As I nestle into my lounger for a day of sun in Senggigi, I catch movement in the corner of my eye. There, in the distance are hundreds of colourful sails dotting the horizon! Straining in vain for a better look I realize they are headed further South, and disappear around the corner of a small cliff jutting out to sea. Then it clicks, this is the spectacular sight that I read about when visiting Bali but had woefully missed.
Indeed, local fishermen from both East Bali and West Lombok head out to the Lombok Strait in pretty jukung boats to fish for baby mackerel. They leave their shores well before dawn and come back with their catch after sunrise. While many of the outrigger boats have been fitted with engines, they luckily still use their sails when the wind is right, creating a picture-perfect morning show.
We decide that this is worth a closer look and take a taxi down to Ampenan, about a 15-minute drive from Senggigi. Skilfully taking down the sail right before hitting shore, the jukung are then swiftly carried onto the beach by their crew. It has apparently been a good night as the small hulls are filled with fish. In a matter of minutes the mackerel is transferred into plastic buckets and carried away by the wives who are eagerly awaiting the day’s catch.
Nearby is a tarp-covered shack where the fish are weighed and purchased. A barefoot woman dunks bamboo baskets filled with the mackerel into steaming water that is heated by wood-fuelled fires. Then the sanitized fish are cured with salt and loaded into waiting cidomos to be whisked to market. The efficient flurry of activities set amongst the brightly painted jukung is a captivating scene not to be missed.