November 21st: Departed at 6:30am for the Northen end of Bintan Island, our exit point for the rally, and for Indonesia. Arrived around 12.30pm. There were 10 boats who decided to anchor near the ferry terminal. Not an ideal anchorage as there’s ferries roaring in and out during the day but our options are limited. It’s also very shallow, we are anchored in 5 metres of water. We won’t be making water here either, too close to the Singapore Straights, where literally hundreds of ship transit every day. This area of Bintan Island is solely for resorts. There are at least 5 large, expensive resorts on this end of the island. There is no nearby local village. There is strict security controls at the entry point, of which there is only one entry, other than the ferry terminal.
We went in late in the afternoon and had a walk around the resort near our anchorage. We saw a monitor lizard but couldn’t get close enough for a photo, it scarpered down into a water pipe. We went and had a few (too many) drinks at the waterfront bar, there were only 3 other people in the bar, a couple from Mudgeeraba Ray and Alison, and a young lady from Brisbane who is currently working in Singapore. Both from less than 70kms from where we lived!
November 22nd: Today we were greeted upon arrival at the ferry terminal for our bus tour, with traditional dancing girls. Then we went to an Eco-farm where all the fruit and vegetables are grown for the resorts in the area. They also had some animals in cages, including monkeys, some very unusual Eagles – one that looked like an owl, a lot of cat fish and turtles in water tanks also. We had lunch at a local eating place and then they took us for a river cruise, 6 klms up the river where we saw 4 yellow bellied snakes, 1 Python, a monitor lizard swimming and some of the beautiful blue Kingfisher birds. Back on the boat and we had a game of 500 with Peter and Heidi and Robbie cooked a chicken curry (like we had enough rice??) the card Gods are still shining on Robbie and they won, again. Peter and I are getting really sick of Robbie and Heidi singing “we are the champions”
November 23rd: Another bus tour, destination was a surprise. We ended up on the Northern side of Bintan at a Jong School. A Jong is a local boat with a sail that is used for games, or sport, including gambling. They are basically small wooden boats that they walk out in the tide with and then let go, and they literally fly back in the shore. The guy running the school is a Frenchman who has travelled the world sailing, but settled here with an Indonesian wife and has set up the school to try and keep the old tradition going and also to increase awareness of the environment with the locals. We then visited a local village who used to make coal from tree from the Mangroves but this is now illegal. Back to the boats and a bit of a rest and then we had a quick game of 500 on Stormvogel, and then off to our farewell dinner. This was provided by the Tourism Department, and it was at a local seafood restaurant with Karaoke provided. The meal was nice, the beer was cold and we all had a blast singing golden oldies such as Mustang Sally, My way, Hey Jude, and lots of others. There was lots of singing and dancing and of course a thank you speech to Raymond, our Indonesian rally Co-ordinator. He really has done a great job under some difficult circumstances and trying to keep everyone happy – which of course was impossible. I made him a certificate of appreciation and we gave him a bottle of red wine with Peter and Heidi. Peter also has an awesome photo of Raymond that they will get made into a T-shirt and send to Raymond. Bit disappointing none of the other rally participants did anything for him. We ended the night all singing Sailing, and then Auld Ang Syne, it was lovely and there were a few tears in some eyes as we all said farewell to the friends we have been sailing with for the past 4 months. (you will note that we were as far away as possible from the microphones because we sing like crap)