Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok’s complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.
The high season continues now that Ramadan is over and Idul Fitri celebrations have excited the whole island. Perfect sunny days and cool nights make touring the island a pleasure – including Sail Indonesia participants who are starting to arrive on our shores.
The annual yachting event, with boats cruising from Darwin to sail through the Indonesian archipelago, exposes hundreds of international visitors to Lombok’s hospitality and culture. There are 117 yachts registered in the 2011 rally, with participants from 19 countries taking part.
For the past week we have seen these beautiful craft sailing our coast, mooring in Senggigi Bay and off the Gili Islands. The majority of the fleet will visit Medana Bay Marina in North Lombok over the coming weeks… tourists are welcome to visit and enjoy the wonderful spectacle of sleek yachts in the peaceful bay of the marina.
Tanjung Ringgit, on the southeast corner of Lombok, is a largely unexplored area, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, and superb views – and steeped in history.
Used as an outpost for invading Japanese forces during World War II, the cliffs of the peninsula are riddled with tunnels and, standing alone at the top of the hill, a rusting cannon bears silent testimony to a history that is being eroded as surely as its rusting steel.
In Part 2 of our series of articles preserving the history of Tanjung Ringgit, our special feature writer, David Clegg, explores the tunnels of the southeast peninsular. NB: Part 1 of this series was published in issue 92 and can be read online at our website: www.thelombokguide.com.
After locating the remains of the antisubmarine gun, my local guide, Pak Sahdi pointed out the old Japanese army office on the western side of the flat gassy area which was used as a parade ground, complete with flag pole. The office is underground (5 metres down, according to Pak Sahdi). The roof and entrance structure of old red brick and concrete is still to be seen on the west side of the open area, at the base of the embankment.
A large well has been dug at the site of the old flagstaff so that the site will be remembered, he says. The foundations of the main camp, the barracks, are to the rear of the thatched houses and covered with weeds, saplings and small bushes.
Further behind this, right at the base of the hill, is a large double water tank built of red brick and concrete, and still in a good state of preservation. It has been repaired recently and may be used again as a reservoir for the one family that lives here. Next to a thatched house on the eastern side of the grassy area is a small pit, which supposedly housed a machine, possibly a generator.
Much has been said and written about “caves” built here during the Japanese occupation – most of it fanciful and exaggerated. They are not caves: they are TUNNELS!
There are four relatively short tunnels just behind the beach; three to the west and one to the east of the main camp area. They were excavated by hand using chisels, crowbars and similar implements; pick axes apparently were not available. Some of the walls on the inside are still fresh and clean looking, as if they were chiselled out recently.
These simple tunnels are around a metre and a half wide and vary in height, from half a metre at the entrances, rising as you enter up to two metres, and then dropping back to a small hole again at the exit. The only exception is the second tunnel, which has a large square opening, but is well hidden from the beach.
All four tunnels had two entrances or exits, although not all of them are now usable. There are no rooms or storage areas running off these tunnels; their only function appears to have been for protection in the event of an attack. I visited all four tunnels with Pak Sahdi, armed with a parang (machete or bush knife), with his grandson leading the way.
The first tunnel is about 150 metres to the east of the camp area and around 150 metres off the beach. Just before the entrance is a firing trench with walls built of stone, from which the grassy camp area could be covered in case of an assault from the sea.
The short tunnel with a small low entrance was used solely as shelter for the defenders in case of bombardment, there being no place (and no reason) to store large amounts of equipment so close to the beach.
The tunnel, a metre and a half wide, runs inland for some 20 metres or so before taking a sharp turn to the right and running for about 40 metres, and then another sharp turn right. From here can be seen the exit, though now partially blocked and unusable, some 20 metres away. At each bend is a small alcove, less than a metre deep, where small amounts of equipment may have been kept temporarily.
The second tunnel, around about 70 metres long, is some 200 metres west of the old camp and 100 metres from the beach. There is a low defence earthwork in front of it, facing the beach. The entrance is small and low, and the tunnel drops downward as you enter. The metre and a half wide tunnel has a very low roof in the middle, where it curves round sharply to the right and rises again toward the other end where it opens into a large square facing away from the beach.
