept yet, but we eventually make it back to Alfa just before sunset.   I was literally falling asleep  while riding the bike and was VERY glad to make it back.

A cold beer and soothing swim hits the spot perfectly after a big couple of days, in the last 24 hours I have been from Pattaya to Bangkok, Surabaya, Praya and now Kuta, through 3 airports.  The last 7 hours of which are spent on the scooter in the sapping, dry heat of Lombok on rough outback dirt tracks, a cold beer never tasted so good and it was totally worth it!