We live in such a wonderful and beautiful world — and my first three backpacking trips showed me that.

Backpacking enabled me to truly immerse in the history and experience the culture of new countries that I would otherwise miss if I were only to visit their capital cities.

On my last backpacking trip, I was reminded of one of our world’s darkest histories in Phnom Penh and the lengths humans do to keep themselves in power.

Here are the links to my first three backpacking trips, in case you missed them:

The Backpacker Part 4: One Adventure, Two Parts

Having combed many Southeast Asian cities in my previous trips, I decided to bring my backpacking adventure to Europe in its fourth installment.

The first part of The Backpacker 4 unexpectedly brought me to Lombok, Indonesia… twice!

It also started rather differently: prior to flying to Europe, I had two consecutive weekends when I unexpectedly travelled to Lombok, an island in Indonesia. As such, the narration of my fourth backpacking trip will be separated into two parts.

Breathtaking view of the island of Lombok, Indonesia, from the plane before I landed. The tall mountain visible in the distance is Mount Rinjani, Lombok’s highest mountain.

The reason why is that in July 2018, the island of Lombok, an island located next to the popular tourist island of Bali, was jolted by a huge earthquake that destroyed many homes and killed many people. I watched many videos on Facebook of the destruction and felt bad for the victims of the quake.

Earthquake map of the deadly Magnitude 7 tremor that struck the island of Lombok, Indonesia.
I appealed for help from my friends to donate and help the victims of the Lombok earthquake.

I also found a local contact who reported what happened on the ground based on his own first-hand experience.

My communication with a local contact who lives in Lombok.

As I have been to Lombok island once when I climbed its highest mountain, Mount Rinjani, which has given me many fond memories of this beautiful island, I felt compelled to start a donation drive in Singapore — and I did. Inviting all my friends, I amassed in-kind donations and swore to bring them myself over to Lombok, having established a local contact there to channel them.

The Island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

On my first weekend trip to Lombok, I left Singapore with the usual backpacking route: I crossed the Singapore-Malaysian land border in Johor Bahru, and took a bus to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and then a 3 and 1/2 hours flight to Lombok Island.

As its name implies, I usually travel with just a backpack (hence the name, backpacking). However, it was different this time as I had a greater goal to achieve: to bring help to the earthquake victims. I brought a piece of luggage with me full of donations such as used clothing, flashlights, blankets, towels, etc.

Thanks to my friends who donated their cash, I used them to buy these headlamps and gave them to the people on Lombok island.

Upon arrival, I was warmly received by my contact who welcomed me with a signboard at Lombok Airport and then took me to some villages that were impacted by the earthquake.

Such a warm welcome in Lombok. I never experienced something like this prior to this day.
The huge earthquake in Lombok caused many buildings and homes to collapse. As a result, people were scared and forced to sleep in tents.
Families with their homes destroyed by the earthquake were also forced to sleep outdoors in makeshift refuges.
Tent homes like these were visible all over Lombok.

There, it was heartwarming to see the smiling faces of locals who received the in-kind donations. I quickly realized that the things I brought over were not enough so I immediately planned to return the following weekend.

The locals were delighted to receive some help.
I felt glad that my visit and some help that I brought with me rendered smiles in this Indonesian village.
I went back to Lombok one more time with some help after seeing that the first round of help was barely enough.

After giving away the donations, I had some time to see the sights of the island — particularly, the town of Kuta, located on its southern coast.

After giving away donations, I had the chance to explore the southern coast of Lombok which was picturesque.
A beach in the village of Gerupuk in Lombok Island, Indonesia.

I arrived one afternoon and was greeted with an unbelievable, breathtaking view of the beach in Kuta.

Mind-blowing beauty of the beach in Kuta, in the south of Lombok, Indonesia.
My first visit to Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia.
Beautiful and empty beach in Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia.
I absolutely loved this view in Lombok.

The impact of the earthquake was evident as I saw very few tourists there. To support the local economy, I ate in some empty restaurants on purpose and hired a local guy who drove me to Lombok’s southern coast for a day.

The restaurants in Kuta, Lombok, were visibly empty as a result of the loss of tourists brought by the earthquakes.

I was extremely pleased to see that despite the earthquake, Lombok Island remained very beautiful. Its southern coasts are littered with picturesque seascapes and beautiful beaches.

A view of the southern coast of Lombok from a small cave.
Lombok’s southern coasts are filled with interesting rock formations.
This part of the island was dry and somewhat resembles some views I have seen in Australia.
Lombok’s southern coast is constantly slammed with large waves from the Indian Ocean.

While passing a night in Kuta, I experienced a mild aftershock myself which reminded me that the earth there then probably was still unstable.

On my second weekend trip to Lombok, I brought a larger luggage still packed with similar in-kind donations. Like the last time, my help was warmly received by the locals. I felt happy to see so many smiling faces which showed the resilience of the people of Lombok.

And like the last time, I hired the same motorcycle driver and asked him to show me more of the southern coast of Lombok. I was equally mind-blown by the landscapes of the island and convincingly, fell in love with the place.

The locals showed me an isolated beach called Pink Beach in Sunut, Lombok, Indonesia.
The roads leading to Sunut were dusty and dry. Very Australia-like!
The Pink Beach of Lombok got its name as the sun looks pinkish when the sunshine hits it.
Dry yet picturesque coast in Lombok.
The rocky cliffs are perfect for landscape photographers.
An epic view of Lombok’s Pink Beach.
Boat services are available on this beach which let tourists explore other nearby Indonesian islands.

Since this trip, Lombok has become one of my favourite islands on the planet. I returned to Lombok more than 5 times and can’t wait to visit this island again especially now that I live in Europe.

This blog post is the first part of The Backpacker 4. Please come back to read the second part!

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