had a very interesting trip to Lombok... Believe what you
hear about the place, in that it is beautiful with warm and
friendly people, sweeping rice fields, beautiful beaches and
some of the nicest fish I have yet to see in Indonesia.
I do not recommend the mode of travel that I picked though...
There is a high speed ferry that whips you from Sanur in Bali
to the hot tourist spots in Lombok in about an hour. As I
am "Billy Bali Boy", not a tourist and traveling "local",
I took the slow boat. After a two hour drive to the harbor,
a five hour ferry ride and another two hour drive, we found
IKAN SEGAR (fresh fish). I was disappointed to find out that
Ikan segar and tourists to not inhabit the same part of Lombok.
I would love to return to Lombok in the future as a tourist
in the guise of a fish buyer...
There was a great abundance of fish, the largest I have
seen in Indonesia so far, with Tengiri, Bali Monk, Lemadang,
Opaka, Kuwe, Emperors, Red Snapper, Yellow Tail Snappers and
Groupers all represented although the handling left a lot
to be desired. There are two types of boats that fish the
near by waters off Lombok. The small cutout day boat of the
outrigger design and the larger traditional fishing vessel
that goes out for days at a time. Both use hook and line to
catch the fish which was very evident in the quality I saw
on shore and although the boats carry ice, that is where the
nod to quality control ends... Once landed, the fish are handled
each and every one, a total of six times before they are cut
for me. They are off loaded from the boats into small trays
that hold about 20 kgs of fish and then carried to a large
bin where they are iced down. Then for some unknown reason
to me, they are pulled out of the bin, separated and placed
on the ground, in the mud. Some ice is thrown on top for appearances.
It might of just been done for the benefit of the bulay (me)
who was watching this with a very critical eye. Then when
the bin is empty, it is loaded on a truck. This took 10 men.
I refused to help while furiously looking through my Bahasa
- English dictionary for the word "winch". Then the fish is
weighted and then placed in the truck, back in the same bin
it was in before, and then iced again. This all takes place
in 90 degree weather and just for fun, it started raining
cats and dogs. The rain, although lowering the temperature
to a balmy 85 degrees, increases the humidity to about 95
percent. My question of "Why is the fish not weighted when
being taken off the boat and then put directly on the truck?"
was answered - "Tidak tahu (I don't know...)". It is just
the fish biz when you have 100 hands around and not much else
This was the most rewarding search so far for the elusive
Ikan segar and after the disappointment I found in Sulawesi,
a very welcome one. Although I am encouraged by the diversity
and the quality of the fish I saw in market in Lombok, much
needs to be done to improve handling. I found the fisherman
to be very friendly and they welcomed my input, or at least
they were polite about listening, still a good start. Besides
having to constantly answer "NO, I am NOT Australian!", I
felt very welcome there.
Bill Marinelli is known throughout Asia as the “Oyster
King”. A Marine biologist turned fish monger, he has been
distributing live shellfish and fresh fish around the USA
and Asia since 1982.
2383 S. 200th St.
Seattle, WA 98198