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S/V Trim
Port: California
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Nongsa Marina & Singapore
10/18/2014, Nongsa Point Marina, Indonesia

Map of the final approach to Nongsa Point. We are currently 8 miles from Singapore and will likely just use the ferry to visit Singapore.

A lot has happened since the last blog update. Probably more than I can remember. When we left Bawean several boats headed to Kumai while the rest of us headed to Manggar Belitung on the way to Singapore. Manggar is a small fishing village at the mouth of a river and they offered everyone in the Sail Indonesia fleet 100 Liters of fuel if we came to their town for a visit. All of this sounded quite good until we heard that the entrance to the river harbor is only 2.1 meters deep. Trim has a draft of 2.7 meters when fully loaded with water and fuel. However, we were told that they had dredged the entrance and therefore there should not be any issue for monohulls to get in.

Well, we found out the hard way that Manggar did not actually dredge their entrance and we hit bottom on our way in. We were able to turn around and return to our leeside anchorage about 6 miles away. We were very lucky to only hit bottom on the sand. Another boat named Sweet Surrender followed a pilot boat right into the entrance reef and ended-up on her side for 4 hours. It took 4 fishing boats at high tide to get her off the rocks.

Needless to say we didn't stick around for our 100 Liters of free fuel.

So, from Manggar we motor sailed around the island to Keliyang which was said to be the best anchorage of them all. When we arrived we found 3-4 foot swell coming through the anchorage for 2 solid days. After this fun we pretty much said the hell with this BS and made our way for Nongsa Point Marina across from Singapore. This crossing require 55 hours of motoring. There wasn't a lick of wind...only a couple of rain squalls. We did however get to witness Indonesia dynamite fishing while passing a large group of fishing vessels in the middle of the South China Sea.

We are now sitting in a slip at Nongsa Marina enjoying the endless electricity, swimming pool with poolside service and pitchers of Bintang Beer.

Island of Women
10/05/2014, Palau Bewean, Java Sea, Indonesia

Photos to come...

After 48 hours of exhausting sailing, dodging ships, fishing fleets, small boats, Fish Attracting Divices (aka FADs) and even unlit bardges, we pulled into Palau Bewean in the middle of the Java Sea. When we rounded the corner to the bay, we were surprised to see a large portion of the fleet had done the same thing and all had the same stories or horrific waterway traffic.

Today is Eid al-Adha day in most islamic countries and it is a day of animal sacrifice. We were invited to attend, but most of the women were not interested in seeing cattle have their throats slit in the street as part of the "Festival of the sacrifice".

So, we are here at Bewean. Bawean has been known as the "island of women" because the majority of its inhabitants are women. This is because the men tend to look for employment in other lands. A man from Tanjung Ori village who worked for 20 years in Malaysia said, "A Bawean male is not considered an adult until he has stepped on foreign soil." Merantau (going to distant lands to seek success) is a major aspect of Bawean culture and it influences almost every other facet of their society. A significant number of the Baweanese reside in Malaysia. In fact, the Baweanese population there far exceeds that found on the island itself, which numbers 60,000 inhabitants. Other areas of Baweanese migration include Perth, Australia and Singapore, where they are known as the Boyanese people. Linguistically speaking, the Bawean dialect is part of Madura language which also includes the dialects of Bangkalan, Pamekasan, Sampang, Sapudi and Sumenep.

Wiki says the following: Dutch sailors first visited Bawean during their trading expedition to Java led by the explorer Cornelis de Houtman - on 11 January 1597, the expedition ship Amsterdam was badly damaged off the Bawean coast. In the 17-18th centuries, the island was regularly visited by ships of the Dutch East India Company, which was strengthening its position in this part of the Malayan archipelago, and in 1743 officially came under its control. The Island had little economic value and was used as a resting stop for ships sailing between Java and Borneo.

After the bankruptcy and liquidation of the East India Company in 1798, Bawean and all its other possessions came under the direct control of the Netherlands Crown. Whereas the island was governed by an appointed Dutch official, native nobility retained certain influence, and the Muslim institutions of justice settled local court matters. The Bawean religious court (Indonesian: Pengadilan Agama Bawean) was established in 1882.

Since the end of 19th century, men of the island began to regularly travel to work in the British colonial possessions in the Malay Peninsula, especially in Singapore.[6] The Dutch authorities do not interfere with the activities of foreign recruiters who visited the island, as Bawean, with about 30,000 people and 66 settlements was overpopulated. The island was then producing tobacco, Indigo, cotton fabrics and coal, and exported the Bawean Deer and local breed of horse. Large-scale planting of teak started in the 1930s and resulted in deforestation of most of the island.

The Beauty of Ubud Bali

We loved Ubud so much that we took two inland trips and went to the Balinese Dance again. The dance was preceded by a parade in the streets giving offerings to the gods for each of the villages in the surrounding area. The colors, costumes, faces and expressions were fascinating and the music mesmerizing.

