Friday, 21 June 2019

Medana Bay

When we got back to Medana Bay we discovered that Eid holidays were about to begin and last for about a week. So we decided to leave Pegasos on a mooring at Medana Bay and go hang out in Bali again for a week. The biggest difference between Bali and Lombok is that Bali is mostly Hindu and Lombok is mostly Muslim, making Bali a much more inviting place to be.

We took a ferry from Bangsal to Padang Bai. Ferry operators are cutthroat and prices are not fixed, it depends on how much effort you put into comparing and negotiating at the port. We discovered that buying a ticket at the port was cheaper than on-line.

Padang Bai is a heaving mass of ferries, passengers, taxi touts and people carrying anything - such as a large swordfish.

It was hot and after checking in at hotel we went for a swim at White Sands Beach - a misnomer.

The next morning the hotel staff were very enthusiastic about arranging a taxi for us at a rather inflated price so we compared prices and decided on Grab - the Uber version of rideshare in Bali. This has to be done discreetly as local taxis hate competition and can attack Grab drivers. Most hotels won't allow Grab near them so slick is the hotel/taxi mutual partnership. There are certain hotel lined roads banning online taxis.

So we waited a short distance from the hotel until the car appeared, slowed down and the driver said "Quick, get in quickly" and we were off in a flash. A friendly, chatty driver made our journey of over an hour to Ubud interesting. There is no open countryside along the main roads and one town blends into the next.

Ubud is much busier than we expected with throngs of tourists, hotels, restaurants, and zillions of shops selling handcrafts that Bali is known for, as well as many art galleries and studios teaching art and wood carving. Temples and shrines are everywhere.

We visited the Monkey Forest Sanctuary in the heart of Ubud. It's a well maintained green jungle space, home to about 900 monkeys. There are long-tailed monkeys everywhere who are very used to people moving amongst them.

There are 3 temples in the Monkey Forest - the cremation temple has particularly disturbing statues.

We also visited the Agung Rai Museum of Art situated in a large green shady area with many trees and water features. There are 2 galleries, one is for traditional art - a fascinating display of intricate, finely detailed, busy Balinese paintings.

Rice paddies are everywhere, even next to our hotel in the middle of Ubud. We decided to see the famous Tegallalang rice terraces and hired a scooter for the day.

 The countryside is lush and green and we enjoyed the scenic drive.


We were expecting a quiet village surrounded by rice terraces. Instead we got hillside rice terraces completely overwhelmed by tourists, taxi touts, jam-packed stalls selling trinkets and pushy young postcard sellers.

We found a lunch spot further away to get photos that didn't include zip lines and swings, a nice view.

On our way back into Ubud we visited the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) temple which dates back to 8th century. Wearing a sarong is obligatory.

We booked a stay in a coffee plantation further away north near Kintamani, a village close to Mount Batur, an active volcano. Our barn type accommodation was literally in the coffee plantation.

The host drove us to viewing sites around Lake Batur, a huge crater lake inside the caldera.

We walked on the edge of an old massive black lava field - it's lunar surface in sharp contrast to surrounding vegetation. Our host told us about the eruptions and formation of the lava field which poured into a village on the lava path.

The coffee plantation was very interesting and we tasted their various coffees.


The coffee plantation also makes the famous coffee via civet cat "processing" and we met a 5 month young civet cat. Cute but perhaps they would be happier in the wild.

A long drive back to Padang Bai for the night and the morning ferry back to Lombok and Pegasos.

We got back at spring low tide - an occasion where the villagers forage on the exposed sea grass flats collecting sea urchins and other delicacies.

The haul out of Pegasos went very smoothly. It was the first multihull haul out for Medana Bay Marina with the general manager Suraya getting into the water for a true hands on supervision. We were all happy with the process and after a wash down and preliminary scrape, Pegasos was maneuvered into its parking spot.

