Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bali to Flores

So we finally got the heck out of Bali.    We made one quick foray into Kuta, the premier and crazy tourist beach.   It basically is just a beach with redundant shops and more shops, restaurants, shops......general tourist stuff. 

Our plan was to get up the Lombok straits by crossing beneath Nusa Penida hopefully catching a swift current up to the northwest of Lombok.   The currents here are nuts.  The tides do not match the tide tables but we kind of had it figured that you add 3 hours to the table and that would more accurately reflect the state of the tide.    It was a bust.    Once we were past the bottom of Nusa Penida the current was still raging southwards but hitting a flooding tide causing stand up waves.  It was like being caught in a surf and not a comfortable feeling at all.   After a few hours of that, we were going against a current that dropped our speed down to almost 0 at some times.    It took 20 hours to do the 60 miles up to the NW corner of Lombok.     Over the top finally, but now no wind and we really needed to sail as we had used quite a lot of fuel in the straits.    By the time we reached Komodo, after 72 hours, we had only sailed about 12.

This area, Komodo National Park, is gorgeous.   The islands remind us of California and the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara.    Green, rumpled hills, valleys dotted with trees, waving grasses in the sea breeze and Timor deer, wild pigs, beautiful birds and dragons.   Yep, dragons.   Fishermen double as shopkeepers in this area and we were visited by several boats wanting to sell us carved dragons, pearl necklaces, t-shirts, you know the drill.  Before I knew it the boat was crawling with dragons.

Cruiser Notes:   Anchor  at Teluk Gili Lawa, Komodo  (08 29.5S; 119 32.0E)

We stopped off at Loh Liang to visit one of the park stations and saw one large dragon by the watering hole, another fat dragon relaxing after getting fed from the kitchen at the park station and a smaller dragon wishfully eyeing the deer who were oblivious of the dragons which would almost certainly kill them and eat them once they were hungry.  Our guides delighted in telling us stories about those unfortunate tourists and villagers who had been eaten by dragons.   They also let us know that the dragon can move at 18km per hour, much faster than us, so I was looking for a tree I could climb as we continued our trek.   Pretty much decided that if a dragon was going to select me for dinner, I was  toast.  Or, would that be roast?  This is our guide, Yona.   He was very well trained and pointed out cockatoos and wild fruit trees along the way.

As usual, exit through the gift shop!!

Before leaving the anchorage, we were visited by young boys out fishing in their dugout canoes.    I usually hand out a few small penny candies.   One boy asked for a pencil, so I gave them each an exercise book, pen and a pencil.    The two boys told me the middle boy did not go to school as his mother could not afford it (the kids here have to pay for school after 6th grade) and he had no papa.    Oh boy, that tugged at my heartstriings.  That was not their intention, they were just being matter of fact.  Anyway, I popped back out with a small bag of rice, a bag of sugar, some spaghetti noodles and a bar of soap to take home to his mother.

Cruiser Notes:   Anchorage at Koh Liang, Komodo  (08 34.23S; 119 30.05E)  Park ranger charged us each 20,000 rph for park fee, 50,000 for guide, 50,000 for anchoring and another 50,000 fee for something ???.  All legit, we got tickets.   He also wanted to charge us 50,000 for snorkelling but I told him we would go snorkel for free elsewhere.  He was o.k. with that.  Keep your tickets, they are good for 3 days.

We anchored for one night on a reef which is noted for attracting manta rays.  When Jim and I snorkelled we saw a lot of flattened coral, a sign of blast fishing, but a few nice bombies.    You had to be really careful about the currents here as you could end up miles from your boat before you knew what was happening, so we dragged the dinghy along with us and started up current from the boat.    Only after getting out of the water (it was actually cold here, due to the swift current) later in the day did we see that our boat was surrounded by manta rays.    I just didn't have enough time to get my gear back out and jump in so had to enjoy watching them from the boat.