Here are just a few photos from last night in Ubud.

The Balinese family car.

More coming to Photo Album.

Inland Tour of Bali
09/26/2014, Ubud Bali

Bali is a pleasant surprise. Lori and I both had imagined a commercialized American-Australian style bars, shops and experience with ping pong ball launching strippers and girly-boy bars. What we found was friendly, personable, authentic and life uncorrupted by the American culture here in Lovina. We found that this was the case for most of the country side of Bali. The Balinese are simple, lovely people who will do everything possible to make you happy.

They are such friendly people that it makes you feel bad about yourself and your typically demanding ways. Yes, they do try at every chance to manipulate the dollar conversion factor to their favor, but this has to be expected if so many enable them to gain 20 to 30% by simply showing the inverse of the actual conversion factor on a calculator. They are sharp business people...but not thieves as we experienced in Mexico where palming bills, bump-n-grab and bait-n-switch are order of the day with the tourist industry.

Lovina Beach is a sleepy little North shore location that eliminates all the touristy experience of the Southern Depensar where the International airport drops all the Aussies and European tourists who have come to see the Indonesian life style. What little do they know that the Balinese go about their lives away from the hustle for the dollar and euro in their simple life style in the rice patties or wood carving barns.

A small group of us arranged a van and driver to take us South to see the interior of the island for a couple days while we hired Abdul to watch our boats. Abdul is the gentleman that came out on his outrigger and offered Solar (fuel), water and provisions. He was the early worm. We bought 400 liters from him for $1 liter knowing full well we could get the same fuel for $0.65/liter if we did it ourselves. The problem with doing this yourself here in Bali is the need for 20 or so 20 liter containers and a beachable boat capable of carrying the containers out to Trim. In the end it is worth $100+ dollars to just pay Abdul to go get the fuel in his jugs, load them on his outrigger and bring them to us on anchor.

Katuk was our driver. He was a 27 year old Indonesian who looked more like 19 or 20. He was dark complected, trendy dresser with an extremely athletic build...Olympian build really. Katuk was super friendly and did everything he could to make sure we all enjoyed ourselves. He would stop, and run around the van to open the doors and fold back the seats for everyone. He was absolutely accommodating and just plain happy to have the opportunity to serve us. The funny part of the name "Katuk" is that an insurance commercial in Australia used a Indonesian named Katuk in their adds in which a Australian woman fell in love with here pool boy named Katuk who eventually comes to Australia to be with her at her high school reunion. So, whenever I said Katuk, I kinda laughed inside. Katuk would eventually introduce us to his family and their very very simple lifestyle amongst the rice patties and coconut palms of Bali...a very humbling experience to say the least.

Our inland journey started with a stop at a Buddist Temple in which we were introduced to the fact that we Americans, ie, Lori & I, need to better appreciate the culture that requires coverage of skin and body before entering the religious realms and temples. I honestly thought it was odd that I would need to wear a sarong in order to enter the temple...did Buddha really have a problem with my shorts?

The temple was visually breathtaking and exemplified the use of perfect symmetry of structure and landscape. Even the trees and flowers were arrange in perfect symmetry...makes one wonder if maybe Buddha had a case of obsessive compulsive disorder. This type of architecture would be seen throughout our journey into the interior of Bali. Temples were everywhere and the first one we visited actually paled in comparison to those we would later see in Ubud.

Following the Buddha temple we ventured through a local market which was a feast for the senses. Everywhere you looked were colors and textures very pleasing to the eye and camera. Women were cleaning fish, separating fruit, flowers, seeds, and just about anything that could be sold. Whole chickens were cleaned and parted on table tops alongside vegetables and fish. There were all kinds and colors of flowers, flower petals and incense arranged into small package offerings to be placed in locations outside building, one scooters, on cars and just about anything that needed to be safe and blessed from evil spirits. The Indonesians believe that offerings to the spirits is a daily requirement and Katuk told us that many people perform blessings as many as 3 times a day for various activities. As a result, everything smells like burning incense.

Up the hill a bit from the market was the natural hot springs where there is a temple dedicated to the warm waters that flow from the mountain side. The hot spring baths are popular with dozens of Europeans taking baths and showers in the waters that flow through steaming trenches into sculpted rock pools that provide showers of various heights and temperatures. Above the baths is a wonder restaurant with balconies designed to allow those that don't want to bathe enjoy the voyeurism of the place. Unfortunately they weren't serving so early when I went to get a beer.

The costliest coffee on earth has a humble proletarian beginning. As folklore has it, civet coffee, or kopi luwak in Indonesian, was discovered by plantation workers in colonized Indonesia. Forbidden from consuming coffee beans picked from the plants, they picked up, cleaned and then roasted the beans excreted by wild Asian palm civets that entered the plantations to eat the ripest coffee cherries. The civets' digestive systems gave kopi luwak a uniquely rich aroma and smooth, rounded flavor -- so much so that the Dutch plantation owners soon became die-hard fans.

