Our Civilization Began Here!In North Lombok, every place has its own uniqueness and characteristic. Although the character of each place is different, in some cases they also have similarities. Bayan Village for example, is known for its strong cultural customs. It can be seen from the establishment of Masjid Kuno (the ancient mosque), including its people who until today have still been holding the cultural custom of North Lombok Sasak firmly. Along with the more frequent people’s visits to Masjid Kuno Bayan, then study it and see some other possibilities, a few other ancient mosques that are spread over North Lombok are found. In fact, there is a rumor that there is a mosque that is older than Masjid Kuno Bayan. This indicates that there was a similar mission of the arrival of the outsiders to North Lombok, which was to spread the religion. Okay, we do not talk about that too much here. It will become a reference of how we see the condition of Pemenang with the presence of Bangsal because what happens in Pemenang is not the same as what happens in other places in North Lombok, especially regarding the cultural acculturation in Pemenang where the people live side by side in harmony despite that it consists of three different religions, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. In fact, they live with a very high tolerance.
The Port, that is the key word. Pemenang has a port, the Bangsal Port, which had been used long before the arrival of Islam in North Lombok. It started from this port that the history of Pemenang began. According to the story from my parents, Bangsal had always been a center of trade. Many merchants from various areas came and did the business in Bangsal. That’s why the coastal residents who experienced the acculturation with foreign traders, who stopped by, accepted the differences more easily because, in trade transactions between them, they tried to understand each other and understand each other’s cultures.
Around the year of 1675, the Hindu King of Karang Asem expanded his area up to the region of North Lombok. The group of soldiers was led by an Anak Agung named Anak Agung Nengah Subagan, who centralized his power in Pemenang Village since then.
With his wisdom and skill in running the government, Anak Agung Nengah Subagan succeed to win the heart of residents of Pemenang. He managed to unite the entire of Pemenang’s people who consisted of the Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and included them in his administration. Then Masnun (Former Head of Karang Pangsor Village in 1975 to 1978) said, “That sense of brotherhood is still embedded and visible up to now. It can be seen from the attitude of religious tolerance and harmonious relationship here.Rosmayadi (March 9, 2010), “Asal Muasal Masjid Jami’ul Jama’ah Karang Pongsor“, akumassa. Accessed on April 1st, 2015.
When reading the history of Lombok, we surely know that the Hindu Kingdom of Karang Asem had once ruled in Lombok in a considerable period of time, until finally, some Islamic kingdoms in the area of Central Lombok and East Lombok rebelled to destroy the Hindu Kingdom of Karang Asem. But it was unsuccessful and then those Islamic kings asked the Dutch Colonial to help them destroying the Hindu Kingdom of Karang Asem, until finally, the Puputan War happened, a war to eradicate the Hindu Kingdom of Karang Asem to the roots.
The feud between Muslims and Hindus did not happen in Pemenang at that time. What happened was the opposite. The society of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam in Pemenang still lived side by side and helped each other. Perhaps the reason was the skill of Nengah Subagan, when he governed Pemenang. However, long before they arrived, people of Pemenang had become accustomed to feeling the difference, had already accustomed to understanding foreign cultures, especially, the foreign culture that ruled at that time instilled a strong brotherhood in people. The mosques, temples and monasteries were proven to be built together by all religions that existed in Pemenang.
I have once chatted with Mangku Ayu of Jeliman Ireng Village, Mr. Jenalip. He told me about the residents of Pemenang when the Praya Kingdom had wanted to attack them. According to Mr. Jenalip’s story, the Praya’s soldiers had not been able to get to Pemenang. They had only arrived in Pusuk region. This incident had been intentional. The people of Pemenang, at that time, had not wanted the soldiers to arrive and to make war and chaos because at that time, the residents had not wanted to go to war anymore because it had already been calm and peaceful in Pemenang.
“Then, a magic gong was hit. The reverberation of the sound of the gong made the land where the soldiers stood swayed powerfully that they could not get to Pemenang,” that was the story that Mr. Jenalip told me.
