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Martin & Sue

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Lombok and Bali - into the tourist Mecca

 

All thoughts of rocky seas are quickly forgotten as we immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of laid-back Lombok. Encircled by a magnificent white sandy beach, the boat floats on mirror flat water amongst the 50 other rally yachts. Even the sellers pushing their jewellery and batik are good natured and give up after the first knockback.

 

 

Living dangerously, we hire motorbikes and spend a day exploring the contrasts that make up Lombok – from the fledgling resort areas through to the poorer, dirty towns and then on to the tranquillity of the monkey forest. 

 
    Above: Apart from the bikes, horse drawn carriages seem to be the main mode of transport in the villages

 
Below: the monkeys certainly aren't shy!    
 
     

 

Although the traffic is horrendous, and the drivers crazy, we experience only one moment (during a suicidal u-turn manoeuvre) when we stare the prospect of leg reconstruction in a Lombok hospital squarely in the face!

 

 
 
Below: Wood carving - and below right - the finished product

 

 

 
 

Whilst enjoying the buffet at yet another Gala Welcome Dinner we receive word that one of the rally yachts (an ex Australian Customs motor cruiser) has suffered an awful tragedy. Last we had heard of them they were in Bitung awaiting parts for their generator. Apparently, after we had moved off down the west coast of Sulawesi, they had decided to head straight for Singapore.  During the trip, a crew member has been electrocuted whilst trying to start the spare ‘dodgy’ generator. Rumour had it that they had circumvented the electrical safety trip switch in an effort to get it started – with disastrous consequences. This news certainly cast a damper on the celebrations – and I am sure more than a few skippers mentally review electrical and other safety measures aboard their own yachts.

 

 
Above:Finally, some Ice Cream   Above: Indonesia's version of Garlic Bread!
We were still very keen to see if Gili Air lived up to its reputation as a tropical paradise so after a few days rest, we sail the 5 short miles over to the island. Despite a strong onshore wind making the anchorage unsuitable for anchoring, we are luckily able to secure to a mooring.  
  We coincide our arrival with the daily 'market barge' - and since we are running low on fruit, we enter into some friendly bartering.
     
 
     

Being far from ideal conditions to leave the boats unattended, the boys spend the day sipping Bintang within sight of the boats in case there is a need for emergency action – while the girls slowly circumnavigate the tiny island, ‘enjoying’ the sight of ivory white tourists trying to bake themselves in the midday sun.

 

 

 

As is often the case, the hype does not live up to the reality of the island and we make plans to depart at 4 am the next day for Bali. For once we have the 20-25kt wind behind us so we enjoy an uneventful sail, arriving at Lovina Beach on the North eastern tip of Bali just before dusk.

 

It is nearly 30 years since we last visited Bali – and our overriding memory of that time is of uncouth drunken Aussies ‘behaving badly’.  Luckily for us, Lovina Beach is on the opposite end of Bali from the main tourist area of Kuta Beach and despite a host of luxury resorts, it manages to retain some of the old Bali charm that attracted tourist to the island in the first place. Although we are certainly aware that we have arrived in Touristville  - especially when we are surrounded by street vendors as we land our dinghy on the beach – we enjoy the opportunity to do some shopping and partake of some western style food.

 

 

 

Before we can really enjoy our time in Bali, time needs to be spent on Two Up. Temporary repairs to the mast mentioned in earlier reports need to be made more permanent – and after a call to the rigger, it is decided that the mast needs to be lifted. This will enable a template to be made of the worn base plate which can then be emailed to Australia and  a solid aluminium replacement made. This is easier said than done – but preparations were made for the mast to be lifted in situ. The mainsail and boom were removed and a temporary wooden frame erected around the base of the mast.

 

 

Using the mast mounted winches and a pair of blocks, with stabilising ropes at the top and bottom of the mast,  it was slowly inched up. It looked, at a glance, as if we were ‘pulling ourselves up by our bootlaces’, but it worked well.  It was still a hair raising experience, especially once the main shrouds were released and the mast was supported only on the creaking frame and stabilising ropes. Once the mast had a clearance of about 150mm, spanners could be used to unbolt the defective base plate, which was then removed with some difficulty due to the original adhesive/sealant. The mast was then quickly lowered onto a piece of plywood and the shrouds reattached.  The base plate bolt holes and mast profile was then measured and a drawing emailed back to Aust. for manufacture.

