Thursday, 12 August 2010
BALI AND LOMBOK
Bali, a name I imagine most people who read this would be familiar with (surf-heaven & holiday mecca, and the unfortunate night-club bombing a few years back). On the other hand the neighboring Lombok island (the “poor brother”) is not as well known and has a bit of a different character. But 1st, let me backtrack to where my previous report ended, Surabaya city on Java island. Our trip through Eastern Java was not too unpleasant, albeit unremarkable. All the time I was still trying to recover from illness, so we stayed over on a couple of occasions – otherwise I just had to grit my teeth and bear the discomfort. Leana was still itching to peer over the rim of a volcano, so while we were in the town of Probolinggo she took a side-trip to Mt Bromo. At 2 am that morning I remained firmly tucked into bed while Leana’s vehicle picked her up in time to reach the summit by dawn – unfortunately as it turned out, just about every foreign tourist in Java was also there! Once we’d done the short ferry crossing to Bali island, the difference was immediately noticeable. Most obvious was the religion – Bali has a local brand of Hinduism, apparently corrupted by traditional and other cultural influences. The architecture on the island is heavily influenced by these beliefs, and every building (house, office, hotel, etc.) has elaborate shrines and altars where incense is burned and offerings are made. In contrast to what I’ve witnessed in Indonesia thus far, there was comparatively little evidence of Islam on the island. Lombok island to the East, however, has some Hindu’s but there is once again the regular singing from the mosques – I found that I’d actually missed it! The lumbering auto-ferry takes 4 hours between the 2 islands, but I think the trip to Lombok is worthwhile. The place is far less touristy than Bali and has some beautiful areas such as Senaru village up on the slopes of the 3726m Mt Rinjani (another volcano). There are also some beautiful beaches in the Sengigi area where we stayed the first night on Lombok. A few days later we returned to Bali and cycled around the Eastern and Northern coast of the island, as well as across the hilly interior with interesting rice terraces. Earlier we’d cycled down the West coast on our way South to the capital, Denpasar, and to the very touristy Kuta Beach area – also staying over at famous surfing spots like Medewi Beach and Uluwatu Point. Why did we return to Bali? Well, the answer is that we’ve been granted Australian visas, and the cheapest way to get there is to fly from Bali to Darwin (all fees courtesy of Leana, as I’m bankrupt again!). So, after our little island tour we were back at the Kuta “tourist ghetto”, fortunately close to the airport – waiting for take-off to Australia on 10 August. During that time I managed to take some care of the bikes, but I mostly just hung around getting up to no good. Daily distances cycled since Surabaya have been as follows:- Pasuruan 67 km; Probolinggo 41 km; Situbondo 102 km; Gillimanuk (Bali) 91 km (& 1hr ferry); Medewi Beach 59 km; Denpasar 74 km; Kuta Beach 13 km; Uluwatu 28 km; Kuta 29 km; Padang Bai 61 km; Sengigi (Lombok Island) 40 km (& 4hr ferry); Senaru 85 km; Labuhan Lombok 68 km; Mataram 75 km; Padang Bai (Bali) 21 km (& 4hr ferry); Amed 56 km; Lovina 85 km; Tabanan 83 km; Kuta (3rd time) 36 km; and Darwin (to & from airports) 21 km. Total distance cycled since leaving Cape Town on 27 March 2007 is 60 507 km.