It took a little while to cut our way through the overgrown bushes and saplings to the small, low rear entrance to the third tunnel. Twenty metres in there was a sharp turnoff to the right, while the low tunnel straight ahead dropped steeply downward and was filled with debris (and had snakes lurking at the bottom I was told!)
Looking down the steep tunnel with the aid of a small torch, the end could not be distinguished; it is supposedly some 40 metres long. Squatting at the turnoff, reflected light from the exit could be seen some 40 metres away along a level passageway where the tunnel took another sharp turn to the left and then a short distance to the exit.
Part of the roof in this section had collapsed and piles of debris lay in the passageway. It was possible to scramble through this to the exit at the beach end, but having no desire to end up as part of the local folklore, I prudently left the tunnel the way I had entered it!
Hanging on the walls and roof of the passageway were some 20 or so small bats sleeping, apparently unconcerned about further rock falls.
Between the third and fourth tunnels is grassy area which once had buildings (for storage I was told), and there are defence trenches and earthworks hidden in the undergrowth.
After hacking through the thick overgrown bushes, Pak Sahdi exposed a section, around 35 metres long, of a 1.5 metre high stone built wall which faced the sea. After some 65 years the view of this lovely beach had been obscured by trees and bushes.
Apparently the fourth tunnel follows the same basic pattern as the others, with two entrances and a passageway for the defenders to wait out any shelling from invading forces. Sad to say we never found this last tunnel; the vegetation was very dense and would have required more time and effort to uncover.
• A visit down south shows that roadwork around the Lombok International Airport has progressed and many of the roads are now in excellent condition. The dual carriage main road linking the airport to Gerung is almost complete, making the link from the south to the cities and Senggigi much smoother and faster. Whether it will all be ready for the rumoured opening of the airport on 1 October is doubtful… more about that next issue!
Signs have also gone up to mark the reconstruction of the road from Kuta via the coast to Pengantap. The project was supposedly started in July – maybe that’s when they started making the signs! When they do start, it will take an estimated 520 days to complete.
The rough bit of road between Penujak and Bonder also has roadwork signs, saying the road will be repaired by November this year.
This is good news, as it will be easier for us to get down to Laut Biru Café at Sempiak Villas in Selong Belanak! The café has been incredibly popular over the high season, so much so that they are currently extending the kitchen. By popular demand, LBC now offers a yummy breakfast menu from 10am to midday, including cooked breakfasts, fresh fruits and freshly made juices, along with delicious homemade bread and yoghurts.
The café has also expanded the menu by adding some tasty curries like Butter Chicken, and Thai Green curry to the mix. The cumi cumi comes from the sea every day, courtesy of the Selong Belanak fishermen, and makes the freshest Calamari Fritti. The ever popular mango cheesecake, pavlova and chocolate mousse still reign supreme in the dessert selection!
LBC have also been opening by special request at nights to cater for the surfing boats that are moored in Selong Belanak Bay – particularly the Dreamweaver guys. www.sempiakvillas.com
• On the other end of the island, Medana Bay Marina in North Lombok is gearing up to welcome yachts participating in Sail Indonesia 2011. Boats have started arriving early this year, with many more due to start arriving over the coming week. The annual Sail Indonesia yachts left Darwin on 23 July and the bulk of the fleet are scheduled to arrive at Medana Bay from 14 to 18 September. The yachts have been calling at Medana Bay since 2008. If you are in the north, call in to the marina for the awesome sight of these beautiful yachts from all over the world moored in the bay. For more information visit www.medanabaymarina.com and www.sailindonesia.net.
Also visiting our shores are Pacific Sun Cruise Ships, scheduled to visit Lombok four times in 2011. The first visit took place in August, with other landings due on 5 September, 23 September and 22 October 2011. Pacific Sun Cruises carries up to 2 000 passengers and 620 crew. While visiting Lombok, passengers are invited to take a one day tour organised by local tour agencies to some of Lombok’s attractions, including Gili Trawangan, Sengiggi, Sade village, and Kuta beach. Other passengers make their own way to Sengiggi to enjoy the restaurants and facilities of the tourism resort.