Cruiser Notes:  Anchorage at Batu Batong (reef) (08 39.9S; 119 35.8E)

Our next stop was at Loh Buaya, another park station.   This time an official greeted us and informed us he was from the harbormaster's office at Labuhanbajo.  Unbeknownst to us they extend their coverage to the park islands so we didn't have our documents with us when we went ashore.   A guide translated between us and the official seemed to be pretty nice and let us go into the park for our trek.   Before that, though, he whipped out paperwork and stamps and cleared us out of Labuhanbajo for Ternate.   Now we had 2 port clearances for Ternate!!! 

Our guide here was Rambli who likes to be called Rambo.     He was a very good guide with good English skills.    He was educated until the 6th grade, and then like so many Indonesian kids, just couldn't afford school after that so he went fishing with his father.    He dreams of becoming a teacher one day, but this position at the park came open so he jumped at the chance to improve his skills.    He virtually learned English by conversing with tourists.   He is a volunteer!!   He gets only 25,000 RPH a day (about $2.60) stipend for food.   He works for 10 days, then goes home and fishes for 10 days. 

This dragon got up and moved when too many tourists crowded him out.   He made a little warning lunge at a group and they scattered in a hurry while the guide poked at him with a forked stick.

Can you spot this dragon.   They are so camouflaged in the jungles you really have to look to see one.,    You can even trip over one on a trail as they look like a log across the path.  This one is just a few feet from her nest.

The nest.   There are probably over 100 eggs here from a couple of different females.    They protect their eggs for 3 months, but once the little darlings hatch, they are on their own.   And it is kill or be killed.  Even their own parents are waiting to snack on the little critters as they poke their way out of the eggs.

So enough of dragons.     They aren't cute or cuddly.  I like orangutans exponentially better.

Cruiser notes:   Anchorage at Loh Buaya Rinca (08 39.45S; 119 43.05E)   Park ranger charged us 50,000 for the guide and another 50,000 each for government fee of some sort.  Legit....we got tickets.  

We meandered over to Labuhanbajo and anchored behind an island just off of town so we could be away from all the tour boats and local fishing boats.    We no sooner were dropping the anchor when we were visited by Jackie and his father who offered to help us with just about anything we would need.   The big thing was fuel.   Fuel in Indonesia is government subsidized so we cannot just march up to a pump with our jerry jugs and fill them up.   We might get away with filling up two, but that would be the limit.    These guys can go to the pump and get much more, however, even they are limited to a few jugs at a time as the line behind them gets impatient if they are taking too long.     It is also illegal for them to do this but it is commonly done.    We would have to get a permit, order a barrel and deal with it that way.    Since we do not have enough tankage for a barrel's worth of fuel, this is not a viable option for us or very many cruisers unless traveling in groups.   Jackie and his father couldn't even take our jerry jugs as they were too conspicuous (clean and new) so they cobbled together a bunch of their old ones, some from friends, and the few large detergent containers we had got for extra fuel to be carried on deck.

Ronnie is driving and pumping the bilge all the while.    They gave us a ride into town.   Later they came back with fuel and brought Jackie's little sister's along, Noor and Marta.    Marta was pretty happy with a toy I gave her and Noor liked getting a bar of soap and some nail polish.

In town we saw this little carousel operated by pedal power with real carnival music!!

I bought some fruit from this sweet old lady whose smile kind of disappeared amongst her toothless gums.    What am I saying?   She's probably no older than me!!  In any case, I've never been accused of being a sweet old lady anyway.

Later, on the dock, I watched these skinny, naked, brown boys spearing up urchins.   They were having a blast completely without the aid of high priced sports gear, video games, whatever.    Just enjoying the day as it came.

Then it was back home for the evening.

Cruiser Notes:   Anchorage at island off Labuhanbajo (08 28.54S; 119 52.10E)  Jackie charged us 6,000 rph per litre for the fuel.   That's a good price as it included delivery.    He also took our laundry so his sister would have something to do that day.     And, they provided us a taxi service into town for 50,000 round trip.  Not bad as it was a good distance and would have used some gas to get back and forth for us.   Town has one bank with an ATM about 1 kilometer walk south from the pierMarket is to the north of the pier but grocery stores and hardware stores, restaurants and bakery are on the way to the bank.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your update. These people appear to be great entrepreneurs. Are they oppressed in education due to the government or just little interest in higher education?