Exploring Lombok on a motorbike is perhaps the best way to get around. Weaving through traffic in Mataram, bee lining through small lanes and stumbling upon a treasure trove of a quiet pottery making village – Banyumulek. Located north of Mataram, the city center in Lombok, Banyumulek is lined with shops selling terracotta and clay pottery. Venturing further in, away from the shops, we found the ‘heart of the workshop’ – ladies sitting in their verandahs busy molding, shaping and forming pots and vases. A parade of vases and pots lined the narrow roads sunbathing in the glorious warmth.
Men bicycling down tiny lanes with stacks of pottery tied at the back heading toward the smoking furnace of haystacks where the pots and vases are fired. Children help their mothers strap on stacks of wood for the furnace. Ladies at the furnace keep their eye on the heating pots occasionally flipping the haystacks to release the heat. Others squat around exchanging stories around the neighbourhood.
Villagers eyed us from a distance as we exchanged courtesy smiles. It was pretty evident that we were visitors and they were villagers. Perhaps not much tourists have ventured that far beyond the row of pottery shops. I chuckled under my breath because this would be an ideal a scene of “desperate housewives” in an Indonesian village setting. Everyone had their chores, each to its own work, and each shared a bond – a bond that comes from being part of Banyumulek, the quiet pottery village.
We made our exit back to the shops to hunt for a pottery or two and gladly settled for four instead! We compared prices at different shops and realized that everything was cheap. Just as we thought it wouldn’t get any cheaper, Annan Pottery came along – a wholesale shop with a wide range of displays in a spacious warehouse. They even had a range of cookware from pots to kualis to tagines! I’ve been scouting around for a tagine ever since I watched the episode of Kylie Kwong where she whipped up a Moroccan meal for friends. And who would have thought I’d fine a tagine in Lombok, Indonesia?! I was squirming with excitement and proceed to ask how much it was. The lady explained that it is a fast selling item and it is slightly more expensive. I pressed on to ask her to reveal the price and she replied – 24,000 Indonesian rupiah for the small one and 30,000 Indonesian rupiah for the big one. My jaw dropped! That’s only RM8 and RM10 individually! Beyond my wildest dreams that I found a tagine in Lombok that costs close to nothing!
From then on, it was a shopping spree. We chatted up with the lady, she introduced us to her sons who were hard at work decorating pottery pieces. We drank coffee, picked up two more pottery pieces, exchange a few travel stories and a big hug. She told us to keep in touch and said that if we ever saw a piece of pottery we liked in a store or magazine; take a picture of it and send it to her, as she makes customized pieces as well. What a find!
If you are in Lombok, this is a place not to be missed. If you hire a guide, insist that he takes you here instead of other designated pottery shops where they make a big commission from your sales.
Annan Pottery (Wholesale Center)
Jalan Raya Banyumulek Kedin
Lombok Barat – NTB 83362
LA Akhsan Tel: 08175760337
Nanik Tel: 081803628480