First the job of anti-fouling - luckily we had a willing assistant for the scraping and painting leaving Robert free to design a mounting bracket for a spare outboard engine for back up to our inboard engine. This also means drilling some holes through the side of the main hull - yikes!

The scraping and painting took about 4 days and Pegasos looks re-freshed. Pegasos will stay on the hard until early September. We're off back home for 2 months and plan to join the Sail2Indonesia rally in September going through to Malaysia - an exciting adventure to look forward to.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Going nowhere slowly

Gili Trawangan is a tropical playground with its beachfront strip of cocktail bars, restaurants and endless tours for snorkeling and diving. The beach is lovely and shaded by trees and the water is warm.   

Behind the beachfront facade is the local sprawling village of conservative Muslims whose incomes come from providing services to the scantily clad, mostly young, western tourists.

When we were here about 8 months ago the damage from the earthquake was very evident. There has been a lot of rebuilding although it's far from finished. One of the biggest grander buildings is the new mosque whose white minaret towers over everything else ensuring that the calls to prayer are heard loud and clear for miles around. Being the month of Ramadan it seemed to be ongoing throughout the day and night. Of course it's not the only loud mosque on this tiny island.

There are no cars or scooters on the Gili islands - only bicycles or pony cart.
 Even the police vehicle is a pony cart.

The reef close to the island is not spectacular being mostly dead with patches of soft corals. However Turtle Point lived up to is name and when snorkeling there we saw a large Green Turtle and several Hawksbill Turtles. They are both endangered species so it was a super experience - made more memorable by the large Green Turtle surfacing next to me as I snorkeled and swimming alongside for a few minutes.

We saw pipe fish, butterfly fish and ribbon eels among other small tropical fish and a black and white banded sea snake - apparently venomous but rarely bites.

We're still taken aback by the overfishing on the reefs. Early every morning a few local fishermen would drop fine nets on the reef and drift along sweeping up whatever was caught - mostly small reef fish as the bigger fish have long since been taken.

Robert had exchanged the fuel filter and it seemed to solve the engine problem but on our second day at Gili Trawangan our watermaker packed up. Robert spent many hours taking bits off to check why the pressure was gone and eventually contacted the manufacturer based in Trinidad. They were very responsive and helpful and after some more days of checking it turned out that in 2017 they had a batch of faulty pistons and had no way of knowing where they ended up. They shipped out the replacement part.

There is no fresh water for filling boat tanks on Gili Trawangan and as our water was low we headed to Medana Bay Marina. We filled one tank with fresh water and handed over our engine water pump for their off site mechanic to look at and hopefully repair. It was great to meet up with a few other yachties and we gathered together most evenings in the marina restaurant.

With not much else to do until the watermaker part arrives and the water pump returns, we hired a scooter and set off along the main coastal road running eastwards along north Lombok. The narrow road is busy with trucks and scooters and a bit nerve wracking for me as each one competes for space with a hoot and a swerve.

We turned off into lush countryside with rice paddies on either side.

There are many waterfalls on the slopes of Mount Rinjani, the second highest active volcano in Indonesia. With the help of Google Maps we found Air Terjun Tiu Pupus. "Air Terjun" means waterfall in Indonesian. "Air" meaning water - a little confusing. The route to waterfalls are not well marked along the way and is usually a small rough road that peters out to a track in the jungle. As we hesitated on the track we met a local, Adi, who confirmed we were in the right place and promptly led the way along a narrow path. On the way he said he had a job there as a "cleaner" and kicked a few random dead leaves out the way. He also said he was collecting donations to rebuild the toilet which was damaged in the earthquake. Sigh, we had acquired a "guide". The toilet was indeed damaged to non-existent. The waterfall was great, pouring into a large inviting pool of water. Robert gave Adi a donation but he wouldn't bugger off so we couldn't really have a peaceful rest. We decided not to swim in this pool as it wasn't high enough to avoid being polluted by many tiny villages further upstream.

