Selamat Pagi, Family and Friends
We sailed overnight from Banta Island to Gili Lawang, Northeast coast of Lombok and experienced one of our rolliest anchorages ever. We left early to sail to Teluk Sira to anchor out from the Oberoi Hotel, which we understand has a delightful buffet and a beautiful infinity pool, open for a charge to cruisers. We snorkeled (not very good) but did not go to the hotel. We moored over to Gili Air on August 22 early that morning to have plenty of time to dinghy around the island, stopping to snorkel at several locations. After lunch we went ashore to see the sights, which was not much! We declined a pony cart ride (the ponies were so little and frail!) and declined all the trinkets being sold by the hawkers.
We sailed across to Komai Bay on Lombok on Monday, August 23. We arranged a taxi tour (including a visit to the bank) with Mohammed to the big shopping mall in Mataram (150,000rp/$17US) and a tour for the following day. We were definitely suffering from cultural shock in the van surrounded by at least a million motor bikes/scooters, several thousand pony carts (all decorated with ribbons, flowers, bells), bemos, trucks and cars with NO stop lights. Everyone seems to look out for each other and luckily we saw absolutely no accidents! We were able to purchase just about everything at the supermarket except chicken, fish or meat! We have a few dinners left of chicken in our freezer, but we are mainly eating eggs and canned sardines, which seem to be readily available here. Not so good for our cholesterol level! We are hoping that we can purchase chicken in Singapore! No fish to catch in these waters!
On our tour (450,000rp/$52US)we went to the bank again and then to the Pottery making center. We purchased (had to bargain) several small items; however, we will keep all these places in mind for our future home on Maui. We could easily visualize all these beautiful LARGE pots on our lanai. Then on to the ikat weaving center where we purchased songets (ikats woven with a gold thread) which are different from those we obtained in Kupang and Alor. All the islands make different ikats with different colors, motifs and designs. The next stop was the batik factory where we found many paintings that we would loved to have. We purchased two after some hard bargaining. Several of these places are tourist-traps, so we needed to be on guard.
We visited a Sasak Village, which was definitely a tourist money-grab and we had not expected children and older women to be selling ikats in little stalls in front of their huts. The sasak village is a cluster of traditional thatched houses and a rice barn (lumbung) surrounded by a wooden fence. They are all Muslim, so there is a thatched-roof mosque, with a water spigot to wash to be clean before entering to pray.
We had lunch at a nice western hotel in Kuta beach where the guys enjoyed Beef curry and Beef Ginger Curry and I learned NOT to order Talliwag Chicken! There was absolutely no chicken there: all the breast had been cut away, leaving two scrawny legs, wings, back and neck bones covered with skin and delicious sauce! Mohammed also takes cruisers there for their western toilets! Although we have been adjusting to the Indonesia toilets, which are basically holes in the ground with footrests on either side, over which you squat and aim. Since there is a lack of running water, a mandi (means to bathe or to wash), a large water tank containing a plastic sauce pan, is nearby, so you simply scoop water from the mandi in the sauce pan and flush it way. There is seldom toilet paper. At the shopping mall we paid 500rp to use the toilets, and but they were at least clean.
On our return home, we purchased eight watermelon, one for each of us in the van. They were busy harvesting them and there were millions in piles along the road. We stopped at the King's House/Palace or Taman Narmada, which is a miniature replica of the summit of Gunung Rinjani and its crater lake. People were washing in the holy water in the temple, but we graciously declined to be blessed, forfeiting many extra years of life here on earth. We stopped at several carving places, but only purchased one item, which we really did not like. We saw several carvings of excellent quality but again, they were much too large.
We returned to our boat, safely at anchor in the bay, after dark and missing the sunset from the road along Sengiggi, where all the resort hotels are. What a wonderful day! We were amazed by what we had seen: the pony carts, a whole village joining together to build a mosque, many delightful happy children, people breaking up large boulders from the river below with hammers along the roadside, motor scooters with ladies in head scarves, motor scooters carrying both parents and two children, fields of onions, chili peppers, tobacco and rice, and a water buffalo tilling the terraces of fields. We continue to consider ourselves extremely blessed to be traveling and experiencing so many wonderful peoples and cultures around the world. It makes us realize that all people are beautiful souls and we are all ONE!
We sailed back to Gili Air on August 26 after an memorable visit with the wonderful people on the delightful island of Lombok to enjoy several days of snorkeling, swimming, and surfing for Eric before sailing to Lovina Beach on Bali on August 29. We will remember Lombok, and possibly return, since we will be looking for items for our new home on Maui after completing our circum-navigation.
