“assume that your daughter does not exist anymore. a boat made from lasem would be your happiest child ever.” ~ gadis pantai (the girl from the coast) – pramoedya ananta toer
sitting down one afternoon in front of this huge teak fishing boat at one of the lasem’s coast, made you feel this grandiose reminiscence. made you think again about a historical narration of indonesia as a maritime power way back. five hundred. one thousand year ago.
but lasem is older. they even found a ship-wreck dated from the 7th century. it was still in restoration so i couldn’t get any picture yet. lasem is also famous for their ship craftsmanship. when cheng ho came to the northern coast of java, lasem is one of their ship factory. the same at the time of japanese occupation. and this art still existed, they still make their wooden boat in front of my eyes.
i chewed the rujak fruits with sweet and spicy fish intestine sauce of lasem’s speciality, while i imagine sultan agung burning all the northern coast port desperately losing to dutch colonial power in the 17th century. it marked the collapse of javanese civilization by going into the interior.
lasem never revived since then. the city somehow had a shy feeling. more like hiding all their richness of history. not far from i was sitting, it is common for the local to find ancient earthenware from the bronze age just by digging the ground. if you are lucky, you can find a ceramic pot or pieces of china being washed away along the coast.
the composition of people in lasem are also very interesting. it reflected the ancient port mentality with all their blend. javanese, chinese, indian and arabic. the moslem santri, the chinese ancestral belief, the traditional javanese kejawen, and buddhism. the food mix are of course fantastic! don’t even get me start with their most beautiful batik craft. famously known as the batik tiga negara (batik of three regions). i was holding myself not check it in this trip out because i know i could not stand their beauty.
in three days trip, lasem made you fall in love slowly. taking a breath between the sound of sea breeze and the heat of the northern java coast.
1 billion rupiah worth of teak | designed to fit 30 people | lasem fishermen and their fishnet | traditional ways of fishing