<<  Kuta, Lombok, 25-Aug-2013  >>

Paradise! Or not?

Easy times in eye pleasing Kuta, catching them waves and Lombok story which spoils the paradise

Don’t make mistake about it, this is a completely different Kuta than before. This is not awful Kuta, Bali, this is gorgeous Kuta, Lombok. After all my travelling around the world it’s not easy to impress me with a beach, this beach surely caught my attention. Beautiful, clean, huge bay of golden sand locked inside far reaching headlands, and all of that backed by surprisingly undeveloped village. Just few small guesthouses and apartments, few restaurants and that’s it. Not a single proper hotel, not a single discotheque! The land in and around Kuta is supposedly all sold out because there are plans for a massive development project backed by some resort developers in Dubai, but “luckily” due to global crisis these plans have been suspended and so as of now Kuta is a sweetly sleepy village, not far away from notion of paradise. If you’re not a surfer there’s almost nothing to do here, not too much of “western party entertainment” (thanks god!), snorkeling sucks because the beach is very shallow and full of sandbanks and seaweed (but I saw a sea horse, that was nice), but this nothing-to-do-ness is exactly part of the appeal of this place. This is just the place that I was looking for, to enjoy my “vacation from vacation”, and indulge in doing nothing. Although the accommodation is generally quite expensive here (we still talk 15-20 EUR per room), I managed found myself a cheap nice place at the end of the village, and so for 7 EUR a night, including banana pancake and tea for breakfast, I was staying right on the beach, in chilled out place with bunch of bungalows ran by a local family.

Big thing in Kuta is surfing. Close from Kuta there are couple of great breaks, and this is what I was here for. Unfortunately the swell was poor, so out of 6 days I stayed here I went surfing “only” 4 days, and one of them there were no waves at all anyway, which I found out too late, after I paid for everything. The break I went to was Grupuk and it’s accessible only by boat as it’s 3km away from the nearest civilization and 500m from nearest shore. Beautiful spot! Imagine spot in the “middle of the sea” (as said 500m from nearest shore), situated in a deep bay lined by golden color cliffs (the rocks actually looked like Great Ocean Road in Australia, there were even few of the “apostles” – tall rocks sticking out of the water, palm fringed empty beaches and perfect view of Gunung Rinjani, volcano which looms over Lombok, peaking at 3700m. Even when there were no waves, the trip by the small fishing boat to the spot was worth it, and when the waves were on (though nothing really very exciting) I had good times on this bit lazy, but usually nicely breaking wave. Too bad it was so crowded. On the day when I went there and there were no waves at all, I was pissed off that I burnt 10 EUR on renting surf board and paying for the transport from Kuta and by the boat, but instead of surfing the trip had quite a different highlight: a story by a fellow surfer who was in the same boat as me (one boat = 3-5 people). Here it is:
14 years ago a man from Australia, Peter, now he’s 45, went to Lombok with 2 friends and his sister and intended to trek up Gunung Rinjani and they stayed in a small village near the mountain. At 3:00am someone banged on the door, they thought it was a breakfast (you have to start trekking before the sunrise to climb the volcano), but when Peter opened the door he saw 3 youngsters who wanted to rob them. He shut the door but they knocked it down and raided the room. He jumped on one of them, thinking that they were armed just with sticks, but as soon as the attacked the guy he saw what he thought were stick were actually machetes. And so while wrestling one of the attackers the other 2 chopped him with the machetes, all over: thigh, arm, back, even on face (this is how the whole story started in the boat, he showed us his long scars and said: This is from Lombok, 14 years ago). He managed to run away but he was seriously wounded and heavily bleeding so he dropped to ground 50m later but later he somehow reached 2 local villagers and asked them for help, but they had no clue what to do. Peter was a voluntary firefighter so he somehow showed them how to tight the wounds so that he would not bleed out. Some time later someone brought him to a local emergency center, but the local staff was completely helpless and did not know what to do, so they left him on a bed and they all went out to pray… for 30 minutes. As he was lying on the bed, freezing because of the blood loss and there was not a single blanket in this “hospital”, a piece of his muscle dropped down from his arm, and out of sudden a cat appeared and ate it! By then he was sure he would die so he wanted to write the last message with his blood (the only thing that was there) to his sister (who stayed somewhere else that night), but then one of his friends ran into the room and managed to bring some help. The 2 friends of Peter were not hurt, because when they saw the machete massacre of their friend they didn’t fight back and let the robbers take everything they had. It still took many hours until the guy ended up in a normal hospital, actually all the way in Darwin, Australia - he didn’t even get blood transfusion in Bali (where they took him from Lombok) and so before reaching Australia he was three quarters dead. So far you might say “Awful story, but well, you can get robbed and cut by knives also in Europe or US, there’s nothing particularly Indonesian about that, and the hospital surely improved in those 14 years”. But wait, it’s not all over yet. Since he was immediately evacuated to Australia the case was not reported to the police, but in Australia it was a big story with coverage in the news and 4 months later one journalists went to Lombok to investigate it a bit and he went to police to talk with them. When the police saw the journalist they said they were very sorry about what had happened and that they were going to “solve it”. The journalist said that Peter was not angry about them and that he doesn’t even want to sue them, nut anyway the next day the police found the 3 youngsters who did it, and shot two of them dead right on the spot and arrested the third one. Since this whole thing happened, Peter went to Bali couple of times, but it was only now, this year, that he came again to Lombok. He visited all the places involved in the story and found out all the people who had helped him there. Most of them could not believe that he survived that. One of the places he visited was also the hospital. And guess what? There are still cats living in the emergency room. Welcome to Lombok. As he finished the story the other two guys on the boat mentioned that yesterday they had seen two guys with a revolver wandering around the streets and that their friend was robbed in his hotel room a week ago. Well, seems that my dreams of moving to Lombok are over now. As beautiful as it is, I don’t want to live in Bronx and on an island where the doctors keep cats in the emergency room. Lombok is very poor, compared to Bali and it simply makes difference. Plus Lombok is Muslim island, and while I have no prejudices against Islam at all, the fact that the men are much more sexist and generally less nice than in Bali is obvious. Women are as charming as anywhere in Indonesia, but the overall atmosphere is definitely bit darker than on Bali, Flores or Timor.

Over Aussie, back to my story now. So what did I do when I was not surfing?
Hmmm, programming! It sounds seriously sick to spend time on a tropical island of this beauty by programming, but it seems I’m really into this. It grabbed me tightly and seems it won’t let go! I spent (I often thing that wasted) my whole youth by programming, so I’m bit afraid to fall into this again, but it seems that I really dig the coding, I spent hours and hours coding without a blink of an eye, not bored for a single second. Is this my “path”, the job that I would actually really enjoy? Could be.

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak