OCC RoRC report from Indonesia

OCC RoRC report from Indonesia

Time Bandit joins a rally in Indonesia and is astonished by the reception of the people throughout.

By Stuart & Anne Letton - 27/01/2020

"We're not rally people". That's a phrase you'll hear from quite a lot of cruisers. It's understandable. Sixty boats all rolling into an anchorage for ten. We’ve done a few in our time. Most were brilliant. So, while we were predisposed to joining a rally, the basic problem was that I never wanted to go to Indonesia in the first place.

It was, therefore, all a bit confusing when, after soliciting the opinions of those that had gone before, to hear my mental image was at odds with their experiences. It was what led us to join the wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia as run by Raymond Lesmana.

In the four months we took to cross the archipelago, pretty much every island and village we visited was adorned with flags. In some, we were supposedly the first tourists ever to visit. A dozen English teachers were given a week off to act as liaison officers in one. Children and adults alike had been practising song and dance for months to perform for us.

One port had its first new tarmac in a long time, another a new jetty, yet another a new pontoon. The public loos were re-tiled and painted. And then, imagine - the main highway out of your town, population, sixty-five thousand, is cordoned off for two or three hours, schools are temporarily closed and the city council gather, firstly, to walk you and hundreds of following locals down one side of the dual carriageway to a school to be given a formal Indonesian welcome. Next, back out into the road where a thousand school children in their best uniforms line the highway, we to walk in procession with the elders a mile down the road, shaking hands with everyone turning at the roundabout to walk up the other carriageway heading for the local memorial park to be entertained and fed copious amounts of seafood and local delicacies while the stage is filled with dance and music.

Filled to bursting we are then coached back to the port where the appointed boat "valet" and his team of little helpers brings your dinghy to you. All this, yet we've spent so little money our consciences are somewhat troubled about how little we seem to be giving back.

Words fail us in trying to describe our welcome and this rally so I won't keep trying. If you’ve ever wondered about visiting Indonesia but hesitated, go for it. It's wonderful.

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