Posted: 3rd October 2012.
Once again we’re on passage, sounds like I’m developing a stutter, this time heading north again. We left Lombok Island early on the 1st October on a 400nm passage to Kumai in Kalimantan (I think formally part of Borneo). Here we get to meet our close relations, the orangutans, let me know if you have any message for yours. The passage was intended to take about 60 hours, two overnights, but at the current speed we may have to throw in another night. We’re being real sailors and not starting the motor when we drop below 5 knots. This isn’t through any desire to become more of a purest or even environmentally friendly, it’s just we don’t know where we can next purchase any diesel. The wind is SE, right behind us, but only at round 9 knots so we’re struggling to make 4.5 knots under spinnaker. We’ve never sailed in seas that are so busy; typically you have 4 or 5 big ships on the AIS and lots of fishing boats that you don’t pick up on radar. Even the small dugouts with the V on-its-side sail are out here, crazy.
We had 12 days on or around Lombok Island arriving there a couple of days after the last email was sent. The challenge here was to get our Indonesian Visa’s renewed for a further 30 days. We chose Lombok rather than Bali as it saved the passage down to the reputedly dirty Bali marina. It cost more to renew here and is inexplicably more complex as only on Lombok are you required to attend the immigration office to get finger printed and photographed, more on this later. The procedure starts by handing in your passports together with a few million rupiahs at the local marina, they then give you a date to attend immigration. Given that we had a four day wait for this pleasure, eight of us hired two cars and went exploring the island, leaving the boats at anchor with babysitters.
The cars cost $25/day, come with zero fuel and returned the same way after allowing enough for them to drop you back at the marina. I think the starting bid from the hire operator was $75/day but as always following the negotiation you are left with a feeling you paid too much, a feeling Colin aint used to. As I’ve said before, the people are so nice and friendly everything is done with a smile.
Setting off for two nights away from the boat accompanied by “we’re all going on a summer holiday” we head south to check out the surfing town of Kuta Beach, not to be confused with the town of Kuta on Bali.
Attempting to describe driving on Lombok is as hard as trying to describe the amazing dive sites. Millions of small motorbikes and scooters aiming at you from every point on the compass as trucks come at you from the opposite direction on your side of the road as they overtake horse and buggies it takes balls not to hit the brakes. I worked out early that it’s preferable to drive than sit wetting the back seat. The trick is to concentrate on not hitting anyone and forget about others hitting you. Somehow it seems to work but forget about sightseeing whilst driving as your eyes can’t leave the road for one second. I even found the required third hand, one on the gear stick, one on the wheel with the third posed over the horn. You either enjoy it or end up a nervous wreck. The whole islands roads are so busy we had to keep reminding ourselves that this is not regarded as a high population island in Indonesia, would love to have a go at driving in Jakarta.
Arrived in Kuto Beach for a late lunch at a beachside bar. As we drove in we ran into a herd of water buffalo just emerging from immersing themselves in a muddy stream. I’ve never been to Bali but apparently this town is reminiscent of a beach town in Bali 30 years ago. Knowledgeable surfies must have known about this place for a while as we meet a few who had been for holidays here 5 or 6 times. The big plus is that it’s cheaper than Bali and the surf breaks are just as good, downside is that currently you have to fly thru Bali to get here. This may change next year as direct flights are planned out of Aussie, Novotel has just opened a big hotel on the beach so this is set to become the next Bali. It would be a beautiful location if they would just clean up the litter spread around everywhere.
The next day we headed inland to the foothills of Mt Rndjani, over 3900m at its peak. There is a crater lake to which adventurist types can take a three day hike. Not having the time we chose a 4 hour walk around the rice fields and local villages stopping at a waterfall. Now an expert in rice cultivation I’m bloody glad I missed that vocation. I can see some attraction working in the most scenic area, mountain backdrop, green fields to the horizon and so peaceful but the backbreaking work requires being born to it. Our hotel that night cost $15/room with breakfast included. Seemed like a bargain until we realised at 4 in the morning that we were perfectly located to judge the performances of competing mosques. Prior to this I got to watch live a much more enjoyable performance. Having stood with the young owner of the hotel in the afternoon watching local boys play soccer game he realised I knew a little about the game even after I told him I supported Liverpool. So that evening just after finishing the best Mia Gorang since Banda, he asked if I wanted to watch the Liverpool vs Man United game live. How good can this hotel get? I joined him and his young son in a small back room with an old satellite linked tellie and no chairs. The guys knew more of the players’ names than I did. It was fascinating to watch the station switch at half time to a glamorous girl in Jakarta surrounded by guys all decked out in Liverpool and United colours waving flags in front of the camera. As for the game, we was robbed, it was never a sending off offence and how do you award a penalty when no contact takes place? This has to have been the most bizarre location I have ever watched a game.