• A great new deli just opened in Senggigi, supplying all those hard to get products we usually have to source in Bali! Deli Senggigi stocks imported and local produce, including fresh milk, butter and cheeses, herbs and spices, jams, sauces, delicious Lindt chocolates and more. Located in Senggigi Galleria on the main street, next door to Rambo Pet Shop, the deli is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 8pm. The doors have just opened as we go to print, so expect more stock to arrive in the coming weeks. Ph: 693177
The end of Ramadan is a time of celebration all over Indonesia, but in Lombok it is a time of double celebration.
Idul Fitri, the holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, was celebrated on 30 and 31 August this year. For most people, the holiday lasts for a week or more, with public offices closed for the longest holiday of the year.
Then, on 7 September, Lombok celebrated with a second special holiday, not seen in other parts of Indonesia – Lebaran Topat. Lebaran Topat occurs seven days after the Idul Fitri holiday; the 7th Syawal in the Arabic Calendar.
Idul Fitri can be described as a victory celebration to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan. In Lombok, traditional Sasaks will often fast for another six days right after Idul Fitri, and thus Lebaran Topat becomes the celebration of a double victory.
Lebaran Topat also plays a special part in continuing the older traditions of pre-Islamic Lombok, or the time when the beliefs of the Sasak people were evolving from animist traditions to Muslim practices.
Early in the morning on Lebaran Topat, traditional Lombok people will gather at the graves of religious leaders who have played a pivotal role in bringing Islam to Lombok. In Lombok’s capital Mataram, Loang Baloq Cemetery is an important center for this celebration. This is the final resting place of Ghauz Abdul Razak, an Iraqi spiritual teacher who passed away sometime in the 17th century. During Lebaran Topat an average of 25,000 people visit his grave.
The celebration begins with the nyangkar makam, spreading flower petals and sprinkling perfumed water on the grave. Participants then approach a giant Banyan tree nearby and tie decorations on the tree, from drinking straws to colorful ribbon, while making wishes.
The highlight of the celebration is the kuris ritual, during which Muslim children have their heads shaved for the first time. At the end of the ritual, participants and observers enjoy a public feast, eating fruit and topat from the presented offerings. The presence of offerings during Lebaran Topat is evidence that the celebration contains pre-Islamic elements and forms part of the dwirgami traditions, the tradition that was followed by ancestors prior to the introduction of Islam to the island.
For other Muslims, the day will start with prayers at the mosque or musholla in their village, where they will pray for happiness and prosperity; sometimes later visiting family graves to pray there also.
Batu Layar is an important traditional landmark in West Lombok; a site of ancestral graves and the final resting place of one of Lombok’s holiest men. On many weekends there are bus loads of people from East Lombok and other villages around the island visiting the graves and praying in the shade of the old musholla overlooking the ocean to Bali. At Lebaran Topat, thousands will flock to Batu Layar to pray at the graves and to wash themselves and their children in the well there, which is believed to contain holy water.
The somber part of the day is always followed by gathering together for a feast involving specially prepared ketupat (topat) – rice that has been wrapped in parcels of plaited coconut leaves and steamed. Groups of families and friends often spend the day picnicking on the nearby beaches; swimming, relaxing and eating topat are served with a variety of different dishes, especially the delicious chicken and coconut milk curry called Opor Ayam.
Thousands of people from all over the island participating in Lebaran Topat crowd the roads and beaches from Ampenan to Senggigi – it’s an event you can either join in, mingling with the crowds, or avoid altogether by not planning to travel on that day. Later in the day there is usually a live band and music at a public party held in the park in Montong. Of course, all are welcome to join in at any of these festivities… for a uniquely Lombok experience!
(Tongue-in-cheek answers to your personal building problems)
QUESTION: Since coming to the holiday island of Lombok, I seem to have acquired a taste for Indonesian food. Fried fish and rice with garlic butter sauce and spicy sambal – the hotter the better! And it is so cheap! You can stick your McDonalds up your McBottom… give me a nasi goreng anytime – with extra chillies! Red or green, I don’t care – as long as it blows my head off and makes me sweat profusely! If my nose is not running, it’s not hot or spicy enough. Do you think I’m addicted?
