23rd August: We went into town with Per & Elizabeth. (Peter & Heidi had gone on a tour to see the local mountain village.) Sonni – a lovely young local man who helps Raymond (the Sail2Indonesia agent) took us to “Resto Mama’s”, a local restaurant. It was quite lovely, sitting out over the water. Sonni helped us to order, we both had fried rice with chicken, and it was quite nice although you couldn’t see the chicken. (We were hoping it was chicken and not something else!) The restaurant is very near to a big market and we had a wander through the market. Most of the stall holders are women, and they are mostly all chewing the beetle nut! This is an addictive nut that they chew with chalk and some orange berries that rots their teeth black, makes them a bit loopy and also causes mouth cancer. They are all keen to sell you some beetle nut but no thanks. The majority of the stalls are just sacks on the ground. Very basic. There is not a lot of choice of fruit – mainly Banana’s, Pawpaw, a few pineapples and I did see a few very small strawberries. The vegetables are a bit better, beans, cabbage, carrots, leafy greens including watercress, Kan cun, sweet potatoes, onions which are a red colour, garlic (they call it white onions) tomatoes, corn and a few others. We went back to the boats and met up with Peter & Heidi. We all went back into town to have dinner at “Resto Mama’s”, there were also a few other rally participants there as Anne, a crew member from Moonbeam was flying home tomorrow. We had a great night with Anne singing a song she had penned about the rally, and a few other songs and Karaoke. Peter was a singing sensation, and although I tried really hard to get Robbie up he wasn’t having it on. Raymond our local Indonesian guide was also really good, in fact quite a few Indonesians got up and they were all good.
24th August: Today we organised to hire scooters to have a look around the island. Was arranged for 9:00am, around 11:00am it all happened and off we set. It wasn’t a hire company perse but through Sonni, a real helpful local guy. It cost $10,000 rupiah for each bike for the day – this is $10.00 each for Peter & Heidi, Per & Elizabeth & us. 4 of us wore our Sail2Indonesia bright yellow shirts so we could be easily seen. We had a fun time and just followed the road South out of town. It was quite scary to start with as there is thousands of scooters and they dart in and out very quickly. I Haven’t driven a bike for years and was quite wobbly to start with, no doubt looked hilarious. We made a couple of stops, one at the BNI bank, this is the only bank we can draw out cash on our Card as its linked to Visa, we haven’t had a problem with this as we got heaps of rupiah in Cairns (thank goodness) as we knew we had to pay for the diesel in cash. (We have just spent 36 million on fuel! )We stopped at a service station but they had no fuel, and then couple of the roadside stalls that sell petrol (or benzene as they call it) but they wouldn’t sell to us, finally we found one that would so we topped up the scooters and off we went. We basically meandered around the coast line, stopping at some gorgeous beaches here and there. We also checked out the airport which was quite busy. Wherever we go the locals all smile and wave, and stare at us. They alwasys want you to take their photo. They also find us very amusing, quite openly laughing and giggling at us. We eventually had to turn around as we had to get back for the Gala dinner that the local Regent was hosting for us tonight. We had no accidents or injuries on the bikes so that was good. We all had rather sore backsides though.
4 couples had been asked to be ready early for the Gala dinner, as they had a surprise for us. So Peter & Heidi, Chris & Peter, Ken & Lil and ourselves were picked up at the beach at 5:00pm. We were taken to the tourism office where it took 2 hours to get dressed and made up into some local traditional costumes. It was fun and the costumes were lovely. We then had to parade out on the stage in front of the Regent and his dignitaries, the rally fleet and some locals. They had provided a lovely buffet of local food, mainly fish dishes which was quite lovely. We were then treated to some entertainment, singing and dancing from young locals in traditional dress, it really was lovely and they had put a lot of effort in. They gave us a lovely gift bag with a hand-woven scarf, a CD and map. They are trying very hard to put Alor on the Tourist Map, and they call it “Heaven on Earth”. Robbie had to give a very impromptu response speech (which he tried to get out of – this not either of our fortes) they encouraged us to join in with the young dancers which some of us did. Poor Lil got her costume dress stood on and it was pulled off exposing her front so I rushed and helped her run off to a room to make it good. She called it “a wardrobe malfunction”.
Oh oh, “Bali Belly” has finally found me. As soon as we got back to the boat I started with stomach cramps and had to run for the loo. I have been thinking that I was pretty lucky so far but my luck ran out today. Robbie also had a bit of a funny tummy but not as bad as me. We actually think it was the pineapple juice we had earlier in the day, we didn’t think and it had ice in it which was probably the problem. Had to happen sooner or later!
25th August: Didn’t get much sleep but we have our last lot of diesel ordered for 7:00am this morning and as they are bringing it to Southern Star by boat we need to be organised. Surprise, they were on time which is a pleasant surprise. We took another 1,400 litres to top up our tanks at a cost of 12,000 rupiah per litre, or roughly $1.20 per litre, cost for today was 16 million 800 rupiah. We know that the locals pay 5,500 per litre but there is a few getting their cut out of this, Ahkmet, and the Harbour Master and no doubt the police also. We tried to bargain the price down but no luck. Ahkmet tried to tell Robbie that he was not making any money on the deal and that he needed a gift. He had seen the cartons of beer we had sitting on the floor which belonged to Mediterraneo and Almacantar who had been out scuba diving and missed the beer delivery. I don’t think Ahkmet was very impressed when Robbie gave him his gift of a NZ pen and key ring set! Bit of a quiet day we cleaned some of the stainless steel railing on the boat which was getting a bit of surface rust from all the salt. Robbie has gone for a swim and is cleaning the bottom of the boat, he says theres a garden growing on it! He is now fixing the bilge in the duck. We have not been able to clean the boat for a while and we are both going nuts about it. We are not game to make water in this anchorage. Although the water looks quite clear, there is an awful lot of garbage in it, we have no doubt it is full of bacteria so the water maker stays off. We are now almost out of water and the black tank is on the middle level so we have to leave tomorrow. Both of us are ready to leave and find a nice, clean, quiet anchorage to make some water and clean the boat. The downside is that we won’t have internet and probably phone coverage for a while.