Ikat & Sonket weaving - Sidemen

Trip Start Jun 22, 2012
Trip End Jul 17, 2012

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morning broke and the distant hills were blanketed in a misty haze. The quietness and an enforced rest till our really late 10 am departure for a morning walk around Sidemen with local guide Nyoman.

He explained how the mounds of earth had growing all at once with red onions or chili in the centre, peanuts at the edges and at the end of the rows tapioca. They are all harvested at different times.

We saw fields of long green beans and sweet potatoes growing. Sweet potatoes can also be used in puddings as well as crackers. It was once considered a poor man’s food for those who could not afford rice. Too hot here to grow potatoes.

The rows of red flowers that I see all growing throughout many of the fields and between the other crops, the flowers are used for their daily offering.

Rice spread out for drying needs to have 10 hours of sunlight before it can be taken away to the mill.

Greater Sideman with a population of about 4,700 people has 51 communities. Each community would house 70 - 150 people of whom 95% practice the Hindu religion. The local area where we were has 16 Muslim families whose first call to prayer I heard this morning. Farmers make up 70% of the local population. With the growing tourism industry, many locals are now employed by this sector.

We passed a government building built in 1982 now in disrepair.

There are 2 types of traditional weaving:

Ikat where the thread is tie dyed before weaving and sonket where gold and silver thread is used.

Ayu, the sonket maker, wasn’t in to show us how she worked.

Read her moving story.

Ikat = At the Pelangi factory where the men were preparing the thread to be tye dyed before being woven by the girls. It then takes the girls 12 hours to produce a 220 cm long sarong which can be sold for 300,000 Rp (NZ$40 or US$33). They work 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. They earn just 35,000 Rp per day (NZ$4.80 or less than US$4.00). We were told that this is better than if they were working the land. No thank you. The constant noise of the timber weaving frame clanging away, the low lighting, the need to memorise the pattern and then the constant repetitive nature of this work.

Across the road was a stall making and selling Sonket, where gold and silver thread is used.

Back through town and after some brought Bali grown small but sweet oranges and imported apples, it was time to head into more rice fields. Besides rice, the fields are currently being used for other crops. I suppose it is crop rotation in true practice.

We passed through the now abandoned Sacred Mountain Sanctuary. Built in 1962 by US owners but left after the Bali bombing to ruin. I somehow think that the swimming pool is still maintained as it had no algae growth in it at all.

Down by the river we had a traditional 'bungkus' lunch. Wrapped in a bamboo leaf was cucumber, tempe, chicken, egg, tofu, carrots, beans and noodles .... yes, it was really delicious. It was made by one of the van driver's wife. Thank you.

With time before we had to leave, I practiced taking some of the moving water photography using a real slow shutter speed and resting my camera on a rock.

The walk took 3 hours and was a chance to take in some more great views of this still very much rich yet quiet rural part of Bali.

A couple of hours to R&R then at 3.30 pm off to higher into the mountains and the drive along the misty foggy crater rim road to the fishing village of Kedisan on the edge of Lake Batur just 90 minutes away. Volcanic Mt Batur (1717 m) sits inside a stark and spectacular caldera, and with Lake Batur below it's a stunning sight. The lake supports the local fishing industry, while many of the villagers work as guides for the volcano climb.

We were advised that the hotel would be basic which it certainly was. Just had to watch out for the low door leading down into the bathroom. At least unlike the hotel at Mt Bromo, this place had hot water even with a poor water pressure.

After a set dinner of Sayur Soup - vegetable soup, Nasi Goreng - fried rice, Ayam Bumbu Bali - chicken Balinese sauce, Kentang Goreng - potato and Salad Buch - fruit salad 55,000 Rp with a pineapple juice for 12,500 Rp = total 91,500 Rp (NZ $ 12 or less than US $ 10), it was off to bed as it was to be an extra early wake up tomorrow.
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