Neptune comes to call

We are at the end of our three months in Indonesia, and today arrived in Singapore for a few days before we head into Malaysia. Clearing in was an interesting experience. We had to cross an 8-lane shipping channel and then anchor at the Quarantine anchorage and await Immigration. They fired towards us in their orange metal boat and held out a fishing net for us to drop our passports and paperwork into! We're at the One 15 Marina - very flash indeed - pool, club-house, gym, steam room, games room, playground and many restaurants that we can't afford. We'll go into the city tomorrow and see what there is to see. The air-con is cranking away - first time we've used it in 5 months.

We travelled to Belitung after Kumai and had a lovely few days there, swimming and eating. The local people had put on a festival in honour of the rally and there were great services for us – dinghy 'boys' ready and willing to drag the dinghy out of the water and watch it for us, free transport into town with helpful guides to accompany us and translate and the friendliest people yet. I'm sure I've said that before. Every time we went down to the beach we were accompanied by hundreds of locals who wanted to have their photos taken with us or just talk.

We had our last overnighter from Belitung to the upper islands of Nangka, Bangka and Lingah, all of which are close to the coast of Sumatra. A couple of days ago we crossed the equator for the first time and were visited by the strange apparition of King Neptune, wearing a sarong and silver crown. Something about him was vaguely familiar. Young princes Seth and Finn, also crowned, were waiting for their initiation ceremony, which consisted of loud incantations and being covered in a foul mixture of porridge and soy sauce. Neptune seemed satisfied with these offerings and disappeared to his watery home. Our friend Gary on 'Spirit of Sabroan', who were sailing close to us as we entered the Northern hemisphere, jumped over the side for a hasty dip but was quick to jump out as the current dragged him away. That night we had an equator party on the beach with all the other boats.

We've been looking back on our months in Indonesia and talking about the high and low lights. It's a country of contrasts – Bali with its predatory traders and sunburnt Westerners, its rice fields and lush hills; the cities – chaotic, filthy, overwhelming; the amazing friendliness of the people; the poverty of people on the islands and in the fishing villages; the lack of any clear infrastructure; the minefield of floating rafts, stilted huts and invisible nets that make night sailing such an invigorating experience. We've had some wonderful anchorages – spotting komodo dragons, monkeys and deer, swimming in clear water, snorkelling with the kids. We've made some lovely friends that we know will stay in our lives. We've also had lots of little things go wrong – disappointing anchorages, rocks and coral to snag the anchor, various boat bits breaking and needing replacement. Not enough to stop us having had an amazing first few months. We've got by with our very limited Bahasa, in places where nobody speaks a word of English (and why should they?!) and Seth has become very adept at understanding the figures thrown around in the market place and elsewhere. We've all become confident bargainers and have had fun haggling over prices.

Wonder how Malaysia will compare.We love knowing that our friends are with us, reading the blog and letting us know that they have.


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