The salt workers collect the salt in hollow coconut trunks. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The salt workers collect the salt in hollow coconut trunks. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Amed, the salt slaves

#Bali # Indonesia

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 


I'll take you back to Baliin Indonesia. In Amed, exactly, on the northeast coast of the island. In spite of the tourist development of the region, there are still some salt marshes and saunters here.

The salt harvest

I couldn't stay at Amed's during this trip to Bali (July 2008)without getting a closer look at the work of the salt workers. This is the traditional activity of the region.

Under the scorching sun, they harvest sea salt. Their hard work can be seen on the beaches at the entrance to the village, at the foot of the imposing Agung volcano.

Under the burning sun, two men evident the trunks of coconut trees where will be collected brackish water. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Under the burning sun, two men evident the trunks of coconut trees where will be collected brackish water. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The salt workers collect the salt in hollow coconut trunks. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The salt workers collect the salt in hollow coconut trunks. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

A slave labor, in the middle of the dungeon, on the volcanic black sand. Sea water is drawn on the back of men, spread over large sand squares.

After evaporation, this sand is collected and filtered in large funnels of braided bamboo.

The brackish water is collected in hollowed out coconut trunks and allowed to evaporate again. At the bottom of the trunks, salt crystals are formed.

There is terrible heat on the black sand beach. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
There is terrible heat on the black sand beach. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The gray-black sand absorbs the strong heat of the sun. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The gray-black sand absorbs the strong heat of the sun. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
"Salt marshes" in the gray-brown sand. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Salt marshes" in the grey-brown sand. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Salt crystallizes. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
In the hollow of the trunks, the salt crystallizes. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

A handful of garam

Salt is said garam in Indonesian. When I get to the beach, the local kids spot me and surround me. They all want to sell me little souvenir baskets, containing a handful of garam.

I'm resisting. And then I end up cracking up and giving a few thousand rupees to a little girl, a little older than the others, with whom I manage to exchange a few words in Bahasa Indonesiathe Indonesian language.

I'm asking his age. She's 12. She's shaking all over her limbs as she hands me her little basket of salt. Fear, emotion? Very shy, she barely dares cross my eyes.

The others are jealous. When I walk away, she ends up giving me a nice warm smile and even gives me a little wave when I get back on my scooter.

I go a little further, on another part of the beach, to take pictures more quietly. There, only two kids, who escort me with curiosity. But they don't insist when they understand that I won't buy salt.

The children persist in wanting to sell salt sachets to all the tourists who pass by. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The children persist in wanting to sell salt sachets to all the tourists who pass by. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Two hostile dogs never stop barking when I frame the coconut trunks that two men are hollowing out. The two Balinese men look sarcastic, yet they kindly accept that I take their picture.

But I feel a little intrusive, a little "out of place". Not a hair of shade on this grey-black volcanic sand. It's terribly hot.

What future for Amed's salt workers?

There are fewer and fewer salt workers in Amed. The work is hard, unprofitable. Those who harvest the garam are rare to own the land they work on. And the owners prefer to resell it to hotel group builders.

In the hollow trunks exposed in full sun, the water evaporates. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
In the hollow trunks exposed in full sun, the water evaporates. (Amed, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Sana's parents, the young guy who used to guide me around the backcountry......used to work as salt workers before, he told me. They've stopped and are now cultivating a piece of land not far from the beaches.

In a few years, will there still be salt workers in Amed? The young people of the area have no desire to scramble like their parents on the burning sand to earn a living.

Everyone I asked wants to study languages, work in hotels... Tourism is a bit of a goose that lays golden eggs here in Bali.

Updated (December 17, 2020). Arte broadcast a 14-minute report on the salt harvest in Bali, entitled The coconut-salty flavors of Balidirected by Fabien Berquez. I insert the video player below:

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

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  1. Thank you very much for your article on Amed's salt workers that I could not see last year and all your beautiful texts, concise, warm and especially your wonderful photos.
    Thanks to you, I'm leaving for 1 month in Sulawesi next year!

  2. @ Bernard69:

    It always touches me a lot to know that I gave travel desires, thanks to my stories or my photos. Thank you for your message!
    🙂

    How lucky you are to go to Sulawesi! The island of Celebes remains one of my most memorable travel memories. I went for diving, and I was more seduced by the "earthly" aspects: the welcome, the culture, the landscapes.

    As for Amed, I must say that the work of the salt workers impressed me greatly. Rude contrast between their daily work and the tourist pleasures I had the chance to enjoy ... It was time that I devote an article in this blog.

