Live Small. So You Can Live Big.

17 January 2024

Fishing with the traditional local fishermen this peaceful Sunday morning near beautiful Gondang Village, reminded me of a story about ‘Be More with Less’. The parable of the Tourist and the Lombok Fisherman is one of my favorite short stories.

The original story was written by German writer Heinrich Böll in ‘Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral’ -‘Anecdote concerning the Lowering of Productivity’ – and published in 1963. It’s been told, re-told and adapted. I’m so grateful that a version found me a few years ago.

Below, I’ve pasted the Lombok adaptation.
Happy Reading!
And, always remember to ask yourself, ‘… Then What ...?’



An enterprising tourist is taking photographs when he notices a shabbily dressed local fisherman taking a short break in his fishing boat. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Lombok local fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, ‘... Only a little while…’ . The tourist then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Lombok fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The tourist then asked, ‘… but what do you do with the rest of your time… ?’

The fisherman said, ‘… I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, ‘istirahat’ with my wife Ayu, stroll into the village each evening where I sip beer, and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life …’

The tourist; ‘… I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Jakarta, and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise… ‘

The Lombok fisherman asked; ‘ … But, how long will this all take…?’
To which the tourist replied; ‘ …15 – 20 years …’
‘… But what then?…’ asked the fisherman
The tourist laughed and said, ‘ … That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions …’.
‘… Millions – then what… ?
The tourist said, ‘… Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, istrirahat with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip beer and play your guitar with your friends …’



This little story inspired change in my life and work a few years ago, and still makes me think about what matters most. In the Story of the Lombok Fisherman, a small boat provided a beautiful life. In my experience a smaller living space and fewer obligations has made life even sweeter.

Because you can’t put a price on a happy life.
Not even a million dollars.

Escape the complexities and embrace the tranquility of Lombok in our Private Beach Villas.

Happy Sunday from The Lombok Lodge, Small Luxury Boutique Hotel.                                                                      Lombok with A Difference. Lombok at it’s Purest.

Ben Olaerts



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