Friday, September 21, 2018

Indonesia: Land of Friendly Folks and Official Officialdom

Mark riding with one of our guides, Bang Rhul'Badrul.
We enjoyed the couple of months we spent on the Sail to Malaysia rally but by the end were ready to get back to our own schedule (or lack thereof) and a more relaxed calendar. We were able to do and see things with the rally that we would not otherwise, but the pace was a bit exhausting for us.

Visiting the school where our guide Usman (left) teaches
We traveled with the Sail to Indonesia rally (many of the boats from the Malaysian rally are continuing on with the new rally) for a couple of stops and said goodbye to cruising friends we made. Our last rally stop was Tolitoli. Our trip there from Maratua Island was a bumpy (but fast) upwind sail overnight, which left us feeling a bit queasy. All the motoring we have done for the last couple months has left us without our sea legs.

A cuttlefish we saw at Maratua Island
In Tolitoli, we were each assigned a local English-speaking guide. So Perry had four guides with us during our visit. Anytime we were off the boat, they accompanied us (they also visited the boat a few times). It was nice to be escorted around on motorbikes but we had very little alone time. We visited Malangga Village and snorkeled the fabulous reef at Sabang Beach.

Saying goodbye to Amanda, one of our rally friends.
Mark getting a $1 haircut (our guide Dini assists)

A bucket-brigade of sorts for concrete.

25+ guides (and our friends Pam and Craig) came aboard to wish Matt a Happy Birthday

When we left Tolitoli, we stopped at a quiet little bay near Kanak Kanak with Angel Wing and Irie, two boats going our way for now. The red shrimp lake at Cape Sanjangan and the nearby caves were interesting. Also interesting was the visit by a local police officer after dark. He came on board to look at paperwork for our 'safety'. Although he was very friendly, it was a bit disconcerting to have someone come to the boat after dark and ask to come aboard.

It was even more disconcerting to be roused out of bed at 10 pm to the sound of the same officer climbing onto the boat without saying anything. He had returned because his supervisor had asked him to get pictures of our passports and photos of us. Matt politely declined to rouse the children out of bed to have their pictures taken and said that the officer could return during daylight hours if they really needed the photos.

Red shrimp--they like to nibble on you

A water-filled cave to jump into (best at higher tide)

At Prince John Dive Resort, near Donggala, we were given free moorings and a warm welcome at the resort, as well as the usual rock-star treatment in town. We were visited by Deni, an Indonesian Navy lieutenant. He is a very nice guy who had trained with the Navy Seals and was stationed in Lebanon for a bit. He took our paperwork and said he would help us by registering with the Port Captain. In hindsight, we should have declined to give him original paperwork and/or should have said we would accompany him to see the Port Captain.

The following day, the Port Captain and Coast Guard visited our boat and asked us for the very paperwork that Deni had taken with him. We of course no longer had it and had no contact information for Deni. The shorter version is that Matt and the captains of the other three boats in the anchorage accompanied the Port Captain back to his office and waited for Deni to show up, which he did several hours later. Deni had taken our paperwork to Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine, none of which was necessary. Quarantine still had our paperwork and wanted to keep it until the following day, which would have hampered our plans to leave early the next morning. Eventually, after more than five hours, we got our paperwork and everyone got to go back to their boats.

We have found Indonesians to be very friendly but the bureaucracy is the worst we have experienced in our six years aboard. This is despite extensive cleanup by President Widodo. We have not been asked for bribes and most of the officials we have dealt with have been very cordial, if not downright friendly. But the sheer volume of paperwork, procedure and runaround can get a bit tiresome.

We are currently in charming Pasangkayu and enjoyed a delicious chicken satay dinner for about $7. We continue our trek towards a jumping off point to get from Sulawesi to Kumai, where we hope to see our cruising buddies on Field Trip.

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