Mataram comprises three major towns: Ampenan, Cakranegara, and Mataram itself. Ampenan is the furthest west located town in Mataram and used to serve as a port town. Ampenan resident is quite diverse; there are descendants of other Indonesian ethnics like Bulginess who are generally fishermen, Malay and Banjar of Borneo origin. There are also a significant amount of Chinese and Arab traders running most of the shops and restaurants around. They normally live at the old shop-houses. The amalgamation of their traditions and the locals’ makes Ampenan a little deferent than other living area in Mataram. Ampenan Residents speak a slightly different language.
Along the coast, there is a fishermen village where tourist can experience their way of life and watch the making of sailboats, when lucky. The are rows of boats lining up on the beach after coming back from fishing, good for photograph. Be there early to see fishermen coming ashore after staying out in the ocean the whole night long for fishing. Watching them pulling up the huge fishing net ashore could be new experience. It’s also amazing how they keep the tradition of gotong royong (help each other) when carrying the fishing boat out of the water to park it on the sand. A bit further north of the fishermen village is a sophisticated Chinese graveyard, which is often described as 7 star rated Mandarin hotel by local tour guides.
The second town in Mataram is Cakranegara, often shortly referred to as Cakra. This town has long been the commercial center in the province. Dominated by Chinese business people. There are now 3 malls in Mataram . There are several small restaurants, hotels as well as banks in Cakra. In the night time, Cakra turns into a hive of culinary from different places in Indonesia. They are normally sold at small warung (food stall) or knock down tents. Inspire of the Chinese domination in business area, Cakra is a home to Hindus of Balinese descendants who came to Lombok not later than the Chinese. Inhibited by Balinese, Cakra becomes very much like Bali as they still practice their own tradition and belief and speak their own language and becomes a paradise to rooster fighting gamblers. Drive a bit further east of Cakra is the main Mandalika Bus Station.
The third town is Mataram, the administrative town and hub of education. Governor’s, mayor’s and several other important offices are located here. A few banks, including Indonesian Central Bank, Bank Indonesia also sit in this area. There are also many schools of different levels including Mataram University and State Islamic Institute and Islamic Centre is beng build. Official residences of high rank officers are built in the main Mataram highway.