Lombok and Sumbawa: Smells

Majority of Lombok and Sumbawa people are muslim, however, there are plenty of historical Hindu sites throughout the island, especially Lombok. Those sites are still used as worship places for local Hindu people, even the ones who live in Bali.

It is possible for non Hindu people to enter the temple, as long as accompanied by local guide. Usually, visitors must wrap their hip with a piece of white cloth as a symbol of segregating the bad and the good within themselves. Unlike temples in Bali, some temples in Lombok do not require visitors to wear clothes to cover their lower body part. However, it is necessary to wear modest clothes when visiting these kinds of places.

We were greeted by various scents of flowers and incenses used as offerings during the rituals. Incenses are burned and placed above the flowers and kept near sacred places, such as statues or “pura”. The common feature in every temple is frangipani tree, usually the one that produces white and red frangipani flowers.

Frangipani tree is everywhere and can be found in temples, hotels, public parks and bushes in the foot of Rinjani. It produces flowers with different kinds of colors but similar fragrance. Aside from being used as religious instrument, the flowers are also used for decorative means. Some even use the flowers as ornament in foods and beverages. Frangipani flowers are called “bunga jepun” by locals.

Lombok is also known for its coffee that has inviting aroma. We were served local coffee in a local house in Sembalun Village; it was simply grinded coffee, hot water and a bit of sugar. Locals drink coffee throughout the day, whether in the cold morning, hot afternoon or windy evening. It was similar to their habit of eating spicy “sambal” at any times of the day.

Other interesting facts, some spicy “sambal” have strong lime zest, usually those which are used in plecing kangkung. The lime zest can also be smelled at other delicacies, such as fish soup found in Lombok and Sumbawa. The lime is used to neutralize the odor produced by fish and at the same time gave delicious sour taste to the food.

In places like Sade Village or Sukarara Village, visitors are able to see and experience handweaving tradition. The process of handweaving takes time, thus it is possible for visitors to join the process while in those villages. The handweaver must sit behind the wooden and bamboo machine and must connect their hips to the machine by using rope. The first time is always challenging, but after a few minutes, amateur handweaver might look and sound like a native handweaver. The sound of wooden machine is heard every time the bamboo structure tapped to each other and it should sound like a continuous percussion.


This writing is one of the six stories about my journey in Lombok and Sumbawa.

The six stories are about touches, smells, tastes, hearings, sights and general guides of Lombok and Sumbawa.