Sun 30 Dec 2007 11:53

                                    CARELBI IN INDONESIA, JULY - SEPTEMBER 2007




Despite arriving at Kupang amongst the first wave of boats, the arrangements for checking in were so arbitrary that we had to sit on Carelbi for the whole of the first day, hoping that the authorities would visit us. As more and more yachts arrived we realised that matters had to be taken into our own hands, and on the second morning Chris set off in the dinghy and literally kidnapped them off the first boat they visited that  day. They were a friendly bunch when they finally arrived, Indonesians have great smiles, and the checking-in procedure went smoothly from that moment.



We did, however, visit a fascinating workshop which produces the "sassando", a musical instrument much played locally and not well known elsewhere, not surprising since Indonesia is a huge country made up of thousands of islands stretched in a long crescent over thousands of miles. Below you can see Chris playing one and on the right a trio of different size sassandos.


We were grateful to the rally for getting us into Indonesia with so few problems. Other friends  had to miss it out all together because of the 48% value of your boat deposit demanded by Customs - the rally had organised a bond to cover all the yachts taking part. Various dinners and visits to " typical local villages" had also been laid on by the rally organisers and the Indonesian Tourist Board, but we felt that was not for us. We have always preferred to meet people on a one-to-one basis and, as much as we have been able, experience their lives and culture as if we, too, were living them. So, we left the rally at Kupang, and it never caught up with us. For the record, we would recommend any boat sailing that way to go with the rally, their organisers did a fantastic job of organising officialdom on behalf of a huge number of yachts, and if you like lots of company, it's a good way to see Indonesia.




A lovely beach near Alor where we had a picnic lunch.....



The colourful market at Alor...




We sailed on to the Komodo National Park, where the Komodo dragons live, a wonderful experience. Here is one of these fabulous beasts, probably three metres in length, just walking casually past us.






Komodos live off the buffalo which roam the island. they kill them by sinking their poisonous teeth into a leg or nearest available portion of flesh, and then wait for the animal to die, which can take up to two weeks or more. On the right you can see the remains of a buffalo feast, probably shared by several dragons.


Final glimpse of a dragon, climbing to the top of a rock to warm himself with the last rays of the setting sun.




We anchored off Lovina in the north of Bali and found ourselves a car with driver for about 200,000 rupiah a day, plus petrol. When you realise that exchanging US$100 makes you a rupiah millionaire, this is not a lot to pay, but is the correct rate. Our driver was called Nyoman and was a delightful person, taking really good care of us and introducing us to his island. We spent three days with him. On the right you can see Chris in his temple-going gear, sarong pleated in the correct fashion. We visited a lot of Buddhist temples...
Nyoman, our driver,  playing a xylophone in a restaurant. Food in Indonesia was incredibly cheap and we would typically eat a good meal for £2.



When we arrived the Balinese were about to inaugurate a new temple for Lovina. This entailed chanting, praying and music non-stop from about ten in the morning to ten at night. Sound carries very well over water and we felt as if we were in the temple precincts themselves. The Balinese practise a gentle melange of Buddhism and multiple deity worship, with splendid demons guarding temples and shrines everywhere. Here you can see Balinese carrying offerings for the inauguration ceremonies. 






I think this is a fisherman god guarding the rice paddies behind him.



This is my favourite deity, the Hindu elephant god, Ganesh. He's generally in charge of knowledge and happiness and also in charge, that day, of the excellent restaurant we visited with Nyoman  which specialised in all the hundreds of tasty ways you can tempt a human person to eat duck.



 On the way back from Ubud we stopped off to feed the voracious monkeys who fight for the over-priced bananas and peanuts sold by the roadside vendors.







After leaving Indonesia we headed for Singapore. Our Swiss crew had never crossed the Equator by boat and so, of course, Neptune had to be placated with the right ceremonies. Chris, as Captain of Carelbi, is representing Neptune, and the two victims are about to be pushed into the water at the bow, dead on the Equator by GPS reckoning. (Having been unacceptable to Neptune, they were allowed to climb back on board again up the ladder at the stern).







We will be returning to Singapore mid-February 2007 when we will be cruising up the Malaysian coast to Phuket. We then return to France for the summer of 2007, heading back to Thailand mid-October. We will be leaving Phuket in early January 2009, to sail Carelbi back to the Mediterranean and expect to arrive in April 2009.


