It was a suggestion from a family member about the island, and I thought, why not give it a try. Afterall, it is the sister island to Bali, and in fact, has been recently promoted together with Bali as tourist destination.
The first impression about Lombok is that it is less crowded as compared to Bali. This in a way affects the tourism industry, with some resorts not doing too well.
However, don't let those turn you off, as at the flip of the coin, is an island that is less crowded compared to the other beach islands, and this can best be felt when you drive along the roads, where you will encounter more locals than tourists. At some point, you can be the only tourist on the road!
One of the many beauty of Lombok is its resorts at very affordable rates, which mainly are located at the beach tourist strip of Sengigi. These boutique resorts have the sea as its view for picturesque sunsets and strong breeze. For the price, they are a good bargain.
For those into sea sports like snorkeling & diving, the Gili islands are recommended. And for those who are a lil more laidback like myself, I head to the black sandy beaches (yes the sand is uniquely black) for a good evening swim.
A drive along the island took me to beautiful views from the cliffs, and witnessing local lifestyle of farmers & fishermen. I got a chance to witness the fishermen as they pulled up the shore. This was a rare sight, with family members all waiting anxiously to see the catch. There were some happy faces, while others were rather glum, depending on their catch which then affects their living for the day. These fishes are then brought to the market for sale.
The people, who are mainly Sasaks are rather friendly, and exudes the Balinese warmth. Of course it helps with a lil Bahasa Indonesia, although many of the service staffs being able to speak English, as some come from Bali.
The town of Mataram, which is similar to the other small Indonesian towns is very busy & crowded, and may not appeal to those seeking to relax. This was however still a nice experience of seeing the colours of the town.
Ikat & Songket are hand woven works that are popular here. These works which may take up to 1 full month to complete are mainly used as cloths for decorations or sarungs. Apparently, the motifs have a meaning and are used for different occassions. Some are from the weaver's dreams. The ikats & songkets are more popular than batik here, though there is a number of workshops of the latter too. These painting are mainly on the lifestyle of the farmers with nature as backgrounds.
For holidaymakers who like a good budget holiday of staying at good resorts with friendly staffs... and who don't mind a different beach (black sand), then Lombok will be the place to head to.