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Photographer's Note

On my trip to Bali I met Yoga (simplyoga). We went photo hunting together with two of his friends - it was a great day.

On a remote stretch of black sand beach in Kusamba, east Bali, a salt farmer slowly emerges from the ocean with two wooden buckets balanced on a bamboo pole strung across his shoulder.

At 5am, the sun is just beginning to warm the horizon but the salt farmer started his labour an hour ago. He has only two hours to collect the precious seawater and scatter it across the beach before the sun rises.

He slowly, rhythmically swings his buckets so that seawater splashes across the sand along his path. The work is tedious and tiring, but planting the seeds of salt is just the first step in harvesting.

Salt harvesting is an ancient tradition among the Balinese primarily around the coastal areas of Kusamba and further north-east in Amed.

The salt farmer will rake the sand to a perfect smoothness before he sprinkles the saltwater across it.

Over several hours, the sun bakes the sand into crisp flakes containing the precious salt that will be harvested. Only the uppermost layer is collected, which requires a deft hand.

Under a searing midday sun the salt farmer gathers the delicate shards of sand back into the cottages where they are washed in well-worn wooden drums arranged like a miniature canal system. The fresh water leaches the salt from the sand into the drums to make pure saltwater brine.

The labourers pour the brine onto split timber planks that are spread across several wooden frames for further evaporation under the sun that might take up to three days.

The fragile white jewels of salt grains are layered into bamboo-leaf cones and allowed to drain. Finally the salt farmer is packing the salts into little plastic bags where they will be sold at the nearby Klungkung morning market or to wholesalers.

The saltworks are fascinating to visitors, but the whole process is painstakingly time consuming yet the yield is small. Two days of work usually produces about five vessels of salt, each amounting to some 5kg.

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Additional Photos by Tina Munk (tinamunk3) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 326 W: 88 N: 448] (6404)
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