Serutu (S 01deg 42.35 : E 108deg 43.23) Thursday, 28/9/2006
We are anchored in a nice little bay with a fresh water creek, which is quite pleasant except for the bullets that funnel down the valley occasionally at between 40 and 50 knots. No village, just the occasional fishing canoe. Arrived a couple of days ago after an overnight sail from Kumai where we stopped to see the orangutans. It’s been a pretty eventful last couple of weeks, and not without some drama. We saw plenty of ships on our way to Kumai, mainly all at night. Thank goodness for radar, although it didn’t help much when one rather large ship decided to play tourist and come and have a close look at the pretty sail boats (in the dark?). We’d been tracking it on radar for a couple of hours from about 22 miles away. It looked as though it was headed straight for us. Eventually we could see its port and steaming lights. We made several course changes and slowed down in the hopes that it would pass in front of us like all the others. However, it didn’t matter what we did the ship kept coming straight for us. It eventually passed by our stern at about 100 metres but not until after we’d done a complete 180 deg course change! I reckon I could have reached out and touched it. It was soooo close, and talk about huge! Underwear needed changing after that little exercise.
The sailing has been wonderful. There is plenty of wind this year. Leaving Kumai was a beautiful beam reach in about 20 knots. We were doing constant speeds of 11s and 12s. It was awesome until the screecher blew out (that’s the big sail out front). I saw it go. It burst like a huge balloon and sounded just as dramatic. One minute there was a sail there, the next, nothing. Just strips of ragged cloth flagging madly in the wind. Unbelievable. No more fast speeds. Damn. We’ve ordered a new one from our sailmaker in Brisbane so it will be waiting for us when we get to Singapore. Just throw money at it and the problem goes away. Wonderful. Guess we will have to go back to work sooner than we thought after all. Damn. Ce la vive.
The Gili Islands were as beautiful and touristy as ever. We anchored at Gili Aer (S 08deg 21.91 : E 116deg 04.96) for nearly a week but had to keep moving because the holding was bad. There were a lot of other yachts anchored there this year because of the rally, but it was good to have some different people to talk to and drink with for a change (yes, we caught up with ‘Tweeds’). One day we took a long canoe ferry ride across to Bangsal on the island of Lombok (about 5 miles away). Half way across Terry impulsively decided to swap sides. The sudden weight shift caused the boat to tip dramatically which nearly saw us all in the water! We then took a car ride to Mataram (1 hour drive) to find an ATM and a market. Talk about culture shock! Overtaking on a hairpin bend at full speed on a mountain road with a single white line down the middle seems the norm’. That’s what the horn is for! Another day we took the dinghy across to Gili Trawangan (about 2 miles west). We were airborne most of the way back with Jill and me screaming several choice expletives. Terry just said, ‘Sorry, Hazel’ (oops, that’s an in joke from our time in the Solomons with our friends John and Hazel Broadfoot – sorry, you had to be there).
Kumai (S 02deg 44.46 : E 111deg 43.96) was very smoky from all the burning off, but not quite as bad as it was when we were there 4 years ago. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad up at the National Park where the orangutans are. We opted for the fast boat ride with Danni and Adi for the 1 hour each way trip to the Tanjun Putting National Park. If we’d realised the size of the boat first we may have arranged something different. There were 6 of us squeezed into this tiny little speed boat that looked like a kid’s toy. In the back we had less leg room than in economy class on a plane, and our knees were above hip level! However, having said that, all 6 of us ate a picnic lunch in that small boat. No small feat I can tell you! We tied up in the shade at the side of the river, and Danni (our guide) and the driver sat on the bow of the boat while the rest of us spread out as best we could. Lunch was precooked rice, garlic prawns, chicken and vegetables, served on real china plates with a steel fork and white serviettes. Simply amazing. It was a fantastic day out. The photos will tell the rest. All inclusive price was about AU$50 per head for the day (1.2 million rupiah for four).
My Indonesian is getting better. I can speak a few phrases now. I successfully managed to ask for and purchase some prawns a few days ago from an unsuspecting family living alone in a hut on a beach (no power, running water or sanitisation). They gave me about a kilo of beautiful fresh prawns for about AU$3. No weights or measures. They filled up my 2 litre container and asked for 20,000 rupiah. Wonderful way to do business. I just love it!
Knowing some Indonesian makes market shopping a little easier too. It’s also better this time round because I’m more used to the culture and the way of doing things. We are so spoilt in western countries where we can just walk into a shop and buy most of what we want from the one supermarket. Asian market shopping is VERY different. There are hundreds of stall sellers. Some of them may sell only eggs (and you never know how fresh they are, but they are usually ok), others may have tomatoes and bananas but their bananas look awful. Others may have cucumber and potatoes if you are lucky. Although we’d like to buy everything from the one person it is impossible. Generally we have to buy from as many stall sellers as there are items on our shopping list. A few less if we are lucky. There is no standing in line at the checkout but it can be a half to a full day exercise! It’s all part of the fun and requires a very different and relaxed attitude. Nothing is marked with prices, and bargaining is the norm. Most things are sold by weight using old fashioned scales, but it’s hard to buy anything less than a kilo of anything because that’s usually the smallest weight they have!
Have just finished eating a beautiful lunch of fresh fish and calamari with salad (crisp iceberg lettuce, vine ripened tomatoes and cucumber – delicious). We were given the fish by some local fisherman after we went to practice my Indonesian on them, and the salad bits were bought from the Mataram market (on Lombok). That’s the second fish we’ve been given here in Indonesia. Who needs a line and a lure?
Well, that’s about it for now. I’m off for another swim. It’s a tough life, lol. Will probably email this once we get to Nongsa Point Marina in a week or two. By then I will probably have more news to tell. Hope all is well with you. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Until next time, take care, and stay happy.
Love Jan and Terry