Tetebatu is a relatively lesser-known little village in the east of Lombok. It is located more or less 600 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mount Rinjani. This is a very traditional, peaceful, picturesque, and rural area. The air is refreshingly cool, and there are many beautiful natural sights around the place.
Our hotel in Tetebatu, the Green Orry Inn, was simple and serviceable. The room was basic: a bed, a fan, and a thin blanket. The bathroom was absurdly large and had a tiny shower. It was pretty weird, but somehow I had an amazing night of sleep over there. And we did really not need many facilities as we were only here for one night. I had mentioned this in the Masbagik pottery village post before, but the food was surprisingly delicious here. We had the ayam bakar taliwang for dinner and before we departed on our trek, we bought little boxes filled with assorted traditional Indonesian snacks such as onde-onde, lapis legit, lemper, and a muffin. Too bad there was no klepon, my absolute favourite Indonesian sweet snack!
We had met our hiking guide, Fadli, the previous evening, as he also works as a waiter at the hotel restaurant. We were surprised he was our guide as well. He was really helpful, funny, and knowledgable about the area. It helped that he used to be a teacher, so it was very clear and easy for us understanding the context of the hike and the places we visited.
Around 9 o’clock in the morning, after our breakfast, we set out for our hike through the hills of Tetebatu. The walk took us along many beautiful green rice paddies, and tobacco plantations, through forests and jungles, and along many irrigation canals. Apparently the Sasak people from this area have had a very close relationship with the Netherlands and the Dutch for a long time. During the colonial age, the Dutch helped the local Sasak people of Tetebat by designing and implementing an irrigational system for the rice paddies that is still being used up until this day. This helped the local people enormously in improving their agriculture output and therefore producing more food. In return, during the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies (the country now known as Indonesia), the local Sasak people helped the Dutch by hiding them from the Japanese in the mountainous areas around Mount Rinjani. One of these hills is now called Bukit Belanda, named after the hiding places for the Dutch. The relationship between the Sasak and Dutch people in this area remains quite strong, as years ago the Dutch send their doctors here during a massive cholera outbreak to help treat the people.
At one point during our hike, we ended up at a remote little kampung of Sasak people. That day it was extremely crowded there as the preparations of a large party and ceremony were in full progress. It was a rite for the circumcision of some little boys. I asked our guide at what age this happened and he said at a young age because if they are too old they don’t want to do it anymore. Well, I don’t blame them! We saw a lot of chickens ending up as sate or in a giant pot to be stewed. Our hosts, the elder villageheads, were super friendly towards us. We were offered coffee and tea, a ton of bananas and fruit, tape (fermented rice cakes), and traditional Lombok cone-shaped sweets called kue romantis (romantic cookies). Funnily enough, these are named after how you can get the cookie out of the wrapper by rubbing it. Regrettably, as we just had a very filling breakfast earlier that day, we felt so bad that we could not eat so much of their food.
In the end, our time spend in the Sasak kampung was interesting and fun and we had a little rest there. We also tried to talk with some local people but most were too shy to talk to us. Some of the kids seemed to be quite fascinated with our presence and they really wanted to play around, but we did not have the time. After our little break we continued the hike, but before we left we were given a large bag filled with fruit and cookies. Even though we were foreigners and only stayed there for a little bit, the Sasak people welcomed us with open arms and showered us in food and drinks. It was a very memorable moment.
We continued walking up a hill towards one of the oldest buildings in the area, the Hotel Soedjono, originally built by the Dutch. It must be over a century old at this time. It still functions as a hotel, but it was obvious from the state of the surroundings that it is past its prime. The main building of the hotel still looked very well maintained and kept though. Afterwards we continued walking through a little village where we saw how local people roasted coffee beans and how they worked the fields. Finally, we ended up at an irrigation canal dug through the rocks by the Dutch during centuries ago. This cave is now known as the bat cave, and you can go inside after taking your shoes and socks off. You will have to walk barefeet through a dark, wet, and narrow cave and you will be met with hundreds of bats that are either hanging or flying over your head.
After the bat-filled cave, we made our way back to the main road through a large maze-like kampung. Our guide Lalu was waiting for us there to take us to Pringgasela, a small village in Lombok known for their exquisite weaving skills.
Overall, we loved this trekking trip. It felt of the beaten track, we had some beautiful clear weather, the scenery was gorgeous, the people were super friendly, and it was educational and so much fun. The hike in Tetebatu was a little different from the Panorama Walk on the slopes of Rinjani in Senaru. Tetebatu is located on the southern end of the Rinjani Mountain, while Senaru is on the northern end. Both hikes were amazing and offered spectacular Indonesian landscapes and sights, but the one in Tetebatu had a more historical context. Would highly recommend both.