Ducks, flying in a group with characteristic flapping wings, sending funny chirps that leave a subtle trace in the morning fresh air, returning again, moments before the sun disappears in the horizon.
Tetebatu, on the way from the sea to the top of Rinjani volcano, is a perfect place to cultivate rice, with its smooth slopes facing south. The thick clouds that frequently hide the top of Rinjani Mountain, the highest point in Lombok, leave behind a huge quantity of rain that goes down the hill until flood the rice terraces. A short walk along the rice fields offer nice views to the Rinjani volcano, but that are quickly hidden by the clouds that arrive a few hours after the sunrise and stay there during the rest of the day.
The days run smooth in Tetebatu, marked by the chanting of prayers that come out from the mosques that are a bit everywhere around the village and even at small settlements spread around. The sound of the calling for prayers, five times a day, fill the air in the Tetebatu village, but the Arabic words don’t seem to match with the tropical landscape of rice fields and coconut trees.
In Tetebatu, as also other places in the countryside of center and East Lombok, still keep alive the Sasak culture and traditions, that despite the connection and the influence of the Balinese culture, differ mainly by being strongly based on the Muslim religion.
Nowadays what pops up from the Sasak culture is the music, the weaving patterns of the sarongs, the food where the coconut is a strong presence, and the Sasak language, that is spoken by all the population, with the Bahasa used to communicate mainly with people from other islands and for official proposes, as the Sasak just exist in the oral version.
But his routine was suddenly broken by the parade of a Sasak wedding that filled Tetebatu main road, adding bright colors to the green scenario and spreading the melodious coming out from drums, bamboo xylophones, gongs and metal plates of the gamelan orchestra, that plays and perform dancing during the wedding parade.
Despite the majority of the population in Lombok being Muslim, the wedding parade shows a lot of the Balinese culture and influence, that pops up in the guest outfit, with many women without the Muslim hijab, dressing the Balinese kebaya, and the men with double sarongs and the udeng around the head. Also, the music and the dances performed during the parade that crosses the village is a clear influence from the neighbor Hindu island.
Where to sleep in Tetebatu:
There are many accommodations in Tetebatu. Most of them are located on the road that leaves from the center of the village to East, on the way to Kemang Kuning. The prices are around 150.000 Rp, but during the low season, you can get a lower price. The Kemang Kuning Cottages have a room for 100.000 Rp but is a bit far out from the village, and just behind a mosque… and the first calling for prayers is around 4.30 in the morning.
I stay at Matra Bungalows. There a three different type of accommodation here, and the cheapest one is a small hut with a single room and bathroom, for 100.000 Rp (low season) including breakfast (coffee, fruits and pancake). Matra Bungalows is a nice place to chill with a good vibe and a friendly and helpful staff that can help to move around, by hiring a guide or rent a scooter.
The wi-fi connection is very poor, here as in almost all the accommodations around…
Where to eat in Tetebatu:
There is only one eatery at the center of Tetebatu, is called Warung Sasak, serving the usual Indonesia food as also some of the typical Sasak food. I have a huge and tasty meal of Nasi Campur (pronounces champur) with fry tempeh and fry tofu for 20.000 Rp.
But almost all the guesthouse or homestays have a restaurant and there are many options, some with nice views. The Matra Bungalows also serve food, including the Sasak traditional food, delicious and freshly made, like the Urap-Urap (mix of vegetables with grated coconut) and the Olah-Olah (mix of vegetables with a spicy coconut sauce).
How to move around Tetebatu:
On foot you can see a lot, walking through the rice fields, have nice views to the Gunung Rinjani (volcano and the highest point of Lombok), passing by small settlements with the rural lifestyle and even reach the Monkey Forest… and if you are lucky maybe see the black monkeys!
But to visit nearby villages, famous for handicrafts you need to rent a scooter or a guided tour.
ATMs and money exchangers in Tetebatu:
There is no ATM or money exchanger at Tetebatu.
The nearest ATM is at Kotaraja.
How to go from Tetebatu to Mataram:
Ojek from Tetebatu to Terara: 15.000 Rp
Bus from Terara to Mataram (stops at Mandalika Terminal): 20.000 Rp
Bemo from Mandalika Terminal to Chakra Negara area: 5.000 Rp…. think I pay too much because most of the people paid around 2.000 Rp…. but not sure!