Life on Lembongan used to be all about seaweed farming, and rectangular plots of seaweed used to grow in shallow waters everywhere. Now it is less seaweed and more tourists. In Jungutbatu the seaweed plots have given way to tourist boat moorings. But in the strait between Lembongan and Ceningan islands one can still feel life before tourism. The brave ones can try seaweed cookies and even ice cream.
Most of the seaweed goes for cosmetics use, tells a farmer working on the harvest with his wife. “But in bad times, we survived by eating it.” Come to think of it, so many creams and ointments touting benefit by seaweed and minerals must source their ingredients somewhere. And while we dabbed on our cheeks drops of expensive “luxury” creams, the poor farmers got so little they sometimes had nothing else to eat but seaweed. It may cost a ton in skin creams, but there is not much nutritional value in seaweed.(Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia; August 2015)