MR FIXER: It’s either that or you are a masochist. My friend George recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid but reckoned he could stop anytime.
QUESTION: I am a dear young, beautiful Indonesian girl. What are the chances of having an American “hottie” sweep me off my feet?
MR FIXER: Given the debt mess the Yanks are in right now, I would think the chances are getting slimmer, unlike the Yanks themselves. As for one sweeping you off your feet… when my friend George saw his future wife sweep down the aisle, it was the last time he ever saw her sweep!
QUESTION: I am a middle aged American woman and want to know if I can find true love in the beautiful paradise of Lombok or the Gili Islands. I am searching for a man with a sufficient amount of money to travel the world and to eat lobster and drink champagne every day. I don’t do any housework, but I am a great cook. I don’t do dishes or laundry. What are my chances?
MR FIXER: The Americans have been travelling the world, eating lobster and drinking champagne, and refusing to do the dishes and laundry for years. That’s how they got themselves into such a financial mess and nearly dragged the rest of the world into financial ruin alongside them! Some of them are in such a mess, they don’t know where their next bottle of Dom Pérignon is coming from. Keep looking but keep quiet about the American bit (at least for a while)!
QUESTION: I am a single guy, a bit down on his luck. I’m footloose and fancy free, but if it wasn’t for pickpockets, I would have no sex life at all!
My previous wife only had sex with me for one purpose: she used me as an egg timer. One time, she met me at the door wearing a sexy negligee. The only trouble was, she was coming home.
I have even tried writing to find a girl. I got a letter back from Screwfix recently. They regretted to inform me they were not actually a dating agency.
I met a stunning Thai girl on a train last week. As I sat opposite her, I kept thinking to myself, “Don’t get an erection. Please don’t get an erection.” But she did.
I have decided to try my luck on the idyllic tropical island paradise of Lombok to find my one true love; someone who cares about me, instead of my bank balance. I have read recently that married men live longer than single men. Is this true?
Travellers come to the Gilis for the sun, the sea and the laid back charm of these three small islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, but by far the greatest numbers of visitors from around the world are attracted by the Gilis reputation as one of the best dive locations in South East Asia.
With around 25% of the world’s reefs located in Indonesia, and with over 3,500 marine species living in Indonesian waters, we have one of the richest diversities of marine life in the Indo-Pacific region. In comparison, the Great Barrier Reef has just 1,500 species and the Red Sea only 600.
Lombok’s drop-offs, plateaus and slopes reflect a good cross-section of what Indonesia has to offer. There are currently more than 20 dive sites around the Gilis and more reefs are being explored all the time.
Most sites are suitable for beginners, but there are some that are more challenging for advanced divers. Some of the dive sites are shore dives; others must be reached by boat. Snorkelling is also good around the three islands.
There are many professional dive centres on the islands and many are western-operated and PADI affiliated. If you haven’t dived before, the Gilis are the perfect place to learn!
Much of the technical information in this article has been supplied by Lombok’s two largest dive operators: Dream Divers (www.dreamdivers.com) and Blue Marlin Dive, Senggigi (www.bluemarlindive.com). Please visit their websites for further information.
Water temperature:This depends on your dive location because there are many cold currents and up-swellings. However, expect a temperature range of about 23°C (73°F) to 29°C (84°F)
Suit: 3mm shorty to 5mm wetsuit, dependent on the region you dive Visibility: 10 - 40 metres (30 - 120 feet) Type of diving: Reef slopes, drop offs, plateaus, caves and wrecks Marine life: Sharks, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, morays, cuttlefish, octopus, scorpion fish, pipefish, leaf fish, angelfish etc.
Shark Point: is on the west side of Gili Trawangan and, as the name suggests, is one of the best places for finding sharks in the Gilis. The site consists of different levels (24m, 20m, 18m), and starts with a slope of hard and soft corals.
But Shark Point is not just about the sharks – the site is home to Green and Hawksbill turtles and usually some large schools of Snapper, Trevally and often Barracuda. You may also be surprised here by Devil Rays, Eagle Rays and even the occasional Manta.