There are indeed many versions of story about the origin of people of Pemenang. It’is common, the history is like that. However, what I underline here is how Bangsal became an important part in the history of the community of Pemenang. And indeed up to now, the existence of Bangsal in the reality of the Pemenang’s community development has been becoming very important to be discovered continuously, especially when the Bangsal Port has been developing quite rapidly. Furthermore, the presence of Bangsal now becomes a reference of many changes that occur in people’s lives, along with the development of rate of tourism in North Lombok.
Undeniably, the harbor area will always grow faster than other areas, physically and psychologically, which was also reflected in Pemenang’s people’s lives in the past. From Bangsal, the society learned and accepted the foreign cultures. It was positive indeed, but it did not rule out the possibility of many negative effects.
This is a sort of evaluation for now related to how Bangsal becomes the center of cultural knowledge for the community of Pemenang. Especially this time, the administration of President Joko Widodo issues an ultimatum of the port development and construction in every province throughout Indonesia, in order to support the economic growth and the progress in the field of industry. This of course is based on the awareness of the potential of marine and beaches owned by Indonesia. The development programs such as these should become an evaluation material if it is correlated with the condition of Pemenang today, especially when talking about development it is not only a physical problem that we have to put forward but also various sectors that support it.
Such as Bangsal for example. Bangsal is not only on a port where ships lean but there are also many other supporting components, Cidomo (a type of delman), for example, ojek, souvenir merchants, laborers, homestay and traveling services, restaurants and various elements that should be considered in the construction of a port. If the government will build the port, the infrastructures will be compressed then what about them who are also the inseparable part from the story of Bangsal?
Memory of the Past about Plecing Crackers, Keke and Seasick at Bangsal BeachThe Pemenang’s society has a very unique food, pelecing crackers. Pelecing is actually a Lombok’s unique sambal (a chili-based sauce) in which the grated coconut pulp is added, and it is put on top of other food, such as water spinach pelecing. Pelecing exists everywhere and every dish seems to be able to be processed into pelecing. Pelecing in Pemenang is not much different from the pelecing elsewhere. However, the unique thing of pelecing in Pemenang is its crackers. These crackers which are made from sweet potato flour are then dried and baked over flames. When they are baked, the maker deliberately forms them in the shape of plates. Not only in the shape of plates, but also their function is to substitute the plates. When pelecing is placed on these crackers, the tongue could not resist its temptation. I would drool over the unique Lombok’s chili smell.
The delicious food, when eaten in a cool place, surely will form a distinctive memory. Just like buying and eating kerak telor (egg crust) at the Old City or at Monas, Jakarta, will feel different from buying and eating it in Lombok. Once I have bought kerak telor at Tanjung Field at the sixth anniversary of North Lombok. It tasted weird. So did the pelecing crackers. You can ask the residents of Pemenang where the cool place to eat pelecing crackers. Yup! The top answer would certainly be in Bangsal, before sunset. Somehow, the pelecing crackers, when eaten in Bangsal become more delicious. Perhaps the atmosphere of the beach, the sound of waves, the rustling of the coconut leaves and the redness of the sun make them more delicious.
Bangsal consists of two beaches, East and West Beach. They are separated by rows of motor boat ready to take passengers to the Three Gili (small island): Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. In those both parts of Bangsal, the residents of Pemenang often gather with family, enjoying the dusk with food, especially pelecing crackers.
In the past, my family and I often did the same activity too. We did not only come to spend the time, sometimes the reason was for treatment. The sea water did have a lot of mineral contents which were very good for the body, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium sulphate, iron, boron, selenium, zinc and sodium and other sea water contents which were beneficial for health and beauty. However, of course not all Pemenang’s people understood this. What they knew is that bathing in Bangsal cured the disease. I also remember some time ago, my nephew who was ill, was taken by my brother to Bangsal for treatment. Of course before leaving, he prepared a lot of food, including Pelecing. Bathing at the Bangsal Beach becomes a myth that has been developing in the Pemenang’s community until today. Although for times like today, not many people do this activity anymore.
