We left Belitung island in Monday morning to head overnight to the equator and then anchor a few kms away at Kantar. We basically had to drive the whole night - no wind at all and very hot. In fact it was like a millpond at some points ! We approached the equator at around 8:30am. Due to the lack of wind we decided to just drift while each of us swam across the equator to mark the milestone for us and Wandoo. I went first ( grant tried to guesstimate how far I had to swim to get to it) it was pretty uneventful but also pretty cool swimming in the middle of not much! We had to start the engine and circle around again for grant and Jenny to go. Jenny went next and got a bit worried as the boat continued to drift away from her ! She was very relieved when grant jumped in cause surely I wouldn't abandon the captain AND the crew in the middle of nowhere- little did she know lol!! Just kidding, I brought the boat around to make their swim shorter. Ameliana also had a quick ceremonial dip Back on board , we got dried and headed the next few kms to yet anchorage at Kantar. There were a couple of old fishing shacks in the middle of the anchorage and only one other boat anchored. A while later a local boat with 2 women and a little girl pulled up. Once again it was a different style canoe and paddle set up. I am amazed at the variety of designs as all the small local islanders throughout Indonesia have a very rich fishing culture. So who knows which is better. I assume that each design reflects the waters and conditions in which they fish and what they fish for. The women offered us some papya and although the indinesuan dictionary wasn't helping , we knew they either wanted money or trade. I ended up giving the little girl a couple if t-shirts and a toy and book. And I found a hat and blouse for the women. They tend to keep asking for more, but we like to spread out the stuff we have. Later in the morning out friends on SV Miss Behaving pulled in. They had done the proper equator crossing ritual. In costume and With offerings to king Neptune in the form of their children tied to the mast! Great fun, I think we will have to do that when the girls are older ( even though its supposed to be for your 1st equator crossing - it makes for a good school lesson) We had celebratory drinks in Miss Behaving to mark the occasion. In the morning we lifted the anchor and headed further into the northern hemisphere. I am glad we got a swim in because this was the last time we did swim in Indonesia. The water was getting much dirtier as we got closer to Singapore and bigger islands.
We managed to get through the 3.5 days of sailing very well. We had great wind for the first 2 days. The spinnaker stayed up the whole time and we were ticking along downwind very smoothly. It is always nice not to have the motor running and we have been sailing much more than we anticipated given the accounts from Previous rallies. Alas, all good things come to an end and on the third day the wind died completely. So we motor sailed for the last 1/3 of the trip. I thought Crew Jenny did very well on her watches. I think she is very observant and conscientious for a twenty year old, it also helps that she has crewed before , although from what she has told us, we are giving her more responsibility than the other boats do far. She was struggling a bit with broken sleep, but we all were of course! As we approached the anchorage around lunchtime on Wednesday 10th at belitung, SV Scholarship gave us some info about where to. It looked very pretty- white sand beaches, crystal water and interesting rock islands to our starboard side. Since the wind had died off, it was quite hot and we were all looking forward to a swim. There were about 5 other boats and on shore it looked like there was a resort ( it wasn't, it was actually a huge roof covered meeting area that was built in 2010 when this was an official rally stop- for some reason they moved the stopover this year to another anchorage , which is completely open to the wind! Needless to say , not many people are going there!) We finally got settled and were hanging out on deck. it actually looked like it was going to rain so grant didn't put the tarp up. I scrubbed the coach house roof in hopes that it would be rinsed with fresh water. Unfortunately that didn't really happen with the brief raindrops we got. We all had a ocean shower and fresh water rinse on deck. The water was very warm! We all got a pretty good night sleep that night ( except elora waking every 2 hrs- grrr!!) The next morning , we headed into shore to check it out. It was awesome fine sand and we motored over some coral beds on the way in. It looked like a nice place to spend a few days and explore. We discovered that the town was 27km away and there wasn't much else around us. It seems like this area is being developed for tourism and they have tourists almost everyday going out with the local tour boats around the islands. But, besides a string of "warung" restaurants right on the beach, there isn't much else. That being said, when we went to shore there was a " go to guy " named johnny who was the local contact for the rally in Belitung and he was very helpful. We found out that 3 boats had decided to check out from Belitung on Friday and after some discussion , we too decided to check out ( the official check out point is in a marina at noxa pooint and we always try to avoid those !) While grant gathered info , we hung out and chatted to the other yachties, swapping stories and enjoying the view. We did go into the water for a dip and a play with the girls. We decided that we would goto the markets as well on Friday.
We were ready to go at 8am The next day. It was very hot and still as we waited for our air conditioned cars! Grant had spent a good amount of time the previous night getting all our documents organised to check out and finally, we all piled into the car and headed to town. We were surprised that the roads were so good- literally the best we have seen in Indonesia so far ! It turns out they only built it a year ago. Belitung is divided into 2 regencies. The population of the island is about 250,000. There were also some very new and nice homes being built along that road ( only costs about 1,200 AUD) I have a feeling that Belitung will be a very different island in 7-10 yrs if tourism goes well. And so began the day - long-saga of checking out of Indonesia. Because grant was the only one who needed to meet with the officials, Jenny , the girls and I just hung out in the coolest section of the waiting area while the staff who were just hanging out came and fawned over the girls. We knew we were in for a long day when grant came out of the 1st office and told us that there were 3 other ones to go to! We piled into the car, only to drive around the block 1.5 times ( asked for directions twice - yes we had a driver AND a local guy who was translating for grants d was associated with the rally) and end up about 200m down the road at the quarantine office. After that stop we did drive further this time to immigration. Grant was in there a long time and the girls were crawling all over the waiting room floor trying not to go stir crazy. Finally he came out and asked Jenny where the piece of white paper was that should be in her passport. Uh oh ! When we were photocopying her passport the previous night ( this country LOVES photocopies and stamps) she took it out do she wouldn't lose it and forgot to put it back in. Grant went back in and finally came out , stating that we would have to go back to the boat to get the paper. Of course it was 10:30am on a Friday and all government offices shut down between 11-2pm for mosque. So we decided to goto the traditional market and the grocery store , go back to the boat and then grant would return by himself to goto the last 3 offices. It actually all worked out well cause he didn't get back till after 4pm. We figured out after talking to the 3 other yachties who were. Leading out , that because we were first in line , grant got a lot more grief and questions from the officials , possibly trying to fish for money, because they said they had no problems at all. But it's all done and we have "officially" left indonesia. On Saturday we decided to have a beach morning at the interesting rock island near us. I decided to swim there (only about 700m I think) for some much- needed exercise. I can also find where the good coral is while I swim! We had a very pleasant morning. I actually swam back to the boat with 2 other yachties who try to swim a bit for exercise, then I swam back to the island again. (grant thinks i got inspired cause I was excited about seeing my friend (on line )race at Hawaii ironman champs the following day- I think I was just making up for being a lazy bum!) it was nice to do a bit longer swim though! Jenny found some great shells and collected some more basic ones cause I was inspired by some shell creatures that were for sail at the cafe on shore. they made little people and creatures out of all different shells- an excellent craft idea! We also took the dinghy around the rock formations before we went back to the boat - looked very cool. We all went home for the usual lunch/ nap routine. We decided to goto "rusty's" cafe for dinner. It was a fluke that most of the other yachties were there too for cheap Bintang ( the cheapest yet !) , good food and karaoke on the beach ( ok not the karaoke!) Ameliana had a great time playing skipping on the beach with the kids from SV Miss Behaving and the local kids. She even tried jumping rope on the beach- prepared to be coated in sand ! On Sunday we went to the beach and had a bit more of an explore. It looked lie they had started building a resort and then suddenly stopped. It would be a beautiful spot for it and I am sure that it will be finished by someone in the next couple of years given how beautiful the island is. We decided to have a quiet night because we were leaving for the equator in the morning. Belitung island is definitely a place that we would go back to!
After we returned from our trip to Ubud on Tuesday, we spent the next few days provisioning, catching up with the many new boats that had arrived at the anchorage and waiting for our new crew member, Jenny, to arrive. We took a trip into Saranjara to the "department store" Hardy's to provision. It had 3 levels with grocery on the bottom and clothing and a kid's play area on the upper floors. I wanted to get some light weight long sleeve tops for Elora because her skin is fair and I fear that it will get damaged top early even with the amount of "natural" type sunscreen I use on her. Meanwhile, grant took Ameliana to the big play area- ended up being about $5 and she got to play in the ball and climbing area, go in a spiny ride AND ride on her first merry -go -round! The grocery store was big and offered a wide range fruit and veg (most of which I get at local markets) and a few other things like toilet paper and long life milk. But it had NO canned vegetables at all! I just wanted corn, tomatoes and maybe mushrooms! I ended up going to the local grocery store for those items. They also had very few cracker options, whereas in Mataram on Lombok there
was a whole aisle! Oh well we can certainly make do. I had a nice couple if swims around the anchorage when the water cleared up a bit. And we set up the kiddie pool for the girls to play in because it was top hot to play on the beach some days. I definitely noticed the heat more, especially in the early morning and late afternoon when the wind died. We were making good use of the fans in the boat. Our friends on SV Scholarship and SV Chappie arrived and scouted out a good resort nearby that let outsiders use the pool for $4 - sold!
We found out that Jenny was arriving at 6am on Sunday 30th (grants b'day) so we decided to have a relaxing / celebration day on Saturday at the resort with our friends. We had a very pleasant day, nice pool, beer & food. Mark brought the yummy brownies he had made, which was great because I was keeping the homemade chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate crackles I had made secret until birthday morning.
The kids had a great time too. The resort obviously catered to families as they had a toy area near the restaurant and a playground. Two families came to the pool in the afternoon. A Dutch family had a very energetic 2 yr old boy and a Belgian family had a 3 yr old girl and 10 month old boy! The big kids went crazy! It was very cute, they
were all holding hands and running and jumping into the pool. Playing definitely has no language barrier!! By 4 pm we knew we had to get going. We had plans to go back out for a b'day dinner, but Ameliana missed her nap and had such an active day, we decided it was best to
postpone the dinner. Grant got his favourite dinner anyway - toastie sandwiches- why bother with a fancy dinner out? The next morning, the girls woke early of course and grant discovered that his stomach was displaying symptoms of mild "Bali belly" so we skipped the big breakie I had planned and I just brought out his b'day "cake" and candles to blow out. I felt horrible because this was the first time in 14 yrs that I didn't have a present for grant - we hadn't even had a chance to make a card from the girls !- even though we said that staying at the nice resort in Ubud was his gift, I still felt bad.
