I will fill in the blanks in the log one day.
Friday, 1 July 2016
I will fill in the blanks in the log one day.
Friday, 18 January 2013
Vientiane is a very popular destination for young back-packers and this is reflected in the wonderful mix of people, stalls and vehicles. This scene is right outside where we will be staying.
Installed in our hotel, we headed for a quick overview of the city - it is the capital after all - to get a feel for what we need to do in more depth.
The Patuxai Arch was first to qualify for a 'WOW'. It stands proudly over a main thoroughfare and has a great story. Also known as the Laotian Arc de Triomph, which is a bit hard as it commemorates the lives of Laotians lost in the struggle against French colonialism. However it exists because America donated money for the creation of an airport runway. A noble gesture, but the Laotian Government felt it would be better spent on a monument. Hmmm. Anyway it gave birth to it's most popular nickname, 'the vertical runway'. Visitors are allowed to explore the monument, so we take a note of that for later.
We opted for dusk. Actually we went a couple of times as it was equally fascinating when it was crowded with both tourists and adherents. But certainly at sunset, the whole golden structure glowed.
Offerings being made at Pha That Luang seen through a haze of incense.
The city lies on the Mekong River and at this point you look south and west to Thailand. The river is a thoroughfare and a source of minerals and food; interests that are frequently conflicting.
On the outskirts of the city, farming starts and the familiar sight of rice paddy fields.
Buddhist monks shooting their posed pictures alongside the sleeping Buddha.
Saturday, 10 March 2012
Back to Ellida after a 3 month break in UK. There is always that ‘bated breath’ moment when the hatch is unlocked and the boat interior is revealed. Will there be unwanted visitors; ants, cockroaches or even rats? But no, all seemed fine, even the battery power level had been kept to an acceptable level by single solar panel.
Now the only hurdle is the jet lag. I’m sure I read an article somewhere that said, ‘for every thousand miles of latitude, allow one ‘recovery day’. Surely it can’t be that much …can it? Let’s see …we’ve just done 100o of easting, so that’s 6,000 miles = 6 days!!!
Our plans are still taking shape, but we have decided to remain in this area (Malaysia/Thailand) for at least a year or two. The piracy threat in the Indian Ocean is still far too serious to ignore and we have plenty to see here. In fact, we have booked a one week trip to Cambodia (departing on 15thMarch) where we plan to explore the Angkor Wat area from Siem Reap. Photos will follow, you have been warned.
The marina itself is adjacent to the terminal for the ferry to Pulau Pangkor and so has just ‘convenience’ type shops for the trippers to the island.
Monday, 26 September 2011
Friday, 23 September 2011
The nearest town to Lovina Beach is Singaraja. which has the honour of being the regency seat of Buleleng. The name incidentally means "Lion King" in Indonesian. It has an area of 27.98 km² and population of 80,500. Singaraja was the Dutch colonial administrative centre for Bali and the Lesser Sunda Islands until 1953, and the port of arrival for most visitors until modern development in the south.
We needed a new diesel filter, so we took a taxi into town. Our driver proved to be a really jolly and interesting man who asked if we would like to see a couple of extra highlights. “Would we ever!”
Our first sight was of field workers paddling in muddy water planting the young rice. We had been told earlier that two or even three crops of rice can be produced in one year, so planting, ploughing and harvesting take place side by side – although I’m not absolutely certain that mud of that consistency qualifies as ploughable.
At this point we were only yards from the coast and our driver took us just a little further on to an old and obviously well established fishing port. It doesn’t appear on our charts, but the vessels here were sizeable and wonderfully exotic. The colours brilliant in the sunshine and being packed so closely together, the effect was visual overload!
As I mentioned earlier, Singaraja is significant. We drove for several miles through the outskirts until we reached an enormous statue of the bulls in a sled race. A wonderfully impressive structure, doubly so as we had witnessed the races ourselves only a short time ago.
Our driver was determined that we would see the highlights, so we were taken to the pride of the port. A refurbished walking area with various levels and a massively impressive Yudha Mandala Tema monument celebrating an Indonesian freedom fighter in their struggle against the Dutch colonialists in the 1940s. A bit like ‘Liverpool Resurgent’ on Lewis’ corner …but with clothes.
Just opposite was the Ling Guan Kiong Chinese Temple. Always worth a visit as they are so exotically painted and the architecture is just so incredibly different to our western eyes. I’m sure there is a symbolism, but we walked over a bridge to enter the temple area and were met by an official who had English sufficient to point out the main features. One of which was a brightly painted bell – with the casting mark ‘Kent’ on the outside.
Leaving the city and travelling further east our driver took us through more rural rice growing areas and we saw – albeit from a polite distance – a funeral procession with mourners carrying umbrellas. Sorry about the hazy picture – it was zoomed quite a lot.
Dedicated to Dewi Sri, the Hindu goddess of agriculture with particular emphasis on irrigated rice fields.
We also visited the nearby Pura Dalem temple Always good for a photo opportunity, the temple is locally renowned for its carvings.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Thirty miles across the Selat Lombok [the Lombok Strait] and we are lucky with the currents. We had identified a shallow bay with sandy shallows offshore at a place called Ambat. Not much information was available about the spot as an anchorage, but it looked suitable. Apparently several other folks thought so too, because we were the seventh boat in the line-up nose on to the shore-line. As usual there was a small town nestling in the bay complete with mosque, and we even saw a couple of tourists!
