Having read an article about Culture in The Jakarta Post, reminded me of our travel to Lombok. Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The census in 2005 noted down of its population of around 2, 950,105.
Before I stepped down my feet on the island, I had only heard of Lombok on TV, read some articles about it on local magazines, and browsed about it on the internet. Re-stating what I have read from all sources, nearly all the articles seem to label Lombok “The Sister of Bali.”, at least I got the impressions. Lombok and Bali are only 25 miles apart. If you are on Bali now, you can go to Lombok either by ferries, which takes of about 6 hours bobbing up and down the Lombok strait or airplanes, which take of only 35 minutes or less. So, whichever getaway you prefer, I am sure it gives you the same excitement as you are about to land on the “island of nowhere”.
Anyhow this “island of nowhere” had made me wonder. I was wondering why it is named Lombok.
Has it something to do with “Lombok”?
For your information, lombok happens to be a Javanese ( a local dialect of East, and Central Java) which means “chilli” in English. I have my passion for food, thus I decided to cure my curiosity about what I had been pondering about. Besides, I always think “When you are in a new place, try to explore more, and don’t exclude the foods as they’ll contribute to your impressions about how the place is even though they will only contribute you a little.”
The “first” food I ate back then when I was on Lombok with mein BT, was not a local, yet Tom Yum ( Thai food). It was not a surprise to find chillies inside the soup, in fact I was hoping to find some. What made me surprised at first was actually the size of the chillies; they were “bigger” than those of Surabaya’s . And the second one was the TASTE. I am very big on spicy food, to be honest I have never felt like a fire dragon bursting out a fire out of my mouth, because I ate way too spicy kind of food. But, I have to admit that this time I lost against Lombok’s Chillies. They were so super hot that it took longer than I expected to chill down my fiery tongue. I was, for the first time, a dragon; a Javanese dragon. I thought it might have been the Tom Yum they cooked. Soon, I learned that they put chillies in nearly all the foods ( at least, those which I tried.) The next days, I decided to order some food hoping they would include chillies along with my main meal. Voila!!! they did! they were served on a separate small plate. I grabbed some, and wrapped them with a tissue paper to bring home. I wanted to plant them home as I was in love with the taste. The seeds I sowed grew and gave me some Lombok Chillies in Surabaya land,but some months later, the plant died of some reason.I miss the HOT anyhow!. So, I guess Lombok has really something to do with chillies, at least based on my experiences, I dare say it does. BUT…
Lombok is more than just “chillies”.
There are a lot to learn if you want. According to Wikipedia, Lombok may be considered economically depressed by First World standards, but when it comes to a wedding it seems to work the opposite direction. I got the impressions that they are willing to pay higher to have a wonderful wedding. When we explored Lombok one afternoon, we got stuck in a long line of traffic jam. I saw some people wearing traditional Sasak costumes, which were eye-catching kinds of colors. It looked like a kind of a festival to me. Children were jigging following the people ahead of them. Some males thumped traditional musical instruments that looked like drums- hmm I think they were, hehe. The driver told me again that this wasn’t a festival or carnival, but a wedding procession called merari.
Wedding in Sasaknesse always entails merari. Both the newlyweds-to-be make a tour around their neighborhood villages on foot. Can you imagine if this were done when it was 35 C outside? Oh boy! they really need to work hard for the make-up to stay nice on their faces, or gallons of water for the sake of thirst. The revelry is often long. The driver who drove us at that time told me that this kind of long line happened quite often. He said it was one of the things he did not like from Lombok, whereas he was originally from Lombok. He told me that it ruined his schedules as a driver. He often had to take a detour for some gasoline stop, and that meant more money to spend.
I asked again why they did this kind of tour, and he told me that it was a pride of a family that their children manage to go to the next level path of life, and they wanted to show that off, hope people would send their blessings. Besides, this kind of tour would show something which was related to their economics conditions.
During our momentarily halt waiting for the procession to pass by. I heard a long sigh of dissatisfaction from the driver. He made some phone calls asking his friends the alternative routes to go back to our destined places.
It was around 6 PM already, and the sun was about to set when we eventually freed from the sandwich (having been stuck between people in the revelry) of the day. We drove along Mataram, the capital city of Lombok. Being the capital city, Mataram is indeed quite. The only atmosphere I could catch was the amazing evening sky of Mataram, Lombok (too bad, my camera did not work properly.)
I am sure, Lombok still possesses many things to tell to the world, even to me myself. But, let it be as pristine as it is now, at least not as touristy as any other places in Indonesia. Lombok is a choice for those who enjoy being far away from the crowd. It’s the place where you get in touch with the nature, and the tranquil life, just like the “island of nowhere”, and most especially with the local traditions which are still seen clearly.
Lombok has spoken herself to me through her HOT chillies, and the wedding procession. Just because Lombok is near Bali, it does not make her the sister of Bali, at least it is not in my eyes. Lombok has her own way to make me miss her at some point.
Danke, und guten nacht!
All the photos are taken from the internet :
Google pictures: Key words = cabe, sasak’s weddings/