Kuta, Lombok - No Filter
Lombok is located to the east of Bali. It's famous for the Gili islands, but we chose to stay in Kuta because we wanted to get away from tourists.
Lombok is very poor. You will see huts falling apart and trash everywhere. This is the truth. In ANY of the travel blogs, I read about Lombok's trash problem. I think that we, as travelers and writers have to be honest and embrace the positive and negative sides of a location. That's why I'm writing this post with no filter.
The walk to the central beach was unsettling. There were plastic bottles, cans and candy bar wrappers scattered in every direction. Once we finally found a decent piece of beach we were approached by sarong vendors who sat down next to us to try to make a sale. Talking to them gave us a better understanding of the culture, though. We learned that basic education is not free and many families can't afford to send the kids to school. Sometimes the government helps, but not always. Many kids just end up on the streets selling bracelets to tourists.
The day after we decided to rent a motorbike to explore and look for a decent beach. Mawun Beach is beautiful, but there is trash on the shore and in the water. A lot of kids approach tourists to sell fruit. I had the chance to talk to a group of kids who wanted to practice English. They were adorable and it was heartwarming to see that they have hope for a better future.
There are a lot of restaurants in the center, some of them are surprisingly fancy. Tourists go there, eat and leave. These places are like an oasis in the middle of a poverty desert. People go there to escape the sad reality around. The majority of tourists are surfers and they don't care much about the situation. They are just interested in chasing the next big wave.
If you want to learn how to surf, Kuta is the perfect spot. The guys at Nalua will give you a lesson for around $30 for half day. They took us to Selang Beach and for the first time, we could enjoy the view of a landscape without trash. There were trash cans and a recycling system in place. We really enjoyed our time there. If you are a girl and it's your first time on the board I recommend, not more than 2 hours (unless you have big muscles). If you do more you will probably get up the day after aching. Up to you.
We had a very interesting conversation with the owner of the guesthouse. He comes from a poor family but worked really hard to be able to open his first business. He cares about Lombok and tries his best to educate children to respect the environment.
If you go to Kuta, get ready for a complicated reality. Talk to locals and try to help if you can. Give something to support kids education and environmental initiatives.
WHERE TO STAY:
Nalua Surf Bed & Breakfast around $18 per night (breakfast included). It's a basic accommodation conveniently located in the center of Kuta. The staff is nice and they also offer surf lessons.