It keeps on getting better towards the third day, as I was taken directly to face nature in Lombok. We went on the road that cuts through the mountains on the west side of Lombok, and ended up at Baun Pusuk Monkey Hill, where at a rest stop, we can see a big part of Gunung Sari and the Gili Islands. This was the rare occasion that I can see trees that are able to sustain on the hills, which is lacking in Malaysia.
Then we embarked on a 90 minute trip to the north, across the forest and the villages, with amazing scenery of lands fertile with greeneries that are so pleasurable to the eyes. Later, we finally arrived at the destination, Rinjani National Park, an area hosting what is now known in history as the location of the deadliest volcanic eruption in all civilization, thrice more powerful than its West Nusa Tenggara twin, Tambora.
What happened in 1257 then annihilated Samalas, which was part of Rinjani, pushing 600 megatonnes of sulphur into the air as high as over 40 kilometers, that later covered the earth with volcanic ash from the artic pole to the antartic pole, and changing the weather so drastically around the world until even winter failed to happen and the living suffocated and many buried, a time that is now known as the year without summer.
Mount Rinjani these days however, is much friendlier. At the rest house in Senaru, we took a good look at the famed mountain, before walking down to see one of the three waterfalls that are popular here. The 10 minute walk ended with first the sound, and then the sight of Sendang Gile, that pours down from above the mountain with so much force that I got wet just being many metres from it.
I wished I had time to see the second waterfall Tiu Kelep, 20 more minutes away, which by research I knew was going to be one of a marvel beyond imagination, but it will be a good motivation for me to come back. We settled with dipping our feet in the cold waters, and my friend suggested I rubbed the rocks of the waters on my eczema infected part of my leg. The rash subdued, and has not itched since.
The hike back up gave me a much needed exercise I hoped. We then stopped by the Rinjani National Park Information Centre, in the middle of the start of the Rinjani Trek, and with Senaru Traditional village beside it. Positives there, as they are cementing the trek, which would delight all hikers. But the surprise of that afternoon was to know that the traditional village there is actually made partially out of cow’s manure!
We ended the evening on the way back to The CRC, at a famous eatery spot at Sengigi, called Taman. Probably the pick of the lot of the places I had meals in Indonesia in terms of the ambience, which is a nice mix of orange and black deco, and I enjoyed my Asian Salmon dish. Here I drank Bintang beer for the second time in this trip. Yes, Indonesia, a Muslim state, brews internationally recognized alcoholic beer.
At this night, I am beginning to miss the place, knowing I have only a full day left to spend here. I stepped out and sat on the sofa outside as the peacefulness carried me into a moment of meditation. I realize there is an uncanny energy from the tranquility of The CRC at night, perhaps due to its location in the middle of a village land between town and forestry that seem to drown most of my bad memories away. So surreal.
I woke up late the next morning, struggling to get into the mood of sightseeing as the relaxing life in Lombok was infecting me. I felt like sleeping, but by lunchtime, there was one more Indonesia food I had to try, which is Nasi Puyung, Indonesia’s version of Malaysia’s Nasi Lemak. I do not know which came first, but Nasi Puyung is served different, with village chicken that is unadulterated by growth hormones.
After lunch, I lazed around the room as the clock ticks towards a dinner event in town. This is to be the first time in a year since I had full make up on, and I will be donning the gorgeous green dress I bought a couple of days ago in the capital. Held at Lombok Raya Hotel, and officiated by West Nusa Tenggara’s governor Dr. TGH M. Zainul Majdi, it was a launch to introduce Lombok and Sumbawa to the world.
We all reached the hotel later at night, and I was confronted with the temptation of even more incredible food, an array that would be a vegetarian’s dream come true. After helping myself with 2 full servings of rice topped with veggies and beans, we were all called to the hall to witness the event.
The governor is the coolest politician I ever encountered, not comfortable with the event extolling his virtues and his authority, and rather wanted to just get on with his job and the ceremony. It was a fun night with video screening of the Visit Lombok-Sumbawa video, a variety of cultural dances, choir singing and award presentations to the outstanding achievers of West Nusa Tenggara’s tourism industry.
We went back and spent time in The CRC hallway, chatting and joking all the way till midnight. It was depressing to know that I had to leave this awesome place the next day. The environment really beats hotel stays, purely because we get to experience the deepest solitude and serenity, close to nature.
I boarded the flight back home on New Year’s eve with a heavy heart, cherishing the many memorable moments of my stay. The enigmatic smell of nature in Lombok is something I never felt in KL city. The word has often been used before, and I must say yes, The CRC and Lombok are a paradise that is a constant need for me, that I simply cannot get enough of.
Which is why I can say for certain, I will definitely be back. And I aim to conquer Mount Rinjani one day…
… and get absolutely wet under the waterfalls of Tiu Kelep!
Next: Memories of The CRC and Lombok in a montage of photos.