Grand in name only
Mataram Travel Blog› entry 16 of 56 › view all entries
Mataram is the capital of Nusa Tenggara Barat Province and is the principle city on Lombok, the island to the immediate east of Bali. Mataram's status as a provincial capital, its claim as the largest city in the province, and the historical connection of its name to a widespread empire in Indonesia's past, make it sound as if there is something significant to be seen here. Sadly, that is not true. Tourists from Bali may pass through on their way to the Gili islands, but they won't see any reason to stick around here, despite the provincial government's attempt to lure some of Bali's lucrative tourists across the channel that separates the two islands. Sure the ferry between the islands is really slow (4-6 hours) and has sunk before, but Lombok does deserve some attention. And Mataram in particular is an interesting place for tourists who enjoy the fusion of rural and urban. More recently, Indonesia has been housing African and Middle Eastern refugees on their way to Australia in Mataram. They don't have much of a livelihood, but they do get an allowance and a place to live...which is much better than getting put into an Australian detention center and being forced to pay for your stay there.