Location : Kelurahan Bontang Lestari, Kecamatan Bontang Selatan, Kota Bontang, Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia.
So it was time to say goodbye to cute little Beras Basah islandwhich I believe in the not too distant future will be submerged judging by the amount of erosion on its shoreline. The boat ride to Tihi Tihi took us about 15min.
Coming here without a clue of what to expect proved to be a pleasant surprise. When we arrived at the jetty and alighted, Swandi chosed to do a bit of fish hunting around the jetty.
Swandi the speargun cowboy
Tihi Tihi was essentially a little Bugis water village built next to a tiny mangrove island. We could not believe how such a remote and tiny place was such a hive of activities. We enjoyed every minute of our visit as we walked along the plank walk watching these friendly villagers busy with many different stages of activity in seaweed & sea cucumber processing, mending boats, fishing hooks making and cuttlefish bait making. Gentle speaking villagers here who are ever ready to show you what they can do and what they have.
Belian wood the best wood for construction material here
Right after harvest “starters” need to be tied to a floater to restart new growth
Tying up the starters with raffia strings
Compacting of dried seaweed into sacks
Simple mechanism for farming seaweed – recycled water bottles and string are all you need to get into business.
Fresh vs dried
Drying seaweed an everyday chore
A very precious culinary product of the Chinese and Korean sea cucumber
The craftman with his freshly carved bait. Handcrafted from wood a cuttlefish bait
Fixing an aging boat
There was this guy proudly showing us his homemade goggles and live giant clam right under his house.
A handcrafted wooden goggle
Juvenile giant clam kept by one of the villagers
There was another trying to sell us his treasures from the sea- red fan coral, black coral popularly made into man’s bangles, mother of pearl and a mysterious lump of turquoise coloured rock. He tried to strike a deal but I had to disappoint him as I did not want to be caught trafficking protected species. He allowed us to take photos though.
Red fan coral & Mother of pearl
Black coral can be very expensive
If we had a choice, we would rather spend the night here with a homestay. Tihi Tihishould have been made the main destination and Beras Basah the side trip if I were to organise this Bontang package. Sometimes, locals do not see the gold in their own backyard until a foreigner tells them so. We thank Swandi for switching us over to this option. We learned so much in the hour and a half tour here. If a homestay could be arranged we will definitely come back again to learn more about this humble seaweed farming water village. Next….bonus visits to equator monument and a Kenyah village.
School children going home during recess time
Playing a very popular domino card game where losing players get a laundy peg clipped onto the face