Monday, 16 September 2013

Farewell to Labuan Bajo

Farewell to Labuan Bajo.

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

That evening was another gala dinner a few minutes from our moorings. Great food set around the beautifully lit pool area of the LaPrima hotel, fantastic band doing all western music. Some of the other boats put forward volunteers for the Karaoke and we found some great voices amongst our own. It was Sam's birthday (the representative from Sail Indonesia who has been with us since Darwin) so it became one big party and one of the best evenings had so far. With about 25 yachts from the rally still in town for the sail past, it was well attended. The following evening was the big formal dinner with the President (SBY as he is affectionately known). We all dressed up for the occasion and were taken to a large government building for the affair. The dinner itself was a bit of a non-event as he ate in another room next to where we were all seated, eating our meals on our laps. Oh well - at least we got to see him.

 SBY arriving with wife Ani & entourage

Pete standing in front of SBY's car - with guards
closely watching


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.

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