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June 2, 2011 / calebdresser

Bali, Lombok, and Sumbawa in a Nutshell

Rather than try to detail everything we did in Indonesia, I’m going to provide a brief summary with pictures. There’s too much to write at one sitting.

We flew into Bali and spent our first couple of days in Ubud, a touristy, artsy place in the foothills to the north of Denpasar. We enjoyed staying in an ornate homestay, wandering through the art markets, hiking through nearby villages, and visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest.

We then headed east to Padangbai, slowed only slightly when our bemo ran out of gas on the coast road, and watched sunset over a little coral-filled bay after visiting a cliff-side temple to witness evening prayers. The following morning, we climbed up and over a ridge on an old rocky track and went snorkeling in a clear sandy bay before heading into town to catch the ferry to Labuan Lembar on the island of Lombok.

From Lembar, we drove north to Senigigi, a strangely empty tourist town on the NW coast. We spent two lovely days snorkeling, birdwatching, swimming beneath a waterfall we stumbled upon at the head of a valley full of little villages, sipping drinks while watching the sunset over Bali, and arranging with a trekking club for an ascent of Gunung Rinjani, the 12,244 foot volcano that dominates the northern half of Lombok.

The following morning, we set out at 4am, left the car in Sembalun, and by mid-morning were were crossing great sloping grasslands that rose toward the base of the volcano. We ate lunch with our guide and porter in a rocky valley infested with monkeys, slogged up a steep trail through montane forest as the clouds rolled in, and then emerged into ethereal sunshine to make camp surrounded by puffy wisps of white nothing. We woke at 3:45 the following morning, climbed up onto the summit ridge by moonlight, and watched sunrise over Tambora volcano from a steep scree slope in a frigid wind. An hour later we reached the summit.

The trip down was easier, and after a short rest we headed down into the crater with our guide to visit the hot springs. The descent was breathtaking, as we switchbacked down a cliff into a landscape of steep grassy slopes cut by deep valleys. The hotsprings were fantastic, situated just below the sacred crater lake, with a foaming stream of cold water close at hand.

On out last day on Gunung Rinjani, we hiked out to the road and were driven to Labuan Lombok, on the east side of the island, where we boarded a ferry to Poto Tano on the island of Sumbawa. From there, we caught the local bus and made the two hour journey to Sumbawa Besar, arriving just at sunset. We found a hotel, but couldn’t get much sleep due to the loud, military-sounding ceremony going on in the dining room and the early calls from the nearby mosque. The following morning, intent on reaching the island of Pulau Moyo, we picked up our packs, managed to locate the park service office in a nearby village, and obtained a letter of introduction from the director, who told us to find a Mr Lahi in Air Bari. After buying supplies in the local market, we arranged with a couple of motor-bike drivers to take us to Air Bari, 15km to the north, and had a wild and breezy ride clinging to the back of the bikes on the bumpy dirt road. In Air Bari, we found another parks officer, who led us to the esteemed Mr Lahi. We explained our plans, and were soon crossing the rippled blue water toward Pulau Moyo aboard Patrol 04, a beat-up fiberglass speedboat.

We landed on Pulau Moyo and met a sea of green jungle, a line of white sand with corals offshore, and four somewhat confused backbackers who had been expecting to find a town and found only the vine-wrapped, overgrown ruins of an old hotel. They went back in the boat for extra food and water, and the six of us stayed for three days, alone on our end of an island the size of Singapore. For those who are curious, the hot moyo involves biscuits, banana, and chocolate and is a dish of our own making.

All good things must end, however, and we soon had to say our goodbyes and get ourselves back to Sumbawa Besar. From there we got on an inter-island bus to Bali, and after a miserable and unnecessarily long trip we returned to Padangbai. The following day we returned to Ubud, and after two days there it was time to head to the airport and say farewell.

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2 Comments

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  1. Kimberley D.C. Schroder / Jun 2 2011 7:44 pm

    Wow – your adventures sound wonderfully amazing! I’m so happy you two get to travel together and get to see such natural beauty and cultural/biological diversity while doing activities of your own choosing that feed your soul. Yay for embracing life 🙂 Miss you both!

  2. Becky / Jun 2 2011 8:59 pm

    Absolutely stunning. Sounds like an amazing time. I miss you, kale! Be careful over there and go make some people smile.

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