09 August, 2007

8 August 2007

Sorry folks but after spending over an hour to upload photos in the internet office with a little mouse running in the wheel to make it go, we gave up so when we get to a faster internet somewhere in the world, its storey only:

First up – (not) a photo of the rally yachts taken from the Darwin Sailing Club. We had to anchor about a mile offshore, as the tides in Darwin are so big. It made for a long tender ride ashore; it took us about 8 minutes! The Sailing Club was in a great location, and it was neat looking out and seeing the yachts at anchor.

We got away from Darwin on 21 July. We had a champagne breakfast in the morning with non-rally cruising friends, and got back to the boat at 10.30 am. The rally start-gun went off at 11 am; suffice to say that the crew of Enzwell were still getting ready and we crossed the start line fashionably late by ten minutes. There were still plenty of yachts still to come behind us – after all, we were in a rally not a race! In past years, rally participants have had to motor most of the way to Kupang due to the lack of wind, but we will lucky, we had great sailing conditions on the first day. We did have to motor at night though. On that first night, we had at least 25 other yachts near to us; with all the navigation lights on it was like we were sailing in the middle of a Christmas tree! About the only thing of interest that we passed were two oil wells during the second night. The burning flame was pretty impressive and could be seen for miles. I found the passage quite rolly at times and not pleasant, so was pleased when we got to Kupang, 75 hours after we left Darwin. We were 23rd boat in, out of 115 odd who started, so we were pretty happy.

Formalities were up first, and we needed to get cleared by Customs, Quarantine and Immigration. We got in to find they had only cleared two yachts, at least 20 were still waiting, and another ten yachts had come in around the same time as us. Nothing in Indonesia works to a schedule or strict time keeping.

There was another small problem in that Customs didn’t have a boat to get out to see us all. After about an hour, they found one boat, so split into about three teams, they started to visit the yachts. We were lucky; they got to us early and did all the necessary paperwork, but then they couldn’t get to the next boat as their boat had disappeared. No problem, Shane told them to jump in our tender, and he became the ‘taxi’ to get them to the next yacht! After we had cleared, it was off to shore to explore.

The first official rally function in Indonesia was three days after we got to Kupang. The Governor of the district hosted a dinner for the rally participants; there were the usual speeches and traditional dancing. Each boat crew was given a gift on arrival – a plaque and woven scarf – and then they called for a representative from each country to go and get a further gift. New Zealand was first; no one went up (we thought someone had been chosen to receive the award) so on the second calling of NZ Shane went up and got another woven scarf and plaque. So, Shane is now the official NZ rep. Here he is with the representatives of all the countries participating in the rally. (no he’s not)

During the days in Kupang we had a good wander around. It is typically third world; dirty and dusty, the seawater is dirty, there is rubbish everywhere; but as it is off the regular tourist trail all the locals are very friendly. Particularly the younger kids. They loved practising their limited English vocabulary on us; everywhere we went it was “hullo mister”, “hullo missus”, “bye bye”. They had very infectious laughs and giggles. The local transport is the ‘bemo’ – a small mini-van with a row of seats along each side inside, and with a stereo system where it is mandatory to have the base and sub-woofer cranked up the maximum possible level. The noise got to us a bit after a while.

Sitting in the front seat of the bemo was good; you could see a bit more. In saying that though, the bemo windows were all covered with big transfers – most of them either soccer orientated or to do with the latest fashion trend – it’s a wonder the drivers could see out the front to see where they were going! Each bemo had a driver and ‘conductor’ – who collected the money. Some of the conductors were as young as 11 – obviously their schooling has given way to learning the art of Indonesian commerce.

We managed to find internet cafes, although they are a lot slower than what we have been used to for years, and firewalls and virus protection are unheard of. Eating out was super-cheap in Kupang; we went to the local night food markets just across the road from where we were anchored and could get nasi goring for both us for $1.50. Suffice to say I didn’t cook in Kupang and we ate out every night! I got an upset tummy – the nasi goring I had for lunch one day was a touch on the spicy side – so I stuck with Western faire the following day. Quite a few people got sinus and sniffles in Kupang; the air was very dusty, and there were burn offs ashore so we would wake each morning to thick smoky air. I got a bad throat infection, but got on to antibiotics straight away and got rid of the worst of it fairly quickly.

There are excellent markets in Kupang. Quite by accident, we stumbled across a very big fruit and vegie market, where all the locals go. We stocked up on fruit and veggies; a bunch of bananas was 80 cents and a bag of tomatoes 20 cents, so as you can see, it is very cheap here.