Ok now back to the immigration saga. We heard from friends back at the marina that our names were on the board to go to immigration on Monday (tomorrow) not Tuesday as we’d previously been told. Now given Indonesia’s excellence in bureaucratic stuff ups this didn’t surprise us. After numerous attempts to tell the marina girl that we were on the other side of the island and that we couldn’t possibly make the arranged transport but would meet them there, we may or may not have got her to understand. Now this may not seem like such a big deal but missing this appointment may have meant having to wait even longer to get our passports back. So early the next morning we part company with the other car and head directly across the island to Lombok’s capital city, Mataram. We’ve since learnt that this city grew through the amalgamation of numerous small towns, it’s now a huge sprawling metropolis suffering from population logjam. Finding our way around would have been impossible without Colin’s mastery of his iphone and Google Maps and my interpretation of directions lost in between “the f***ing things died again” and contradicting instructions issued from the rear seats. By this stage we all need a coffee and pee stop, me due to the volume of Bintang consumed the previous evening the others due to excitement overload during the road trip. We found a local café and attempted to order. On hearing English spoken the girl behind the counter let out a mix of half scream half laugh and immediately ran out of the shop. We could be the first tourists to ever visit this end of town. Anyway our girl turns up again with the owner in tow and using his two words of English and our mastery of bahasa indonessia we get to order. Now I like a little sugar in my coffee but a little coffee in sugar is undrinkable. However, the food whatever it was, tasted great. Then it was a couple of exhilarating circuits around town as we searched for the local mall and supermarket before returning to immigration at the appointed time. Somehow we managed to circumvent the hordes in the waiting room and get through a security guarded door to the back offices. In fact an Indonesian lady managed to use the opportunity to push past the guard and escape into the inner sanctum. Our elation at our sidestep wore off after the first hour of being ignored whilst sitting waiting. The only entertainment was watching an office girl avoid doing anything resembling work for the whole time we sat there. So now my finger prints, signature and photograph are digitally stored, for what, maybe they go into a kind of lotto draw. Now this isn’t the end of this narrative as the passports don’t arrive back at the marina for another four days. But that’s another story and as I’m sure you’re getting bored now I’ll move on.
Free to leave again we start with an easy passage, three miles out to Gili Aer island. Actually not so easy as we encounter the worse wind against tide chop of the whole trip. There are three small tourist island in this group promising good snorkelling and diving. Now we know we’ll never match what we’ve already experience back at Gili Lawa Laut so the main purpose of our visit was to eat at the world famous Scallywags restaurant. We managed this, bought the t-shirt and moved back to our sheltered anchorage on Lombok the next day.
We should now have been moving on to Bali but none of us could muster the enthusiasm. We’d done the rice field thing and didn’t look forward to the prospect of being continually harassed so we jointly decided to leave Bali for another day when we could fly in. Thus our current location heading towards Kumai.
Our longer term plan is to get to Langkawi off the NW Malaysian coast by the end of November and then on to Phuket , Thailand by xmas.
Band update: you may remember that big Col had to buy a bigger baritone uke than my little soprano version. Well he has studiously been learning every chord ever played for the past two months. His mastery of the instrument as figures fly over the frets is a delight to watch, you’d think he was born to play. Such a shame he found out the other day that chords for the baritone uke are totally different from the soprano uke and he had learnt the wrong ones. I guess in the bigger picture it doesn’t reflect well on the rest of the band, not even realising that Col was so out of tune.
Paul & Glor
04 10’21.00 S, 112 12’37.22 E
12-10-03 14:14:45 +0800 +0000