Manta Point: is located off the south east of Gili Trawangan. In the rainy season, when the water is rich with plankton, this dive site gives you the best chance to see Manta Rays. Even without Mantas, you still have a good chance to see Reef Sharks and will usually find turtles, as well as some of the other big fish, like Tuna and Dog Tooth Tuna. Blue and Masked Spotted Rays are also common visitors to Manta Point and occasionally, Eagle or Bull rays.
Jack Point: Located to the north west of Gili Trawangan, Jack Point is a favourite for all level of divers. Offering beautiful dives in both the deep and shallow waters, Jack Point has one of the largest diversities of any of the dive sites in the area.
Many turtles populate the shallow parts, and sharks are not a rarity on this site either. There are also a variety of Eels, Lion Fish, Scorpion Fish, Octopus, Leaf Fish, Napoleon Wrasse, Bump Heads, and much more.
Coral Fan Garden & Basket Coral Garden are two dive spots in the north of Gili Trawangan popular for morning dives. The first few metres are like being in an aquarium – schools of coloured Fairy Basslets, Fusiliers, Banner Fish and deeper, around the big coral and stone blocks, are Groupers, Batfish, Trumpet Fish, hiding Octopus and Bearded Scorpion Fish. Look out to the blue: sometimes Eagle Rays, Mantas and Reef Sharks can be seen.
Deep Turbo: A great deep dive just off the east of Gili Trawangan with spectacular topography. At 30m this site has a sandy bottom between large sea mounds, which range in size and have an interesting variety of overhangs and outcrops, the largest of which go up to about 20m.
You'll find a good variety of corals and some huge sea fans. Thousands of Garden Eels cover the sandy bottom and Barracuda, Leopard Sharks and giant rays can also be seen here.
Trawangan Slope: is to the east of Gili Trawangan and is a slope, with a maximum depth of 15m, covered with cabbage, brain and leaf corals. Here you can find Moorish Idols, Yellow Margin Morays, Soldier Fish, Unicorn Fish, Emperor Fish, Long Fin Batfish, Trunk Fish, and Porcupine Fish. White Tips are also often seen passing by.
Meno Wall: A beautiful wall dive on the west of Gili Meno, consisting of 2 separate walls ranging in depth from 5 to 20 meters. Meno Wall is a dive site of many varieties and is also called “Turtle Heaven” because of the many resident Hawksbill and Green turtles.
After a variety of anemone corals and reef fish, you reach the first wall, which is commonly populated by various Sweet Lips, Moorish Idols, Moray Eels, Soldier and Squirrel fish, to name but a few. Wart Slugs and Nudibranches come out of hiding and Angelfish, Butterfly Fish, Spotted Rock Cod and Clown Fish also live here. Sometimes a lone white tip is seen patrolling the wall, as are 100’s of Fusiliers.
Soft corals cover the whole reef, and there are also stony varieties such as Cabbage, Brain and Antler corals. It’s an amazing dive at night, with lots of Spanish Dancers and Lionfish.
Meno Slope: The wall between Gili Air and Gili Meno slopes from 8 meters all the way down to 30 meters. Here you’ll find both Green and Hawksbill turtles, as well as a great variety of fish including Unicorn, Trigger, Trumpet and Anemone Fish. Schools of Fusiliers and Snapper are common. In the deeper parts, you may find a White Tip patrolling the desert-like sandy areas!
There is a very good chance of finding Pygmy Seahorses and a variety of Nudibranch and other macro species. If it is variety you are looking for, Meno Slope certainly has it!!
The Bounty: is one of the more unusual dive sites in the Gilis. Located on the west of Gili Meno, Bounty is the wreckage of an old pier, with the top at around 6 meters and the deepest point at 17 meters.
During the years it has become completely overgrown with corals and now hosts a large variety of fish, including Frog Fish, Scorpion Fish and Sweet Lips. Large schools of Drum circle the wreck, and there is a great variety of macro. You also have the best changes here of seeing Eagle Rays.
Alex’s Reef (Turtle Heaven): This deep dive site (max. 30m) just above Gili Meno consists of several canyons with coral slopes. Dive over the sandy bottom, in the canyons, and over the reef. A flat, shallow area provides perfect conditions for a safety stop.
