Earthquake Update: August, 2018. I was in Lombok for a month and present for both major quakes, and all the small ones – one an hour every hour. Tourism has been hit, but don’t believe what you see on the TV news. The roads and buildings, hotels, are all safe and in tact, airport is OK, the island is open for business, even after a quake.
People died because they lived in houses made by poor quality concrete, no building regulations here. If you are in a hotel you are safe. People died in small villages, no tourists affected.
I will be returning to Lombok soon … not too worried.
Lombok looks like Bali used to look – beautiful, pristine, and mostly free of tourists cluttering up the place. Areas like Senggigi are developed and have many bars and cafes, and Kuta town in the south is developing quickly but is not yet full of bars and prostitutes. Senggigi is still quiet, a dozen people on the beach at most.
NOTE. Lombok is mostly Muslim, Bali is mostly Hindu, a difference in attitude and tolrances.
There are many beaches that are devoid of tourists, and you could walk for miles and not see another tourist…
The southern beaches offer good surfing conditions, and there are many coves where you will find that you are the only surfer around, you certainly won’t bump into another surfer by accident.
The beaches are clean, pristine white sand for the south, grey sand in the Senggigi area.
As with Bali, Lombok has a volcano, but this one is dormant thankfully, no eruptions likely. If you like to stretch your legs and get fresh air there are organised trips up the mountain, or you can just drive yourself there in a hire car or on scooters. You can’t get lost, there is just one large mountain on the island…
Lombok is a bit rustic and backward if you like modern living, but for most that is not a problem – they head to Lombok to leave the Western world behind. Wifi is not great here, there are no huge shopping malls, and you may struggle to buy the clothes you desire. If you cannot live without modern life then Lombok may not be for you.
The police on Lombok will never hassle anyone, but they do stop tourist drivers and often find fault, a fine of around $5. Just smile nicely, pay it and move on.
The issue with the police, however, is that there are not many of them and they are spread thin. If you are in a remote area and being robbed (which is very rare) then it may take an hour for the police to reach you. The Gilli islands dont have police stations and the local head man sorts out the disputes and the crime. If you have your mobile stolen (again very rare) then you can forget about swift police action recovering it. If you are on the Gilli islands then the police may arrive the next day, or the one after that.
Ambulances are also an issue if you are in poor health, or if you injure yourself, they may take an hour to arrive in some places. If you suffer a heart attack you may have a long wait for skilled assistance. If you are on the Gilli islands then you will need a boat ride to the main island, and may make it to hospital in 3 hours if your are lucky.
If you think you may fall ill, if you have a pre-existing condition or a nervous disposition, don’t stay in a remote area, stay around the Senggigi area.
Religious sensitivities. In Bali, anything goes. In Lombok they are more conservative, but they will not attack you for wearing swimming trunks or a bikini. If a girl on a moped rides past men emerging from Friday prayers they may shout a little, and a girl in a bikini approaching the local head man might be shouted at, but she will not be beaten, arrested, or any other such nonsense. My local girlfriend has never heard of anyone being attacked for wearing a bikini.
You should, however, not go into shops in your bikini or around Mataram, cover up a little first. Avoid mosques or crowds on a Friday especially, and during the month of Ramadan.
Bugs. Lombok is a tropical island, and as such has mosquities and cockroaches and lizards and ants and all sorts of creepy-crawly things. What do you expect from a tropical island with rain forest and swamps? I have not heard of too many instances of tourists being being bitten and having to go to hospital, but many Western women react badly to small insect bites.
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