Kupang has been great and everyone really friendly, but it will be good to get to lovely islands where the water is clear and the air fresh and clean…….

In Kupang there were two tours organised, but we thought rather than do a tour with 300 other people, we would do a tour with only a few of us. On our first day in Kupang, we met Marco, one of the locals. He had spent a year working at Kakadu National Park in Aussie, and his English was pretty good. He offered to organise a tour for us.

So, on our last full day in Kupang, eight of us headed off in a bemo with Marco. On our way to the first stop, we called in at a fishing village where the local fishermen were building new fishing boats.

The boats were made of the local wood, with the bark between the strips of wood for sealing. Shane asked and they also used epoxy – so even though they build the boats in the traditional way, they still resort to white man’s magic! It was pretty amazing to watch them make these local craft; seeing the boats at sea sometimes made you wonder how they stayed afloat. But I guess they don’t have seas like Cook Strait to contend with…..

The first stop on our official itinerary was a monkey cave where the monkeys were roaming free. Some of them were extremely tame and loved being fed peanuts. So much so, they tugged at the legs of my shorts for more! Then it was off to a cave with a fresh water pool. We had to walk across a field, and then down into the cave. It was pretty slippery, so it was down on hands and feet to crawl down into the cave.

The water was a beautiful green and very clear; it was also nice and warm. We were all hanging out for a swim; we hadn’t been able to swim in Darwin (crocs) and the water where we were anchored in Kupang was filthy.

During the day we went to a waterfall for yet another swim; we visited the last King’s widow at her house (what a lovely old lady); and went to some small villages. We passed these kids who obviously get trained very young to take the family’s produce to market. People here seem to work very hard, but are happy with their ‘lot’. The day finished with a meal at a slightly more upmarket restaurant, for which we paid the princely sum of $US11 each. Shane and I both ordered fish; unfortunately it came out covered in chilli sauce and Shane couldn’t eat his at all. I persevered for a while on the side that wasn’t covered with chilli.

The following day we headed south to the island of Roti. Roti is known worldwide for great surfing spots, and we knew a few other boats from the rally had gone there. We went to the village of Nembrala. Nembrala was a complete change from Kupang; the water was lovely and clean, the air was fresh, and the village and houses were certainly of a higher standard than Kupang. We found out that Nembrala harvests a special type of seaweed which is sold to the Japanese and Chinese for use in cosmetics; this seaweed has made the village reasonably affluent compared to a lot of Indonesia. Nembrala has leased off blocks of land - $A30,000 for 30 years. A few lots have been leased to Aussies and Americans. They have built lovely (and thankfully not ostentatious) houses right on the beachfront.

We found one other gem in Nembrala, it has a bakery. The bakery made fresh bread, focaccia, and banana and chocolate cakes amongst other things. We put in an order, and got two loaves of bread, two small donuts, and two cakes for $NZ14. A bargain. Now all I needed to find was a café that made good flat whites…..

Here’s a shot looking out from the beachfront. All the local fishing boats tie up close to shore. You can see us yachts in the background. We are anchored in between the two coral reefs. Shane was able to get up first thing in the morning, take his surfboard in the tender over behind the reef, and surf to his hearts content. Meanwhile I was back on enzwell…. Cooking, cleaning……. A lot of the guys were getting in three surfs a day. Heaven……

You may also note Mr Piggy wandering along the beach. It’s a funny thing here, the pigs are all fat and healthy, but the poor dogs are all pretty scrawny. We haven’t quite worked out why.

On our third day at Nembrala, five of us hired three motorbikes and went for a tour around the bottom part of the island. We saw some beautiful little bays on the south side of the island, as well as more great surf beaches. Some of the roads were a little tricky, so we had to take it easy in parts. On our way back across the island, we came across the local road works gang.

This is how they make roads in Roti. Lay out even sized boulders on the road, try and make the surface as flat as possible, heat up the tar in a big drum in the adjoining paddock, and then pour the tar over the top of the boulders. Fascinating to watch, it just shows how it can be done without the use of big trucks and other first world means.

We have had a great time at Nembrala. It has been wonderful to relax and take it easy, at a lovely island. Unfortunately though, we are back to Kupang to sort some business, and then after that we are heading to Lembata to catch up with the rally.

We’ll update you further along the track in Indonesia; probably when we come across the next internet café.

OK it's getting way too hard. Here are the photos from the second part of the blog.