Besides pelecing crackers, another thing that I always remember about Bangsal is mbauk keke (catching keke). Keke is a kind of small shell which often hides under the sand.
I went to Bangsal very often, together with my classmates during my years in elementary school. Not infrequently, we spent the school hours to plan to look for keke in Bangsal: designing a strategy so the parents would give permission, looking for as many keke as we wanted in Bangsal and returning home before the Maghrib call to prayer filled the air. We did not have to worry if we were late for home because there were cidomo coachmen who worked in Bangsal every day. Usually we ran and went up the cidomo that we found. Do not think that all the coachmen would allow it, sometimes they scolded us.
Looking for keke was very easy. We just sat with our backs facing the sea. But do not sit cross-legged because if we sat cross-legged, our body would not withstand the waves when it slammed into the shore, also when the water returned to the sea. The proper way to sit was to rest on the the knees, putting the soles of our feet into the sand and giving a little space between our thighs. Our thighs and body would hold the water. If our position was already right, then we were ready to look for keke.
Looking for keke did not need tools. When the waves swept the shoreline, we just put our hands into the sand in the middle of the space between our thighs. When the water got into the sand, the keke would move. Our hands would feel its movement, and yes! Keke was in our grasps. Do not ask how it tasted if it was eaten as a side dish for dinner, the answer was certain. Very delicious!
If the kids’ hobby was looking for keke, the adults in Pemenang liked fishing. It was no wonder many people of Pemenang were fishermen, or making fishing as a subsector to fulfill the needs, although indeed, the fishermen in Pemenang particularly and in North Lombok generally, were still classified as traditional fishermen. This could be seen from the type of boat and fishing equipment that was still very simple.
In the past, along the west coast of Bangsal, we were presented with a row of fishing boats of various sizes and colors. There, every afternoon we could see the fishermen who were preparing to sail to catch the fish. Occasionally, we saw them go back and forth along the Bangsal beach, in their typical clothes while carrying the sail, nets, fishing equipment, a Petromax lamp and various fishing needs. They were getting ready to leave the land, seeking their fortune in the middle of the sea, above the waves, while hoping to bring home a lot of fish to be sold or to be eaten with the family at home.
The late Man Kario was a fisherman who once invited me to look for fish in the sea. I remember, at that time I was still in Elementary School. Man Kario, when he had been alive, often came to my house to meet my father. One day, I expressed my desire to participate in fishing. He agreed to take me fishing, but not until the night. I agreed as long as I could go fishing. We promised the following afternoon to meet at the west beach of Bangsal. From home, I rode my bicycle as fast as I could, afraid that I was left behind. When I arrived, Man Kario was preparing all the equipment for fishing. Once completed, I was ordered to go up first, while Man Kario was pushing the boat himself. The boat that we used was not too big, probably about 3 meters in length. Man Kario gave me a roll of wood that contained a fishing line with dozens of hooks on it. The hooks were also different from the hooks I knew. Those hooks were decorated with the flashing strings.
Man Kario asked me to release the fishing line to the right, because he released the fishing line to the left. He tied the fishing line to the tip of his foot, to make it easier for him to row. He continued rowing slowly, while looking at the waves that approached our boat, weighing so that the waves did not flip over the boat. That afternoon, Man Kario got quite a lot of fish. How about me? I got nothing, except dizziness and nausea and then I vomited. We went back to the beach. As the boat approached the shoreline, I threw up more and more. My body was limp. Man Kario smiled. He carried my little body from the boat and rested it under a fir tree.
There are so many memories of my childhood in Bangsal, too many to be told here. My story is a piece of thousands of stories of Pemenang’s society. Now Bangsal has changed. The Pemenang’s people have changed. How is the fate of the pieces of that past story?
Bangsal Today for All of UsOn March 12, 2012, the Pasirputih Community moved to a new secretariat. Initially the Pasirputih Community secretariat had been located in my home, in the Karang Subagan Village. After working for two years, we were trusted to manage the Local Government Building located in Bangsal Terminal. We were happy, but we also felt burdened by many things. Could we maintain this mandate?