A few kilometres away is Air Terjun Kerta Gangga which is higher up and has two waterfalls. It also has an annoying self appointed "entrance fee collector" who demanded IDR25,000 each. We refused as he couldn't issue tickets or receipts and he stood around muttering. A bit concerned about leaving our scooter behind, we gave him IDR10,000 each. Sort of SA car guard tactic. He pointed to two guys lolling under a nearby tree and said we needed a guide. We said no we don't and set off along a paved path. The earthquake had damaged whatever buildings were there before to piles of rubble. The first waterfall appears out of the jungle and goes into a deep ravine. Scenic but not very accessible without paths.
The second higher waterfall is easy to get to and quite spectacular. A little further on is a smaller waterfall that drops into a deep pool surrounded by dark rockface. We had a lovely refreshing swim in the pool.

Away from most tourists, the north part of Lombok is still very damaged from the earthquake although there are signs of re-building and many shops selling roof trusses and cement. Priority has been given to re-building beautiful mosques which are seemingly every 300 metres along the main road in busy areas. I felt sorry for the residents in their broken hovels inbetween the grand mosques.

There was a delay in Trinidad to ship out the watermaker part and the seal for the engine pump was proving elusive so Robert did some other minor repairs, and of course, collect water in jugs.

We hired a scooter again to visit a temple on the outskirts of Mataram, the biggest city on Lombok about an hour away. It was a busy, narrow main road again but quite picturesque as we climbed higher away from the coast.

Along the road monkeys sit on the side waiting for handouts from passing vehicles. There are no bins or refuse collection in the area so food wrappers are often tossed out the window. Litter is everywhere.

We wandered around the open air Temple Lingsar being the only visitors.

Local boys swam in the temple pool.

The temple is old (built in 1714) and unique in that it serves both Hindu and Moslem worshippers. Currently it is not in good condition and lacks the meticulous care given to local mosques.

It's hard to drive the whole day without a pee and the typical public loo at the temple looks like this. Luckily we had found one of Lombok's cleanest toilets. It's a tough choice between the nearest shrub in public or braving the loo for privacy.

We chose to drive back along the quieter coastal road through Senggigi. Lush and scenic, it's clear why the upmarket resorts are in this area.

The part for the engine water pump seems not to be available locally so Robert got it back and installed it again. We'll just have to keep pumping water out the engine bay with a temporary set up and take it back to Cape Town for repair.

Another yachtie family had gone away for a few days and we shared their cat sitting. What a lovable character, this cat had sailed from Australia and is very agile on a boat.

If we had done our homework properly, we would have not been in Lombok for the month long Ramadan. The many mosques use potent loudspeakers to broadcast the call for prayer (5 times a day) and the reading of the Koran during Ramadan. On Lombok the wailing and screeching starts at 4.30 am daily. The night is the worst as children are also given the opportunity to broadcast in a shrill tone deaf sing-song fashion from about 8 pm until well after 1 am. I don't know when the locals sleep, probably during the day when they are fasting anyway. The relentless volume of noise meant we had very little sleep. However, we are the visitors here so we just make do. Robert took to running the generator at night and early morning to drown out the noise. You should know how bad it is if we rather listen to generator noise!

We decided to go to nearby Gili Air while waiting for the watermaker part to arrive. This little island has only one mosque and many tourists. The local hospitality industry wouldn't risk putting off their tourists. Indeed it was much quieter with only minimal noise from it's mosque. For the first time in weeks we could sleep through the night. Bliss.

Parts of Gili Air has not yet been re-built and still has many broken buildings and closed hotels. The western side is well maintained with lovely sunset viewing beach bars and restaurants with more tables than visitors. The tourists are a slightly older crowd and families compared to Gili Trawangan and we enjoyed the vibe at Gili Air. Lots of snorkeling and diving tours on offer. We followed a dive boat in our dinghy out to a snorkeling site and was disappointed in that it was the most barren reef we have seen. Some of the other reefs are better although not great. We spent our time snorkeling, swimming off the boat and eating at beach restaurants - a truly relaxing time.