Anyway, we picked up Jenny from the beach just after 6 am. She has crewed on 2 other board during the rally so she adapted quickly. She is a 20 yr old German doing her travelling stint. The girls took an instant liking to her thank goodness! She definitely had 2 little fans! I decided to take the girls back to the resort pool with the Schloarship crew and to give grant some relax time and Jenny a chance to get settled. When we got home we got ready to lift the anchor and at about 4 pm, Wandoo, Scholarship and Chappie headed out together for the overnighter to Raas Island. The sail was good, maybe a bit rolly but nothing too bad. We were all actually going too fast and had to "heave to" (basically stopping the boat) for a while so we didn't arrive in the dark! We had a mid evening visit from a pod of dolphins which was pretty cool- they came and ride the now wave for a few minutes. Scholarship arrived first and guided us in to the anchorage at about 9am. We could see a sort of sand cay to our right that looked very pretty. Shore was too far away to bother with the dinghy. We had a nice swim off the boat instead. Grants belly was still not 100% but at least he could eat, but to top it off, he had done something to his knee. It was very painful and quite hot and a bit swollen! Poor guy, the first 24 hrs of being 42 was tough!
We planned in leaving in convoy the next morning, but after some talk about the state of grants knee (getting worse) which I thought may need antibiotics (which I discovered we did not have) and a call to the friendly neighbourhood dentist on SV Scholarship to try and procure some antibiotics (which we did, thank you Dr. Mark!), we decided that it was best for grant to rest rather than tackle a 28 hr sail with a very painful knee! Instead, we decided to put the dinghy in and check out the little sand cay, which wasn't actually exposed. It was only knee deep so we anchored the dinghy and grant played with the girls while Jenny and I had a snorkel and then we swapped. There wasn't much coral at all, just grassy. But there were fish and grant found some nice shells and saw a "live" sand dollar! It looked amazing standing in this white knee deep sandy patch surrounded by turquoise clear water for miles. Of course we forgot the camera!
I decided to swim back to the boat (under 1km), I need any exercise I can get - I'm VERY out of shape! I actually saw a coral patch with way more fish around and starfish everywhere on the sandy bottom! Grant, Jenny and the girls just puttered along in the dinghy next to me. The morning seemed to go in forever because, thanks to my iPhone, we discovered that we changed time zones again - went back another hour. So by 11am both the girls were ready for lunch! Once everyone was fed and resting I had a satisfyingly productive afternoon - 2 loaves of bread baked and dinner prepped and a bit of reading. We tried to have an early night to rest up for the 28 hr sail to Bawean Island in the morning, but it was hard with the time change.
Elora decided to have a multiple wake up night and then woke at 3:30 am (body clock thinking it was 4:30!) yuck! I tried to get her to rest for another 1/2 hour but finally put her in the carrier and did the dishes and got breakfast (coffee included) made so at least we could leave at a reasonable time. Everyone was fed, dressed and ready to set sail by 7:15am. We only had to motor a short while and then happily turned off the engine and pulled up the spinnaker. Ameliana and I made daddy belated birthday craft gift- a small box with a clear panel (from a toy packaging) which we turned into an underwater ocean scene. We used sand and shells we collected on our travels, along with some beach glass, pretend sponge "coral", fish stickers and some felt sea grass and starfish. It was a bit above Ameliana's craft level, but she did enjoy it and was very happy to tell daddy all about the scene inside when we gave it to him. Daddy was very pleased with his belated present! I still try to hold off on letting Ameliana watch a DVD despite being pretty tired (what was I thinking!?) so instead we brought out music toys and then put on a "barenaked ladies" cd for some dancing time to burn up energy- truthfully it helped me too, I was nearing the end of my tolerance rope because Elora decided to go on strike from using the potty today, which in my sleep deprived state, frustrated me to no end! Happily, lunch time finally arrived, everyone ate and then went down for a rest (with the promise of watching a wiggles cd after if she did sleep!) the boat was cruising along nicely and I got a bit of a nap with elora. We started to see more "FAD's" (fish aggregating devices, I think) or just bamboo poles with a flag on top and a log tied to it, at more frequent intervals during the afternoon. At one point, Jenny saw 2 only about 100-150m apart from Each other and thought maybe there was a net between them. To be cautious, we went around, but we don't think there was. As night fell we resigned ourselves to the fact that we may hit one. Luckily we didn't, although I doubt much damage could be done. It was a fairly uneventful night, of course elora woke often (I am also resigning myself to that pattern!) we had to start motor-sailing in the early morning and we pulled into a pretty anchorage on what looked to be very beautiful island, around 11:30 am. SV scholarship and chappie were anchored along with about 3 catamarans. Naps didn't really happen that afternoon (not surprised really) and Mark & Dylan from scholarship came over for a visit and baby playtime on deck. Oh, I discovered the other morning that my iPhone time went back an hour- because it is satellite linked, it has always changed automatically. But we didn't think that we already changed a zone! Anyway we set our watches and I prepared for 3:30-4am wake up times!! The next morning, Jenny was suffering from broken sleep and is struggling a bit with the increasing heat, so we left her to rest in the hammock while we went to shore. Grant and Ameliana played in the beach while elora and I went in search of a local market. We could see from the anchorage that they were building an airport and there was a bit of work going on with machines on the beach too. I imagine that they will improve the roads before the airport opens because they were really bad - even for walking! I don't think I saw a motorbike drive in a straight line for more than 3 metres!! We wandered down the street and was greeted with the usual enthusiastic "halos", "Pagi" (morning) and beckoning us to come over. I was surprised that there was