Marine life on Alex’s Reef includes colourful corals with schools of reef fish. The sandy bottom is a good hiding place for Blue Spotted Stingrays and Garden Eels. It is also called “Turtle Heaven” because of the many resident Hawksbill and Green turtles.
Simon’s Reef: is a great deep dive located to the northeast of Gili Meno with a superb variety of stony corals and many soft corals not seen at other sites. Staghorn and Table corals, Star and Brain corals, Gorgonion Fans and Anemones are just a few of the many corals represented here; all are in excellent condition.
Fish life is biased toward larger reef species and schooling species. Snapper and Sweet Lips are prolific in big schools, as well as larger Parrotfish, Angelfish and Triggerfish. The site is also well populated by turtles and often impressively large Barracuda.
At 30m, this site has a sandy bottom between large sea mounds, which range in size and have an interesting variety of overhangs and outcrops. There are also some interesting sand bar formations, similar to sand dunes in a desert. The dive ends on a pinnacle that's covered in marine life.
Malang Reef: Underwater canyons create the landscape here with a plateau starting at 10m and dropping down to 40m. Here you can see everything – Mantas, Blue Spotted Stingrays, Scorpion Fish, Lionfish, and White Tips have been encountered here, as well as Spiny Lobsters.
Mirko’s Reef: is a dive site that is only accessible a few days per month due to current strength, but when it is accessible it provides some of the nicest corals to be found around the Gilis.
Located between Gili Meno and Gili Air, Mirko’s Reef begins on a plateau at about 10m and then slowly works its way down as far as 30m. The reef has a good mixture of fish and macro life, and is one of the sites where something unusual can appear at any time.
Air Wall: On the southeast of Gili Air, is a very varied dive site. As the name suggests this is a wall dive, ranging from 5 - 24metres. This is also one of the best drift dives around the Gili Islands.
Air is a very beautiful wall that, due to the soft coral cover, shines yellow-orange, depending on the position of the sun. Starting off on a gentle slope you, will progress to the wall via either the slope or the open sands (deeper dives).There are many overhangs and arches along the wall, filled with Glassfish, Moray Eels and sometimes Octopus.
The highlight of this wall is a coral block at 22m surrounded by Shrimp, Pipefish and thousands of Glassfish. Often you will see Bump Head Parrot Fish. On the wall itself are many macro species and a great variety of marine life. Look out into the deeper parts for White Tip Reef Sharks.
Air Slope: West of Gili Air, this dive site slopes down to 20m, and is covered with hard and soft corals. You can expect to see lobsters, Mantis Shrimps, Stingrays, Frogfish, Box Fish, Ghost Pipefish, and even a shark or two. This is a great dive for macro photography.
Frogfish Point, to the east of Gili Air, is famous for macro and rarities. A huge coral block from 5 - 18m welcomes you. There are a lot of sandy areas where the Garden Eels let off steam, and corals are overgrown with Anemones and their Clownfish. You can also see Ghost Pipefish, Frogfish and a lot of Scorpion Fish. Have a manicure there by one of the many Cleaner Shrimps.
Segaluh: Nudibranch Heaven, northeast of Gili Air, has earned this name by hosting numerous different types of Nudibranch in various colours, shapes and sizes. Many different reef fish such as Angelfish, Surgeon Fish and clownfish are also frequently spotted here, as are Ribbon Eels, Mantis Shrimps and squid.
Air Harbour: Slightly south of Dream Divers lies Air Harbour: a sandy bottom that slopes down to 18 meters. A large pinnacle forms the middle point of the reef. Air Harbour is home to Crocodile Fish, Razor Fish, Seahorses and several types of Nudibranchs. A perfect site for shallow dives and for first dive experiences.
The Japanese Wreck: is situated in a protected bay off the south of Gili Air. This Japanese WWII Patrol Boat is intact and is around 20m in length, covered in beautiful soft corals.
Inhabiting the wreck are many Lionfish, Stonefish and Frogfish. Around the wreck, schools of Tuna, Batfish and Barracuda are commonly seen. This site is for experienced divers and Blue Marlin Dive recommend using enriched air (Nitrox) to get the full experience at this depth.