When we return to Europe we will be selling Carelbi, probably in 2010, and would like to ask all our blog readers to put the word around. We would be really happy to invite any prospective buyers you might find to sail with us anywhere between Singapore (Feb 2008)and the Mediterranean (end 2010). She is a beautiful boat to sail and very comfortable for cruising... she should be, she has been our home for the past 8 years! Just email us to sort out the details.





We left Darwin with good winds and arrived eighth out of a rally of 120 yachts, mainly Australian and New Zealand but with a respectable number of British, German and other European nations represented. We were actually able to fly the spinnaker on several occasions.


We had a delightful Swiss couple, Anya and Lucas, crewing with us on this trip. They were hoping to carry on down to New Zealand, buy a boat and cruise for a couple of years, had put their careers on hold and saved up enough cash for the project. Sailing with us was a trial run, to see if the cruising life suited.

Together with four or five other boats, we hired one of Kupang's colourful buses and a driver/guide and set off on a tour of the local sights. Indonesians are tiny people and large Europeans find it quite hard to squeeze into the narrow seats, the bus had long ago lost any suspension it might have had, and, once out of the city, roads deteriorated rapidly. It was a decidedly uncomfortable experience and we vowed to hire cars in future.
We visited a local village, an experience which made me feel exceedingly uncomfortable. I personally would not like a large group of very rich (as we appear to Indonesians) people wandering around my home village in France, exclaiming about the quaintness of my home, my simple few possessions and the primitive way in which I live my life, all the while snapping off photographs. It made me feel as if I was treating people as if they were animals in the zoo.
The waterfront at Kupang...
Because Indonesia is really a long archipelago of islands, people go everywhere by small ferry boats. I love their variety and have quite a large collection of photographs of them. We particularly liked this one, just outside Kupang with the passengers standing on the masts...
Fishing in a little bay off Alor where we moored for a couple of nights. Because a large proportion of Indonesians earn about $1 per day, they feed themselves from fruit and vegetables, which grow easily and in abundance, while getting most of their protein from fish and scrawny chickens. We were horrified to note the tiny size of most of the fish, and when you know that an average family has six children, and that you can see a minimum of 10 boats fishing every night in every bay, with paraffin lamps to attract their prey, you cannot but wonder how sustainable this lifestyle can be. Sailing through Indonesia was the first time that we did not catch any fish when trailing our line, there just weren't any large ones left.
In Indonesian markets you have to haggle for at least 5 minutes over each purchase, and I am convinced that, at the end of the process, there are two dissatisfied people. The buyer, because he is sure he has paid too much and the seller because she is convinced she might have got a bit more. I began to dread the phrase  "How much you want to pay?".
Manjuki, one of the park's rangers took us on a guided tour which included many other sights, like this huge wild bees nest which he offered to knock down for us. I think this was one of his personal jokes for us tourists!
On your left you can see a dying buffalo, he's been there for ten days or more, the komodo dragon in waiting on the opposite side of the stream, and Manjuki, delighted that he has been able to show us the whole food cycle in one place.
We sailed on to Bali where, for the first time since leaving the city of Alor, we saw village lights along the coastline at night. Until then the villages we had passed were too poor to have electricity. The culture in Bali is totally different to the rest of Indonesia, we thought the Post Office, on the left, illustrated the point quite well.


... as well as a temple instrument workshop. You can see gongs, which are made from metal melted in little pots and poured into primitive moulds, and also xylophones.
It was the mango season. Bliss! We bought large numbers and ate them until we looked like a mango. I then made the leftover fruit  into mango sorbet, served with little caramelised strips of lemon, all of which was totally delicious and kept well in the freezer.
The gongs and xylophones waiting for the players to come and celebrate the new temple with their music...
A temple dancer: we could not understand what he was shouting, but the kids were all shrieking with excited fear and the adults were laughing... he must have been some kind of demon.
On one of our trips with Nyoman we went up to the mountains to Ubud, the centre of Balinese wood carving and art. This is a shrine in the Agung Raka Fine Art Gallery, well guarded, as you can see, by lots of toothy demons.
We visited the Botanic Gardens, but, unfortunately for us, they were shrouded in mist that day. Beautiful none the less...
We left Bali and headed for Belitung where we planned to check out of Indonesia. Here are a few of the wonderfully diverse Indonesian boats that we saw on the way...
The two sacrifices, happy not to have been taken by Neptune, receive their certificates of Equatorial Passage.
We wish everybody a great Christmas 2007 and all our best wishes for 2008.