 

To add to Two Up‘s woes, they had also discovered a problem with one of their sail drives and after a phone conversation with the supplier in Australia, it was discovered that the drives were the subject of a product recall !  The sail drive will go into gear and the prop turns with no load, but once engine revs are increased the multiplate clutch just slips and the prop rotates at the same speed as idle and no drive is forthcoming. (We all agree that the Two Up crew must have kicked a Chinaman in a previous life !!! ) Fortunately, after some negotiation, the manufacturer  will  fly a gearbox specialist in from Singapore, bring in the new clutch parts and repair the problem under the recall notice  -although there will be a week’s delay before this can all be organised. Since there is also a substantial wait for the replacement mast plate, it is decided that a tour of Bali Island is in order.

Buoyed by our bravery on 2 wheels in Lombok, we again hire 125cc motorbikes ($5 a day) and head into the hills to explore the volcanic peaks and crater lakes.

 

 

 

The cool air of the mountains makes for a welcome respite after so many months of heat and we ‘almost’ look favourably at the threatening clouds. However, this notion of soothing rain is quickly dispelled as our bikes struggle up steep, windy mountain roads. We visit waterfalls and sacred Hindu temples – where ceremonies giving offerings to the gods are in full swing.  

 

 
Below: One of the many temples - this one sited on a lake   Below: Terraced Rice Paddies
 

 

An oddity amongst the surrounding Muslim islands, Bali is Hindu and we learn that these offerings are to preserve a balance between good and evil and are a very important part of Balinese life. Towards nightfall we arrive at the mountain retreat of Ubud where we spend a relaxing night in a $25 luxury bungalow nestled amidst rice paddies .

 

 

Above: Our $25 a night accommodation in Ubud

  Below: New Suit?
The next day we continue our tour and stupidly head towards Kuta Beach to investigate the attraction that compels thousands of Aussies to visit Bali every year. After a few hours trying to traverse the hot, crowded, noisy streets where the traffic inches past rows of ‘designer’ rip-off shops filled with half dressed westerners, we begin to profoundly regret our decision. However, since we are stuck for the night, we find a cheap hotel and try to blot out the chaos with cold Bintang.    
   

Below: The Bali Bombing Memorial

At least the hotel has a nice swimming pool. Next day, after a somewhat  emotional visit to the Bali Bombing memorial, where 200+ people were killed and called ‘ground zero’ by the locals, we head back to the hills in search of some serenity.

 

  Before long we are totally lost – but breaking ingrained habits, the boys actually stop and ask for directions from the very friendly locals, and we finally find our way to  Batur  where a massive crater lake sits beneath a still active volcano (last erupted in 1994).
Arriving at dusk we find ourselves at a luxury establishment with Balinese villas straddling the edge of the lake. Tourists are currently scarce up here and we shake our heads dramatically at the quoted price of 500,000 rupiah a night. Just as we are preparing to remount our bikes in search of cheaper rooms they weaken and offer us a ‘special price for you’ of 250,000 rupiah ($AU30), including breakfast. That night we are the only guests for dinner in the floating restaurant where we eat our fill for under $5. The luxury private villas with abundant hot water and cable TV (All Indonesian ) were fantastic.

 

 

 

Morning sees us riding our bikes along rough tracks as we circumnavigate the lake, passing isolated villages where rows upon rows of vegetables thrive in the fertile volcanic soil along the water’s edge.  The men and the women seem to work equally in the fields but we notice that it is the women that carry the large petrol driven water pumps, which must weigh 40-50 kilos, on their heads !! .. and still managed a wave and smile as we pass. The contrast between the almost subsistence lifestyle of these villagers and the tourist-driven existence of the residence of Kuta , a mere 50km away is remarkable – and gives us a glimpse of what Bali might have been like fifty years ago. We thoroughly enjoy the rest of the day as we meander through the back roads down the mountains to the coast well off the tourist path. The smell of cloves drying in the sun on the side of the road adds more memorable experiences to our sojourn.

 

 

 

Back at the boats – fortunately with all our limbs still intact – we make plans for our next leg – a three day sail to Kalimantan  ( Borneo, on the older maps ). Only two of our loose fleet of four are to make the journey:  Southern Mist, constrained  by commitments back in Aust, decide to return directly to Darwin (an 11 day  non stop trip if winds and seas are kind) - and Two Up will follow us later, missing Kalimantan,  once they have rectified their sail drives.  Morning Star and Mandolin Wind will team up for the passage.

 

 

 

So with fond memories of this second visit to Bali we prepare for a 3 am start the next day. It is hard to believe that we have already spent 3 months cruising through Indonesia and somewhat sad to realise that our visas and boat permits  require us to checkout of the country by the end of the month.  But,  before then,  we have the visit to the Orangatang rehabilitation centre in Kumai to look forward  to– and another 800 miles to sail after that, again crossing the equator,  before our Indonesian checkout  port of Batam, just south of Singapore.  Let’s hope it is all downwind sailing as the grib files suggest !