Thursday 1 September 2016

Lombok Travel Part 8: Trawangan Lifestyle

There are about 360 families residing in Gili Trawangan (based on a 2012 census), most of whom are dependent on tourism as a means of livelihood. While circumnavigating the island I tried to find a fishing village but there was no sign of fishing activities. I was told, the residents are paid not to go fishing by some big time tour agents in order to maintain an abundance of marine life for the scuba divers and snokellers. Scuba diving and snorkeling are after all major attractions for the tourists and facilitating these activities is a big business here. That kind of explains the lack of fishing activities which are typically seen in other remote islands.

The Lifestyle
In Trawangan you can easily rent snorkel sets, fins, life jackets and bicycles. Small businesses like this have sprung up at many corners around the island.
There are many booths that sell tours and island activities. A snorkeling trip to 3 islands is not expensive. It only cost about IDR100000 (RM32).

For such a small island you'll be surprised by the number of dive schools available. Many divemasters are foreigners.
This is the biggest spa and massage centre in Trawangan. There's always money to make from the spa business.
Even though hallucinogenic drugs are illegal in Indonesia, it is easily available in Gili Trawangan. Psilocybin or commonly known as magic mushroom are readily and openly sold in a number of pubs especially on the northern part of the west coast. It is a hit among white tourists.

Many residents live a very modest lifestyle as they strive to eke out an income doing small food businesses, like this vendor who doesn't even have a proper counter to display her food.
This woman sells satay on a dusty path.
Other than bananas and coconuts there aren't much crops grown in the island. Tap water is salty and are not suitable for drinking. The land is probably not suitable for robust farming either.
The locals do not normally patronize eateries that tourists go to. Their meals are ready packed mixed rice which costs about IDR15,000 per packet. (approx RM4.50)

Some food vendors are more privileged as they can afford their own 2-wheel carts.

These beef balls are really huge.
A lot of fruits and vegetables are brought in from Lombok.
The Market Square is a bustling place during dinner time. Food vendors would fill the square and display Trawangan's local delights and a variety of home cooked dishes. This place is a hit among tourists.

There are 3 mosques, 1 small Hindu shrine and 1 small Buddhist temple but there is no church in the island. The residents who are predominantly Muslims are a pious lot and the call to prayer can be heard over loudspeakers 5 times a day.  Do be sure to check out the location of your hotel before booking if you do not want to get wake-up calls as early as 4am.
Taking a walk along the beach in the evenings, you may find some local residents searching for edible marine life to take home as food. These young girls were busy collecting sea urchins and even offered 'free tasting' of their raw catch for interested passers by.

Quite a number of residents earn a living by riding the cidomos and charging a hefty fee even for a short ride.
The beef balls may be large but there are things that come in small packages. The banks for instance are very small.
I didn't expect a lighthouse to look like this and spent half an hour searching for the 'Trawangan Lighthouse' even though I cycled past many times.
It better not rain in Trawangan as the roads and drainage system are so bad you'll have to walk or cycle through many flooded and muddy stretches like this.

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