|Lombok - whose name
means 'Chilli Pepper' - is 1 of the 2 main islands within the
West Nusa Tenggara (the phrase Nusa Tenggara signifies the islands
east of Bali). The island can be reached by ferry or plane, taking
as little as 15 minutes from Bali.
The island's area is 1,285 square kilometres (803 square miles).
It boasts the 3rd largest volcanoe in Indonesia, Mount
Rindjani. It's sky-piercing peak soars to 3,745
metres or 12,290 feet.
The population of about 750,000 people includes
a mixture of Islamic Sasaks, Hindu Balinese
and others of Malay origin. The 2 major
towns are Mataram, the capital,
and the busy port of Ampenan, both are fascinating
places to explore.
The south coast of Lombok is rocky. The west,
with rice terraces, banana, coconut groves and
fertile plains, looks like an extension of Bali. The east
is barren, dry and desert-like in appearance. The north,
is dominated by Mount Rindjani, offering thick forests and dramatic
landscapes. There are stunning beaches, some of white sand and
others, such as those near Ampenan, of black sand.
Narmada, reached by an excellent east–west
highway, is a huge complex of palatial dwellings, complete with
a well containing ‘rejuvenating waters’,
built for a former Balinese king.
At Pamenang, tourists can hire
a boat and go diving, entering
a clear-water world of intensely coloured coral and curious tropical