Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia
Mandalika Resort Pantai Putri Nyale, Kuta, Pujut, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83573, Indonesia
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Motoring through a Tropical ParadiseLombok, Indonesia has the kind of undeveloped beauty best viewed from the seat of a motorbike. Unlike Bali, its much-heralded sister to the west, the island offers stunning beaches and majestic landscapes far from the maddening crowds (and traffic).
In Kuta, a sleepy fishing village on the south shore, we found few tourists but plenty of wooden stands holding bottles of tea-colored liquid. At home, they'd be known as "gas stations." Here, they are everywhere, sometimes half a dozen lined up next door to one another. To take true advantage of southern Lombok, rent a motorbike ($5 a day), pour in fuel (50 cents a liter), and take off.
Newly paved roads allowed us to ride through forests lush with palm trees and leafy foliage. We drove past verdant rice paddy fields and maneuvered around herds of meandering water buffalo. We exchanged waves with women in sarongs - baskets atop their heads - and slowed to high five children dressed in brightly colored school uniforms.
Puttering up hills afforded us views that surely had been photo-shopped. Green-carpeted headlands rose from some of the world's most beautiful beaches, the bluest of blue water meeting their shores. And no matter how far we journeyed, we never feared running out of gas.