Dressing Up in Kampung Wisata, Lombok

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April 17th 2015
Published: April 27th 2015
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Getting made up for the Wedding processionGetting made up for the Wedding processionGetting made up for the Wedding procession

The attendants were in matching pairs
When I entered the room I almost didn't recognise her! I had never seen Jane with so much foundation and false eye lashes. And she still had the hairspray and hair piece to go.

We had been invited by our homestay host, Bram to join a local wedding procession. We were told to wear a sarong. I wore one we had bought the previous day and Bram's wife, Huriani, lent Jane one of hers. Bram and his friend Eddy, took us down to the groom's house on the bikes. The groom was sitting in casual clothes surrounded by friends. A number had been hitting the rice wine pretty hard. I made a donation to the groom's father of 50,000INR as directed by Bram. Jane was soon whisked away to the make up room. It the mean time I was given rice wine and served with rice, a palm heart curry, beef and noodles. It is lucky I have not forgotten my training of how to eat with my right hand.

The bride and most of her attendants had been dressed and made up before Jane. The bride had a fantastic headdress and wore a long black and silver dress. The groom was the last to dress and have make up. It was noticeable that the foundation in all cases lighten the skin.

There were two travelling bands. The first was 'modern' and from the local village, Tetebatu. There were electric guitars, keyboards and six drummers. The girls dressed and made up in Western clothes sang local pop songs. A mobile gamelan orchestra then arrived playing at a fast pace. After a few numbers the musicians were invited to eat. Some of the band were keen to get their picture with me. I don't thing they had seen anybody so tall.

The Indonesian culture of smoking cigarettes was all to apparent. It used to be illegal for women to smoke and I have only seen one Indonesian women smoking, a visiting sophisticate. At the wedding it seem that all the men smoked and I mean all most of the time. They have strong brands flavoured with cloves from local factories owned by BAT and Phillip Morris. Often because it is cheaper they roll their own using locally grown tobacco.

Finally the procession had got on the way. It was led by the bride and her attendants including Jane. Next came the pop band followed by the groom and his mates and me. The friends took it in turns to hold an umbrella above the groom's head. At the rear was the gamelan orchestra. We walked the two kilometres to the bride's parents house. It was deafening. It took the best part of two hours to make the trip. Many people from the community lined the street.

It was strange for a westerner how the bride and groom did not smile or even interact that much. Apparently they are supposed to be serious because they should not have met much. That said, most Indonesian weddings are based on love. As anywhere it helps if the parents approve.

The brides parents met the bride and groom at their house. There were photos taken with smart phones and then it was all over. Bram and Eddy took us back on the bikes to the groom's house. We had to return the headpiece, the eyelashes and my head scarf. We also paid the make up artist as each attendant had. It was 50,000INR per person. Jane needed to shower to get the canfull of fixing spray out of her hair. It was nice to have her back.

It was quite a bizarre experience. At any point we were not sure was going to happen next. We trusted Bram and Eddy to look after us. We gratefully saw Eddy step in when some of the rice wine soaked lads got a bit boisterous wanting Jane and me to dance. We hope the community were happy to share their culture. It was noticeable that all the attendants were the same age as the bride and groom or younger. I am left with an echo of guilt at our imposition because we never even found out the name of the bride and groom.

On the same day the community was also supporting a grieving family. A man had died the previous day. He was buried within 4 hours and now women were bringing rice to the family home. Men made a donation. In the morning we passed the house with Eddy as the women were cleaning the rice. They were tossing the rice in bamboo weaves trays. Jane had a go and it was harder than it looked.

We were based in the village of Kampung Wisata, two kilometres North of Tetebatu, a village noted in Lonely Planet for its rural setting. It is in the centre of Lombok on the Southern slopes of Gunung Rinjani. We had picked out Bram's place, Tetebatu Indah Homestay, from its single trip advisor review. We stayed one night in the Central Inn in Sengigi because we had arrived so late on the public ferry from Bali. It was functional, not that cheap (350,000INR including breakfast) and did the job given our late arrival. We got a car in the morning to Tetebatu. If I was doing it again I would get Eddy to arrange to pick me up. It should cost around 250,000INR from Sengigi although that is difficult to score locally.

Bram and Eddy picked us up from the Tetebatu intersection. We rode on the back of their bikes up the rough track to Kampung Wisata. Bram and his family live in a simple two bedroom house. His family moved in next door with the extended family and we and another pair of European backpackers occupied the bedrooms on our first night. The loo with Western toilet was out the back. The shower was a scoop. There were no fans or a/c because at 700m altitude they are no necessary. It was a fantastic place to stay. Huriani, who was seven months pregnant, made us some super simple meals. Banana tree curry, made from the young plants themselves was a first. It was very tasty.

