Lombok: Uniquely Sembalun
Sure, it’s easy to imagine why folks would want to climb up to the summit of a volcano to enjoy the cool climate, take in the panoramic view and inhale the fresh mountain air. But why would anyone want to descend into a village? Rest assured, Sembalun is no ordinary village. Entering Sembalun Village is like stepping into another world – a treasure not to be missed on your Rinjani vacation.
Whilst some Rinjani trekkers prefer to see the blooming wildflowers of Propok in Mount Rinjani National Park, others are drawn to the mysterious and almost surreal village of Sembalun.
Sembalun is located in East Lombok, is about 217 sq km, with Sembalun Lawang elevated at 1.156km above sea level, and is one of the main gateways to Rinjani for summiteers.
What awaits at Sembalun Village?
The beautiful valley of Sembalun is known for its hill walks, restored traditional village, active cultural performers and local weavers.
Abundant nature accompanied by traditions steeped in rich cultural are revealed as we get a bit closer to the valley. Part of the village is ancient virgin forest and overlaps with Mount Rinjani National Park. Another part is its modern, large and privately-owned plantations. The neatly cultivated area grows on rich fertile volcanic soil. They include the main crops of rice and garlic, as well as tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, chilis, and spices farms, which add to the charm on the steep slopes of Rinjani Mountain. There are also strawberry and apple farms! Yet another part is the village community where the local folk live out unique traditions unspoilt by time. This never-to-be-replicated harmonious combination brings the visitor into a mesmerizing utopia.
The traditional thatched-roofed mud-brick houses of the seven pioneer families of the village have become the main cultural attraction of Sembalun. Due to their historical significance, the houses have been preserved and remain inhabited to this day.
Source: Asia World Indonesia website
As with many ancient ethnic communities, music and dance are a significant part of Sembalun culture. Music and dance have been incorporated in important ceremonies and festivals observed and celebrated throughout the year. The Sasak people enjoy traditional percussive instruments, flute, and Gamelan. Traditional dances are often performed with accompanying lively music and sometimes, masks are worn while telling their stories through dance.
Source: Sembalun Adventure
As a main producer of crops and spices, Sembalun offers wide range of delectable cuisines. When you come to Sembalun, do savour the delicious traditional foods. Fresh dishes cooked from time-honoured recipes that have been passed from generation to generation are worth every bite.
While exploring the village, don’t forget to drop by the local weavers’. Weaving is also an integral part of Sembalun culture, especially for the womenfolk. These talented artisans deftly use hand-weaving machines to craft the traditional Sasak cloth which carry a unique pattern. Purchase some as a beautiful souvenir and to support the native cottage industry at the same time.
Source: Kontiki Cottage
Just a word of caution; since the village is located at the base of an active volcano, seismic activity is something to look out for. The Rinjani Volcanologist Centre monitors seismic activity on a daily basis and it is essential for every guest to keep updated on the information for their personal safety. Do not go up unless deemed safe by the officials.
By Team Tour Mount Bromo
Banner photo source: Shandy Airlangga