Crikey…just looked back on our emails to see when we sent out the last big one….it was a month and a half ago and we were heading to North Komodo???? Well just to reassure you all…WE MADE IT! Hey…better late than never! So for all you people who just love the long bedtime stories…suck it up! This could take me a while…I’m guessing a couple of Bintangs at least!!
Nth Komodo National Park….excellent diving!! …one scary incident though when the tide got the better of us; changed dramatically very suddenly and we found ourselves having to climb back up the anchor chain and doing a mad dash for the back of the boat, but hey it all turned out for the best! We found a great little bay called Monco and spent a few days there with nobody but ourselves…nice for change! The day before we had planned to leave we did get some visitors though. Got the standard knock, knock, knock on the hull and a bit of a hello, so I volunteered Cameron for the job of welcoming committee and listened below decks intently to see how he went …turns out they were park rangers (about 8…apparently you can never have enough) armed to the teeth with MP5 machine guns wanting to know if we had paid our park entry and that the shells on board weren’t from the park…luckily for us I had kept our pass from Rincah Island from our visit to the dragons as a memento, unaware that it covered us for 3 days …phew! Anyhoo everyone departed with smiles on their faces …especially after Cam had complimented them on their guns!! Cheeky bugger!
From the Komodo National Park, along the coast of Sumbawa our next stop was Bima. It was not a planned stop as it was a little way out of the way, but it was our best opportunity to get some much needed diesel. We managed to weave our way up river to Bima early morning, picking the tide to perfection and after meandering around near the harbour for a while (wondering where the bloody hell to anchor) we were waved down by a rather official looking gentleman, who we thought was the harbourmaster…only to discover he was just a entrepreneurial guy who was wanting to know if he could “help” us with anything. Cam put on his negotiator cap and wheedled the guy down from 7500Rp pL to 6000Rp pL (as we had previously paid in Kupang) and went with him to get the fuel (Cam thought he looked a little shifty). After an extremely wild ride (Cam says he saw his life flash before his eyes) on a moped with himself, the guy and 2 20L gerry cans of diesel (the two other guys on mopeds carried 4 20L gerry’s)….we were fuelled up and back on our merry way, and once again like perfection we got the tide going out and were out of there before lunchtime.
We covered the rest of the coast of Sumbawa quite quickly, stopping mainly for overnighters as the coastline is nowhere near as pretty as Flores and the opportunities for diving not as plentiful. Our next place of interest though was Satonda Island. We spent a couple of days there, did some snorkelling and went and looked at the volcanic salt lake in the centre of the island. At sunset hundreds of flying foxes leave the island headed straight for the mainland of Sumbawa to raid the fruit trees and are back like clockwork at 5 in the morning…an incredible sight to see as they fly overhead!
Just around the corner from Satonda was our next island stopover Moyo, where we had a very memorable time…infact we met the nicest, local, Muslim guy Sidik and his family there. He was a waiter at the very exclusive nearby resort (Amanwana…only $1200USD per night) and invited us to come see his village and his house. Infact the dinner his wife so kindly and unexpectedly had cooked us at his place was nicer than the one that cost us $420USD (the Barossa shiraz alone cost us $180 USD…but it was a special occasion…our 1 year sailing anniversary) at the resort (apart from the fact Cam was a little crook the next day…ooops…dodgy fish!) In exchange we took his family out to the boat, gave them a tour and a spare battery we had, plus a little cash to help him out with the solar set up he had. An extremely genuine and generous guy who we still keep in touch with.
Moyo was our last stop in Sumbawa, we hopped from there to Gili Lawang off the coast of Lombok overnight and then headed for the “Gili’s” that everyone knows and loves. The word on the Gili’s is that the Polisi run the islands as a trade off for the rest of Indonesia being drug free…You can get as many magic mushrooms and pot as you want there (and they constantly ask you if you want it) and there are no Polisi stationed there…The Polisi are apparently (according to locals) the ones who operate the drug trade….Ahhh Indonesia the land of bribes, forms and bureaucracy gone nutty!!! We asked the locals if they had ever heard of Schapelle Corby, the Bali Nine or the young Aussie boy who recently got sent home….they just kept telling us no Polisi..no worries????? We told them they had to be kidding!!! Anyway, we anchored at Gili Air and used the dinghy to scoot over to check out Gili Trawangan or Gili T as everyone called it…took a Cimodo (pony and cart) ride around the island and have never felt soooooo bad for that poor pony!!! Poor little sucker was virtually whipped the whole way around and was fairly frothing at the bit by the time it had hauled two fat aussies around the island. Had some great meals and some really dodgy meals at the Gili’s with both of us being laid out for a couple of days each (on separate occasions) sick as dogs…downing antibiotics the only cure! It was our intention to get in some diving at the Gili’s but bouts of sickness and the desire to move on prevailed and we had a fantastic crossing to Nusa Lombongan. We managed to actually sail most of the way as about 80% of our travel so far has been motor sailing. Got some fantastic pictures of a local sailing regatta doing a Bali to Lombok crossing…they looked like giant colourful butterflies skiing across the surface of the water.
We would have loved to spend some time at Nusa Lombongan but this time the quality of the anchorage overrode us and we made the decision to call Bali Marina at Benoa to see if they could take us a few days early. Next day we sailed for Bali and arrived in the Marina around lunchtime. Cam spent the next 3 weeks at the marina doing all the jobs that had been put of for too long…servicing, washing, waxing and general repairs. I went home for two weeks and spent Christmas at home with my family and most importantly caught up with my son who I hadn’t seen for about 11 months.
On my return to Bali, being well stocked up and refuelled we spent Cams birthday with new friends at the Marina (aptly the boat was called “Misfit”) and left the next day (yes he was okay to travel!!) Found a nice little anchorage just around the corner from Candidasa to overnight at and moved onto Ambat the next day where we watched the local fireworks and like a pair of old fogies never saw New Years in. Hey we had a long journey ahead of us!!! Next morning we left for our trip across to Kalimantan (Borneo) …3 ½ days later (with one stopover at Coa Goa Island) we arrived at Banjarmasin…very tired!!!
This evening we are still anchored up in Banjarmasin, the weather turned foul and we are waiting it out…Cam managed to negotiate 235L of diesel with the local Marine Polisi and got them down from 10000Rp pL to 8800Rp pL (anything is possible in Indonesia …even negotiation with the Police!!) We are also sorting our Cam’s visa extension whilst here and have to go back into town on Wednesday to pick up his passport and visa. Banjarmasin is like the East’s version of Venice…everything is on the water and on stilts…though I doubt that Venice is as putridly stinky or as poor!!) We leave for Kumai on Thursday which will take us a couple of days…our plan is to meet up with a fantastic couple we met in Darwin on a catamaran called Verite, hire a boat and guide for Sunday to go out to the national park and check out the Orang-utan sanctuary…which apparently has Proboscis Monkeys and other interesting wildlife as well. The place we are currently anchored actually has a pretty cool family of about 8 otters who all stand on their hind legs and check you out when you whistle at them…a lot nicer than the nasty looking and rather large reticulated python we have also seen swimming across the river (luckily to the other side!!)
After Kumai we will move along the coast and then cross over to Belitung Island, hop over to Batam Island then cross to Johor Bahru, Malaysia…we have just over a month to do this…so will try to be a little more prompt with the next email.
Till then… Dari Cameron dan Nikki Selamat Tinggal!