Mid February of 2014 brought a major change of scenery. I moved my home base from the West coast of Bali, Indonesia to the neighboring island to the East, Lombok. While it is relatively close geographically, the two islands are vastly different. I felt weary taking my camera out for the two months I lived here. An impoverished population just didn’t seem down with an expensive DSLR in their face, so here are some quick snaps I shot from my hip, back of my bike, and from underneath my sarong.
Moving from Bali to Lombok crosses the Wallace Line: an invisible division between Asia and Australasia/Oceania. The evidence is in the landscape, the fauna, flora and animals seen on Indonesian islands East of Bali. Hence the buffalo.
Lombok had an untouched quality about it. After all the development and Westernization of Bali, I was so pleased to see rolling hills and farmland.
Downtown Kuta, Lombok began its tourist climb as a destination for adventurous surfers, hence the surf shops. More recent changes to infrastructure are bringing in more backpackers, possibly overcrowding the tiny town. In just ten years it went from a semi-dangerous desolate fishing village with little accommodation to the new hotspot for Aussie and European backpackers and villa goers. While you won’t get robbed at knife point at the ATM anymore, it is still wise to guard your money and belongings, as it is a bit more “Wild West” here.
Palm tree symmetry still baffles me.
The people, oh the people! I know the title says “Landscapes” but I cannot help myself.
At first the Sasak people seem a bit colder than the friendly Balinese, but once you show respect and a general openness to trying to speak Bahasa, they will open up in ways you could not imagine. Lombok is an island of conservative Muslims, so covering up (women I’m looking at you), keeping PDA modest, and demonstrating a willingness to connect will bring you far.
This goes for every place on your itinerary:
Travel with respect, earn respect.
Lombok is a land of intense contradictions, much to the beat of Indonesia’s drum. Unparalleled beauty and unforgiving poverty, conservative Islam and backpacker bungalows, tourism and starvation. The disparity between the pros and cons of the island confused me, it upset me to see so much pain and desperation, yet at the same time I felt proud to know the people, to understand the necessity of their everyday actions. Everything in life balances delicately on a fulcrum of industry and presence.
Regardless of what happens to Lombok next, there will always be ways it will excite the adventurer, please the beach seeker and fulfill the surfer’s dreams.
Where my Indonesian journey began.
Where I fell apart.
Where I put myself back together. (Not necessarily in that order..)