Saturday, May 8, 2010

Selong Belanak: The remote charm of southern coasts

Unlike the western coasts of Lombok, Selong Belanak and Lombok’s other southern coasts are still unexplored. That is just one of the many reasons to go there.

When my friend Anin suggested we visit our friend Ana in Selong Belanak, I did not take it seriously and responded immediately because I thought that Lombok was just Senggigi and the famous Gili Islands.

But when she said that the area we would visit was remote (there is no cell phone signal), I quickly said yes.

Holiday without technology intrusion is heaven on earth.

It was luck knowing that Ana’s schedule and mine aligned. To make things short, we finally met in Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport to fly to Lombok together. While the Bali-Lombok flight was only about 20 minutes, it took about two hours to reach Selong Belanak from Selaparang airport, Ampenan.

The April sun scorched on the road, but it was cool inside the car. The ride passed along paddy fields and hills that flanked the road. At certain areas, the road was bumpy and steep.

When the car was climbing another hill, Ana turned her head to me and said, “Hey girl, get ready for the view.”

As the car reached the peak, we were stunned by the blue azure water that sends waves to a pocket-shaped white sandy beach enveloped by lush green hills. A small island was popping out in the middle of the bay, just like a beauty spot.

The area is still relatively untouched by tourists. The only accommodation in the beach’s vicinity was Villa Sempiak, Ana’s workplace. After getting our bags into Ana’s room, we headed to the beach. The white sand was smooth carpet on our feet and the water pleasant.

At night, the ocean sounded a special kind of music with waves hitting the shores. Sounds of nocturnal bugs were amplified in the peaceful atmosphere. The area was free of pollution, including noise and light pollution and a good place to become more familiar with the map of astronomy.

Sitting there at two o’clock in the morning, I tried to find Crux constellation of the southern sky and one that I’m most familiar with, but to no avail. With so many stars in the night sky, they flickered as if they were in a blinking competition.

In the morning, I took a walk on the beach with my friends. There is a fishermen’s village just near the beach and it is was teeming with activities at five o’clock that morning. A group of men pushed boats to sea.

A couple of black storks flew around, trying to catch small crabs or fish, oblivious to the stray dogs that ran around barking. The sun rose from the hills, a sign for us to start our exploration on Lombok’s southern area.

For the journey, Ana asked her friends Amak Susi and Amak Kasturi to accompany Anin and I. Amak is the local word for common men. For men of noble birth, the word is Lalu. Public transportation in Lombok is rare and tourists usually rent a motorcycle or a car in Mataram to get around.

Our first stop was Sade, a traditional village of the Sasak tribe. The village has 150 houses and is inhabited by about 700 residents. Our guide said that usually residents intermarried among their cousins because there was a fine of three buffaloes if the men married with women of other villages.

Selong Belanak beach seen from a hill nearby reveals a refreshing azure water and greeneries.

There are three types of buildings in the village: houses, rice barns and beruga (Lombok traditional gazebo).

According to our guides, only women are allowed to enter the rice barns. Legend has it that the men would become ill if they entered them.

The houses have low roofs so that guests honor the house owners by bowing before entering, the guide said. The house has two floors. The first floor is for parents and the sons, while the second is allocated for the daughters’ room and the kitchen.

From Sade village, we headed to Kuta beach of Lombok, which was quite deserted. There were only three teenagers who approached us to sell us bracelets.

As we walked along the beach, our feet stumbled on the shells washed ashore. We gathered them and it did not take a long time to find a handful of beautiful shells.

While we were at Kuta beach, several boats were coming in. A group of men and women were closing in on a boat that had just touched the beach. While men were pulling the boat ashore, the women were handling the catch of the day. The women hauled baskets of fish out of the boat and carried them on top of their heads. A basket of fish were left on the sand, tempting the children to play with them.

Another deserted beach to visit is Mawun Beach, which also haspocket-shaped terrain. Unlike Kuta Lombok, a free beach, there is parking fee at Mawun Beach.

It was noon when we got there and the sun was scorching mercilessly. Fortunately, there is a big tree just a stone’s throw away on the shoreline. We sat there, sharing the shade with a group of foreign tourists with surfboards.

Nothing needs to be said when nature exercises its charm. The waves move back and forth, the wind blows an airy breeze and leaves rustle. Time seems to stop. But when the sun tilts to the west, it is a sign for us to get on our feet and head back home.

I got this from The Jakarta Post


  1. Good morning! Have a nice day my Friend :)

    Sorry...nem működik cbox..


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