In the past 10 years, kopi luwak has won the hearts -- and wallets -- of global consumers. A cup sells for $30 to $100 in New York City and London, while 1 kg of roasted beans can fetch as much as $130 in Indonesia and five times more overseas. The ultimate in caffeine bling is civet coffee packed in a Britannia-silver and 24-carat gold-plated bag, sold at the British department store Harrods for over $10,000. The justification for these exorbitant prices? A claim that kopi luwak is sourced from wild animals and that only 500 kg of it is collected annually. The claim is largely nonsense.

About a half hour further up the mountain road we found a magnificent waterfall which took us past a small garden where they were drying coffee beans and cloves. They even had some Kopi Luwak scat drying in the sun.. Coming up the steep trail from the waterfall was a group of older Europeans that seemed to be speaking Hungarian. One of the older and larger women in the group was having a seriously difficult time making the steep steps back up the trail and so everyone coming down lent her a hand or two along the way as she said bless you and thank you in her thick accent.

This is the poor guy that has to eat all that coffee. I think he just wants a cheese burger and fries.

We visited several other temples of various denomination and varied dedication to the application of OCD architecture accompanied by flowers and entry fees. The one element that all the temples seemed to have in common was the absolute intricate detail of texture and colors covering the front doors to the temple. One such doorway was amazing with gold leaf and brilliantly painted figures of dragons and people. I simply can't imagine the amount of labor that must be needed to maintain such things...and they are everywhere.

Lori tells me that these are perfume bottles. I think they might be used for something else.

As we continued along the narrow road towards the town of Ubud, we stopped at a coffee plantation where they were famous for Kopi Luwak...or Luwak coffee bean scat which is dried, cleaned, ground, packaged and sold at prices near to that of gold. Because it was one of those things that was made famous by the movie Bucket List, we were forced to pay the 50,000 Pd for a small cup just to see what all the fuss was about. Well, the fuss is just that. Kopi Luwak tastes like Folgers instant coffee. So whatever the little ferret like civet animal does to the coffee bean, it makes it taste like freeze dried with all the flavor stripped away. None of us were sure what the big to-do was all about. When we left, we bought some regular coffee...and later we bought some Starbucks Sumatran coffee in Ubud. Nobody was compelled to buy the ridiculously expensive civet shit coffee...not even as a gift. The coffee tasting experience however was very unique with small groups of people privately conducting tasting in the jungle amongst the coffee plants and coco trees.

A Michelangelo moment.

After the coffee plantation, we ventured towards Ubud where the road sides start to become wall to wall wood and craft shops with every form of wood carving, metal fabrication and glass blowing that one can imagine. The sheer volume of wood carving in Bali is just mind boggling. We saw intricate Balinese doors, massive hardwood planks made into office tables, animal statues, masks, and even life sized Komodo Dragons which was my favorite. On the way to Ubud, we visited a jewelry factory, aka sweat shop, and a wood carving factory...both great experiences.

We stumbled upon this cock fight as we were driving back to Lovina. There was a huge crowd and Katuk said that they were having local afternoon cockfights. Each of the fighters wore these nice sharp blades and they used them well. Most of the fight was over in seconds.

As the sun began to set, we finally reached Ubud. The place is hustling and bustling with people from all over the world, the sounds of millions of scooters and the smells of incense everywhere. There are narrow little roads with monkeys running around taking things from the unexpecting tourist. The shops that line the narrow roads are full of amazing artwork, clothing, leather and glassworks. There are bars and restaurants of all types each with it's own alluring atmosphere darkly lit with plush furniture. Ubud is essentially the Rodeo Drive of Bali.

We finally found a hotel that wasn't full and got a huge double room with balcony out to the pool for $55/night which included breakfast. After cooling off in the pool, we all made our way to a temple in the middle of town where the Balinese dance show was held. This show was so amazing that Lori and I want to go again. Unfortunately, we didn't take our Nikon camera and our GoPro battery died right at the start of the show. The pictures would have been amazing because the costumes and make-up where out of this world. The dance was mesmerizing and continued non-stop for 90 minutes with the music of the Balinese drums and xylophones never taking a break. I can't tell you how painful it was to sit there without a working camera!

After the show we went shopping at night along the crowded streets. There were bands of all types playing in the bars. Music was coming from everywhere. Captain Lee would have been beside himself with all the live performances. Ubud really comes alive at night. When we finally arrived back at our hotel room we found ourselves exhausted and it was all we could do to stay awake for a few minutes of CNN and the news about US bombing Syria.

Early the next morning we all met for a small breakfast in the garden and decided to walk through the Sacred Monkey Forest and then meet up again at the Art Musem. On our long drive back to Lovina Beach, we stopped to watch a Cock Fight, visit a Volcano and then stop by Katuk's home to meet his parents and eat some fresh coconut that Katuk climbed the tree and cut the coconuts down and opened them for us.

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