An island of startling contradictions and contrasts, Lombok exudes an aura of the staid and the rural, a genteel way of life in a quiet backwater. Located to the east and across a deep strait from its illustrious neighbor Bali, the island of Lombok offers unique culture, beautiful landscapes and a far less frenetic, pressured atmosphere than Bali. However, savvy travelers agree that Lombok's calm existence may soon come to an end, as it is fast becoming the new "in place" after Bali.
The island was once ruled by a series of Sasak princes who spent their time fending off successive invasions from Sumbawanese and Makassarese attackers. In 1740, the Balinese established a stronghold here and imposed their culture on the Sasaks. Later, Lombok came under Dutch rule until the country achieved independence.
The western part of the almost circular island is well irrigated by mountain streams and artesian springs. Here Balinese and Sasaks have sculpted handsome rice terraces; Hindu temples vie for attention with glistening white mosques rising from picturesque rural villages. More dramatic is the southern coast with beautiful sandy bays set between rocky outcrops. Most of Lombok's attractions are concentrated in the western district of the island, within a nine-mile radius of the capital, Mataram. Members of Lombok's polyglot population - Sasak, Balinese, Chinese and Arab - continue their laid-back, traditional ways.
The ship is scheduled to anchor off Lembar, the port of Lombok Island. Guests will be taken ashore via ship's tenders. The distance to the principal town of Mataram is 13 miles; it is 18 miles to Senggigi Beach. Taxis and local "bemos" are generally available at the pier. Bemos are only recommended for short distances. Be sure to agree on the fare before leaving the pier.
Handwoven textiles make good buys, with cotton and silk ikat topping the list. Handicrafts, baskets and antiques are also popular. Most villages have their own local markets, well stocked and with competitive prices. The local currency is the rupiah.
Chinese dishes and seafood are popular. Warungs, the name for outside food stalls, offer a large variety of local specialties. The best choice for more upscale dining are the hotels in the Senggigi Beach Resort area.
The temple, dating back to 1720, is dedicated to the Hindu trinity: Siva, Vishnu and Brahma. Each one of the temple's 33 shrines is cared for by a different Hindu community.
This is a beautiful stretch of beach and Lombok's major resort area overlooking the Lombok Strait. On clear days, sacred Mount Agung on the neighboring island of Bali may be seen shimmering in the distance. Senggigi features such international hotels as the Sheraton and the Holiday Inn.
Snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, waterskiing and windsurfing are available at Senggigi Beach.
Planet Internet, Jalan Raya Town (a 45-minute drive from the pier).
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.