at least 1 person in each group I stopped to speak with that had pretty good English. I was also surprised that many of the houses were very nice for indo standards. Lots of tile, gates and ornate finishings. We later learned that Bawean is where they come for the merchant marines so there is more money here. It was definitely all Muslim and I could see the Chinese influence in the people's facial features and the lighter skin tone. I was surprised to see many women with thick, light coloured face makeup on - we also saw in the shops that "skin lightening" products are very popular. I noticed that the children had the most rotten teeth I have seen yet and I imagine that with more money comes more sugary treats - but no real dentistry services available, which is a shame! Anyway, I didn't really find a market on my walk but I did buy eggs and lots of bananas (poor grant who HATES bananas!) and I enjoyed meeting the locals. It was getting very hot when I got back and we learned from a young student with good English that the big markets were in town. We went back to the boat and had lunch and got the girls down for a nap. I jumped in for a warm but refreshing swim and then got inspired to prep dinner instead of nap myself. The next day we all took the dinghy into town. We watched sv scholarship and chappie leave for the next anchorage, we chose to bypass and head straight to Billitong doing 3.5 days. I imagine we will catch up with them there. The town had a larger sized store with flour and disposable nappies (when we do longer than 2 days we go disposable cause we dont want to bother to wash while sailing if we don't have to) We got to the market and Jenny proved to be a good haggler to have around! We didn't get everything we wanted, but I am used to that now and we easily make due. Grant spoke to a guy who was an old customs agent in the island and he told us about the merchant marines and also said that it was good that we were leaving in the daylight because there was 25 miles of bamboo flags ahead!
When we got home I made hummus, peanut butter balls, pasta and bread for the passage. Jenny slaved over the hot stove and cooked a lovely dinner with fresh tofu and veggies. The poor girl was so hot by the end that I told her to eat out on deck in the fresh breeze! The next morning was a 4:15am wake up for me - damn you time change!- so I put elora in the carrier and put away the dishes from last night , made a pasta salad for dinner and got breakfast started. We were all organised and pulled up the anchor and were on our way by 7:15am for for our 3.5 day sail to Billitong.
Trip to Ubud:
We left on Saturday morning at 8am from Lovina (our Spanish neighbours on SV Tin Tin were good enough to keep watch of Wandoo for us) with our driver to go to Ubud, about 3 hrs south and apparently the "cultural centre" of Bali. It kind of reminds us of Byron
Bay NSW and west end in Brisbane, but in the mountains. (struggling pretentious expat Hippies and artists who can live way cheaper in Bali and still sit in cafes or go to yoga retreats to get "in touch" with themselves and nature!) We drove up into the mountains/ volcanoes, on a very twisty turny road. Beautiful views of terraced green rice paddies and valleys. After 1 hr we got to the Ulun Daru Beraten Hindu temple on the lake. It was very beautiful and the temperature was perfect up in the mountains ... The breeze was almost chilly lol! It had expansive grounds and beautiful gardens. It even had a kids playground - steel swings and climbing things- perfect.
They have a daily large procession and ceremony that started and there were LOTS of people there. It is hard to believe that this is daily - but maybe more people were there because it was Saturday?
We had a good walk around and play - then had a look at the obligatory tourist shops around the car park. We are glad we got there early causes the car park was packed when we left! We continued on (grant snoozed in the front seat the whole way) the driver asked if we wanted to stop at a coffee plantation- sure, why not! It was another sort of mini- boutique spice plantation, possibly family run. Similar to the one we were at near Lovina. But this one we got to sample many teas and coffees- well I did, grant and Ameliana just sampled the cocoa. The staff swept Elora away and I was free to get hopped up on caffeine in peace!! I ended up buying some ginger Bali coffee that was packaged so I can take it back into Oz I hope! We also got some blocks of pure chocolate that we sampled (the staff gave Ameliana lots - yikes!) Ameliana also got to try playing a Rindik instrument, which is like a bamboo xylophone. I still have yet to try the "Luwak Bali coffee" - the one harvested from the beans that the Luwak animal poops out! Apparently it's about $5 a cup! After a final walk through the pretty garden plantation it was back into car and onwards to Ubud. We pulled into the Sri Ratih Resort around 12:30 and we were very impressed. It looked very new, lovely gardens and pool. Our suite only took about 30min to be ready so we had a complimentary fresh juice in the lounge area and let the girls stretch their legs and play with the staff. Our suite was great! One good size bedroom with king bed, baby cot, a day bed for Ameliana, a bar fridge and even tv! A large balcony area outside with glass doors and then the bathroom... Bigger than the bedroom, 2 large rosette showers one "outside" and one inside, a deep stand alone bath, 2 sinks , wardrobe area and toilet. Grant was very excited about the bath. So our $83 / night incl tax and breakfast was well spent on the "splurge"! It also doubled as an early birthday getaway for grant. We walked down the road to find some lunch, the warungs (little food joints that usually serve cheap local food ) are much more fancy and expensive and our street was small ! We ended up going to a western style rustic bakery called "Kue 2". We had yummy homemade quiche and salad and checked out their decadent desserts and truffles for a future visit. Grant and Ameliana left early to go for a swim because a nap was not going to happen. I finished my lunch while the staff took elora away to play with her. Finally I got my baby back and I decided to go for a quick walk to buy another bottle of water. Elora and I walked down the short steep hill to the main road. We crossed over a bridge spanning a very deep gully and a creek. It was all green and lush (with a bit of garbage sprinkled around unfortunately). We then went to the 24 hr convenience store for water and a couple of large Bintang beers to put in our fridge.
