Officials, Ceremonies and Littering!
22 April 2010 | Serangan Harbour, Bali
It was so nice to wake up the next morning in Serangan Harbour and know that we didn't have to move again for a little while. We could stay in the one spot for a while and immerse ourselves in the culture. We had made a lot of friends in this village last time we were here and were looking forward to seeing them all again. We contacted our good friend Made Suka on our way to Bali and he responded enthusiastically that he would come and pick us up. We had to then explain that we were still underway and would not arrive for another couple of days. As keen as we were to visit with people we had to get the formalities out of the way first. Jumping into our tender we raced off towards shore, stepping foot on land for the first time in 5 days. I still don't know how people cope with weeks and weeks before stepping foot on land! First stop, Agus and securing our mooring for a month. Second stop, Customs, Harbour Master and Immigration. We had tried to secure an agent to help us through the process as sometimes the official side of sailing can be a minefield of paperwork and rules often differ from island to island even though it's all supposed to fall under the umbrella of Indonesia. The agent however had requested payment of US $1,200 for their services, we, as most cruisers are, are operating on a budget and could not afford to pay that sort of money, so instead we enlisted the services of a driver and went to take care of business ourselves.
The stormy weather was continuing and as we made our way towards Customs at Benoa Harbour the heavens opened. Running through the downpour dodging the puddles in our path we made our way to an undercover area teeming with Customs officers. They all stared at us and finally the man in charge waved us into an office and the procedure began. We were unsure as to how Customs was going to react to our situation, we had used Nongsa Point Marina in Batam to clear us into Indonesia and it was only because of our attention to detail that we noticed that the Customs paperwork was missing, they had told us that as we were heading to Bali we needed to do Customs there. We had already cleared the harbour in Batam which gives us 24 hours to leave. Reluctantly we did as they suggested and now here we were in front of the head Customs official in Bali relaying our story. We thought it was going particularly well until he uttered these words, 'So. You think you can do whatever you want in our country?' Uh oh, looks like the wheels are about to fall off. As he leaned back in his chair and smoked his cigarette, he looked at us deep in thought. We pride ourselves on dotting the i's and crossing the t's in regard to our paperwork, we have all our permits in place and make sure that we abide by all the regulations in whatever country we happen to be in at the time. After a few unsure minutes he passed over the paperwork for us to fill in and began to have a friendly chat. It turns out that his daughter is studying at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. In the end he was very helpful and not one cent changed hands contrary to what unscrupulous agents tell you.
Next stop was the Harbour Master, we had to take off our shoes and wade through ankle deep water to get to their entrance. The Harbour Masters office is very well staffed, rooms full of people sitting around smoking and Jay and I the only people there to look after. We gave them our Port Clearance from Batam and began filling out another mountain of paperwork. Of all the countries we have visited Indonesia surpasses them all with the amount of documentation supplied. We deal with several different people and finally there is some confusion over a document we must fill out that requires signatures from Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and the Navy before coming back to the Harbour Master to get their signature. It is a crew list. We tell them we have already supplied them with a crew list but they are not happy with that one, they require all the signatures! We thought everything had been going too smoothly, going back to all these departments does not mean just getting a signature. It means going back through everything again at each department, maybe filling out more paperwork and it could take several hours. We're not quite sure what the Navy has to do with it either! I was sure our crew list had been signed by the relevant authorities in Batam and that Customs in Bali had also signed it. Looking at the crew list I turned it over and discovered for some reason they had all signed on the back. The Harbour Master gave us a big smile, took back the other paperwork and told us we were free to go.
Next stop, immigration, just in case. Immigration glanced at our passports and told us when it was time to renew we needed to head to Denpasar. That was all he needed, we were free to start enjoying Bali! Heading back to Serangan we celebrated with a beer and greeted old friends, Suka, Konci, Mande and made some new ones.
Over the next couple of days we wandered around Serangan Harbour, familiarising ourselves with the area again. So much has changed here. The Yacht Club is no longer, the building is locked and the blinds drawn but there is a new bigger and better restaurant called Agus Bar and Restaurant which serves a wide range of meals and cold Bintang. The staff are friendly and they supply free wi-fi for customers, perfect for yachties. Their jetty at the front of the restaurant serves as the loading point for the now 14 ferries that carry people to Lembongan, Nusa Penida and the Gili's. The harbour is full of Penissi's, the big timber Indonesian style sailing boats and there are only a handful of other yachts here. Some look like they have been here for some time and are in a state of disrepair, either the owners have left them here to die or people being paid to look after them are not doing their jobs.
We find a lovely lady in the village called Sugi Ani to do our laundry as our washing machine is broken and for what she charges it is not worth using the water, power and our own time. Each piece comes back clean, ironed and tagged, a big load costs us less than $5. Walking down one of the back streets we find some locals decorating the grounds of a new building in preparation for a ceremony. It is a ferry business recently relocated from Benoa Harbour to new offices in Serangan. The Indonesian manager comes out to greet us and invites us to the ceremony the next day. We eagerly accept and return the next day to the sight of locals dressed in all their temple finery. Chairs are set up in the shade and we sit to witness the ceremony which serves to bless the new building and the business. The owner, Jeremy, a very pale Englishman, stands out among the locals dressed in the Hindu fashion, he takes part in the ceremony as his Indonesian wife, who is Muslim, documents the action with her digital camera. Local musicians sit in the shade of a side pavilion and play continuous music as a Hindu man chants into a microphone. Soon the ceremony in the compound is finished and the villagers walk around the grounds several times carrying banners made from palm fronds and offerings leaving the smell of incense in their wake and begin a procession down to the water. We grab our cameras and follow thinking that they must be blessing the businesses boats now but as they reach the water they unceremoniously dump all their rubbish in the water! Dusting themselves off they head to their homes, it is over! The waters of Serangan Harbour are filled with rubbish, plastic bags and now offerings. No wonder the kids throw all their rubbish in the water when this is how the parents behave, there is no hope. I remember last time we were here I watched a child throw a plastic bag into the water off the jetty, I scolded her, 'No, you mustn't to that! Tidak baik! No good!' She looked at me confused, picked the bag out of the water and threw it over the other side of the jetty instead, turned to me and smiled. But it is our fault, years before the whiteys arrived the locals packaged everything in banana leaves, when they were finished with it they threw it on the ground and it became compost. Then we introduced plastic! The villagers liked this new product but continued to discard it in the same fashion. Now everywhere you look you see plastic bags, in the water and on the side of the road.