Rural Lombok

Lombok is the next large island to the east of Bali. The Gili islands are just small specks right off its coast. A small boat got me across, and the driver whom I had booked was waiting for me. I had previously been to the touristy west and south coasts of Lombok, but never to the rugged interior.

Lombok is domimated by Rinjani, a large volcano. Trekking to the top and its crater lake is too dangerous and not allowed at this time of the year, but it’s possible to go up to 1600 meters and see a lot of rice fields, small villages and their markets, and waterfalls on the way. The waterfalls require an hour’s hike through the jungle and another on the way back, crossing small streams on foot and climbing over rocks and fallen trees. There is always a path, but a guide is obligatory.

Today is the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting momth. No food or drink between sunrise and sunset. Lombok, unlike Bali, is Muslim. But nobody expects foreigners to follow these rules. East Asian Muslim countries are generally very sensible and friendly about their religion. All the negative preconceptions in the West on Islam, like the role of women, are actually Arabic culture, not Islam. Indonesia, not Saudi Arabia or Iran, is by far the largest Muslim country in the world,

nearly a quarter billion people.