When we returned, Elora decided to have a sleep and grant and Ameliana returned from the pool. I decided to go for a quick 30 min jog as the opportunities are rare these days. I jogged towards central Ubud so I could get an idea of the area. It was bigger than I thought. Lots of people, expensive clothing shops, silver stores and of course a Starbucks!( so disappointing !!) I may have only went for 30 min but with the state of the sidewalks, the uphill and dodging people, I figure it counts for more! When I got home, I took Elora in for a swim and met an Aussie mum on holiday with her 2 kids. After our dip, the girls had a play in the tub and we all got ready to go down for dinner at the hotel. It was very nice. After a long day, we were all ready for bed. Ameliana was very pleased that she got to sleep in the porta cot which we covered with a mozzie net and rolled into the huge bathroom so we wouldn't disturb her sleeping. I just rolled her back in when it was our bedtime and Elora slept on the day bed pushed up against the tv cabinet.
On Sunday morning before breasfast, i was able to go for another short run! I went in a hilly path that followed alongside the ravine and went up into the rice paddies, with beautiful views, I wish I had the fitness to run further 'cause it was so nice! After a big breakfast, we decided to take a cab to the monkey forest at the end of Ubud's main strip , then walk up window shopping and find some lunch. We had heard that the monkeys can get a bit aggressive with food here and the sign says not to take any food or water bottles out of your bags. So We decided not to buy any bananas and Ameliana rode on grants shoulders until she saw another kid walking. The monkeys were fine, no problems at all. The forest was beautiful, lush green, with huge trees (look like strangler fig trees ), vines to swing and small temples. There is even a monkey cemetery on site.
Afterwards, we made our way up the street, stopping in some silver stores to see if they had any earrings I liked. Many of them sell the "harmony balls / Mexican baby bolas" like I wear. I managed to explain to a couple of the shop owners the significance of wearing one during and after pregnancy. I said that it could be another selling point for them. They were very appreciative. We found a nice cafe for lunch that wasn't overly expensive and bordered some rice paddies. We also had promised someone some ice cream, so Ameliana and daddy went ahead to find some. Elora and I finally found a nice, cheap and practical pair of earrings I could wear daily.
We caught a taxi back to the hotel in time for Amelianas nap time. grant also got to soak in the big rub for about 2 uninterrupted hours, that helped to ease his worry about leaving the boat on anchor - even though we had neighbours keeping watch for us. I took Elora down for a swim and was talking to the Aussie mum who had just returned from a day cycling trip with the kids. She said they drive you to the top of the mountain with a few stops in the way and the whole ride was down hill! They enjoyed it very much and said that there was someone with a baby seat. I thought it was a great idea so I got some brochures and ended up booking us in for a trip on Monday.
After a swim we all got dressed and went back into Ubud for dinner. We ended up going to a Japanese place which was very good but pricey by Indonesian standards (and they forgot to make Amelianas nori rolls !) The next morning we were picked up by Balibike Adventures at 8:30 am. Our first stop was to another coffee plantation, with samples for me. The host was a young pregnant woman who asked me advice about giving birth. She was a bit afraid cause her mother was in labour for over 40 hrs! I just said try to relax, breathe and focus and try to not be afraid. She was very sweet and of course they lived the girls. I also caved and tried the Luwak (poo harvested ) coffee. It wasgood, but not $5 worth! I imagine most of that goes to the more labour intensive harvesting process!! Onwards we drove towards Batur and Kintamani for morning tea ... More food! The restaurant had amazing views of Mt. Batur volcano, which was last active in 2001 (only smoked though) but you could see all the dried lava flows and the houses near them - yikes! There was also a beautiful view of a lake and Gunung Abang, Bali's 2nd tallest mountain. Finally we got into the car for 1 last 15 min drive to wear we would start. They got the baby seats mounted into the bikes and the girls in them, but we soon discovered that elora wasn't going to keep her little feet in the stirrups and there was too much chance that she would get them caught in the spokes, so I decided to carry her on my back in the Ergobaby carrier. She still had her little motorbike visor helmut on - both the girls looked so cute in them!! And in the end it was the best thing, she was fine and eventually went to sleep after a bit of singing. She only got antsy in the last 10 minutes of the ride. It was about 40 km downhill so both the girls did great, especially Ameliana who wasn't in the most comfortable seat and really felt the bumps - grant had to go really slow over them! We had such a fun time - through the villages all decorated for hindu celebrations, seeing the school kids, saying hi to everyone - the kids were a hit! We stopped at Bali's oldest temple, built in the 9th century! And we didn't really stop from then on - we rode while we took photos! Finally we stopped at the bottom of a fully and the guide said that there was a hill ahead so we would get into the follow car - I said no, let's keep going cause Elora was still asleep - well it was a pretty steep hill and we ended up pushing our bikes up most the way - great exercise though ! Finally we were in Ubud, both girls had had it as we had a steady incline for the last 10 minutes. We ended up at a hotel with a buffet set up (all food was included in our tour) overlooking rice paddies and an endless pool. Grant wasn't hungry, and I wasn't starving so I just sampled some of the buffet. We got home around 3:30 and we all had a nice swim in the pool. Grant had been eyeing the chocolate treats in the bakery across the street so we went over to indulge. He had a chocolate almond torte with ice cream and I had a mixed berry pie with ice cream, which Ameliana ate. Both desserts were great. We decided that we would just have dinner in our room 'cause I had food for the girls and we were t very hungry. We spent our last night lounging in front of the TV after the girls went to bed and grant soaked in the tub again.
