Lombok, island of rice, coffee,
cashews and tobacco, is next door to the better known island of Bali. It
benefits from this close proximity with a strengthening economy from an
increasing tourist industry. It has a lot to offer: the second highest volcano
in Indonesia, hot springs, white sand beaches and spectacular diving to mention
but a few. Our anchorage at Lombok was at a very new hotel and marina complex
built at the beach end of a charming village. Lucky for us the marina showers,
restaurant and bar where completed and the hotel will open soon as the windows
were going in whilst we were there. The best thing about this small development
is the commitment by island government to 100% involvement of the local
Whilst there we did a number of
activities. Here it is cruisers' cookery class led by local women from the
village with an interpreter provided by Sail Indonesia. These women won't be
long before they can manage themselves as Indonesians have a great facility for
languages and love to speak English.
A variety of spices,
plenty of chillies and lots of coconut milk made from mounds of freshly grated
fragrant coconut soaked and squeezed in water.
There were too many of us for this
event to be hands on but we learnt how to make the famous satay with peanut
sauce. Peanuts are an important ingredient of Indonesian cuisine, they are very
small and quite delicious; the spinach like leaves are used as well to add
richness to some dishes. The satay was followed by sticky black rice with thick,
sweetened coconut milk. Everyone enjoyed the sampling afterwards.
Lorraine and I also had personal instruction (2
teachers each) on how to make a basket from coconut leaf ribs and we each
finished a handmade bowl to prove our prowess in the craft. The villagers are
very talented at all sorts of crafts from the very simple.....this whisk was
made in seconds from a piece of banana leaf
,,,,,,to the very complicated, as in the intricate
patterns being woven by this young woman.
The designs are never detailed on paper, they are
kept in the head, passed down through the generations. In Lombok certain
villages are dedicated to a particular craft, this was the weaving village.
In the weaving village we also met
these young mums and their babies.
Meeting them prompted us to ask how many children
were usual in most families. By the numbers of children we see every where we
expected family size would be large but apparently the government is encouraging
people to stop at 2 children and is having a lot of success with the policy even
in the villages.
Our tour around the western end of the island was
less good than some we have done largely due to the mistaken belief that we were
keen to spend money on pottery (not especially practical on a boat), pearls and
woven products which we already have aplenty.
There was, of course, the usual welcome ceremony
where the locals once again showed up the cruisers with their sartorial
(Oh - did you see those bare legs,
baggy shorts, salty sandals and clashing colours!)
(If only there was a decent pontoon we might have got ashore
I think we have already commented on the ability
of the locals to carry anything on their motorbikes...but even our driver was
surprised by this load.....3 live goats!
Lombok's large population of just over 3 million
is 90% Sasak, the rest being mainly Balinese with a small Chinese, Javanese,
Bugis and Arab presence. The Sasaks were originally hill people and are much
poorer then the Balinese settlers. They are mainly Muslim but here, as in many
of the other islands, this is tempered with indigenous and animist traditions
which are fundamental to their way of life These three dominant forces appear to
sit well together and seem to prevent any tendency toward the extremism which
exists in some of the larger islands further north.
Finally, a little bit of monkey business