No, this is not a holiday. We are travelers. A clarification that I had to use more than once in the last week. The point becomes infinitely harder to make as soon as we get off the bike and base ourselves somewhere. And twice over, if that base is in an area “developed for tourism”.
By why is that so important to me? Well, for starters, because we do not have the money that tourists have, nor their naivete for that matter. No, I don’t want your overpriced trinkets, no massages, please stop hollering. I know how western food tastes like and have my own transport. But worst of all, it destroys most access on a personal level. All interactions of a tourist with the host environment are business transactions. This is the opposite of the genuine human element that we are looking for.
Is this our own fault? Are we not looking hard enough or looking in the wrong places? Maybe. For now our first lesson is to be weary of any place with a “great break”. For some reason, surfer beaches are filthy, westernized places of dread for us. Cheap booze, dirty sleeps and modified scooters with surfboards, ridden by shirtless “dudes”. Definitively not our scene.
So after all this sermon, you might be surprised that we stayed another night in Kuta Lombok. Well, it was too hot and our motivation was at rock bottom. We stayed close to the fan and Wifi and mostly did nothing much. One thing was sure though, we were through with Lombok’s south coast.
Around lunch time, enough energy was gathered to head out for one excursion to a restaurant recommended by the Lonely Planet. We did even manage to pack beach gear for an eventual afternoon at one of the “gems” promised by the same. Well, the restaurant was closed for renovations. At least there was another one right next door – although it was also in the “tourist” price range, about 2-3x more expensive than local food. The view was good though and we decided to risk it. The food was OK, we liked the chilly cheese popper and we got an instagram out of it that looked like a HD rendering of Tropico III.
I’ll keep the “beach” experience brief. A filthy beach surrounded by scorched wasteland soon to be developed into a cheap faceless resorts. Currently only interesting for surfers. We fled.
As we were cruising back (very slowly, as we chose to ride without gear and stick to 30km/h) relieving clouds rolled in. And actually coalesced into proper rain clouds. Which later on would even lead to actual rain. Wohoo … still far less than would be normal for this time of the year though, thanks to El Niño.
And thus concluded our day. We loved the higher regions, the green and the serenity of Gunung Rinjani but we were bitterly disappointed by the savanna and the tourist of the south. Tomorrow, we will leave for Bali. There is a promise of lush green, but also of millions of tourists waiting for us. Will we be able to find some more of what we are looking for there?