Tag Archives: Lombok

Cycling Lombok in pictures

After staying in Lombok’s capital Mataram for nearly a week, we were itching to get cycling again. Wanting to avoid the busy main road through the middle of the island we set off towards the north coast.

We cycled past a Chinese cemetery…
and I marvelled about all the tiny figurines and inscriptions.
This guy said Hi…
and so did they!
We cycled past many a paddies, this one with a small fire going.
People harvesting chillies.
Beautiful roads.
We cycled around some big mountains and over a lot of tiny but steep hills. But it was way too beautiful to complain!
The ocean was never far.
The evening light paints even the very dry areas all golden.
After a long day of cycling and a fruitless search for a place to sleep and rest, Mohammed picks us of the street and invites us to sleep in his home which he built himself. He provides food and is to date one of the best Indonesian-teachers we met. Still on the road I was starting to get worried of where to stay but once again it shows that we needn’t worry. Somehow a solution will always come, someone will always help.
In the morning we said a heartfelt goodbye to Mohammed and cycled the remaining hour to the ferry. More water, more islands, Sumbawa, here we come!


Cycling along Lombok’s north coast was a beautiful couple of days. Coming from Bali we noticed a big drop in tourist numbers which meant that we got a lot more attention from locals. So we cycled up and down the undulating roads, bathed in the views, enjoyed coffee breaks and lots of small talk about where we go and where we come from. And a mere three days later we were already on the ferry to Sumbawa!

Letting go in Lombok

In Australia we were lucky to stay with so many awesome warmshowers hosts and I missed having that connection to people quite a bit by then. (Unfortunately there are almost no active hosts on the islands east of Java.)¬† Settling into a cycling routine hadn’t been that easy for us here: As we constantly talked to people during the day, we rather enjoyed having a place to ourselves at the end of it. Of course that also meant that we didn’t really connect to people on a deeper level as we had many times before in Australia. So gladly I remembered reading a blog post from Drop the tension about a house in Mataram which is open to all travellers. Soon after I wrote a post on their facebook page if we could stay for a few days. The reply came within hours and we were invited to stay.


After Torsten’s stomach settled down we cycled to Rumah Singgah in Mataram and were welcomed by Babak.


He and his family open their house to travellers and thus bring a lot of people together. After we had been staying in guest houses in Indonesia so far this was quite the change for us. We shared our sleeping space with lots of other people and there was always a myriad of things going on: People come and go, share coffee and food, engage in conversation, watch TV and use the WiFi.


Mamak sometimes roasts coffee which smells amazing and there is almost always a pot of freshly made coffee around. The atmosphere is bubbly and still relaxed and I love it and simultaneously wish I would understand more Indonesian to comprehend more of what’s going on around me. Almost all fellow travellers are Indonesian. While we were there only a Danish couple stayed for a night.


On the first evening Imam asks us if we would like to join an overnight snorkelling trip visiting several islands off the east coast of Lombok. Sure, sounds great! On our own we don’t usually go for rather expensive tours off the bike but in a group we can share the cost and it should be a lot of fun to do that together.

Preparing for the trip was an interesting experience for us. Our group communicated mostly in Bahasa Indonesia and sometimes English which meant that we didn’t understand a lot of what was going on. We asked questions like what to bring along and what would we eat and should we bring our stove and would we have enough water? And who would drive the boat and where would we sleep? We are used to organize a lot of big and small things as we go along and food, water, a place to sleep are always high on the list. So we tried to do our part here but didn’t really succeed. Most of the time we weren’t entirely sure what would happen and how we could take part in the preparations. Maybe due to language barriers, maybe due to different styles of organizing. So we felt a bit insecure of how to proceed but then just decided to go with the flow and see what would happen.


In the end – of course – everything fell into place and we had a wonderful trip.


We stayed overnight at a small uninhabited island and slept outside on a bamboo platform.



We lit a camp fire, watched the sun fall and rise and had a beautiful breakfast with coffee from make-do mugs before we set out to snorkel in a few different places.


And oh my – the underwater world is just something else! If you didn’t feel peaceful before, it’s very hard not to be at peace watching all the colourful fish and coral.

So, what’s this about? Maybe one thought that stays is to let go. Sometimes things go a different way but nevertheless turn out beautifully. Sometimes you need to ask yourself what’s really bothering you and then try to let it go. And who knows, you might be in for a deeper and more satisfying experience if you open yourself to different ways of doing / thinking / living.


Most wonderfully, returning to Rumah Singgah after our trip felt like coming home. We had some more coffee, someone played guitar, some of us sang along with the correct lyrics, others just sang along ;). It was loud and lively and I went to sleep very happy that night.


Visa Extension in Mataram Lombok

As Indonesia has a lot of islands and we want to explore at least some of them, we found ourselves wanting to extend our 30day Visa On Arrival. On the net we found information that Mataram on Lombok is an easy place to do that and in general we have to agree.
Here’s how we did it:

