29 October 2009

Belitung and farewell Indonesia

Belitung island is situated on the southeast coast of Sumatra and the welcome is warm and friendly. There are beautiful and sometimes funny presentations with music and dance by both adults as by the children of the island. Every day on arrival at the beach our dinghy's are well lined up on the shore and the activities in the air attract a lot of local people and families. With regularity students take initiative to a conversation with us to practice their english. Of course they want a friend to take a picture of them together with the foreign yachties.
The welcome dinner, also the farewell party for the participants of the Rally through Indonesia, is a wonderful event with special music, the exchange of presents, an elaborate Indonesian buffet and again a lot of dances and music. The expectation is that we also make a contribution to the dances.

By bus we visit a layang layang festival, a kite happening with kites in all colours, shapes and sizes. It is a feast to walk around and see the the movements in the air. In a traditional wooden house with veranda beautiful girls perform a welcoming dance after which we are invited to have lunch. We sit in small groups on the floor around a bowl of rice and several dishes of meat and vegetables. According to the tradition we have to eat the food with our (right)hand, so no cuttlery has been supplied. Interesting and wonderful is our next visit to the Kampong Bali, the village where people from the island Bali live and keep their traditions alive. Music, dances, special snacks and then the youth of the village that try to scare us off with their real big and terrifying puppets, bad spirits probably. Lots of fun both by the youth as by the visitors!

After the last formalities with the Indonesian authorities we can leave. The first two nights and days we have no wind at all, so the engine has to do the job. We also pass once more the equator. Wednesday evening we approach the Strait of Singapore and we have to do a good watch to cross the shipping lanes without accidents. There is some breeze around here and during the rest of the night we continue under sail. In the morning we can see how many tankers, freight and container ships are anchored and also in the shipping lanes we see pass big vessels every 15 minutes. We follow the coastline of Singapore and sail into Johor river with Singapore on our right and Malaysia on our left side. A lot of harbour activities and we are happy to be moored in a spacious berth in the new and luxury Puteri marina near Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

Slide show Belitung

18 October 2009


With a small group of sailors of the Rally we make an organized tour by coach over central Java. In Solo we visit a batik atelier annex showroom. By waxing patterns on cotton cloth and immerse them in dye baths of different colour, beautiful designs appear.

The Hindu temples of the Prambanan temple complex are the best preserved remnants of the Hindu period in Java, although the restauration is still under construction, also due to an earthquake a few years ago. Most impressive are the sculptures on the great Shiva temple. In the evening we enjoy in an outdoor theatre the colourfull and spectacular Ramayana musical/ballet, telling the story of Rama and Shinta.

A visit to the Kraton of the sultan, his palace, is one of the highlights in Yogyakarta. The guards of the Kraton, you can regocnize them on their blue tunik, brown batik sarong and on their back fastened 'kris' (short dagger), are volunteers, faithfull and wise men, who are on duty once in a fortnight.

The Borobudur is a intriguing monument, expressing the Buddhist vision of the cosmos in stone, build on a hill. There are 9 terraces with fine and detailed mural sculptures, every level expressing a next step on the way to Nirvana, the Buddhist heaven. The higher we come the more serene-faced Buddhas (in stone) you encounter and on the top three terraces you find the so-called stupas.

We also visit local restaruants, ateliers for wood, leather and silver, small shops, a museum and every night we are expected in a good and welcoming hotel. A pleasant and interesting week away from the floating home and discovering some treasures of central Java.

Slide show Java

11 October 2009


The archipelago of Karimunjawa is situated 80 km north of Samarang on the north coast of Java and we are anchored on the west side of the main island Karimunjawa. On Saturday we are invited for a welcoming party and everybody has done its utmost to make it a succesfull evening. There are a few speeches, a local singer, a tastefull buffet and a gamelan orchestra with not only female dancers but also a nice group of young and cool male dancers. After the meal wonderfully dressed figures from the old legends appear on stage and there are real fights between the good and bad characters. Once of a sudden we are also part of the play and with a wooden mask tight on our nose we do our best to tune in and dance with the other heroes.

Sunday morning we meet the local people that are gathered on the central square in town. Once more there is gamelan music, dances, tai kwondo fights and something to eat and to drink. These are also festivities for the inhabitants of Karmunjawa and we can see how they enjoy the the presentations. Quite a lot of the ladies have prepared fish and snacks and small bites and we try the local specialities. After the happening we make a 'jalan jalan', a walk through the village and end up in the harbour with the fishing boats.

Slideshow KarimanJawa

4 October 2009


Sailing along the north coast of Bali we see several high mountains on the island, some of which with vulcanic power, an impressive sight. Lovina Beach is again a gathering place for participants of the Sail Indonesia Rally. On the tour over north Bali we visit a Hindoe temple, the local market and the museum of the area. Lunch starts with the tasting of several beers of the local brewery Storm, followed by an excellent buffet. In the peacefull gardens and buildings of the Buddhist monestary we can stretch our legs, after which we visit a silversmith family before taking a refreshing dive in the baths feed by a hot water spring (just below the temperature of the environment).

In the evening on the beach we sit next to the gamelan orchestra that performs traditional Balines music on gongs, xylophones, drums and flutes. Handsome and slender girls in colourfull costumes make complicated dancepasses, athletic headnods and subtile fingermovements. We experience a lot of atmosphere and on friday night there is a spectaculair music and dance show to welcome the complete sailing fleet, followed by an extended and good dinner in one of the restaurants on the 'boulevard'.

Sunday evening we start with a colourfull performance of the very young Balinese talent, after which we take a seat before or behind the screen of the 'wajang' theatre, also build on the beach. Behind the screen an oil lamp is burning and the wajang storyteller has been settled with his 'kulits' (the flat wajang puppets of dried animal skin). Next to him are the musicians of the gamelan orchestra with their instruments. It's a pity we don't understand 'Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language), but with a lot of music and an extended story of the narrator the different characters of the old legends come as shadows on the screen to life. The presentation can take for hours while the spectators empathize with the good and the bad fellows to pick up, chastened by the wisdom of their heroes, their daily lifes again.

Slideshow Bali