Power of Now Island

by Naomi Ashcroft (Australia)

The last thing I expected Australia


“You’ll meet many big frogs if you walk that way off the path” Ikan, our casual bellman told us, as he wove us across the stepping-stones through an insect chorus jungle to our villa, his bare feet and traditional headdress moving ahead into the darkness. The people of Lombok are what make this rare untouched island in the Indonesian archipelago feel like you’ve stumbled into an ancient lifetime. Ikan had that Eckhart Tolle in-the-moment presence, I felt my shoulders drop from a brace I didn’t even know I was carrying. “We have guests from all over the world even some celebrities, who find us on the web” The Internet opened Lombok up to tourism again after decades of false starts, from a violent coup leading to ethnic cleansings, followed by crop failings that led to widespread famine in 1965. After a short-lived boom in the 80’s, a wave of economic and political crisis put on hold Lombok’s potential to cultivate a tourism off the back of successful nearby Bali. In 2006 when Lombok invested in an international airport, the digital era drew a new level of attention, and a slow increase of visitors started to trickle back in. “Stop - ” Ikan waved us to a halt. Looking past his shadowed frame I saw a shadow of what looked like one of the biggest frogs I had ever encountered. It was right where Ikan’s next step would be; he waited patiently a few moments until it hopped away. Ikan waved us forward again; turning to smile as though we’d shared a special moment, his warmth for his island infectious. I liked him immediately, he had set the tone for our trip and I felt another layer of my busy life fall away from my shoulders. Stepping from the lift that was suspended along the side of the jungle mountain, we entered our open-air villa to the pounding sound of the Indian Ocean, and tears sprung up in my eyes. I felt like I had escaped months of gruelling work, a painful break-up and just now with the warmth of this island, Ikan grinning in his blue and opal toned headdress while the ocean howling across the canopy of palm trees – I was cracked wide open, while standing bags in hand looking out over a palm tree jungle trailing right up to Lombok Strait, with a strange sense that I had come ‘home’. Such is the power of stumbling across a remote resort online and being welcomed warmly by strangers like I was family, and it was the last thing I had ever expected.