an unusual play of light #3

A rombong pictured against a balmy evening sky on Kuta Beach, Bali in 1976

Those of you who are familiar with Kuta will notice that apart for these local inhabitants, the beach is deserted! Where are all those tourists who make pilgrim down here every evening to witness Kuta's famed sunsets? In 1976, the Kuta was little more than a sleepy fishing village. Hard to believe isn't it?

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These wonderful ubiquitous contraptions are fresh food dispensing machines on wheels. Indonesians call them 'rombongs'. They consist of a couple of bicycle wheels, a large wooden tin-lined box with a little furnace inside and some storage space. Hmm.. that sounds like a recipe for disaster! Anyway, they get pushed to wherever the customers happen to be. Talk about fast convenience food!

The two-wheeled rombong pictured here is of a fairly basic design. The man is steaming corn in a pot of boiling water. Other four-wheeled versions can be very elaborate indeed - a veritable kitchen on wheels complete with benches tables and chairs and a canvas roof in case of rain. Their presence can transform a beautiful outdoor location into one of the most attractive restaurant settings you could find anywhere in the world in which to dine under the stars.

Mee rebus, nasi goreng, soto ayam, sop kambing - fresh hot and spicy food cooked before your eyes. Delicious! I don't recall ever having had one stomach upset from eating at such sensible contraptions.

Shortly after taking the picture at the top of this page, this fisherman dragged his perahu up onto the sand and lit up a sweet smelling keretek cigarette and contemplated the end of another day.


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