We decided not to go to Bali Marina because of all the difficulties that we had heard about the marina. We were concerned about having problems with such a large boat in such a small marina, with no anchoring alternative once in Kuta. We were able to fill our diesel tanks in Lovina Beach and go to the bank (although they charged us a huge commission)in Singaraya, which is the second largest city on Bali. We were absolutely besieged by the hawkers on the beach. We were interested in purchasing items from Bali, so we were nice, but we learned after much tuition, that the secret is to say NO, not to make eye contact, to keep moving, not to let them separate us (like lions going in for the "kill"), and to purchase what we really wanted at the shops in town where they were actually cheaper. We did purchase some nice clothes, carvings, and paintings. Jason had two wonderful massages (70,000rp/$8US each) at the Wellness Spa. We had a delicious lunch at Restaurant Barclona across from the Yuli Shop where we hired a van for an all day tour with Yuli (number one son) for 220,000rp/$US25, cheaper than in Lombok. We decided on the tour to Mt. Besar and waited to decide on whether to go to Ubud and/or to the Western Lakes after we returned.
We left Lovina Beach early, after running the gauntlet through the hawkers on the beach from the dinghy to the waiting van. We visited a silversmith but unfortunately it was a holy day so they were not working, but did purchase some of their beautiful filigree jewelry. Then on to see gamelan gongs being made in someone's back yard, which looked like a blacksmith's shop, complete with a Hindu family temple in the corner. Brass was heated in an open fire, then four men pounded it with heavy mallets until cold and then repeated the process for two months, (yes! two months - labor is very cheap here), until completion. Inside their home, which is also the office or showroom, we were able to strike a huge gong which emanated such a beautiful tone that it would make a wonderful door-bell in our entry foyer. We continued on to the temples, which became increasingly expensive! The huge temple at the top, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, was definitely a disappointment, since the hawkers accosted us in the parking lot! They separated us, saying that we needed certain sarongs, sashs, and hats, in order to enter the temple. We finally managed to escape and to enter. This is a huge Hindu/Buddhist temple built in the 17th century, where people were actively praying/mediating, so we were not able to enter certain areas. We left and were once again accosted in the parking lot, where David was pinched and kicked by a little girl, when he refused to purchase post cards, which she was selling for 3000rp. We had purchased the same one in Lovina Beach for 1000rp. Yuli said that they normally have police there to protect tourists! Yuli took us to his temple, Pura Puncak Penulisan, where we hiked up many steps from one temple to another at succeeding higher elevations, with the highest temple dedicated to Vishnu. He explained their beliefs and it was very interesting. The views were superb!
We had lunch at the top of Mt Besar, along the ridge with many hotels and restaurants geared to bus-loads of tour groups. We entered one restaurant which had a spectacular view across to the mountain with the Crater Lake below but they wanted 60,000rp for their buffet. We left, but could not find Yuli, so negotiated at another restaurant for 30,000rp (however, we did not include the 21% tax and did not realize that a coke was 16,000rp!) We did have a nice lunch, but paid more tuition as we continue to learn lessons! Then the biggest lesson: Two hawkers selling beautiful carvings made a deal, which David could not refuse, so he bought TWO large carvings! They nicely put them into plastic bags switching to carvings that were pure junk! He should have taken them when he gave them the money! Oldest game around: Bait and Switch! However, we had been forewarned about the man selling the ornately carved chess sets for only $1....PER piece!:), so we did not get caught on that one.
On our way home, Yuli stopped by friend's home to purchase cloves, which we had seen drying along the roads. David has been enjoying them in his morning tea. We also purchased (Yuli negotiated) several kilos of mangoes. We arrived back on the beach just at dusk (always want to be back on the boat by dusk because of the malaria/mosquito problem here). We had very mixed emotions about our tour of Bali. The following morning when we discovered that we had been cheated with the carvings we were "sick." Luckily, we were not out alot of money but it is simply the principle of all this that we find annoying. We just do not like to be around people who lie, cheat, and steal. I think that we were caught off guard, since we have been on our guard with Muslims and had not expected this behavior from the Balinese, who are Hindu, who take great pride in their craftsmanship and work ethics. We have experienced the exact opposite! We were able to trade our two "junk" carvings which had bad energy (bad karma for their sellers!) for a nice Saraswati and purchased some additional clothes in the nice shops along the road in Lovina Beach. We found most people in Lovina Beach to be hard working honest people just trying to survive. We feel compassion for them since we cannot, with good conscience, recommend that anyone travel to Bali where it is impossible to relax without being continually tormented by hawkers.
