“Where are you going?” A broker welcomed the blonde hair guests. “I wanna go to Gili Trawangan,” said one of the foreign tourists who just got off the travel bus. Bluntly, the street vendors immediately attacked the tourists like a colony of ants. They offered necklaces, bracelets, seraungs (straw hats) and some beach sarongs as souvenirs. The cidomo (carriage) drivers were busy offering a ride in poor English. “Come on, Sir!” they shouted, hoping those tourists wanted to ride with them to the shoreline. That was the atmosphere of Bangsal Terminal, which was located about 300 m from Bangsal Harbor. Sometimes the guests chose to take a walk than to ride a cidomo. Maybe their reason was to loosen their leg muscles after the long journey that they had taken.
The street vendors continuously offered their goods to the tourists who either took a walk or a cidomo. They kept following them to the Bangsal Harbor. Some vendors even recklessly jumped on the cidomo to follow the tourists. The other sight was presented when we arrived at the Bangsal Harbor: the ojek base which was divided into box-shaped sections, the cidomos which looked like a line of market stalls, and local passengers who sometimes spread out their wares, leaving behind pieces of recycling. Same as the brokers, street vendors and cidomo driver, the porters didn’t want to miss the chance either to offer their service carrying the luggage onto the Public Boat which would carry the tourists. That was the atmosphere closed to our eyes when we were in Bangsal Pemenang.
The Bangsal Harbor was a crossing place to go to Three Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air). Bangsal also became one of the livelihood places of residents to fulfill their daily needs. “Ni wah Bangsal, informasi apa ukuran a dek kalin dik dengah a nu, mauq diq bae. Ito ite leq tau ni dateng moq,” (This is Bangsal. Any information that you’ve never even heard, you can have it here, because people come from various places) said one of my friends who had been working here for many years as a tour guide. Indeed, every day this place was always packed with people from out of nowhere. Some searched for a good fortune, some relaxed in Three Islands, some did the study tour, some intended to just make an appearance, and so on. “The Gili Air Public Boat destination needs one more passenger,” the voice from the Ticket Office was heard. My friend ran in an instant, “Bro… ku baq Gili Air juluq sengak araq siq urus,” (Bro, I’m going to Gili Air for now because there’s something I should do there, OK?) he shouted as he ran towards the Ticket Office.
I saw my friend ran hastily towards the boat that was full with tourists, traders and also the residents of Gili who just came home from Pemenang market. You know, there wasn’t any market in Gili yet so that the residents of three Gilis had to buy their daily needs in Pemenang Market. “Becatan sekedik, ngenang kami dik laun (Hurry up, if you don’t want us to leave you),” the voice of the boat captain who already turned on the 40 PK (39.2 HP) engine was heard. The boat then left and I shifted my gaze to the other guides who were offering service to accompany the foreign tourists. They were quite busy bringing travel brochures. “Yes… yes!!! Rinjani Mountain after Sendang Gile. We can go from there to the mountain.” Although they spoke less fluent English, they didn’t care. The most important thing was they were able to guide the tourists.
“Assalamu’alaikum… begak laku barang dik?” (Assalamu’alaikum…sold much merchandise?) I asked a street vendor who was my cousin, Heri.
“Wa’alaikumsalam, Kute wah… sok ta gemet mauk ta bae, aran jak penok kancan ta mendagang, anuk soal a seruak ne bangsal ni kan cuma sebagai persinggahan ora, jari gak semendak turis morok ite. Saling juluin wah kanca bak beak ca,” (Yes, if we make a serious effort, we certainly can do it. There are many friends who trade here, and Bangsal is only a stopover, the tourists are only here for a while, so we compete against each other) he said, responding to my question.
“Padahal bagus kawasan Bangsal ne, wah a kah arak tau mengak hotel kek atau tempat menginap teger bau one’an turis-turis ne ite. Sementara lampak bak Gili kan, jari dek nggak jari tempat parkir ora balen-balen tau ni,” (This Bangsal region is fine now, why isn’t there anybody make hotels or lodgings for the tourists so that they can stay longer here before they take off to Gili, so that these people’s houses are not only used as parking lots?) I replied.
“Laguk lumayan se masi mauk a, apalagi mun rame tamu, tahun baru ca apalagi, sang dek arak jalan tau parkir cak ca. Dekman montor tau-tau Gili anuk sekolah kon teben ca bae penok a,” (But they get a reasonable income when the many guests come, especially on New Year, maybe there wouldn’t be any parking spot here, not to mention the motorcycles owned by Gili’s people who go to University of Mataram, well, it might get full here) he said again.
“Aro sang sik penok tain jaran ne sang seruak, mbe remis gati Bangsal ne, masa dek arak tukang bersihin a?” (Maybe it’s because of so much horse manure too so that Bangsal is very dirty. Isn’t there any cleaning service?) I asked.
“Aro wah deq ku tao. Diq jaga bak mbe ca?” (Well, I don’t know. Where are you going?)
“Ku jaga bak Trawangan,” (I want to go to Trawangan) I answered.
“Sawek dik mbeli tiket?, mbeli kek ito juluk, penok a but ca bareh,” (Have you bought the ticket? Buy it now, before the boat gets full) he suggested.
“Oke wah..” (Okay, then). Granted, the boat to Trawangan got full very quickly.
I then walked to the ticket office. I examined the ticket price board. The ticket to Trawangan was 10000 IDR. I immediately went to the ticket seller who had already been watching me for long. “Jaga bak mbe Wee?” (Wee… Where are you going?). Wee was my nickname. “Na se ga rapi ruan dik?” (Why are you so dapper?) he went on. “Trawangan,” I answered softly as I paid the ticket that he handed me.
I was still thinking about my conversation with my cousin. If the government and surrounding communities paid more attention to Bangsal, even though now it was only made as connecting harbor, certainly one day it would attract tourists to spend more time here enjoying the beauty of Mount Agung which clearly visible from here. So, then maybe Bangsal could become a very promising business district for the residents, because there were many Pemenang’s residents who tried their luck there.
Three days ago I’d heard news about bad weather, big waves, rain and strong wind. This would affect the income of people who scratched a living in Bangsal, although they said it had not affected them too much yet. Sometimes there was an experienced boat captain who had courage to drive his boat through that bad weather. “But if the weather is severe, usually passengers are moved to the Ombak Beleq, only certain ships that operate for passenger’s safety. We are on standby too there,” said the ticket office clerk.
Honestly, I couldn’t sit for long on a parked boat. Its movement always made me sick. That was why I got on the boat when it seemed that all passengers were already on the boat. The boat captain started the engine, while on the front the boat crew was pulling the anchor and the passengers were busy with their conversations. The boat slowly sailed across the sea powerfully. We moved past the ex-bungalow buildings and neglected even ruined restaurants around Bangsal. We moved past the main road which was filled with grass until it looked narrow. The crowd of people with their activities became small. And then it was only mountain range and a line of white sand. “Subhanallllaaaaah, ga belek umbak ni,” (Subhanallaah, the wave is huge) the screaming from the ice lolly seller beside me startled me. Apparently my imagination had already brought me pretty far away from Bangsal. “Nendek keto-kete angkak, morok-morok tan wah….” (That’s why you have to stay where you are, don’t go back and forth) the boat captain shouted while holding the handle of 39.2 HP (40 PK) engine… I could only smile.