Bima is a plesant enough little town, that seems pretty busy after Timor and Flores.
The two best hotels in town are the Hotel La'mbitu and the Hotel Lila Graha, both of which are located on Jl. Sumbawa 4. Although the main entrance to the Hotel Lila Graha is actually one block back you can get to the reception desk by going through the Hotel LilaGraha's restaurant on Jl. Sumbawa 4. Just try not to get lots in the maze of corridors and staircases!
Hotel La'mbitu has the biggest, cleanest and best value rooms in town and the foyer sort of resembles something you might find in a Hyatt (or Sumbawa version thereof). Rooms start at 60,000RP and include breakfast.
Hotel Lila Graha has is a rabbit warren of varying rooms, so ask to see about 4 or 5 before you make your choice. There is a breakfast included in the room rate and the rooms are dark and cool, meaning you are guaranteed a good night's sleep. Rooms are priced between 60,000RP and 240,000RP.
The Post Office is located on Jl. Sultan Hassanudin. BNI bank on Jl. Sultan Hassanudin has an ATM. The latest Lonely Planet guide to Indonesia claims that there is a small internet provider next to the Lila Graha restaurant on Jl. Sumbawa 4, but if it is there it is pretty well hidden.
Most of the eateries here serve up pretty standard warung fare. There is a good Chinese place that is on Jl. Sulawesi between Jl. Sumbawa and Jl. Sultan Hassanudin. It has an extensive menu, cold beer and is open for lunch on Fridays when practically everything in town is closed for prayers.
The two warungs on Jl. Sumbawa 4 on the same side of the road as the hotels both did good Indonesian staples, were clean, well lit and had friendly staff.
Having travelled by private bus and travel car throughout most of Indonesia we thought we'd get a taste of public buses for the trip to Sumbawa Besar. There is a strip of ticketing agencies along Jl. Sultan Kaharuddin. We got tickets to Sumbawa Besar on a bus leaving at 7am for 50,000RP each. The buses leave from the Bima Bus Terminal on Jl. Sultan Kaharuddin, about 800m south of the ticketing agencies where Jl. Sultan Kaharrudin forks into two roads.
The trip takes 7 hours through relatively unimpressive scenery.
Again in retrospect, were I to do the trip again I would buy a ticket on one of the all night luxury coaches that travel between Bima and Mataram.
As with Bima further to the east, there isn't terribly much to do in and around Sumbawa Besar. It does however, make a good place to take a break in the journey across Sumbawa.
We stayed at the Hotel Dewi (Jl. Hasanuddin). A double room with aircon and private mandi costs 60,000RP. The rooms are large and clean and the hotel appears to have far more staff than guests.
We had the best crab so far in Indonesia at a seafood restaurant on Jl. Dr Wahidin, directly opposite the Chinese restaurant Aneka Rasa Jaya (which is also did pretty good food). For 25,000RP you can get two large crabs cooked however you like. They don't sell beer but you are welcome to bring your own.
Both bank Danamon (Jl. Diponegoro) and BNI Bank (Jl. Kartini) have offices in Sumbawa Besar. BNI bank also has an ATM.
The post office is located on Jl. Yos Sudarso, about 250m before the intersection with Jl. Kepiting.
Gaulnet Cafe (on Yos Sudarso about 100m past the intersection with Jl. Kepiting) has an internet connection that is ok during the day and completely useless at night. Gaulnet Cafe also has a menu offering a range of western food such as pizzas and burgers that make for a nice change to Indonesian fare after 6 weeks of Ikan Bakar and Nasi Putih.
There is a small market by the Seketeng Bemo Terminal. There is also a good supermarket on the corner of Jl. Diponegoro and Jl. Kebayan.
We took a Tiara Mas travel bus from Sumbawa Besar to Mataram. The Tiara Mas Bus company has an office on Jl. Yos Sudarso. They have a number of buses departing at different times of the morning. The tickets cost 55,000RP (including the ferry crossing) and the trip takes about 7 hours. The buses have aircon and are pretty comfortable.
Buses leave from the Sumur Payung terminal which is about 6km north west of the city. Take a bemo from Jl. Hasanuddin (about a 10 minute trip) for 3,000RP per person.
The bus takes about 2 hours to reach the ferry. The ferry crossing itself takes about 2 hours once you get underway. The best place to enjoy the trip is in the covered enterence way to the bridge on the upper deck.
The trip across Lombok is especially fast (in comparison to all the road trips up to this point) due to the excellent state of the roads. The countryside is lush and heavily cultivated, making it a stark contrast to Sumbawa .
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