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.
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).