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First Tourist Come to Bali by Sea

27 April 2009

World History has seen human life development as closely related to the sea as an important form of survival. From the time of the Industrial Revolution, on 1740 1850 in Europe, particularly in Britain, reflected a series of technological innovations and changes as the first phase of a major industrial transformation.

These innovations, centered mainly in the textile industry, the iron industry, and the improvement of the steam engine, saw Britain becoming the textile capital of the world, as seagoing ships did since 2600 B.C. highlighting the ongoing technological and idea revolution. Whilst living on the Indonesian Archipelago, Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887) or Multatuli, a Dutch writer, described the area as the equator string of emeralds, Indonesians have since retained their position as a nation of seafarers, inseparable of maritime life. Sailing the sea, multiracial people harbored in the Indonesian Archipelago.

This original group included an Indonesians living between 200-300 BC. These seafarers mingled with fellow seafarers originating from India and China. The multiracial seamen stayed in the new region, forming a mixed community, which then formed an early Indonesian community. They ventured to sail thousands of nautical miles from their homelands to find new lands. The maritime development stage, starting from the Stone and Bronze Ages until the Eighth Century, rapidly increased towards the introduction of various kinds of ships in the Hindu-Indonesian Era. The course of history from the ships used at that time was evident from the carvings on the Borobudur Temple walls. There are at least ten carved monumental works depicting three types of ships or boats.

Firstly, there are the mortar/hollow boats; secondly, big ships without leeboard, and thirdly, a big ship fitted with outriggers. The largest ship had two kinds of masts with a sharp pointing bow and stern. The stern had triangular sails (jib sails). It is interesting to see a drawing of an eye, illustrated on the hull, expressing a universal habit, closely connected to traditional belief, something fishermen still hold.

Indonesian seafarers reached Madagascar in several stages, with the last migrants coming in the l6th Century. The Marine Tribe among the Madagascar ethnic groups was well established. This particular race was to be the forefathers of Indonesian seafarers. The Indonesian seafarers also frequently visited China, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Australia, making their journey in small traditional ships, whilst the Strait of Malaya had already become the trading center of Asians from the years 650 670. In this city, Indonesian seafarers and traders got in touch with those from India and China.

Indonesian traders, among them Javanese from the harbors of Gresik, Tuban and Surabaya, were very familiar with the Malaya world trade center at that time, including merchants from other regions and foreign countries. Ma Huan, a Chinese delegate visiting Java in 1413 claimed that wealthy Chinese traders and natives resided in these harbors whilst boosting trade with china wares, precious stones and manufactured goods from abroad (such as ceramics, crockery, plain and patterned silk and linen and also perfumes).

Traders from the Lesser Sunda Islands Region sold spices, sandalwood and handicrafts to Javanese merchants in exchange of rice. The change in trade maps occurred in 1511, when Malaya fell into the hands of the Portuguese, who then introduced a trade monopoly in the Strait of Malaya. This monopoly inflicted a loss upon the traders, who thereafter looked for alternatives.

Acehs vessels set sail along Sumateras West Coast and established trade transactions in commodities of forest and agricultural products cultured in the rich soils in the region. Entering the Strait of Sunda, vessels from the Sumatran Coast headed for Javas north coast harbors. The Kingdom Banten had played an important role since the 16th Century in developing the region following the Portuguese take over of Malaya. The changes resulted in the start of partial trading from the Straits of Malaya to the Straits of Sunda. Banten took over Sunda Kelapa, one of the trading harbors, in 1527. A number of sailboats, or junks of 150-ton load capacities, exported rice and pepper, with these northern Java harbors becoming prosperous because of the surplus of rice from inland Java.

The presence of the Portuguese and Dutch in Indonesian waters, created an impact on Indonesian shipping technology due to an exchange of technological knowledge between the Portuguese and the natives. A member of the Dutch East India Company or Vereenigde Oost lndische Compagnies (VOC), Willem Lodewycksz, joined the first expedition led by Cornelis de Houtman, stating that Bantens warships resembled Galleys with two masts.

Lodewycksz also noted that there were ships using outriggers, and those, which did not. Both ships were in use for sea patrolling. There was also a small mortar boat that was able to sail at high-speeds, something the Dutch had never seen before.

Makasar and Bugis seamens chronicles and completed data, forms a part of Indonesians maritime technology. These writings were compiled in the Lontara Hilang and Sure Bilang (Bugis), where important events regarding ships, traditions and agricultural equipment were recorded. With respect to ship trading, Tom Pires wrote in his Summa Oriental book, that Pasai Ocean bought ships in Malaya as early as the 16th Century. Obviously, Malayas ships were of small size, as Malaya bought their ships from Pegu in South Burma.

Pires stated that between February 15 to 16, there were three, or four masted big ships sailing from Pegu to Malaya each year, and 20 to 30 feets long keeled ships with a lesser loading capacity. These ships arrived in Malaya in March and April, and many of them were put up for sale in the harbor. As a part of the Bugis race, the Wajo, well-known for their agility in conquering the sea, were also known for developing a system of maritime law, which were recorded in their manuscripts written of palm leaves, called the Amanna Gappa Manuscript. Amanna Gappa himself was a prominent figure, playing a big role in collecting and recording the maritime law. He lived in the Wajo region in the 7th Century.

Shipping traditions and development together with Amanna Gappas law system had made the Indonesians well- recognized as superior seafarers. It is the responsibility of the Indonesian nation to preserve our countrys maritime traditions. In the 1970s, a group of German scuba divers landed at Sanur Beach, to develop Balis diving areas with the cooperation of locals, organized around POSSI Indonesias Association of Diving Sport. Two marine scientists, Dr. Nick from Britain, and Dr. Knoet, from Norway joined the diving pioneers in this tourist resort of Bali with two Indonesian officials engaged with the PPA Nature Conservation Agency.

The effect of the diving development was great: (1) Bali excelled in the sport of diving in national sporting festivals, (2) Mangrove forests in West Bali, including that of Menjangan Islet, were safeguarded, (3) Tourism in Bali gained momentum, by offering diving facilities to guests, and (4) the development of diving areas such as Tulamben and Uluwatu.

It is interesting to note that since 1920, many foreign painters and scientists arrived at Buleleng Harbor (Singaraja) via the KPM Dutch Royal Steamship Company. They then traveled eastward to visit Pura Meduwe Karang in Kubutambahan, before arriving at their future homelands in Kintamarii, Tampaksinng, Ubud and Sanur.