  • We wake up early and are at the Kantor Immigrasi Mataram when it opens at 8 to beat the crowd. We wake up relatively early and are at the Kantor Immigrasi Mataram at about 8:20am with one other person in the room for visa extensions.
  • A nice lady gives us some forms to fill out (in a red folder) and tells us which copies she needs. Theoretically that would be copies of our passport (the passport and the visa page) and of your return ticket out of Indonesia. We tell her that we travel by bicycle and want to take a PELNI boat out of Indonesia. She then tells us that we can also hand in a copy of our used inward flight ticket to Indonesia instead of an outward ticket. I don’t really understand that but am far from questioning this easy solution to our problem. No fake flight bookings needed, yay!
  • We leave the building and walk straight to the copy shop. We leave the building, look confused and the guy responsible for the car park walks us to copy shop nr. 1 to copy our passport pages and to copy shop nr. 2 (closed) nr. 3 to print our ticket off the internet (doesn’t work) phone via usb.
  • As we are well prepared with our own pens we sit down in a coffee shop to fill out our forms. We go back to the Kantor Immigrasi, use their pens and fill out our forms which is easy enough.
  • We hand in our forms, passport and copies to another nice lady. She tells us to write our name and passport information on the red folder as well and we do that. Then she gives us a number and tells us to wait until they call our number. In the meantime they check if everything is okay with your forms.
  • We wait about 15 minutes, get called and are handed a receipt with our information on it. We are told by a nice man to be back on Tuesday (counting from Friday this means two working days) to collect our passports with the visa extensions.
Please wear respectful clothing! This sign is posted just next to the entrance of the Kantor Immigrasi.
  • Due to our snorkelling trip we come back 3 days later and get our passports back. and find out that today is a public holiday and everything is closed.
  • So we come back the next day and pick up both our passports with the visa extensions. I can pick up and pay for my visa extension,¬† but Torsten is told that there is a problem with a supposed overstay from an earlier visit to Indonesia. It is not really an overstay as can be gathered from the passport stamps, and everyone understands that, but the mistake is in the system and so they can’t accept any payment for the visa extension into that same system. The again – very nice – guy tells us that he is unsure how long it will take to erase the supposed overstay out of the system as it has to go through their Jakarta office. Maybe tomorrow. Also worth mentioning we are not the only ones – this apparently happens to a lot of people – entering and leaving the country from different places can overwhelm their system.
  • So we come back the day after only to find out that nothing has changed. The same man tells us that he can return our passport and we may try again in Sumbawa Besar or wherever we go next. If we choose to wait here he cannot tell us how long it might take. As restarting the extension process in another place would mean more waiting time (at least 2 working days!) we choose to stick it out and wait right there in the Kantor Immigrasi.
  • And what do you know, after about two hours, just before their lunch break, Torsten gets called and is able to pay for his visa extension and gets his stamp. It seems that persistent waiting might have done the trick. Probably an extra phone call is less work than getting annoyed foreigners out of the office…
  • As we compare our stamps at home we notice that I only got 29 days of extension while Torsten got the full 30 days. It’s too late for us to do something about that but for everyone else: Better check while still in the office!
  • There is also photo and finger print taking involved, but they’ll explain it to you there and then and it is all done at the same office;)

So all in all I’d say that getting a visa extension in Mataram was quite easy. The people working in the office were really nice and explained everything. Also we didn’t need any flight ticket out of Indonesia. Torsten’s problem with the supposed overstay was a bit of a hickup but in hindsight we should have just waited the first time when we were told to come back tomorrow. I hope this information helps!



On a different note: Getting Asthma and thyroid medication in Indonesia

Before I left for this trip I tried to research if I would be able to get my asthma and thyroid medication in different countries. As our trip spans over a few years, taking medication for the whole trip in advance is just not possible/practical. Unfortunately I found very little information back then, so if you too suffer from asthma and/or hypothyroidism then this might be helpful for you:
As I had some time in Lombok (Indonesia) because we are currently waiting on our visa extensions, I decided to go to a doctor to get prescriptions for my asthma (Symbicort Turbohaler) and my hypothyroidism (L-Thyrox). At least that’s what I thought I had to do. Turns out it was even easier than that.
The first step was finding a hospital. From a recent experience in Bali looking for rabies vaccinations I wanted to find a reasonably priced one but preferably one with english speaking doctors. Usually I don’t mind bumbling along with the little Indonesian I speak / understand, but when it comes to talking medication, blood tests and health I didn’t feel quite confident nor comfortable enough trying in Indonesian. So I tried researching hospitals¬† in the internet and found a few names but still didn’t really know where to go to. So I decided on a whim just to go to the Mataram Public Hospital which seems to be the main governmental hospital in Mataram. I then cycled to the address where it was supposed to be only to find out that no hospital was near. I asked around but people only directed me to a different hospital further away. I didn’t really understand the directions and ended up searching for nearby hospitals on Google Maps. So I went to Rumah Sakit Risa Sentra Medika next.

Screenshot from 2016-01-23 14:23:17

Once there I talked to a friendly receptionist (in english) and explained to her what I needed. I also brought my current medication and the packaging as well as a document that I suffer from asthma and need the Symbicort-Turbohaler (in English and German by my German doctor). The receptionist then told me that I didn’t need to see a doctor because I brought enough proof that I take the medication and therefore they can just sell it to me. As to the asthma-medication that is perfect for me because it saves the cost of a consultation. In regard to the hypofunction of the thyroid you need to do a blood test every half year or so to check if you take enough / too much medication. But I figure that can wait a few more month as I feel fine at the moment. The only downside was that they only have medication with 100 nano grams as hypothyroidism is apparently not a very common disease in Indonesia (that’s what the receptionist told me). That is fine for me but when you for example need 50 nano grams you might have to split the pills.

So basically what I want to say: Getting the Symbicort Turbohaler for my asthma and Levothyroxine-Sodium for my Hypothyroidism in Mataram (Lombok) was an easy affair in my experience and I recommend Rumah Sakit Risa Sentra Medika for that. I would also recommend bringing your old medication and packaging and if you’re still at home and thinking about it – some sort of document about the medication you’re taking from your doctor. That might also be helpful in border situations when someone asks about your medication.