Honestly, prior to November last year, I have never ever heard of Lombok, until a friend requested me to write about it, especially on their boutique hotel. A closer check online revealed that it is home to the second highest volcanic mountain in Indonesia, Rinjani, and its location being in between Bali and Sumbawa.
The boutique hotel called The CRC (formerly known as Crocodile River Cottage), is situated along the Meninting River at Desa Jati Sela in West Lombok, and has recently been taken over by Angkasa Travel (http://angkasa.travel/) It was to be my home for five days leading to the New Year. Packing my bags for the trip was easy, as I have been told to just be completely casual and relaxed in dressing.
Air Asia flies every single day to Lombok from LCC Terminal to the Lombok International Airport (code LOP). The 3-hour flight from LCCT I took descended to a magnificent view of Bali as I peeked through the right windshield of my seat, then the famous Gili Island trinity, and later the fresh padi fields before landing.
On arrival, we began our journey to The CRC, where I have my first look at the adorable Cidomo rides along the roads, stopping by for lunch at a Nasi Padang restaurant just beside the Mataram Mall. This feels a lot like Malaysian mixed rice, with plates of food we chose laid out for us on the table, with rice for each person. This is one of many fascinating meals they have here, and there will be more to come.
We finally reached The CRC, which overall, is less than an hours’ drive from the airport. The scenery across the highways and villages is amazing, with town houses looking almost the same as the ones throughout the region but still different, as if it is from an alternate reality. When I reached the CRC, the rebuilding process is going on, and it sparks great potential, with a swimming pool to boot.
The breeze strips away the humidity under the hot sun and the trees generate such a fresh scent around The CRC. The owners explained their expansion plans, which will include a restaurant, an AV room, and a conference hall. They are also making some changes to the set-up, including tackling the oft-complained disruption of sleep due to the morning azan prayers, while keeping the antique feel of the structures.
After settling into The CRC’s main villa house, in the evening we headed to The Lotus Bayview Restaurant located at Sengigi, a cosy food outlet on the beach surrounded by fancy arts spaces and stalls selling strikingly attractive statues and crafts. Its location beside premier hotels brings a lot of tourists, with a nice beach front. The pasta I had there tasted okay, but not as brilliant as the one I usually have locally in Malaysia.
Later, it was back to The CRC, and time for bed. It was then in my room, that I heard the gentle music of nature, with crickets and frogs adding slight tones to the still and quietness of the night, as I lay my head into my dreams; to be awaken next day by a sound I had long forgotten – the crow of the roosters.
This day was to be an exciting one, with a day trip around interesting places in Mataram. Cakranegara, meaning the city centre of Mataram I presume, is where we planned to visit some shophouses and have our lunch, and we were brought to the town houses at Jl. A. A. Gede Ngurah, off Jl. Pejanggik, to buy clothes.
Shops selling beautiful traditional clothes are available here, and more after negotiating the smelly back lanes. These units have an incredible variety of clothes for men and women, with awesome prints and colours of heavy South East Asian fusion in feel and amazingly affordable too! The wide array of designs here made our shopping easy, as all of us managed to get what we want in just a short time.
Further down the road, we stopped by a totally adorable cake house called Mirasa, probably the most artistic one I have seen for a while, with cakes, cookies, dumplings and others. Me and my friends simply cannot resist packing some for later bites. Perhaps a good reminder that we are hungry, so we head off to a Taliwang Restaurant called Kania, which is a short drive along to Jl Pancausaha from Mirasa.
Taliwangs are actually famous for their chicken, but seriously the fish is not bad as well. What sticks on your tastebuds though, are the sambal and sauces. It is absolutely fascinating here, because not only does it seem healthy with very less oil used for their cooking, the spicy sauces seem to explode into a crescendo of minty hot but still calming taste in your mouth, and it stays there comfortably as you eat.
Lunch was great indeed, and it was time to check out the only shopping mall here. While it is nothing special compared the huge malls of Kuala Lumpur, it does feel like a neighbourhood complex, whereby there is nothing much to see, but whatever that is needed can be found in this mall. And if that is not enough, there is a couple of five-a-side football courts on the top floor for footballing enthusiasts.
Back at The CRC, me and friends chatted and joked over a nice dinner, cooked by the chef of the soon to be opened restaurant based within The CRC. It is seldom for anyone to have pure Chinese delicacies in a foreign land, so it was a special blessing to have a taste of what is to come from the planned restaurant.
By this night, I am falling in love with my room at The CRC, and totally engrossed with the mix of the modern and the old; the perspex, bricks and tiles combining well with the wood, rattan and leaves, in creation of a nice balanced, comfortable and dreamy room, complete with shower from artesian waters.
Next: Love And Life, Lombok And The CRC (Part Two).