The view looking towards the shore was very pleasant; mountainous and giving a dramatic backdrop to the tiny village. We were not planning to stop here as the ‘event’ was starting in Lovina Beach and if you want anywhere safe to anchor, it is better not to be the last one in!
Another easy, light airs sail from Ambat to Lovina Beach. There were an enormous number of the unmanned rafts [shown left] which apparently provide a form of shelter for young fish and therefore a food source for larger fish. Fishermen are ingenious. Approaching Lovina Beach there was an invisible avenue in the coral reef through which we had to pass to reach the anchorage area. The GPS co-ordinates should be reliable, but we have found that some charts that folks use have slightly different off-sets and ‘invisible avenues’ are a bit nerve wracking. We need not have worried, the fleet was in and clearly visible and soon we were at anchor.
The dinghy launched, we rowed …yes rowed …too the shore (we need the exercise) and were so impressed with the preparations that had been made for us as a Rally. For a start there were young men on the beach just standing by to haul dinghies up onto the dry sand. Then looking around, there were rows of marquees; a reception tent housing the Rally officials and a row of kiosks displaying local foods and handicrafts.
We did come to appreciate that we had to run a gauntlet of keen salesmen (and ladies) each time we came ashore. We need not have worried about a lack of necklaces, bangles, paintings etc. or even the availability of tour operators or laundry services. They were all there throughout the daylight hours. Plus there was a choice of very reasonable restaurants that were pretty much ‘open air’. They are called Warungs and seem to be like a restaurant only more informal. The food however was delicious.
As it came to late afternoons, then numbers of people increased, the stage areas became crowded, and this happened virtually all week, local performers took to a temporary stage and we were treated to Balinese Dancing accompanied by various Gamelan orchestras.
Before one of the shows, Liz made contact with a few groups of dancers waiting for their calls to go on stage. They were delighted to be photographed and struck wonderfully complex poses as she snapped away. All with a smile and a laugh.
Another day, another experience. We were invited to visit the Bull Races that were being held nearby. I confess that many of us, with our very western wariness of anything to do with cruelty to animals, were a little curious an reluctant. However, when the format of the event was explained (and the history checked out on the internet), we signed up for the trip. Well, it was a walk actually, and a good one at that. Probably only 2 or 3 miles, but the sun is strong and the roads are busy, dusty and without continuous pavements.
Reaching the stadium, complete with tiered stands and a band, we walked past the competitors. The bulls are chosen for their colour and their elegance, they are all light brown, immaculately groomed and their harnesses and sleds decorated using traditional colours and designs. As usual, there was a great deal of waiting around before the main event got going. Then, because the announcements were being made in Bahasa, it all started without warning. The bulls race in pairs pulling a sled and two sleds compete each time. Just one length of the field – turn about and race back. The bulls carry their tails high like flagpoles and even their noses are in the air like snooty ‘upper class’ bulls.
After the main events, which took an hour or two, foreign visitors were offered the chance to have a sled ride – well it would be churlish to refuse, wouldn’t it!
Friday, 16 September 2011
Leaving the resort required a bit of walking, but it was interesting. We first passed through a very small local community then walked a quite major road which led to Tanjung a bustling township with adequate provisioning and plenty of interest. We paused for lunch on our first foray to the town at a family run rumah makan [trans: eating room]. It was one of those spontaneous successes that just happen. The meal was simple and the family serving and cooking it were so very friendly and welcoming, a really enjoyable event.
The Rally organisers laid on a coach trip to see some sights of Lombok and it proved to be an enjoyable day. Our first call was to a traditional community near to Tanjung (our nearest significant town). Inhabitants were demonstrating weaving, basket making, rice preparing and just outside the village boundary, paddy fields stretched to the distant mountains, a lady wearing a picturesque hat beamed a wonderful smile.
We did much re-provisioning and re-fuelling of course (we always have to) – and it is so labour intensive. There are no pumps on site, so trucks have to deliver jerry cans in the required number, which can take an entire day.
However, and more interestingly, there was a cookery demonstration that I attended and learned how to make Indonesian satay
and also a basket making class that Liz attended and succeeded in making a very credible container.
There followed an afternoon and evening of traditional dance and music. A superb performance ending with a childrens’ choir coached by Aki, the manageress of the resort.
Jeremy and Kathy from Sal Darago were still in need of a replacement dinghy after suffering a burst seam whilst on Savu. Bali, it seemed was a place where a dinghy could be obtained. It all made sense, Bali is a popular tourist and sailing location it has a marina, a sailing club and perhaps more than one chandlery. Fired up by this opportunity, Jeremy and Kathy set off for south Bali.
We stayed and signed up for a trip to the Gili Islands off the Lombok shore. Three tiny islands, tourist spots all, that are pretty and have good snorkelling. Aboard a power launch the Gilis (islands) Air, Meno and Trewangan were only an hour away and were indeed lovely, if slightly wacky. We snorkelled on Air, then moved round to Meno in time for lunch and a break for exploration. The lunch venue was exotic, bordering on the hedonistic!
After lunch a walk. Liz teamed up with a couple of friends, but I thought that a circumperambulation would be fun. It was further than I thought – I should have taken some water!
Returning to Medana Beach it was time to prepare to leave. Next stop Bali.