Our move to Bangsal Terminal opened our eyes to what happened in Bangsal.
It was true what people said, that to see a problem clearly, we had to get close. We could not judge something from afar. So, the existence of Pasirputih Community in Bangsal Terminal at that time was a gift to us to get a closer look at all the problems that existed in Bangsal.
One day, when we were busy discussing at the new Secretariat, a topic about Bangsal Terminal appeared. Every day then, we saw how the regulations in the Bangsal Terminal were still irregular. Like the position of Cidomo, the position of the travel transportation, taxi, shabby stalls and many more that we could judge as a form of management irregularity of this terminal. Actually, this Bangsal Terminal was not just a usual terminal. It became the initial face of the form of North Lombok tourism. This terminal was an International Terminal. Every day, hundreds of tourists came and saw the condition of this disorganized terminal. Not to mention the traders who always surrounded the tourists to offer their stuff. This thing was often complained of by the tourists. Plus, looking back, the position of this terminal alone had already been half-hearted. The terminal was located not far from Bangsal, approximately 500 meters. From the terminal to Bangsal, there were cidomo available. Many tourists chose to walk rather than riding a cidomo. Besides because of the close distance, another problem was about the charge that had to be paid from terminal to Bangsal which was quite expensive (about 25,000 – 30,000 IDR) compared to the distance.
This cidomo problem, even until now, still becomes a complicated problem to be solved. Not to mention if we touch on their conflict with taxis and travel services.
This problem arose, in fact, due to the indecisiveness of the agency that managed this terminal. Not all public transport from outside stopped in the Terminal. By paying a few thousand rupiah, transport services could directly go to Bangsal Port. This, for the coachmen of cidomo, was considered very inconvenient, until finally, the coachmen of cidomo had occupied the post which was usually guarded by employees of transportation agency.
During the discussion at the secretariat, we were always accompanied by a few cups of delicious black coffee. We could buy the coffee from the stalls that formed a line in the east corner of the terminal. Sometimes, we also spent a lot of time drinking coffee under the perforated roof of a stall, while listening to the stories of traders and terminal’s residents who usually had a breakfast or drank coffee there.
“The government comes here very often, from the Head of Pemenang District, officials from the Transportation Agency, the employee of regency and others,” said a trader who became our favorite trader. “They promise that they want to change this place. However, until now it has not been realized.”
Indeed, the condition of those stalls was very indecent: leaky roofs, dirty tables, untidy bamboo chairs. How would the tourists be interested if the stalls’ condition was like that? Meanwhile, across the terminal, there was a restaurant owned by an immigrant from abroad, which, although it was not too perfect, offered something much better than residents’ stalls around the terminal. The stalls in Bangsal also experienced the same thing. Although actually there was already a building built by the local government of North Lombok, still, all had not been seen well-organized yet, especially if we talked about the menu they provided. It was not appealing at all to be enjoyed by the tourists.
If we went toward Bangsal from the direction of Pemenang intersection, we would see some pretty good restaurants, which were usually used by the guides as places for breakfast for the tourists, the individual tourist or group of tourists. But the rest of them were buildings that did not seem right to be on the tourist track like Bangsal.
Since the separation of North Lombok from West Lombok, some offices had been built in Bangsal: Religious Affairs Office (KUA), Elementary School (SD), State Educational Technical Implementation Unit (UPTD) of Pemenang District, Kindergarten (TK Pembina) of Pemenang District, Tsunami Building and several other offices. For some reasons that I did not know, these building could exist on the tourist track. Wasn’t it considered that this route should be built for tourism infrastructure? Wasn’t a careful planning discussed to build the North Lombok tourism? Of course many questions arose from this. Especially, considering that some of the locations where those buildings existed had once been people’s green agricultural land. We were always faced with choices. If we had to sacrifice something, at least what we sacrificed equal to what we would get.
One time, we were sitting at the secretariat. Suddenly several people came. I forget who they were excatly. Obviously they were researchers from a government institution. They invited us to talk about a lot of things. One that made us surprised at that time was a question that they asked. “Do you know that a hundred years from now Gili Meno would disappear from the map?”
