After Gili T, we took a boat ride over to explore Lombok for a couple of weeks. Our first stop was Mataram, which is the main city, where we stayed for 3 days while we were trying to get our visas extended to stay in Indonesia another month.
I didn’t love Mataram, it’s very busy and crowded, and everything is kind of far away so it’s not really walkable, and the traffic is so crazy that I didn’t feel comfortable renting a moped either, but there was some beautiful architecture and an amazing mosque that was being erected near our hotel.
There are agencies in Gili T, and Senggigi that will renew your visas for you, but we figured we could do it ourselves, so we went into the main government building to try. If you are going to do this, make sure you dress very conservatively. Lombok is a Muslim island (as is most of Indonesia, except for Bali) and covered shoulders, closed toed shoes, and covered legs are required.
I don’t think it would be very hard to get your visa done this way, in retrospect we should have just waited and tried to figure it out, but there were so many people, and the language barrier was too much, we just felt overwhelmed so we decided to use an agency in Senggigi instead.
It seemed like a good idea at first. We dropped off our passports and paid the money (about $60 each) and they told us our passports would be done within 4 days, with the new stamps. So we rented a moped and did some exploring, hung out by the pool, and enjoyed our few days in Senggigi, it’s a really cute area with lots of beaches and good restaurants.
We went back on Thursday to pick up our passports, and nobody was at the office, even though it was well past the opening time. Sometimes things work a little slower over there, so we thought that was fine and kept coming to check in every few hours, but nobody ever showed up.
I had taken down an email address and phone number, and given them my email address in case anything came up, but we never heard from them, and when I tried them, both the email and phone number were out of service.
We decided to check back again the next day, but there was still nobody there, and when we asked the neighbouring business if they had any contact info, we were told that he was almost positive they had packed up their business and moved back to Bali. So that was fun.
We ended up going to the tourist police station which was quite nearby, and they couldn’t have been friendlier, or more helpful. They eventually tracked down the guy and called him for us, and he told us we would have our passports back on Monday (5 days late) and was confused about why we had contacted the police.
We were supposed to be leaving for a 3 day trek up Mt.Rinjani (more on that later) so we had to push that out by a few days. On Monday we went back there to pick up our passports, and still nobody was there. Finally someone showed up, but he had no idea what we were talking about.
We refused to leave without talking to someone, eventually another guy came, an Australian, and he told us that our passports were in Senggigi, ready to go, and they would be there any minute. We waited another hour, until finally the guy we had originally given our passports to called him, and told him that our passports were still at the renewal office in Mataram (where we had originally gone to renew them ourselves) and we’d have to go there to pick them up in person.
We did that, we were super annoyed, but we would have done almost anything to get our passports back by that point. Once we got back to the renewal office, it took about 20 minutes, we went upstairs, got our photos taken again, and got our passports with the updated visas.
I’m not saying you should definitely renew your visa yourself, but it’s more expensive to go through an agency, and you will likely end up having to go get it yourself anyway, since most of the time they need to redo your fingerprints and photographs.
So it all worked out in the end, our time in Senggigi was great, except for that minor hiccup. I’ve never seen so many palm trees in my life as on Lombok, and if you are there and looking for a great place to eat, check out Cafe Alberto, it’s right on the beach, has an amazing view for sunset, and has the best mushroom ravioli I’ve ever had.