Out from the Garden of the Sun

Trip Start Jul 04, 2004
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Trip End Jul 09, 2004


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Thursday, July 8, 2004

Friday, July 8th

I woke abruptly at dawn. I didn't know exactly what caused it, but I could hear the thumping bass, the roaring female voice singing to a disco song, all coming from the back of my bungalow. I looked at my watch. It was 4 a.m. and they were still raving on partying. What party animals! I snugged myself to bed again, trying to catch some more sleep.

I waited for sunrise at the beach that morning. The street was even quieter and the air cooler. I am sure I was the first one that day to come into this souvenir shop where I bought some ethnic masks. After that I packed my stuffs and said goodbye to the bungalow's owner, heading for breakfast at the Blue Marlin.

 
         Reflections of early sunlight

At 8.15 the boat departed to Bangsal Harbor in Lombok. It was a sad thing for me, having to leave this paradise island too early. And it was like painted on our faces, we who boarded the boat, the same yearning for just one more of the simple pleasures.

When I arrived at Bangsal and soon was waiting for the bus to pick me up, I met the Swedes (Martin and Niclas were their names) and Roux. Apparently we were waiting for the same bus. Among all the sellers and the irksome local people that were trying to get some money just doing things for us, we sat and kept talking.

 
         Silhouette

"That's the man with many hats," said Niclas after we had hopped on to the bus, pointing his index finger to a youth that was wearing a lot of hats on his head, with the purpose of selling them to tourists. Roux wasn't feeling so well, said that he had been vomiting all night, and chose to sit back alone to get some sleep. Meanwhile Martin, Niclas and I talked and joked incessantly along our route. We covered subjects that were so engaging: from the Scandinavian tongue and mythology to living in other countries to the different perspectives of thinking from different nations. Niclas and I were having a very thorough discussion about Neo Nazism in Sweden and its trademark symbol, Mjolnir (Thor's Hammer), when the bus stopped in front of Jayakarta Hotel and already it was my time to get off the bus. I said goodbye to Roux and I wished the Swedes all the best for the next eight months of their year-long vacation. So that was it, my parting with them.

In the afternoon I took a bemo ride to Cakranegara, searching for a good place to quench my hunger. After walking around Mataram Mall down to the eastern side, I found Seafood 99 and there I heartily eat my lunch, with full blown appetite: water spinach ('kangkung' in Indonesia), sweet-sauced little squids, and rice, one small portion each. Then I traveled to Narmada.

 
         Narmada, The palace of neglect

The royal bath-palace of Narmada, at which the Hindu kings of Lombok usually luxuriated in the past, was about 15 minutes drive by taxi. I was hoping that I would see a palace in its highest splendor, but I was disappointed for the second time because that place was just bare. Desolation was now king of the palace. For short, I would say that Narmada was badly maintained by the local authorities. The buildings were moss-covered, some ponds showed total abandon, and the temple held its magic lesser and lesser these days. I took some pictures, though, due to the aura of beauty that still remained in the air and the mighty trees that enclosed this poignant place. Everything else was outright symptoms of neglect here. I left only 40 minutes later, perhaps even earlier.

It took me about an hour and a half to go back to Jayakarta Hotel. The route was somewhat boring, for, well, all I saw was just rows of ordinary modern houses, and perhaps I even fell asleep many times during the way back.

Back in the hotel, I borrowed a bike and went for a good view of sunset, which could be observed best at Batu Bolong Temple, according to the locals. So I prepared and set off north. The road to the temple was smooth; nonetheless it had slopes, many a nice one and an absolutely hard one. Fifteen minutes of moderate uphill cycling brought me to the doorway, the gapura, of Batu Bolong temple.

 
         Sunset, observed from Batu Bolong Temple

It was an open-air Hindu temple located just right on one of the cliffs that overlook the great Bay of Lombok, and farther west, the Island of the Gods. I had an experience that was almost ecstatic when I set foot on the rocky beach and started to take pictures. Behind me was the temple with the pilgrims of faith praying, beyond me was that orb, shining vermilion blades of flame, taking its course of descent into the embracing sea. I saw the sun disappeared behind the shadow of Bali. As I was taking photographs, I looked over my shoulder. I saw an old man, surely he must be one of the pilgrims, was smiling at me. Peace was written on his face. Before I left, I had a short conversation with him.

 
         Encounter with a Hindu pilgrim

I spent the rest of the evening in my room and around the hotel, except for one occasion I went out. It was a recollection so unbelievably painful and difficult for me to describe on words. But I'm going to write it now.

I was out, walking for a short distance to a small common shop (a 'warung') where I could buy something for dinner. The road was dark and empty. I was just going to cross the street when suddenly I heard a revving sound, but I didn't see the car. Soon I heard the noise of dogs (Lombok is packed with wild dogs and cats) barking and rushing about. A pup jumped to the empty road, right in front of me and, in a split-second, I saw all these things came to life:

A car. It was coming from my left with an alarming velocity. The puppy stared blindly at its headlights. It hit it. The wheels squashed the puppy's head, to be exact. And then the car, still with its crazy speed, vanished to my right. That second expired and the dogs began to howl.

I quickly approached the puppy, as did some people from the shop. The asphalt under its head was smeared with thick, black blood. But the puppy's body was still clean, I found no blood at all, and it was shaking. But right after I had touched it, the shaking stopped abruptly. I touched its head. The skeleton had been smashed and shattered to pieces, that's for sure. Its death was as quick as the accident. Some woman, crying out of shock, carried the body to the roadside. A guy came up with a shovel and started digging. And I ordered dinner. Imagine how it was like to watch a dog's burial before you while you were eating a cup of instant noodle.


Saturday, July 9th

I woke up at exactly 4 pm, just like yesterday. But now I had to pack my things up before I fly. At somewhere to five the hotel's car had brought me and another guest to Selaparang Airport. "Once again I'm here, but now, instead of joyful hellos, I have to say goodbye," I talked to myself. My plane took off at half past six and I still enjoyed, even with an awkward feeling of leaving too soon, the spellbinding sight of sunrise, from the oval window beside me.

 
         From the windowpane

I'm not so sure I know how to write a concluding paragraph to all the experience I've had during my four-day trip to Lombok. But perhaps a few lines from Yann Martel's novel Self could convey it best, and with this I would also like to pay my respect to the great travelers such as himself:

"Travelling alone is like an extended daydream. You catch the sights, you watch the people, you admire the scenery, all the while inventing your own company and your own scenarios, on your own time and at your own pace. It's the only way to travel, if you can stand the regular loneliness, which often I couldn't. But thank God there were the easy friendships of fellow travellers, friendships that lasted an hour or three days, a meal or a train ride, that were a gold-mine of travel lore and useful information, that always started with "Where are you from?" and ended, when you felt like turning left, not right, with a simple, honest "Bye.""
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