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Our Indonesian Experience Draws to a Close

November 8, 2015

We left our daughter Jennifer in Ketapang and headed for Karimata Island (lat 01 35S, long 108 48E) to participate in their first annual festival that promised to draw people from neighboring islands. We were disappointed to find the island cloaked in smoke from the Kalimantan fires but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the locals who welcomed the first yacht rally to ever visit their island.

Karimata is surrounded by small islands that rise up from the sea with large granite boulders and dense vegetation. The village houses are built on stilts over the water which greatly simplifies their toilet plumbing but discouraged us from swimming in the bay.

When we arrived the village women were busy cooking for the festival and the children were preparing for various competitions. We were treated like royalty as we were offered front row seats (actual chairs!) on the cement pier where we watched stilt racing and canoe racing while fellow boaters joined in. The canoe race appeared to have no rules and the crowd cheered whenever a canoe was sunk by competitors. The yachties fetched their motorized dinghies and treated the locals to a high-speed race around the anchorage. Again there was little regard to the “rules”. Afterwards we offered dinghy rides to enthusiastic locals followed by a traditional dinner served on the pier.

Next we sailed south to Belitung where the department of tourism arranged for cultural performances and tours. Word had gotten out that yachties like their beer COLD and we enjoyed many evenings at the “Bintang Bar” where the drinks were iced. Cultural dances vary greatly throughout Indonesia and Belitung was no exception. Our town tour stopped at a boat building factory where we learned how sturdy boats were built from local materials.

We felt in need of a rest so we skipped Penuba and went straight to the sleepy island of Benan crossing into the northern hemisphere along the way. There we met the local doctor, Reza, and the second chief Salim who took us diving and invited us to dinner at their home. There was no beer on the island and we weren’t sure how other boaters would react, but when the rest of the fleet showed up so did the beer (whew!). The rally organizers seem to be catching on.

While at Benan we celebrated fellow yachtie Luke’s eleventh birthday. It was a huge affair with lots of participation from the local children. The highlight event was “egg roulette” where you randomly pick an egg and slap it on your head not knowing if it’s hard boiled or raw. Fortunately we were on the beach and losers could easily wash off. That night there was a very professional fireworks display on the pier as boaters used up their caches before entering Malaysia where fireworks are illegal.

We are currently at the busy port city of Tanjung Pinang on the island of Bintan just south of the Malacca-Singapore Straits in the South China Sea. This is our last stop in Indonesia and we are waiting for our clearance papers to leave the country. We have spent three-and-a-half months and traveled more than 2200nm as we explored Indonesia and made many new friends, locals as well as boaters. Tonight is a gala dinner at a local hotel where we will say goodbye to fellow rally members and our hosts before heading for Singapore and a week’s stay in a real Marina, something we haven’t seen since Cairns, Australia.

Karimata fishing boats

Karimata fishing boats

Boat building on Karimata Island

Boat building on Karimata Island

Karimata Island

Karimata Island

Women prepare food for the Karimata festival

Women prepare food for the Karimata festival

Karimata houses on stilts

Karimata houses on stilts

Karimata BBQ for festival

Karimata BBQ for festival

Stilt racing at Karimata festival

Stilt racing at Karimata festival

Vern & Marijke challenge locals in the canoe race at Karimata

Vern & Marijke challenge locals in the canoe race at Karimata

Yachties prepare for a dinghy race at Karimata festival

Yachties prepare for a dinghy race at Karimata festival

Brian picks up locals for a spin around the anchorage

Brian picks up locals for a spin around the anchorage

Feast on the pier at Karimata festival

Feast on the pier at Karimata festival

Dancing and live music at the Karimata festival

Dancing and live music at the Karimata festival

Dinghy landing in Belitung

Dinghy landing in Belitung

The "Bintang Bar" was a popular hangout in Belitung

The “Bintang Bar” was a popular hangout in Belitung

Boaters watch the cultural dancing in Belitung

Boaters watch the cultural dancing in Belitung

Cultural event in Belitung

Cultural event in Belitung

Cultural event in Belitung

Cultural event in Belitung

Cultural event in Belitung

Cultural event in Belitung

The "Tin Mine" dance in Belitung

The “Tin Mine” dance in Belitung

Dancer applies paint during the "Tin Mine" dance in Belitung

Dancer applies paint during the “Tin Mine” dance in Belitung

"Tin Mine" dance in Belitung

“Tin Mine” dance in Belitung

Student dancer at a Belitung school

Student dancer at a Belitung school

Student dancer at a Belitung school

Student dancer at a Belitung school

School notebooks were donated from Utah!

School notebooks were donated from Utah!

Artwork at a Belitung school

Artwork at a Belitung school

Students provided music at a Belitung school

Students provided music at a Belitung school

Sandie accepts a luncheon invitation on behalf of the yachties

Sandie accepts a luncheon invitation on behalf of the yachties

Boat building in Belitung

Boat building in Belitung

Dinner and a show were provided by the dept. of tourism in Belitung

Dinner and a show were provided by the dept. of tourism in Belitung

Fisherman rows past a fish pen on Benan Island

Fisherman rows past a fish pen on Benan Island

Cute twins on Benan Island

Cute twins on Benan Island

There were more goats than tourists at the resort on Benan Island

There were more goats than tourists at the resort on Benan Island

Dinner at Salim's house with Reza on the right

Dinner at Salim’s house with Reza on the right

School boys on their lunch break at Benan

School boys on their lunch break at Benan

Dancers on the beach at Benan Island

Dancers on the beach at Benan Island

Three legged racing at Luke's B-day on Benan Island

Three legged racing at Luke’s B-day on Benan Island

"Egg Roulette" was a favorite at Luke's B-day on Benan Island

“Egg Roulette” was a favorite at Luke’s B-day on Benan Island

Luke's B-day on Benan Island followed by fireworks

Luke’s B-day on Benan Island followed by fireworks

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

Diving Benan Island

From → Travel

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