There is nothing particularly special about the Tetebatu region. There is a large waterfall you can walk to if you pay the National Park entrance fee. Bram will also take you up Gunung Rinjani on request. The region is carpeted with rice paddies and other crops and we just enjoyed walking around understanding how local people live.

The local people of Lombok, the Sasak, are a historical mixture of local Indonesians and Vietnamese and Chinese who have settled there over the ages. The majority are Muslim and the call the prayer was omnipresent. There are pockets of Balinese (with their Hindu temples) and Chinese around the main town of Mataram. Traditionally the region, particularly in the centre of the island, was not rich. Eddy commented that thirty or forty years ago they would sometimes only have one meal a day and houses may not have had walls. Many men went and still go to Malaysia to work for years on end. It enabled Brim and Eddy to build their own cement and brick houses. The groom was just back from Malaysia. The struggle is to find work back home. Brim is now promoting tourism in the village through his website and homestay and passing work to other villagers like Eddy. He is also encouraging Western volunteers to visit.

Eddy gave us an excellent guided tour through the surrounding area. We got to see our very first nutmeg fruit. The mace inside is the colour oxygenated blood and covers the nutmeg like a stretched string vest. We helped to thresh rice on a board beating the seeds away from the straw. We saw vanilla growing and bought dried pods to send home. Eddy showed us a snake fruit tree/palm and how to find the fruit at the base. We stopped for refreshment at a rice paddy hut owned by Eddy's family. He climbed a tree and cut down two coconuts. They were very refreshing and we scooped out the flesh with a make-shift spoon carved from the green outer case. Eddy explained about the different varieties of banana grown in the area (there were at least five) and how the locals use each one. Such a contrast to the factory ones we get at home. We were glad Eddy pointed out 'Jelatang', otherwise known as poison ivy.

We went to the waterfall in the village and finished at the new and only warung/restaurant. Bram is doing what he can to encourage others to start tourist oriented businesses. I had an excellent avocado juice. In Indonesia avocado is definitely a fruit. Our hosts only ate it with sugar. We explained how we eat it with salt and oil and vinegar.

On our first afternoon Bram and Eddy had taken us to two craft centres on the back of their bikes. The first was a village where 700 women wove cotton sarongs on hand looms. They colour the cotton thread with natural and synthetic dyes. We bought one (from Asmu'i at Rinjani Art Shop, Pringgasela, T: 087831023722) which I wore for the wedding procession the next day. At the other village they took us to a wood carver, Jul. He made mahogany bowls that he painted in bright intricate patterns. At the back of his shop ladies appeared to show us how they shave bamboo into flexible strips to make baskets, trays and rice containers. I tried it and immediately cut the bamboo strip in half much to everyone's amusement.

On our last evening Eddy invited us to dinner at his house. Again we were served a tasty array of dishes. He had met his wife, Indra, who was from Java in Malaysia. One dish was a curry of green papaya. We were finally able to coax his wife to sit with us when we shared the photos of our stay and the wedding.

The next morning Eddy arranged a lift for us all the way to Bangsal, the jump off point for the Gilis. He very sweetly bought us a parting gift of mangosteen fruit. He came with us, presumably having nothing else to do. We stopped at the local market in Kotaraja and he took us round. We haggled for fruit with his help. I bought some local sweets, Kelapon, soft gelatinous green balls of sticky rice paste and palm sugar sprayed with shaved coconut on a banana leaf. It was very tasty. We passed on the stalls selling blocks of local tobacco.

It was a fantastic couple of days. Bram and Eddy treated us honestly and it was an honour to get a glimpse of village life in Central Lombok. Indonesia is a lot more than beaches and coral reefs. We were happy to input into their modest economy and glad they shared it around the community. We recommend a visit to Kampung Wisata to all. Just give Bram (+62 822 3653 4942) or Eddy (+62 823 3916 8368) a call.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Our first nutmegOur first nutmeg
Our first nutmeg

The red skin on the nut is the mace

21st June 2016

Our Warm Regard To Mr.Jeremy and Jane from www.tetebatuindahhomestay.com
We are so very happy that Mr.Jeremy helps us to recommend our Place to the World and travelers and thank you very much for staying with us in www.tetebatuindahhomestay.com BEST REGARDS,BRAM AND FAMILY

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