Mataram is the capital of Lombok and home to half a million people. With Lombok’s only shopping mall and reminders of its Dutch colonial past found in the architecture, we took a look around.
WHERE: The city of Mataram, capital of Lombok
HOW: We hired a car and driver to take us from Bangsal Harbour (the jumping off point from the Gili Isands) into Mataram, it was about an hour’s drive and cost US$10.
FOR THE KIDS: Lombok’s largest city complete with a modern mall and the opportunity for familiar fast food! And pony carts!
We spent a day exploring Mataram, flagging down local taxis (we used Bluebird a lot) to get around – most journeys were about US$2-3. Pony carts – cidomo – are still a common way (and fun!) to travel around the city.
Opening early in the morning, the Cakranegara produce market is an enticing maze of fresh fruit, vegetable and meat stalls – a great place for watching Mataram’s savvy locals barter for the freshest and best produce and to pick up your own tropical fruit supply (because you can never have too many rambutan or mangosteens!).
Travel tip: Mataram is home to Lombok’s only mall with a big supermarket if you are wanting to stock up before heading to more remote parts of Lombok. Meg was delighted to find Taylor Swift icecreams!
In the afternoon we took a taxi out to the old fishing port of Ampenan where the sea wall is lined with the family homes of the local fisherman. Buffeted by warm blustery winds off the sea, we took a stroll around the pretty back alleys and lanes – and met many a friendly local and their children!
Later in the evening, we strolled Jalan Udana, a long central avenue lined with food stalls – most offering their own twist on delicious satays and glutinous rice parcels wrapped in banana leaves. Dining was at small tables set up under the trees and we were helped by two teenaged girls who giggled and snapped cellphone pictures at our amateur efforts to unwrap our rice.
While Mataram is not a huge draw card for tourists, it’s a great place to spend a day if you are passing through to get a feel for urban Lombok life.