Monday, 30 September 2013

Hello Kuta (Lombok) – A step back in time!

What a difference! 35 minutes on an aircraft, a quick hop across to a different island (Lombok), a 30-minute drive to the southern edge (away from touristy Sengiggi) and as Kylie sang, we have stepped back in time and a completely different geography from Bali. Kuta (Lombok) is a small fishing village, set in a bay surrounded by hills and mountains, on very dry land. Gone is the lush vegetation of Bali, gone is the rushing water, gone are the rice paddies. As we explored the village, we realised it is nothing what we expected! This is how life used to be on an island, before the Western world changed life for everyone, willingly or unwillingly, before Starbucks arrived, before McDonald and all other chains. As we walked the one main street, we passed families living in a couple of basic wooden structures, with thatched roofs, and woven bamboo as walls, on dry and dusty soil, with chickens, goats and cows roaming the compound. The occasional shop selling basic goods, a little workshop here and there. The beach, or better the bay (as beach recalls more an image of Westerners plonking their lazy asses on the sand) is full of fishing boats and huts filled with nets and farmed seaweed. The kids were taking over the sleeping boats and loving it as their playgrounds. The roads are dirt tracks, the bitumen long worn away. There is tourism here, there are lots of warungs (restaurants), we saw two ATM booths, there are maybe three hotels (one of which we are staying in) and lots of homestay accommodation. Along the main road, parallel to the shore, there are small huts either side, selling all type of merchandise for the tourists: wooden masks, items of clothing, cosmetics, and drinks. The setting is rustic, very rustic and the shops are very basic. We are not the only tourists, but the masses we were used to in Bali are nowhere to be found. We are in the minority here, the locals still rule village life. We are thrilled to be here and all comforts we are used to are on offer, never-the-less, it does feel like we have stepped into a functioning fishing community and we are intruding in their lives. The predominant religion here is Muslim and the calls to prayer cannot be missed. For the first time in all our previous travels, be it Egypt or India, we are feeling what must be culture shock and are needing to adjust. After discussing it at length, we concluded that the extremely short trip from Bali to here and the huge difference between the two lifestyles has been very sudden and we need a day or two to adjust to it. This is a trip for the memory books!

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