Hebe Jebes 2015 Issue JAN/FEB - Page 32

FEATURES Features Going it alone in Indonesia Words David & Jackie Peers 印尼 獨行 之旅 There are so many rallies criss-crossing Indonesia, originating from Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and elsewhere, that it would seem that the majority of cruisers choose to visit the archipelago in this manner. And why not? Any rally member will reel off a whole list of incentives and benefits: paperwork done for you, free CAIT (cruising permit), gifts of fuel, mooring buoys—and to top it off the Indonesian Tourist Board chooses, for reasons I don’t fully comprehend, to lavish extravagant dinners, cultural displays and other events upon us tightwad yachties. And, of course, there’s the comradeship, not only during the rally itself, but often afterwards. Many yachts choose to buddy up for future travels, and even after the fleet disperses they all keep in touch on their radio Nets. Travelling independently is easily achieved, results in no hardships that we’ve experienced and confers its own benefits. Seems like a no-brainer. Well, in that case we on S/Y Brigadoon are lacking in that department. We stubbornly persist at doing things the hard way! Heavy handed and greedy officials? I’m not saying they don’t exist, but we haven’t met any. We did come armed with bottles of Tanduay Rum and cigarettes to smooth our path. But they remain firmly wherever Jackie stowed them—no point asking me where anything is on this boat! We entered Indonesia at the tiny port of Tahuna, Sangihe Island, south of Mindanao, which has only recently been accorded Port of Entry status. The officials there were delightfully friendly, comically unsure of how to process the paperwork, and quite the opposite of venal. A couple of islands south of there, at the stunning volcanic island of Siau, we were boarded by the It’s not my intention to denigrate sailing rallies, the Scouting movement, organised religion or anything else. If you choose to visit Indonesia in a manner which puts me in mind of a junior class being shepherded to the museum and back, well so be it. I’m sure you’ll have fun. But something that annoys us is when yachties say that a rally is the only way to visit Indonesia. That’s just not true. In fact it’s a load of male bovine excrement. 30 Hebe jebes • JAN/FEB 2015 The paperwork for Indonesia is no great hurdle. Anyone tried sailing to Australia lately? That’s where you’ll really learn about bureaucracy and fees. A woman called Lytha, who advertises on Noonsite, will organise your Indonesian CAIT and sponsorship letter for you, and usually replies to emails within the hour. Your CAIT, sponsorship letter and two-month social visa are going to cost you about HK$1,800. That’s quite a lot, but one of your most significant expenses throughout your whole stay in Indonesia, and a better use of money than sitting in a marina for months waiting for the rally to start. coast guard. But it was a very friendly encounter, motivated no doubt by their excitement at having a duty to perform, and they were keen to offer help and advice. What about travelling amongst communities that are so poor? After all, the minimum wage in Indonesia is only about HK$30 a day. Well, it certainly hasn’t created any bitterness that we’ve encountered. Fishermen sometimes come over to offer us fish, and sometimes ask for this or that, but never in a manner which is any way threatening. Indeed about the only thing we’ve been asked for is drinking water, which on waters that straddle the equator seems quite reasonable. The first time we went to a city—Manado, on the north-west tip of Sulawesi—we were a little bit nervous about the hassles we might encounter. Instead we were bowled over by the various acts of kindness we received. This continued in other places we went to. It is humbling to disembark from a shared cab, only to find that another passenger has already paid your fare. What about Indonesia having the world’s largest Muslim population? Well, in an anchorage surrounded by mosques competing in volume with their calls to prayer, you are certainly reminded of that fact. However a visit to a place like the Banda Islands, the remotest and most special part of the Spice Islands, will remind you in these days of jihad of just how 31