Tiered paddy fields

Dick and Irene Craig
Mon 13 Sep 2010 01:33
The passage from Darwin to Bali was a little disappointing as we had to motor at least a third of the journey due to insufficient wind. However, there was a surprise for us once we were around one and a half hours from our destination. The adverse current increased from 1.5knots to 2knots then 2.5knots and before we knew it, we had 5knots against us. To make matters worse, the sea had increased from slight to moderate and was in a confused state with waves breaking over the boat. The squall, which reduced visibility enormously, added to our feeling of discomfort as the chart plotter showed the direction of the boat over 90º off course to port one moment and then 90º off course to starboard the next. With two engines on full revs, we managed 1.9knots and the arrival time had increased to in excess of five hours.
It is not at all surprising that ships are wrecked at sea because in these, or similar conditions as it was extremely difficult to maintain control. How ships of days gone by had managed without the instruments to help them, is nothing but a miracle, or extremely skilful seamanship.
There was a need to be extremely cautious as we neared the entrance to the marina and we needed to stay very much to starboard to avoid the shallow water. Had we arrived during the afternoon, as did some of the other WARC boats, we would have seen locals, knee deep in the shallow water, fishing.
On arrival, we went first to the fuel pontoon to replenish the diesel used on the passage from Darwin, then moved to our berth where we tied up stern to a floating pontoon and portside to a finger pontoon. Until we were confident that it was free of impurities, we filtered the fuel before permitting it to be put into the tanks.
Once the boat was secure, we were able to utilize the facilities of the marina and each take a refreshing shower. Unfortunately, the water here is not potable and although we do always when used, pass the water from the shore through a filter system, preferred on this occasion to rely entirely on the water in our tanks for drinking, cooking and washing up. We even switched the toilets to salt water flush and deferred using the washing machine again until we are back at sea, thus preserving the water as far as we were able.
A wish-list was completed, for fresh fruit and vegetables, required to be delivered to us at Cocos Keeling from Perth, for the onward journey to Mauritius and handed back to Rally control. Hopefully, most of the products ordered will be delivered and be in a suitable state to last for the duration of the 2350nautical mile passage. We do have canned fruit and canned vegetables on board should there be a shortfall.
We visited silver and gold emporiums and watched jewelry being made before wandering around the vast halls. Dick and I didn't buy any but members of our party did. We checked out the chickens, kept individually in wicker cages before moving on to admire the skill of the craftsmen, carving wood and then entered the huge halls to admire the carvings both small and huge. Once again we didn't make a purchase but others in the party did so.
We were amazed by the mile upon mile of shops which made and sold jewelry, wooden carvings, ceramics, sarongs and many other items to tempt the tourist.
We were accosted by local people trying to sell us sarongs, wood carvings, imitation ivory carvings, beer holders and postcards, every time we stepped down from the coach. There were only eleven of us but between us we purchased a great number of souvenirs.
We drove up into the hills where we had lunch and admired the view of a volcano and lake. Lunch was an Indonesian buffet and was enjoyed by all of us. There was a selection of three different soups on offer and several of us opted for the banana soup which was very nice. We then realized that it was in fact black rice with banana and was actually a dessert, not a soup.
As we left the restaurant we were lucky to be passed by two separate processions celebrating this Hindu holiday. We had arrived in Bali to coincide with a public holiday and although the supermarkets were open and we were able to provision, most places were closed, including the post office from whence we needed to purchase stamps for our postcards.
Our guide was Hindu and he told us that the population of Indonesia is 95% Muslim. The remaining 5% consist of Buddhists, Christians and Hindus. However in Bali the major section of the population is Hindu.
We visited two different temples which I had expected to be similar to those in China but this was not the case being open and supported by pools in which quite large fish were swimming and which had at one time been use for bathing before entering the temple. At each of the temples, any of the party which wore shorts had to cover their legs with a sarong.
We saw rhesus monkeys which climbed down from the trees and ran into the road and were mightily impressed by the multi-tiered paddy fields. I wasn't keen to try the coffee when we stopped for a tea and coffee tasting. Apparently, there is an extremely tasty coffee, made from the beans which have first been swallowed by a small, furry animal, no bigger than a cat. It seems that the faeces of this creature is much sort after. It is collected and washed and the resulting beans are roasted and ground and sold at a very high price. We did see one of these creatures in captivity but I don't recall its name.
Everywhere there were statues both big and small, many quite intricately carved but for the most part they were not displayed to advantage being mainly covered by moss and lichen. This also was a problem with a lot of the walled communities. However, the architecture was very oriental and attractive.
Saturday night there was a prize giving ceremony at the reception and buffet, held at the marina restaurant. We were entertained with live music and beautiful dancing girls and partook of another excellent Indonesian meal. Everyone had a great time but it was sad to say farewell Skylark who are now sailing home to Singapore.

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