The cross-culture experience and the attractions
Lombok is the lesser sister of Bali, less developed and less touristy but just as intriguing. The 4 days and 3 nights visit on 6-9 December 2013 organised by Izan of Dhia Holidays and Travels brought the 10 of us together - mostly teachers and ex-teachers. The 3.7 million population is mostly Muslims, about 80% of them. Though we share common religion, our culture is different, so is the language. We could understand them if they speak Indonesian but we were at a loss if Lombok language was used. The people are friendly, warm and willing to help. Since many Lombok young men and women have worked in Malaysia, Malaysian tourists have become familiar there.
There are a number of cases in Malaysia where young Malay girls were reported run away or kidnapped to Lombok by their Lombok boy-friend who worked in Malaysia. This has concerned many parents, knowing their daughters would have a tough life in Lombok. ' Curi perempuan' is a Lombok culture where a young girl is stolen by a young man and he takes her to his parents' house. Usually both girl and boy are in love and want to get married. Asking a girl's parent (melamar) is considered an insult. After the girl is stolen, the process of negotiation between the boy's family and the girl's family is conducted. According to Pak Hakim, our local guide, even if the girl's parents do not agree , they have a away of making them agree - implying that there is some mystical magic (guna-guna) is used which is still widespreadly practiced.
80 % of Lombok's populatiuon is Muslims but the religion is mostly mixed with animism, Hinduism and Budhism. Some of them called themselves Muslims but practice a branch of Islam that's contrary to the teaching like the Wetu Tiga, that is, they pray 3 times a day instead of 5 times a day. Unfortunately, Lombok young men apply their culture and beliefs in Malaysia and disregard that taking a young girl away without parental consent is amounting to kidnapping. The government interfered in some cases and brought the girls back to their parents.
We visited the Sasak Traditional Village in Rambitan. Sasak is the indigenous people of Lombok. The roof of their houses is made of Alang-alang grass (elephant grass) which can last about 7 years and the floor is made up of cow-dung mixed with clay and padi husks which keep the house cool. The men sleep outside the house to guard a young girl from being stolen by a young man. They intermarry among themselves and live in the village. Their income is from padi-planting once a year and weaving by the women. The Sasak people guard their people closely from outside influence and practice their traditional way of life strictly.
Lombok is known as the island with a 'Thousand Mosques' but most of them are unfinished. They rely solely on gotong-royong, and continue work when there is money. The glaring difference is that most mosques are built just a few meters from one another which is not necessary and not really encouraged.
We stayed at Hotel Puri Bunga in Senggigi, the developed part of the island, opposite Sheraton Hotel. It's a beautiful hotel built on green hills but the numerous steps to the rooms can kill an elderly guests. It's definitely not friendly to seniors, young children and handicapped people. So this hotel should be avoided.
However, the view of the beach, sunset and the scenery is magnificent from room balcony.
The food in Lombok is normal but I didn't actually enjoy it as it's so hot for my poor tongue. Of course some members love it. I think 'nasi padang' is more delicious with more variety. The famous local food is called Ayam Telewang - grilled chicken with kangkung and sambal.
There are a number attractions in Lombok.
One comment from Pak Hakim which I still remember is how some Lombok guys who work in Malaysia described retired people in Malaysia as "Lashkar tak Berguna' (useless army). I guess they think retired people here do not contribute anything after they retired. We straightened this thought by introducing most of the members as retired but still contributing to society. We laughed and not feel offended by this misconception.