Paradise on earth: A tourist dips her body into the water after sunbathing in Gili Trawangan.
With many disputes between religions and races in Indonesia lately, it seems like the national Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) slogan has been ripped off.
My adventure in Lombok shows that there is still hope to keep the spirit alive.
Lombok is an island across the strait from Bali, dwelled by Sasak and Balinese.
Locals and foreigners rub along very well in Gili Trawangan. It is a gili (Sasak’s word of small island) with most population among the other two Lombok’s north west gilis. Around an hour driving north from Lombok’s capital Mataram, you will get to Bangsal, a small harbour to jump off to Gili Trawangan.
The island’s natives, especially those who work in bars, resorts and hostels, speak not only quite good conversational English, but also French, Italian, Japanese, and Korean. This welcoming attitude of Trawangan people invites foreign sponsors investing there in alliance with locals. For instance “Tir Na Nog”, an Irish sports bar owned not only by an Irish, but also a local entrepreneur.
Scenery is not the only drawcard of the island. It seems like many foreign tourists, mostly female, are beguiled by the charm of the islanders. A neighborhood called Kampung Bule (foreigners’ village) is where those captivated tourists, mostly European and Japanese, reside and raise a family. Here you may find blond kids speaking Sasak instead of English.
Without a doubt, football is a people sport. The first ever Gili Trawangan Football Championship in March 2011 drew together locals and foreigners as players and supporters. Ahead of time I thought it would be improperly held. Then I saw players wearing jersey and football shoes, a referee and two linesmen in uniform, a game commentator, so therefore I knew I was wrong. They even played 2 x 45 minutes like a world cup game.
Gili Trawangan is a widely recognized holiday destination for its exquisite beach. White sand, clear and three colours water, enhanced with eclectic underwater, make your snorkel, surf or sunbath experience feel so right. Motor vehicles are not allowed on the island too, thus you can enjoy the fresh air and have a fun yet healthy holiday.
The name “Trawangan” is derived from the word terowongan (tunnel), since there is a historical cave tunnel in the island. The tunnel was set up by Indonesian forced labor to be used as a quarter for Japanese army in the World War II.
From the gloomy history of Gili Trawangan, the island has turned into a paradise now. It holds at least three parties a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night. If you visit the island mid-month when the moon is in its full round shape, local youth throw a Full Moon Party where all local DJs are brought together, plus a fireball man.
Partying is a new Trawangan culture. In 1999, investors of leisure business invited Italian DJ Roberto. Ever since locals learned from him, and now the island has eight local DJs. You don’t have to bring your urban party look to party in Gili Trawangan. Only some rules applied: no fighting, no gambling, no prostitutes and enjoy your cheap drinks!
Harmonious life also belongs to Moslems and Hindus in Lingsar Temple, as they worship together there. Even on a big day like Pujawali (worship day of walisanga / the nine ancient Moslem’s disseminators) and Tupat War (to ask prosperity and fertility), both believers celebrate together. To get to this place, you need an hour driving east from Mataram.
Sacred pool: A mystical pool called “kemalik” (shrine) which is guarded by Indonesia’s Garuda bird statue in Gili Trawangan, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. People often throw a coin with the Garuda image into the pool to ask for a life partner.
The Islamic belief breeding there is called Wektu Telu (three times) as they do the prayer only three times instead of normal Moslem’s five times prayers a day. According to the guide, this school is an imperfect form of Islam, which holds still Sasak’s animism.
Lingsar is derived from the word Ling means sound and Sar means water. The temple is indeed never out of flowing water sounds. A pool named Pesiraman (shower pool) pours the water from Mount Rinjani’s spring, which is believed to have a healing power. In order to shower there, you must put on white fabric and wear flowers.
Only steps away you can find a mystical pool called kemalik (shrine). The pool is guarded by Indonesia’s Garuda bird statue. A myth has it that a total of nine mystical tunas live there. People often throw a coin with the Garuda image into the pool to ask for a life partner. While if you throw an egg, a pawang (diviner) may invite a one meter tuna out from nowhere.
These two pools are located in a holy area, thus you need to put a yellow loincloth on before entering.
Welcoming at the temple’s entrance are the twin pools. These pools come up with exactly the same size, ornaments, and material.
Afore-time they were used by twin princesses Kosala and Kosali to bath.
TRAVEL TO LOMBOK
There are several ways to get to Lombok from Bali: airplane, speed boat, or the budget style I did, public ferry. However, I suggest you to go with a package shuttle bus and ferry since public transport is not widely available in Lombok. Crossing with a ferry takes you around four hours.
It is easy to find accommodation there. From Rp 60,000 (US$6) per night hostel to a million rupiah one is available. A simple tip is to arrive early so that you have options. If you are finding it hard, the people there will help you find a place to stay, including letting you stay overnight in their house, just like my friend did.