The president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has arrived in town and all the podiums, bunting and preparations were still being put in place minutes before he arrived. We had gone ashore to do last minute provisioning and school children were lining the streets in the hot sun (and had been for hours) awaiting his car and entourage. All of a sudden they were spreading out along the roadside with little Indonesian flags in hand, loud speakers were heard everywhere and security were just as plentiful as the spectators. We joined the kids and next minute he was there in front of us, window down and waving to us - behind his dark glasses. Closest I will probably ever be to a president! In the afternoon, we were taken on a tour to a local village where we watched a performance of 'Whip Dance' - the aim is to try and draw blood from your opponent which is a form of initiation. Sounds rather brutal but very entertaining.
We flew the flag for September 11
The participants of the 'Whip Dance' ceremony
SBY arriving with wife Ani & entourage
Pete standing in front of SBY's car - with guards
The next day the Sail Past was expected to start at 9.29am with SBY sounding a horn (or so the proceedings stated). As per Indonesia, things don't always go exactly according to plan so we sat and waited for the start. Soon after 10.00am, it got under way the naval vessels leading the way. It was quite an impressive sight as they made their way down the channel towards the podium with all the dignitaries waiting. The yachts then took up their position at the end of the line, all with our flags and bunting flying and sounding our horns on cue. It was good fun.
Tintin looking good with her flags up
Some of the various naval vessels - all shapes and sizes
Looking behind us to our fleet of yachts following
That was the end of Labuan Bajo, 3 visits there for us in the spate of 8 days. We sailed out of the harbour heading West with Tintin close behind. We said farewell to our friends on Equilibrium II as they were heading back to Maumere, Kupang then Oz. Sad to be saying goodbyes already, strong friendships made and we will miss them. Maybe our paths will cross again some day. It is some night sailing ahead of us now - 200 miles to Lombok and we are opting to go in one hit.