Sunday, 4 August 2013

Welcome to Indonesia

First day saw us hoist our yellow quarantine flag and wait for customs/immigration to board us and start the arrival procedure. We were not sure just what to expect however had been advised by Sail Indonesia to expect maybe 5 people to come onboard and if at any time asked for a bribe, be firm, say no and SMILE. We watched them board Gemini first, then after about an hour we saw them heading our way in Gemini's tender. We started by asking to take their photo sitting down with us - they love being photographed and thought it would be a good way to break the ice. So I sat upstairs with 3 of them, Immigration, Port Authority and another one ......? while Pete was downstairs with Customs and Health representatives.

                                Customs & Immigration arriving with Lachie from Gemini

                                      Me with big cheesy grin - hoping all will go smoothly

I was boat stamping and signing my life away, page after page when Pete says to me "are you reading each page before you sign it?" Was he kidding - it was all in Indonesian. Below deck they were inspecting our alcohol supply and slid in a quiet request for a bottle of Bombay Sapphire (our first bribe). Pete stood firm, SMILED and told them they were parting gifts from our family - we couldn't give any away. They seemed to accept that answer and no more was said. Phew ......... thankfully that was easy. So after about 3/4 hour of paperwork, we were told we could bring down the Q flag, raise the courtesy Indonesian flag and head ashore to complete customs and immigration.
This we did and then had another hour of forms, stamps, questions and paperwork. A room with 4 desks and at least 4 people at each desk - 1 to fill in the paperwork, 1 to hold the ink pad, 1 to ink and use the stamp and 1 to hand it back to us. What a process!! At least it keeps them all employed.

As we were coming to the end of all of it, chanting started outside and the official welcome ceremony had started. I wandered out to catch the action and was immediately caught up in the procession. We were all being treated like royalty, presented with woven hats and scarves and shaking everyone's hands whilst the crowd were chanting blessings upon us and our sailing adventures. All quite surreal. Indonesian way of thinking is different to ours - prime example. Darwin to Kupang is 470nms so 4 days sailing for the average boat. 2 days after the official start from Darwin they held the welcome ceremony - hence only 2 out of 85 boats had arrived. They told all the officials, dancers, caterers, spectators to come back the next day to do it again. As we were amongst the 6 boats that had arrived overnight, we were guests of honour for re-run ceremony. That was the only other time they ran it, the other 77 boats were to miss out. That's Indonesia !

Kevin. Lachlie Pete and Craig wearing our presentation hats 

We have now had nearly a week here, the days floating past. Lots of gala events with traditional food and dancing, promotional events for areas we are yet to visit, local hawker stalls and haggling. We have visited a orphanage and given clothes and toys as donations (collected for some time in Oz).
We have had local school children come aboard with their teachers to show them our home, have done some sightseeing and lots of walking.

           School children arriving with their teacher

'Captain America' at the helm

                      The kids sitting in the saloon 

Sitting upstairs with another student and her teacher

                   Sitting with a few other teachers

Bemo rides - always an experience to the local markets (ugh..... enough to make anyone a vegetarian) and found a bakery with a good selection of European and local pastries. We drew the line at chicken or chilly flavoured doughnuts. The Indonesian people have been so friendly everywhere we have gone. Even local police have flagged down buses for us to catch and EVERYONE asks if they can have their photo taken with us. Just lovely people.

This morning they held an official leaving ceremony, again with dancers and lots of officials, blessing the fleet and releasing 80 balloons in our honour. It's time to head on and tomorrow will see us up anchor and head north. The fleet splits here and some have headed south for other islands all of us meeting again in Komodo in about a months time.

                   Pete hoping to be arrested !

  Myself and Jacqui with some traditional dancers  

                                                                                      Sunset from out the front of Teddy's Bar

                                 Bunting along the shoreline. Mobbed with locals every day
       Pete found Kupang's equivalence to Bunnings 

Walking through the food markets

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