On Tuesday, we had a yummy final big breakfast and thanked the restaurant staff for being so good with Elora. We are not sure if they are instructed to take the baby away so that the parents can eat, or they do it 'cause they love kids - probably both! About 4 of the female restaurant staff had babies Elora's age. Our driver picked us up at 9 am. We planned to return to lovina via the easterly road up to Batur where we were on the bike ride, but we missed a few tourist stops. We stopped at Goa Gajah- the elephant temple first. We didn't know what to expect, we were hit by the sarong throng trying to sell us everything before we entered. We were surprised that it was a very pretty area, very old baths, temple in the cave, stairs leading down through the lush forest to see old animal carvings in the rock. We spent about an hour there and then went to the 11th century Pura Ganung Kawi Temple. It was amazing. We walked down many stairs lined with vendors through rice paddies into a valley with a creek running through. On either side of the creek were massive temple carvings into the side of the rocks. We probably should have got a guide for more info, but honestly Ameliana had almost had it! Grant had been carrying her most of the way and she had a mini meltdown at the bottom, and grant was getting frustrated. So I passed off Elora and took Ameliana so she could calm down. Counting all the stairs in each set all the way back up to the top is a good diversion, she almost made it the whole way before she got into my back. We had I've final stop for lunch overlooking Mt Batur again. And again - a buffet with too much food. Seriously we just wanted a cheap warung with nasi goreng (fried rice)! The drive was twisty turny the rest of the way home and we all fell asleep. We got back to the boat around 2pm and got unpacked and settled. It was a nice few days but always good to be home. Now we are just waiting for our crew Jenny to arrive. Hopefully soon. The next few days we are organising water , laundry , provisioning etc. grant made an attempt to try and adapt our gas bottle fittings so we could fill them up here , but it didn't work - we can make due I'm sure. Can't wait to go north and explore some less populated areas again!
Lombok to Lovina, Bali
We finally left Medana Bay Marina at 4pm on Tuesday. The rough plan was to get to Lovina and wait there and tour around whole our (hopefully) new crew member, Jenny- gets to Benoa marina on the boat she is on now, gets her visa extension and joins us up in Lovina. Unfortunately she won't get to Bali until Saturday so we hoped things worked out fast. We ended up having a Great sail, we actually sailed most of the way - no motor! Grant was a bit worried cause about an hour after we left we saw a big mooring thing out in the middle of no where - so we were afraid of running into one at night. Unfortunately
we couldn't see anything at night unless we had a spotlight trailed on the water the whole time. So we took our chances and kept a good eye out. I took over from grant at 11pm after feeding Elora. He had to get up once to help me move the head sail because wind was changing, and then Elora woke at 2:15am to eat again so grant really only slept about 2 hrs. The Phosphorescence was great as we sailed along. It was very pleasant. We arrived in Lovina at 9:30am
There were only 5 other boats anchored. Once we got organised we went to shore. We were immediately greeted by 2 women with sarongs, jewellery etc offering laundry service, which a guy in a canoe who came to the boat beat them to. We walked around the block. We got a couple of prices for cars and tours it was pretty quiet
but definitely more touristy than anywhere so far but vendors but not too pushy, just asked our name and asked us to " remember and promise to come back " we stopped and had ice cream cause it was pretty warm midday, then we lunch next to beach at small restaurant. We have decided to goto the more cheap/ local warungs to eat cause they are good and the dollar stretches further! The next day we did a day trip with Sam our driver:
1st stop was Bali's only buddhist temple. Very pretty in hills looking out to the ocean. We continued to drive up further. Great views volcanoes and rice paddies. There were lots of drying cloves laid out in front of almost every home. Also, big bags of clove leaves stacked on the side of the road.
