Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tour Around Lombok

Lombok's area (4,739 sq kms) and population (2.5 million people) are both just slightly smaller than Bali's. The island measures about 80 kms north to south and about 70 kms east to west. Aporminent peninsula extend west from the southwest corner and smaller peninsula juts out from the southeast.

The name "Lombok" is said to come from afiery red chili pepper, used as a condiment. The natives of Lombok, the Sasak population, call their island Bumi Gora, which means, "Dry Farmland," or Selaparang, which is the name of an old East Lombok kingdom.

Likened to Bali before tourist boom, Lombok is a quiet island of pristine white-sand beaches and rugged, verdant countryside. The plurality of its population - a mix of Chinese, Arabs, Balinese and indigenous Sasak Moeslems - is matched by equally dramatic contrasts in landscape. Visitors can easily choose idle respite on the serene coral isles of Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawang, or more strenuous hikes up Lombok's towering volcano, Mt. Rinjani.

While luxury beach resorts have made inroads along Senggigi Beach, the island's leading tourist centre, accommodation on Lombok is still typified by simple thatched bungalows and inexpensive guests houses. Lombok lies only 62 km east of Bali, and can be reached by frequent flights from Ngurah Rai Airport (20 minutes), by car ferry from Padangbai (4 hours) or via the Mabua Express jet foil from Benoa Harbour (2.5 hours).

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