We left on September 5 for Pulau Raas, where we anchored for the night along a channel between the reef and the island. The following day we set sail on an overnighter of 166 miles to Bawaen Island. Unfortunately, while checking the engine room after our arrival at Bawaen, we discovered that our engine transmission oil cooler had failed. After much deliberation, emailing, testing and by-passing the oil cooler, we decided that visiting the Orangutang Rahabilitation Center up the Kumai River in Kalimantin (Borneo) was too risky. We just could not take the chance to motor 45 miles up the river and return, with an engine that could only be run at low rpms for several hours at a time. (We still might be able to visit by air from Malaysia or Thailand). Our only option was to have the part shipped to Singapore and sail to Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island, Indonesia (across the Straits from Singapore) as quickly as possible. We sailed from Bawaen Island to the west cove of Serutu Island (separates the Java Sea from the South China Sea to the west of Kalimantin)on a 358 mile two-nighter. We had excellent winds (for which we were extremely thankful), unheard of in these areas, especially as we neared the Equator. We departed on September 12th on another two-nighter to Nongsa Point Marina.
We crossed the Equator on September 13 at 10:36 am at 105 Deg 41.76 East just 400 miles short of halfway around the world. We crossed the Equator the first time on our way to Ecuador on February 28, 2001. No ceremony this time. It is not really clear about a ceremony re-crossing the Equator. Do we need to return our certificates saying that we are "shellbacks" to King Neptune?
We anchored at Sembulang, Batam Island, after 322 miles at about 2am on September 14, since we were desperately in need of sleep from being on watch to negotiate the entrance into the Riau Channel, which is a secondary channel for boats leaving Singapore. These five days of traveling were the MOST stressful of our entire cruising because of the need for constant watching for freighters, fishing boats (lit and unlit), barges and tows, fishing nets and logs/trash floating in the water. The radar screen had too many dots for any mind to distinguish, especially with no depth perception. The final straw was not having a reliable engine to outrun "whatever" or to move out of the way of a freighter. Eric rigged up a water cooler using an extra pump and by-passed the cooler, thanks to the fittings/couplings from Blake on *Rikili*, so the engine did not overheat. We also want to thank many who offered technical advice, but NO kudos are extended to Yanmar, since they offered no emergency fix to get us any where to obtain a part. All they could recommend was not to run it at all, saying that it would burn up.
On September 14, we traveled the final 35 miles to Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island, Sumatra, Indonesia, directly across the Straits from Singapore, arriving about 3:30pm. We were absolutely exhausted and so happy to be in a marina. David and Eric traveled to Singapore by ferry to obtain our part and it has been installed. We traveled on a taxi (150,000rp) to Batam Center to the Matahari Supermarket to purchase food, mostly fruits and vegetables, plus more sardines and eggs, still no meat or chicken! We also purchased 6 DVD's of current movies for 100,000rp/$11US), but we have discovered two do not play.
The Nongsa Point Marina is part of a development complex with hotels, condos, marina, and golf courses, built about 10 years ago. Everything is empty - the marina, the hotel, and the golf courses. Outside the heavily guarded entry are several more police stations, nice roads, and many housing developments as you near Batam Center. There seem to be nicer cars than we have seen elsewhere, but still many scooters. All products are much more expensive here. Payment may be made in Singapore dollars, US Dollars or rupiahs. Batam time is 1 hour earlier (10am) than Singapore/Bali time (11am), so there are two clocks in the offices here.
Our two months spent in Indonesia have been memorable and educational. The Republic of Indonesia is an huge country of 13,677 islands (6000 inhabited) covering 5000 kilometers from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, and spans 1770 kilometers north and south across the Equator. Most of the country is water, with the total land area being about three times the size of Texas or a little larger than Queensland, Australia. Indonesia is also the most populous Muslim country in the world. The highlights of our visit must be Kupang and their reception for us, the Komodo dragons and the people of Indonesia. We never felt threatened and were always greeted with a smile! Unfortunately, two months or even two years would never be enough time to really explore and learn all about Indonesia and its people. We are grateful for our two months visit and thank them for being so very welcoming! We hope to return to our special places! We also hope to one day visit the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Kumai, Boreo, which for most of the cruisers was the highlight of their Indonesian experience.
We are checking out and will leave the marina tomorrow morning at first light (7am) and travel the 40 miles to Raffles Marina where we will stay for 10 days. We will need to be constantly vigilant because this is the busiest shipping channel in the world, with fishing nets, logs, garbage and plastic bags lurking along the sides of the channel. We have been told that there are 6-7 lanes for large freighters and they are regulated by a ship controller (like an air traffic controller). Crossing this channel in a sailboat has been compared to a Mexican crossing the San Diego Freeway or to a gopher crossing a super highway!
We wish you all well. Take care. Keep in touch. Be safe. God Bless.
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With Love, Peace and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
September 20, 2004
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA
Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island, Sumatra, Indonesia
01 Deg 12 North 104 Deg 06 East