We arrived at Air Panas Banjar -hot springs There were 3 pools, 1 big one - water " taps " pouring out of wall into pools great to stand under for massage. The Pools were quite warm, girls enjoyed the swim and play - we are glad we got there before the crowds came! We even Had ice cream after. Next stop was the Waterfall: Air Terjun Singsing ( day break waterfalls ). We parked up in the road and walked down 800m along a fairly narrow path / road that motorbikes used to get down to their village at the bottom Of the valley. We also saw men picking Cloves up on high bamboo ladders. The waterfall was Beautiful and tall, lots trickles of water off the moss covered walls. Later we drove through the area famous for coffee ( kopi) and cloves. Cocoa We Stopped at cafe and small plantation that harvests spices and coffee and had a little tour of the plantation after I drank about 2 cups of the coffee myself! It was very interesting. Coffee is harvested June July. Cloves are harvested July - Sept.
The most expensive coffee from an animals butt. The animal is called a Luwak. It eats coffee pods from trees, then poops them out and they harvest those! They dry beans then roast for 1 hour over fire
Cocoa only takes 20 min to roast Cloves take 1 week to dry in sun and are outside of almost every dwelling. Use mainly for cigarettes. This plantation grew:
Had a coffee with service made out of coconuts. Loved the non break factor so bought 4 tall cups, maybe one day we'll get the tea pot. We also bought Coffee, cocoa / sugar drink mix and Vanilla bean pods. Staff was very nice, Elora crawled around. The cafe overlooked a valley and terraced rice paddies, very beautiful. On the Drive home we caught sight of the bay - whitecaps! Very choppy onshore wind- not the best anchorage. We want to go south for 2 days but need boat minder I think. Or at least someone to watch over her!
16/09/2012, medana bay lombok
Well, we have been here for 2 weeks now - and it doesn't feel like we have done or seen much!
We wanted to get here to have one final chance to play with Maya on Saroca and to bid them farewell and good luck on their sail to Langkawi. The girls had a great 2 days playing. The next few days were spent trying to organise our visa extensions because initially, our visas are only valid for 2 months and the rally is 3 months. We didn't intend to go into the marina in Bali where the rally said
We could do extensions at the end of sept. The helpful couple, Robin and Peter who own Medana bay marina were trying to organise immigration officials to come to us if we could get a group of at least 10 yachties together. We did, but after much miss-information, robin found out that they would not come out because it was too difficult to bring all the computer stuff for digital finger printing and photos.... Plan B was in the works. Meanwhile, it was father's day in Australia on sept 2 and our friends in SV scholarship were splurging at a resort nearby with a pool, they suggested we come As well. So on Sunday we went early , checked into our lovely " cabin" set on a hill amongst beautiful gardens with a great pool and restaurant waiting. Grants father's day present was the 2 hrs he got to soak in the sunken stone bath tub while the girls slept!
We had a lovely dinner with Liz, mark and baby Dylan, the owner and an older Australian couple staying there. A very pleasant 24 hrs!
When we returned to the boat on Monday, we found out that robin was able to arrange for her to take all our passports and money to
Immigration, then 2 days later, cars would take us all into Mataram (the capital of Lombok about 1hr 15 min drive) and get all the finger prints and photos done. Thankfully, in the end it all worked out and we are good for another 30 days! We were trying to decide what to do next. Lombok is a beautiful island and has one of the tallest volcanoes in Indonesia on it. Grant entertained the idea of doing the 6-8 hr guided walk with porters up with the girls and camping over night, but we made a very wise decision not to do it - there's no way a 3 yr old and 9 month old would tolerate that. There will be other volcanoes to climb when they are older! We thought about flying to Bali to look around and leave the boat here safe, but I think we have decided to wait until we go anchor in northern Bali.
We hired a car and driver to take us and our new friend Jeremy off SV Raylah into Mataram to check out the mall and western grocery store. The drive down the west coast was twisty turny and beautiful. To our surprise, when we pulled up at the mall we were created by the "golden arches" and KFC- I just didn't expect it! Normally I avoid
these places, however, when I saw the kids play area in the air-conditioned KFC (it was better than the mc Donald's one) I quickly changed my mind lol! So we checked out the shops, bought a few things then went into "Hero" the westernised grocery store.
Indeed, it carried the biggest range of western products I have seem so far, likely to do with more tourists here! With our carts full, we pulled into KFC where Ameliana and Elora were on display playing on the equipment - it was like a glass bowl cause not only were the local Muslim moms in KFC loving them, but people were coming up and
tapping on the window and waving at them from in the mall - so funny. They loved it. After some maccas ice cream, we loaded up the car and our driver too is home the hilly inland route through the monkey forest where they were all hanging out by the road and with views to the ocean- just beautiful. We ended up going back to the mall 3 days later when we were waiting to go to immigration. So back to KFC and I found the Mecca of child play areas for about 50 cents entry they had a huge area on the top floor of a department store filled with
toys and climbing equipment- ball pools, jumping things, swings, you name it! I'm just sorry we didn't find it sooner! Oh well, grant still got KFC again! We also spent some very pleasant time with the local villagers. If I took Ameliana to play on the beach, ultimately the local would come over and hang out in the shaded gazebo type thing. While the kids played , we tried to communicate via my Indonesian phrase book- the problem was is they were Sasak people and spoke the traditional Lombok language - but they all pretty much know Indonesian too. It was very enjoyable and they were so good with the girls. One of the women put Elora on their traditional sling carriers for kids and she was happy as pie. When Elora started to get whiny for a feed and sleep, the woman put it on me and Elora fell asleep in it while I continued to socialise. When the woman's own little boy was curling up to her got the same thing I tried to give it back to her - but she round take it and ended up giving it to me ! So generous, I was speechless. I have big bags of toys and kids clothes that I have to give away, so I went back to the boat and gathered some up to give to the village. I feel like I should do more cause everyday they are around and so happy, helpful and friendly!
