We arrived on the island of Belitung, back in a haze of smog. This would be our last chosen official rally stop, from where we would check out of Indonesia. Each day had a different level of smog and smoke as the winds changed and soon conditions improved. We had a great time as most of the fleet congregated to go through official paper work for either visa extensions or checkout procedures. We took a trip to the main town and drove into the centre of the island to find the worlds smallest monkey, the tarsius, an endangered species found and protected in this area (see photo gallery, it is really cute!). We also took our dingy, with cruiser friends, to the Dutch lighthouse a couple of miles from our anchorage. It is quite a structure which was fabricated in Holland and assembled in Belitung in the late 1800’s.
Once we were checked out of Indonesia we still had nearly three hundred miles to go to get to Singapore and Malaysia. We travelled in company with a couple of other boats, Champagne Charlie and Shakti and together with them we made a long two day and one night trip to South East Lingaa and then day hopped the remaining miles. The highlight of this trip was on 30th October when we crossed back into the northern hemisphere after 20 months and 2 days in the south. We celebrated with an equator swim and the compulsory tot of rum (or Bintang beer in Chris' case) which was shared with Neptune of course! That evening we had a wacky fancy dress party on board to mark the occasion - a first equator crossing for Champagne Charlie.
A couple more night stops and we could see the Singapore skyline ahead. Luckily for us the NW monsoon seems to be kicking in, resulting in clearer skies and less smog - however several huge thunder storms have sent our ipads, sat phone, mobile phone, laptop etc into the microwave - the nearest thing we have to a Faraday cage. The rain that has come with the thunder storms has given Tulu a very welcome rinse - but we still cant wait to get into a marina for a proper boat wash!
As I write this we are crossing the shipping lanes in the Singapore straits making our way from Indonesia into Malaysia - our destination is Puteri marina near Johur Baru, not far from the causeway over to Singapore.
Our four month journey through Indonesia has been wonderful - smiling friendly people living mainly simple lives in a vast archipelago nation made up of thousands of islands covering an area that spans 3000 miles. Indonesia is one of the most highly populated countries in the world with the majority of the population being moslem but there are large hindu, buddhist and christian communities. Apparently half of the 300 million population is under 21 which might explain the number of children every where we went, all giggling, calling 'hello Mister' and staring at the white people and their boats, while of course wanting their photo taken. We have had an a amazing journey and unforgettable experiences, singing and dancing, motor bikes, fishing boats, bright colours, dust, volcanoes, forests and above all generous warm- hearted people. The camaraderie of our rally fleet with always someone to share a drink or help out with repairs has been a real pleasure.
Saying all that - we are now ready to leave nasi goreng and cumbersome bureaucracy behind for a while!
Terima karsi. Sampi jumpa!
As we prepare to post this we have just tied up in Puteri Marina, not far from Johor Bahru, Malaysia - across the straits from Singapore. Our first marina for 4 months - mains water and power, shops, bars, restaurants and civilisation............off for and Indian curry.