    🙄

  3. That's Miss Bourbeillon report! It reads in one go and we are already finished! still again

  4. @ Funnyworld:

    Merci Sam ! 😀

    It's good to have fans ... Well, in front of so much enthusiasm, I will continue my holiday duties, between two days of strain at the editorial office (where we are a little lack of reporting, in this week August)!

    😯

  5. good evening

    I was surfing the web, looking for fresh news on our next destination (take off from Paris next Thursday) and what a surprise! I come across your site with many articles, I have not read everything yet but the little that I saw gives me even more desire to be there ...

    So forgive me if you already answer my question on these pages but: what are the places you preferred?

    We are leaving for 2 1/2 weeks and we will stay in a hotel in Kuta. We took the option of the Vol + Hotel by getting by for the visits on palce by ourselves ...

    Thank you very much in advance and also for your work of updating these pages ...

    Guillaume
    (Rennais aussi… 😀 )

  6. @ Guillaume :

    Decidedly, the Rennais are on the move!
    🙄

    As for your question (which place did I prefer?), Well, it's not so easy to answer. Especially since I do not know if you are a diver or not, but the "underwater" aspect also counts for a lot in my appreciation. On this trip, I limited my drop-off points to seaside destinations near dive spots.

    I loved Pemuteran for the simple and warm welcome of the locals. I loved Amed for the rugged beauty of the coast, with its coves of black sand. I really enjoyed myself Nusa Lembongan for the still authentic character of the island, with its seaweed growers. These are the three favorite places on this trip. With perhaps a little crush on the quiet atmosphere of Lembongan.

    I did not like it Lovina. As for KutaI knew what to expect. This is not the place I prefer, but I like to spend a day or two anyway.

    Finally, during my previous stay in Bali, in July 2002 (you will find pictures here, on my other website), Ubud I liked it too. But apparently, it became very touristy.

    You did well to take the flight + hotel option. It is very easy to explore the island and to shine from Kuta. Many small agencies (and probably at your hotel) offer transport, excursions and tours, for all tastes, throughout Bali.

    I wish you an excellent trip to Bali!
    🙂

  7. Thank you for this interesting report, and more generally for your Balinese articles ... another vision than what we generally know about Bali ... and it is appreciable !!

    As I told you, I was a little disappointed with the first (very short) approach I had from the island, but I did not have the leisure to push into the corners you speak ... next time, maybe!

    😉

  8. @ Thib:

    Yes, Bali is a very nice island, but in some corners, the tourist-commercial pressure makes the visit painful, even without interest ... Amed remained quiet enough, despite the influx of divers to see the wreck in Tulamben. There are ways to go for nice walks in the area.

    Finally, I highly recommend visiting the Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan (and especially for you who likes to go off the beaten track, that of Nusa Penida who looks even wilder). The more I think about it, the more Lembongan I seem to be the place I preferred during this stay. I will publish shortly a small article on seaweed farmers, which you could also see working south of Bukit.

    😉

  9. Merci à Corinne de faire partager une vision réaliste de cette région de Bali que beaucoup de voyageurs ignorent encore peut-être… Les habitants d’Amed sont des travailleurs courageux et saviez-vous qu’il existe un centre socio culturel a Amed créé par l’association Anak Aide Aux Enfants d’Indonesie dans le village de Léan qui œuvre quotidiennement pour l’éducation des enfants pauvres d’Amed et de ses collines ? Oui il est tentant pour eux de s’orienter dans le tourisme, l’hôtellerie au vu du développement touristique mais ce n’est pas une fatalité ni un « reve » unique. C’est précisément là, où l’ONG a taille humaine, Anak Bali joue un rôle primordial dans l’orientation de ces écoliers d’Amed, notamment. Certains originaires d’Amed suivent des études de comptabilté et nous avons un jeune diplôméprofesseur d’éducation sportive. N’hésitez pas a rencontrer ces écoliers parraines par l’association, l’apres-midi a Lean au Centre de Lila Cita, Yayasan Anak a LEAN / Amed (pres de l’école et de la plage), ils vous diront leurs « rêves »… merci et bonne plongée ! Kenavo ! 😀

  10. Hi Corinne,
    I had forgotten how delightful it is to read you! In all honesty, I have not been to your site for years ... Hum hum ...
    In short, I'm writing my articles about Bali (I went back last month for the second time) and it must be almost 2 hours that I drag on your blog (I do not even know how I ' got there but no matter).
    I loved Amed (I'm writing my article on it) and I'm going back to Bali in a few days (for the 3rd time) so maybe I'll go back to Amed (but it's a risk to no longer move haha!).
    J’ai cru voir que tu étais aux Philippines récemment alors si jamais tu passes à Bali ces prochains jours ou semaines, fais-moi signe ! 🙂
    See you soon !

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