The weekend of Sept 9/10 I arranged for us to go to Gili Air for 2 days. There are 3 little islands referred to as "the gilis ", about 3nm from here and I think they are Lombok's biggest tourist destination. The islands are small, white sand, turquoise water, great diving and snorkelling and no cars or motorbikes. Only bicycles and pony carts. Gili Air is the closest and has lots of nice places to stay and eat and hang out by the beach for the day. Gili Meno is the smallest and quietest and Gili Trawangan is the more social "party island" i.e. families stay away! We didn't want to take Wandoo cause we were unsure of the moorings at the anchorage so we took a Bemo to Bangsal where the ferry's depart from (one of the local village guys flagged down the Bemo for us and negotiated a charter price so he wouldn't pick up anyone else - we honestly didn't care but felt bad that this guy went to all the trouble for us!
It was about 8km to the ferry area. When we got there we spent the next 45 min trying to make sure we weren't getting swindled by the guy who offered a price for return journey including transfer back to Medana bay. It was much more than the public ferry - which doesn't go until they fill it up- but in the end we just wanted to get there.
It was a beautiful spot. We had a bungalow set away from the main beach strip. It only had a fan and cold water shower, but who cares - its hot out. We ended up hanging out at our hotel restaurant on the beach all day. They had covered sitting areas and lounges on the beach so we could eat, swim and relax - well as much as you can with 2 young kids. We did learn that getting a place with 2 rooms will be much better in the future for Ameliana's daytime sleeps, but our bungalow had a big front deck with a couch and Elora happily crawled around and explored while we read. I even got to go for a jog in the morning. Around the island was less than 30 minutes (at my slow sand
trudge! Just a tad unfit these days!) and the views were great. I saw one of the family boats in the moorings and later that day we had a bit of a yachtie corner with them and another few who were staying over on land. We returned on Monday to see how many more boats had arrived. The anchorage was definitely filling up! Grant had immersed himself in trying to find and email every marina from here to
Langkawi to get info about where to leave our boat. The best marinas seem to be further up the Malaysian coast or Thailand, but we would have GET there by November and grant hates rushing - and they cost more. Alternatively, there aren't many options here and we would have to get another 2 boat CAIT (the boats visa) and we have to have an agent to do that and grant has been getting different info from too many people about the procedure. The info literally changed daily. There is a marina with only moorings at the moment about 2 hrs south by car and 4 hrs by boat. It is on a little island and looks like it will be the only all year protection in the area. So grant took a
motorbike down to check it out. He said it is very beautiful, but remote (slowly being developed) so we would need security. Anyway, each day I lose track, but as of today, there is a chance that Robin maybe able to be our CAIT agent and we maybe able to leave it here on a custom built mooring for us. That way we can just potter around Bali and the island north of it, leave the boat in November - fly back to Brisbane to work then return between July / August 2013 and continue. But we have no price or deal yet! Keep you posted. We decided to take a half day tour last week as well - didn't think the girls would last a full day! We saw monkeys and fed them, then to (I think) the only multi- denominational temple in the world (or something like that) Buddhist, Muslim and Christian together. To be honest, our guide had very good English, but with a strong accent, so I did miss a bit of info on the tour. Ameliana got a scraped knee and elbow souvenir after she stacked it running along a stone path. Then our guide and this little boy went searching around to find what looked like a piece of grass, but he ground it up and put it on her scrapes. (We also put some disinfectant on it at home, just in case)
We then drive to a small art market that had wooden and woven crafts, beads, pearls and other touristy stuff. There was no one else there so Elora was swooped up by one woman who held her the whole time and Ameliana learned how to do her new spinning top with some of the vendors. We decided to stop for lunch in Sengigi- a larger town about 40 minutes south of Medana Bay. On the way, we stopped in at a fibre glass boat builder to ask for a price off hand to build a dinghy - needless to say- we are NOT getting a fibre glass one built here. Anyway, we had a nice lunch - can't go wrong with nasi goreng (fried rice with chicken / seafood), the indo signature dish and the fresh juices are great - so cheap too! Then it was onwards home to let the girls have a proper run around. I thought for sure Ameliana would sleep in the car in the way home but everyone but the driver and Ameliana had a snooze!
So I think that brings us to the present. I walked with Elora to the markets about 2.5km away this morning. It was nice to have a walk, once again everyone was very nice to us, I got a Bemo home cause I was laden down and it was getting hotter. We are all fuelled up and grant has just bought 400+L of drinking water for the tanks which he is pouring in now. The plan is to head off for Lovina on north coast of Bali Sunday afternoon (Sept 16) Ameliana has had a cough and sniffles the last few days and Elora and grant have it now ... Thank you public play areas - they have to toughen up their immune systems somehow. Thank god I am blessed with exceptionally healthy kids so far - knock on wood. We have enjoyed it here, but it's time to go - of course the rally party is next week and we'll miss it!