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Lombok: from summit to sea

Above the clouds, Mt. Rinjani

When winter comes to Hong Kong, chapping lips and penetrating homes with no insulation nor central heating, I dream of a faraway tropical island among a chain of more than 17,000 spread like jewels along the equator. It waits in the shadow of its famous sister, separated by nothing more than a deep sea strait.

Lombok is where I return when deadlines crease my forehead with worry – it keeps me focused and thankful for a week I cannot forget. To stand atop Indonesia’s second-highest volcano, piercing through the clouds, and then to descend through a misty rainforest into paddy fields and villages dotted with soaring coconut palms. To marvel at the brightness of the full moon, before the rising sun floods the earth with colour.

To perch on the back seat of a scooter with the breeze in my hair, winding past headland after headland marking off rugged, surf-beaten bays. To savor the rich, spicy flavours of ayam taliwang, and step onto a virgin beach where the Indian Ocean surges and ebbs, in glorious blue, from a shore of improbable pink sand.

I dream of all these moments, and soon I will be back in Indonesia, on a beach in eastern Bali where the mountains of Lombok greet me on the horizon.


The fertile Sembalun Valley, on the eastern flanks of Mt. Rinjani


Parting clouds, 2600 metres above sea level


Rinjani’s summit through the mist


Early morning descent


Clouds rolling into the caldera


Following the trail


Pink sand at Pantai Tangsi


Deserted at midday


Paddling out at Selong Belanak


Scouting for fish


Selong Belanak through the lens


Indian Ocean surf


Tranquility at Tanjung Aan

35 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lombok is by far one of the best trips I’ve ever had in my life and thanks for suggesting the hike to Rinjani! I should have prepared myself better, but it was an unforgettable experience nonetheless. Only when we’ve visited Pantai Tangsi I could truly comprehend why the map that we got from our driver says ‘Paradise Island’. However Bali will be quite different though. 🙂

    December 1, 2013
    • I couldn’t agree more – it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Lombok blew our previous trips out of the water! Pantai Tangsi was pure heaven, if we had an extra day in Kuta I’m sure we’d be back again for another swim. I’m very excited about visiting Lombok’s next door neighbour… after two trips to Paradise Island, it’s about time! 🙂

      December 1, 2013
  2. Lombok looks great. Hong Kong winter is not really all that cold. It is 3 degrees here in Bagni di Lucca.

    December 1, 2013
    • It’s a gorgeous island. You’re right though, Hong Kong winters are not cold by European standards, but for those of us used to subtropical heat – and living in homes designed solely for summer conditions – it can be a drastic change.

      December 1, 2013
  3. What gorgeous photos! ~SueBee

    December 1, 2013
    • Lombok is such a photogenic place!

      December 2, 2013
  4. charleswolford #

    Amazing shots. I am living in Germany at the moment and attempting to deal with my first European winter…it’s harsh! Thank you for the great photos and warm descriptions, they helped my mind escape the cold evening here for a moment.

    December 1, 2013
    • You’re welcome. There are upsides to the European winter though, everything looks so beautiful in the snow and then there are the Christmas markets!

      December 2, 2013
  5. Oooooo you make me wanna go there 🙂 Beautiful photos.
    Maybe we will. Been doing a little macro planning – Jan 2015 in Oz and from there to Indonesia/Malaysia etc.

    December 1, 2013
    • You and Don would love Lombok! Not just the scenery but also the simplicity of life on the island. Plus Bali is just a boat (or short plane ride) away. 🙂

      December 2, 2013
  6. Beautiful post James. I am envious of your return trip 🙂 I might not be fit enough to do half the things you and Bama did there, but it looks like I shall have to get to Lombok soon!

    December 1, 2013
    • Thank you, Madhu. 🙂 It’s not quite a return trip but I’m looking forward to my first visit to Bali. Bama tells me it feels very different from Lombok!

      December 2, 2013
  7. Ohh, we’re already freezing with the winter Siberian Winds here in Seoul, and thinking about escaping for a few weeks to Lombok in January. Your pictures make it awfully tempting to just go ahead and book that flight… 😉

    December 1, 2013
    • Ah, the problem with January is that it’s the middle of rainy season – but you might get lucky with the weather! I’ve never been to Seoul or any part of South Korea… sometimes it seems like such an underrated part of Asia. 🙂

      December 2, 2013
      • Oh no! Rainy season…perhaps we will wait till there are more ‘ideal’ conditions…definitely want to head there one day soon though! 🙂

        It’s funny that you say that about Seoul, because I agree, that it is totally underrated for “western” tourists (changing for sure not though, with the whole Gangnam Style thing), but did you know that Seoul has been the top tourist destination for Asians for quite a few years in a row?

        December 6, 2013
      • June to August is probably your best bet – this is generally the driest time of the year for much of Indonesia. July-August is also peak season but Lombok is nowhere near as crowded or popular as Bali, so you don’t feel it as much. 🙂

        Oh yes, Seoul is huge for people here in Hong Kong. And not just because of the Korean Wave; the food is also a major factor!

        December 6, 2013
  8. directorb #

    Sounds like an amazing place. Great picts!

    December 1, 2013
    • I would go back in a heartbeat!

      December 2, 2013
  9. Wow, nice pictures! When we visited Lombok we also wanted to go to the volcano, but unfortunately it was closed due to the bad weather. Makes me even more sad we couldn’t visit it now I see these pictures. Well, maybe someday..

    December 1, 2013
    • Thanks! Lombok and the volcano will always be there for you to climb… they’ve recently opened a new airport so it can only get more accessible in the next couple of years.

      December 2, 2013
  10. Beautiful pics. Thanks James, you make me want to go back to Lombok even sooner 😉

    December 2, 2013
    • Sama-sama Badai. There are rumours of direct flights between Lombok and Hong Kong starting next year… we’ll just have to wait and see. 😉

      December 2, 2013
      • Direct flight Lombok-Hong Kong? Let’s pray! 😉

        December 3, 2013
  11. Reblogged this on obrolan teh.

    December 3, 2013
  12. What a Place!

    Mist covered mountains, volcano rim, beaches what not ???

    I scrolled 10 times through this post 🙂

    Thanks James for sharing, and hope I’ll get a chance to hike through this beautiful place once.

    December 3, 2013
    • You’re welcome Sreejith – better go before it gets as popular as Bali! 🙂

      I found it very hard to leave after a week in Lombok… it just didn’t feel long enough to soak up all that beauty.

      December 3, 2013
      • Yea, you are absolutely right.

        I could see it happening in Kerala. It’s become so expensive for the locals.

        December 3, 2013
  13. Halim Santoso #

    Breathtaking pictures, James 😀

    December 4, 2013
    • Matur nuwun, Halim. 😀

      December 4, 2013
      • Halim Santoso #

        Hahaha you surprised me, James… I don’t suppose you could write Javanese language 😀

        December 4, 2013
      • That’s one of the few phrases I know, Halim. It was Bama who taught me. 😀

        December 4, 2013
  14. James, How could anyone possibly resist Lombok after your gorgeous description. I could feel the rainforest mist and breath the ocean air in your words and photos. Have a wonderful trip. ~Terri

    December 5, 2013
    • Thank you, Terri. Lombok was the standout trip so far this year, and what a jewel of an island it is! Hope you and James get there soon enough. 🙂

      December 5, 2013
  15. Beautiful Photo !!, Never thought Lombok could be this beautiful.

    December 6, 2013
    • Compared to neighbouring Bali, Lombok is very underrated. Definitely one for the wishlist!

      December 6, 2013

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