Indonesia has lots of beautiful places with potentials to attract much more tourists from foreign countries, one them is the Island of Lombok located just a few minutes trip by boat from the Island of Bali.
I visited Lombok on September 2003, one year after the first bombing in Bali on October 2002. At that time the island has beautiful beaches, international-class hotels, restaurants, but unfortunately they were rather empty of foreign or domestic tourists. After two days stay, I decided to return to Bali which was far more livelier in spite of the travel warnings imposed by several countries.
After that, I never visited Lombok again, although I have visited Bali several times.
That's my personal experience about Lombok, I believe that other people may have their own better or worst experience there. In order to know that, I have quoted an article (below) written by Colson in Holland on his blog Pelopor.nl.
Autumn 2005 we were on a Malaysia Airlines flight to Jakarta. We had two main projects ahead of us: with a two weeks interval our two sons would go through the motions of a Javanese wedding. Before, between and after these events which would take place on Sumatra, we planned to become average tourists that would enjoy holidays of about a week each in Jakarta, Yokyakarta and on Lombok respectively.
It was the first time I fell in love with the capital. It was a great start of November of that year. And the longing is still present. Jakarta is a place to return to for exciting discoveries.
Yet over a month later I was glad I had rented a disgustingly luxurious mansion near Senggigi the week previous to our flight home. We really had to recover after we had survived the very lengthy and ridiculously tiring culture shock of the two extended ceremonies. I had my daughter – who was single at that time – swear a solemn oath to me she would never dream of falling for an Indonesian guy or if she ever did not to surrender to pressure to have a Javanese wedding herself. She being an obedient daughter promised she would abstain.
Lombok proved to be a kind of ‘Bali about three or four decades earlier’. We went there with two of the newly weds and our daughter. Partly because of the threat of terrorist’s attacks that was still in the air late 2005, it was a quiet place those days. Extremely beautiful and fascinating. Without the upbeat Hindu colourfulness of the famous neighbouring island though. But with Gili islands nearby and Gunung Rinjani towering over us.
Helped by our promise to do some errands we were lucky enough to meet a number of really nice, friendly and hospitable local people. The language barrier was pretty much levelled because our daughter in law was, if necessary, our interpreter and spokeswoman. We left after a week of relaxation with the idea that Lombok was a place to return to and perhaps to stay.
Alas. I had to change my mind lately.
An American, a senior, who lives on the island for many years lost his cool after having gone through the lengthy ritual bombardment by sound which is part of Ramadhan. I admit I can more or less imagine what happened to him; but I had just one sleepless night in Jakarta at Idul Fitri years ago. At the time it didn’t pass my mind though to disconnect the Mosque’s loudspeakers. Mr George however was that angry that he even forgot to take off his shoes on entering the house of God. To be honest in that kind of emotional turmoil I would also would have kept my shoes on. But, well, I would have been to lethargic to take any initiative anyhow. But this guy did – and had to run for his life ( well, not literally) afterwards, because the flocks of faith felt hurt and insulted to the point of drastic anger. “Blasphemy!” they cried. So police protection came in handy and next the man is facing to be jailed for six years before being shipped back to his native country. Okay, he has no place to live either any more: the hot tempered believers has ruined his house and the premises.
I read the news and thought: not a very smart action and not a very relaxed reaction. And forgot about is.
And now there is another incident.
A German citizen, living on Lombok since the start of the millennium, noticed one or two of his statues in his garden had been vandalized the other day. He wasn’t amused. So he went to the local boss demanding him to find the culprits. In his indignation he allegedly said words expressing his anger like: “What kind of Muslims are living here??!!”.That ( of course, of course ) insulted the local people seriously since they just had finished their evening prayers – I go by the Jakarta Globe report. They were “deeply hurt” ( of course, of course). So mr Alexander “fled for the forest”and meanwhile “the enraged villagers trashed the resident’s villa and burned his motorcycle”( of course, of course).
I know: in Rome do as the Romans do. Which on Lombok is not that easy for foreigners. Because it obviously would mean one should be an extremely sensitive touch-me-not, who turns on outsiders even if they look at you and who doesn’t hesitate to damage property and burn down houses of those who annoy you.
I have postponed my return to Lombok indefinitely. I’m afraid I still have to practice a long time before I will be able to act in accordance with the peculiar habits of those people on Lombok.