Bali, Menjangan, Raas, Bawean
19th September to 5th OctoberThe days pass very quickly, as we meander our fabulous route across central and now western Indonesia. The staggering variety, colour, diversity and beauty of these islands coupled with the warmth and kindness of Indonesians means senses glow with appreciation and gratitude. We sail across a dreamlike world of surreal beauty and magical warmth.
Bali has for many decades been the main focus of Indonesia’s tourism. And although I weep at the changes inflicted on villages of my early experiences – Ubud the prime example – there is still the appealing pervasive Balinese Hindu culture of festivals, of scented offerings, of gorgeous colours, spiritual meaning and dignified elegant dancing.
In just a few days on Bali we had welcome ceremonies, rambles through paddy fields, art galleries, temples, schools, markets, a bull race, big dances, little dances, gamelan music and mega-amplified pop music, the inevitable ‘gala dinner’ and just time for a couple of ice creams
…before…it was time to weigh anchor and……via a night in north west Bali’s National Park (snorkelling) and another night in Rass Islands off eastern Madura…
We reach the island of Bawean.
This is the first time a rally has stopped at Bawean. And foreigners rarely visit. So there’s the delight, after Bali’s tourist hordes, of empty roads, not a souvenir shop in sight and a more spontaneous smiling chaotic welcome. A local student gives me a lift to town on her motorbike (to top up internet – a contemporary sailors’ staple)
Early next morning Henrietta’s crew mount motorcycles, my own driver, Alvan, a slight, safe and gentle 16-year old, unphased by a retired Englishman clinging on behind; and the four of us (that’s Caroline, Joyce, Ann and me) putter and roar and bump our ways through tranquil villages waving happily and marvelling at life’s rich landscapes.
A swim in mystical lake (firmly warned against swimming far off shore), village of local batik, dance and music, plus the inevitable stops for ATMs, lunch and supplies….then, as if we’d not already had a full day, a long evening bouncing across Bawean in pickups to yet another gala dinner…oh!
With stop at hot spring – I know not why! Then dinner where I’m refreshing my Indonesian with an important politician’s proud mother, her son, an MP, back from Jakarta to develop his island’s tourist appeal (an airport has just been finished). I think I’m to be enlisted as skipper for her large motor vessel. She’s a charming and determined lady (with clout), so it’s time to bid a polite farewell and bounce back in pickup to peaceful relieved sleep aboard Henrietta.
The island of Bawean has been another delightful treat….but it’s already time to head north towards Kalimantan (if you hadn’t heard of it, it’s Indonesia part of Borneo – the lion’s share)….