Sunday, September 7, 2014

Adventures in Indonesia Continue

Me and my new friend in Indonesia.
I can't believe that we are already in September!  So much to discuss.  So much to tell you about.
Visiting a local restaurant in Ubud
First, my trip to meet up with Martin and Amara in Indonesia was such a fun time.  We had originally planned that I would fly into Bali, take a small puddle jumper to Maumere and meet Martin and Doug (our good friend from Utah and who is currently helping Martin crew the boat) at the dock.

Well, like sailing, things change.  I missed my flight to Maumere.  So, Martin switched gears, kept sailing and had me fly into Lubuan Bajo (LBJ).  At the airport in Bali, Martin had arranged that our new dive guide meet me there and accompany me to LBJ where we would board Amara and head to Komodo Island--home of the famous Komodo dragons.

Our guide's name was Made (pronounced, Mau-day).  I was told that when I got to the airport to just look for the guy with the biggest smile and sure enough, I spotted him quickly in the crowd.
Our guide, Made from The Lighthouse Conultancy
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Before I move on with this post... to our cruiser friends that are following our blog and taking notes.  If you are headed to Indonesia, this information might come in handy for your planning.  Diving in Indonesia is a little different than diving in other spots in the world.  You will really want to hire a dive guide to accompany you on your trip through Indonesia.  Cost is about $150/day and worth every penny.  Even if for a few days, do it!

Before going to Indonesia, Martin did his homework and planned carefully.  This was the one spot he had been looking forward to diving more than any other spot that we have dove in the past.  He did not want to take a chance.  For instance, Raja Ampat has some of the most incredible diving in the world.  Cenderwasih Bay is the one place guaranteed that you will see giant whale sharks.  (The photos I posted in an earlier post was of Martin and his crew with whale sharks at Cenderwasih Bay.)

During the planning process, Martin was looking at a website about information in Indonesia and saw an ad for dive guides in Indonesia.  He called and made quick friends with the owner, Andy, from The Lighthouse Consultancy.  Andy was able to arrange to have a guide for the first three weeks of the trip while Amara was in Indonesia.  Then, while I was there, we had Made join us.  These guys work through some sort of "secret" network and are on the phone constantly with other guides discussing what they had seen in the water and guiding other boats to those sites.  It really is incredible how Made was able to drop us in the water, in the middle of nowhere, and expose us to the most beautiful deep sea aquariums full of hundreds of brightly colored fish and amazing coral.

One word of advice, book you guide early.  The Lighthouse Consultancy provides guides for all the super yachts that are in Indonesia--so they go fast.  In fact, the week before Made joined us, he was on a super yacht with Bill and Melinda Gates for a few weeks.  Andy is a wonderful help and, in fact, helped book me on my flight to LBJ when I missed my flight to Maumere.

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Once Made and I arrived in LBJ, we headed for a hotel to wait out our stay until Martin and Doug arrived a few hours later.  A bonus about Indonesia is that it is incredibly cheap. Nice hotels can go as low as $35 for a very nice hotel.  I decided that if we were going to wait, why not wait poolside at a nice hotel?  So Made (who became fast friends with me) and I headed to the hotel to have lunch and lounge a little.  (I even got an hour and half massage for $18--see, cheap!)

Later, I found out that the airline that I flew on was on the US "No Fly" list.  How was I supposed to know this?  I just wanted to get to my husband!

Around 6:00 that evening Martin and Doug called from the marina.  After sailing for two days straight taking 6 hour watches, they made it.  Albeit, a little tired and with one engine working.  The curse of buying bad gas in Sorong had followed them to LBJ.  

The next day, first priorities were grocery shopping and hiring someone to pump the diesel out of the tanks and then filter it a few times and then bring it back to us.  Made was a huge help and was able to help us find a mechanic on this tiny island to do this.  Problem was, we were there during Ramadam (a huge Muslim holiday).  Almost 90% of the population in Indonesia is Muslim.  During this holiday, and this particular day, it was a day of fasting and prayer.  Pumping out the gas was about a 2 hour job, but turned into around 5 hours because the mechanics had to keep leaving the boat to go back to their towns to pray.  Worse, I offered them water not realizing that they were fasting! (Crazy American!)  

After removing all the fuel, someone had to go down in the tanks and wipe them down.  They were that dirty from the terrible gas that we had purchased in Sorong.  All I said was, "Don't look at me!"  Actually, I wasn't even a consideration and Martin decided to "go down".
I was so afraid he was going to come up brain dead.  He had to keep coming up, grasp for air and then head back in.  In this photo, he is on his way down to clean up the tanks with paper towels and old rags.  The fumes were so bad that I had to go sit at the bow of Amara.  It was just too much.  

While the men were cleaning the gas tanks, I sat down and started to make a grocery list.  Made told me that there was a pretty good market in the town and that he would take us there after the fuel got sorted.  At those moments, I really... I mean REALLY missed Sue.  I am always so used to her making anything from nothing.  I hope that I never took her for granted.  Anyway, I really missed her mainly because I didn't want to plan out meals for the next 5 days.  I went through the bins and sorted through all the canned goods and wrote up a simple menu.  Then I listed out the ingredients that we needed and finally we headed for town on Amara's tender.  

When we arrived at the "market", what we found was that it was a great place to buy soap, rice, corn flakes and some eggs.  No produce.  No milk.  No meat.  Nothing.  So much for a substantial market. After realizing that my menu wasn't going to happen, I started to panic.  Martin assured me that the next day we could go to the early morning market and find something.   

Arriving to the early morning market, this is what we found...
Thank heaven there was a whole bounty of produce.  So I knew that we were going to be ok.  After seeing the fish, I decided to pass and hope that Sue had stocked the freezer with enough meat and fish to get us to Bali for the next five days.
With menus in place and tanks clean, and HOPEFULLY clean gas, we headed for Komodo Island.

Next installment... Komodo Island.