As soon as that question was asked, we were all silent. How come we were not? It was a very heart-rending question and statement at the same time. An island would disappear, an island where many friends, relatives, also our families made a living. Why could this happen? One of them later continued that the abrasion that occurred made Gili Meno became smaller and smaller. The coral reefs which became the wave breaker had been damaged. Trees and wild plants that existed on the edge of the beach had been replaced with hotels’ and homestay’s concrete. Every year, investors and local community built. The beach was claimed to be owned by the hotel or company. Beaches that belonged to the community would eventually disappear because all parties claimed that the beaches were theirs.
Pasirputih Community once conducted a research in Gili Meno regarding this. A tour worker who had been working for about 15 years in Gili Meno admitted that this thing really happened. Since he had worked in Gili Meno, the beach had been indeed getting narrower and Gili Meno became smaller. The Chairman of the Mangrove Community, Pepeng, admitted that when the abration had started getting worse, each party had saved their own land. There had been no unity. The residents who had not had land on the beach had felt that it had not been their responsibility. Then, what if this really happened? Everyone claimed the land, but only a few ones who could be responsible for the land they occupied.
In North Lombok generally, the land problem was getting strange. People competed to sell their land, because land price suddenly soared in North Lombok. However, after the land was sold, not a few people who complained because ultimately capitalism undermined the land and monopolized the local economy. In some places, there were riots between the citizens and the hotel because people were not allowed to catch fish around the hotel area. One story I got from Herman Zohdi mentioned that the fishing community in Malaka Village had been confused about where to rest their boats because the land had been sold and the buyer had not permitted the people to rest their boats on the land that had been bought. It had been very ironic.
The more tourism is heralded as an icon of North Lombok, with promotions through various ways, the more tourists come to visit Gili. The escalation of visitor to Gili also requires the higher food supply. The level of consumption of the people and tourists in Gili is increasing. As a result, the food waste also increases and so does the amount of garbage. Can you imagine Gili Trawangan for example, a small island which has an area of only 360 hectares, produces 5 tons of waste every day? For now, the waste problem in Gili Trawangan has not been able to be solved maximally. Provincial Government presses North Lombok Local Government to immediately deal with this waste, but the solution has not been found yet. Today, if you go to Gili Trawangan, take time to go around the back of the Gili Trawangan hill. There, you will see so many piles of trash. It is the waste generated by the hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes and traditional stalls in Gili Trawangan.
Ah…! There were so many issues that I should have been able to mention here. I could probably write it in more detail another time.
It takes a lot of time talking about Bangsal and all its problems, one or two articles were not enough. It may take months of research to see what exactly happens with Bangsal and its terminal, Three Gili and North Lombok because all of them are related to one another.
Next, where should we start looking for the root of the problem? From my view, after doing a discussion with some community leaders, the most important is a clear concept of the North Lombok tourism. The concept that I mean here is not just about Bangsal as a port, the Bangsal Terminal as a temporary resting place before tourists arrive in Bangsal and Three Gili as good tourism assets to generate regional income and to sustain the local economy. But, there should be a blue print that can be used as a standard for all circles either it is the government, street vendors, entrepreneurs, coachmen of cidomo and all elements that exist in Pemenang, especially residents of Bangsal and Three Gili.
I close this article with a piece of poetry that I used as the opening of my writing about Bangsal Dock, which has been published on the journal of www.akumassa.org:
Biarkan aku duduk menerima takdirku
Memandang matahari yang sebentar lagi tenggelam
Lalu aku akan segera kembali
Pada matahari pagi dari balik Rinjani”
“Just for a moment,
Let me sit accepting my destiny
Watching the sun that soon will go down
Just for a moment,
Then I’ll be right back
Accepting my line
On the morning sun from behind Rinjani”
Footnote [ + ]
|1.||⇑||Rosmayadi (March 9, 2010), “Asal Muasal Masjid Jami’ul Jama’ah Karang Pongsor“, akumassa. Accessed on April 1st, 2015.|