Ary Craike - "I don’t want Lombok to become Australia or America in the future. It’s perfect like it is now"
We met Ary on our first night in Lombok, we had a couple of friends in common who told us about his project and we wanted to know a bit more about it.
1. What is your name, where do you come from and what do you do for living?
My name is Ary and I live in Kuta Lombok since 2007. I moved here after my studies in Mataram but I’m originally from Praya.
At the moment I have two main jobs, managing my bar - The Bus - and keeping my project going - it’s called BLUFF project.
I started this project in 2012 to give some guidance to the young locals through painting, keeping them away from the drug scene in Lombok. In my studio, they come to learn how to paint. When they start, they’re usually not very confident but they never give up. I’m not a teacher, I just tell them to follow their instinct.
We have already sold quite a few paintings, normally to friends that come to support local arts. When a painting is sold, the money goes to the person who painted it and they are proud of themselves, it has a positive impact.
I live with the people I work with, they’re like my family. There is no boss, even if it’s my business. We’re all the same, we can work and laugh and cook together. Painting has changed the boys a lot. They don’t ask for money for anything related to drugs anymore, now what they ask for is colours and canvas.
2. What advice would you give to someone like us that just arrived here?
I would ask any tourist to always respect the locals.
For example, Tanjung Aan a long time ago used to be a local surfing spot, only locals knew about it and a few foreigners that we would invite to come with us. Now the word has spread and there are a lot more people in the water and there’s no respect.
They’re lucky they’re in Lombok, if it was in Bali, locals would smack them and snap their board if they went to a local spot.
Also, you can’t forget that this is a small muslim island so walking around in a bikini can be very disrespectful as well as getting very drunk and honking at 2am. Behind the bars' street, there’s a whole village full of people, there’s Kuta.
3. What would you say is your favourite food?
The best food here is the pizza at the Bus, and I’m not just saying it because it’s my bar. For local food, either go to Anda bungalow for the seafood or get a Nasi Bunka from the street market.
The Nasi Bunkas used to be wrapped in banana leaves so you could just eat them and then throw the leaf on the floor. It was all natural so it would disappear in a few days. But now, big supermarkets are starting to sell them wrapped in plastic, which is creating a big problem with pollution.
Supermarkets are slowly replacing small businesses and making everything more industrial. When I was 17, I would wake up, get my board and head to the small shop to order a Lombok coffee. You would hear the sound of them stirring the glass of boiling water with the coffee and you would just pay with a coin. That’s all gone now. It’s really sad, people just go in a supermarket and get a coffee from the machine. No more kettles or stoves. I have goosebumps thinking of this. I miss that time.
4. What's your favourite place here?
My favorite place is Tanjung Aan. It’s the place where I go with my friends. We laugh, sleep on hammocks and surf.
It’s pretty sad because they’re building the hotel right over it and soon it will disappear. They are already starting to build it.
It’s going to take over the whole of south Lombok. I just hope that some of the 1500 jobs that will be created go to the local people.
5. What makes you happy?
Kuta Lombok is my happy place. Here is my home, there’s nothing better than home. I found my happiness here even though a lot of things have changed.
Now, a lot of concrete style hotels and resorts are being built and some of them slowly kick the locals out. These big corporations bring their own people, their guides, their managers etc. And then what are we supposed to do? They take our lands but don’t give us jobs, even though we have hard working people here.
I just worry about our island and our people, I don’t want Lombok to become Australia or America in the future. It’s perfect like it is now. It’s good for business and I can help my boys by selling more paintings and keeping the bar running.
But even with all these changes, Lombok still feels like it’s too good to be true. It has shown me everything, it’s where I met people from all around the world and with whom I was then able to travel. These friendships took me to Finland and Australia. Kuta Lombok showed me the world.
6. What do you usually do for fun?
Surfing and adventures. I also like to travel with my girlfriend outside of Kuta, to some remote islands around Lombok. It feels good there because not many people know about it, there are no phones and the surfing points have 5 or 6 people instead of 70 or 80.
Also, once or twice a month we organise a huge beach party with hundreds of people. Even people from outside come. We started with very poor equipment, two boxes, a speaker, a few lights but then it kept growing and now we can afford to rent a big house for these parties.
7. Where do you find inspiration?
From my past, and from the travels I’ve done.
A few years ago, I went to Finland to try to straighten up my life. Then I tried it again in Australia but it was even worse, there was a lot of partying over there. At the time I started thinking what did I want to do once I come back to Lombok, did I want to keep doing the same things? Then I got one more chance and I was able to go to art school back in Finland. That’s when I found the inspiration to start the Bluff project in Kuta Lombok. All I needed was canvases, brushes and colours and invite the boys to paint.
8. What would you like to ask our next host?
How has your culture been influenced by foreigners?
Tips & Recommendations
Watch the sunset up in Malimbu Hill, it is known as the Sunset Point and you can access it from Tanjung Aan Beach
Visit the beaches of Mawi and Mawun. Drive a scooter to get there, the road to Mawun is very easy, to Mawi a bit harder, but both worth spending a day. They're both beautiful.
Have dinner in the main street to find out where the party is that night. Bars are usually organised between themselves so that all of them get to have a party one day a week.