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LOMBOK

Lombok is an island in the West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east. Lombok in many ways lives up to the promotional term, "an unspoiled Bali". With beautiful beaches, enchanting waterfalls, the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani combined with relatively few tourists, Lombok is indeed the paradisaical tropical island that many people still mistakenly imagine Bali to be now.

Calling Lombok paradise does not mean it is all things for all people. With a few exceptions, the natural landscape and the traditional way of life have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Virtually all small to medium size businesses are run by local families. Many of these businesses sell a wide variety of merchandise, where villagers can find food, hardware, and toys all in a single small store. While it is possible to find five-star hotels run by global corporations this is the exception not the rule. The ubiquitous global fast food franchises are restricted to two outlets in the precincts of Mataram Mall in the main City of Lombok and are well sign-posted.

The word lombok means "chili pepper" (cabe) in Bahasa Indonesia and although the local cuisine is quite spicy, it might not always be as hot as the island's name suggests. The local word describing chilli is sebie in Bahasa Sasak, and the name of the island of Lombok is actually derived from the word lomboq, meaning straight in the local Sasak language and not from any connection at all with the local chilli as many people believe. Probably the best known local dish is ayam taliwang, although nobody seems to be able to agree on the exact recipe: most interpretations involve chicken coated with a rich red sauce flavoured with galangal, turmeric and tomato, which can be either mild or searingly hot.

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