As mentioned in the previous blog, to organise travel to Borobudur, we needed to anchor the yachts at Jepara. We decided that the harbour presented a threat from a security point of view, but three miles to the north we found an attractive bay with sandy beaches, a fishing community, and there was already one yacht moored there. Consequently we agreed it was a suitable location to leave four yachts anchored for the three days we would be away.
One of our party then met an expat at a nearby resort, which led us to meeting the small and lively expat community of Jepara. All are businessmen, most originally from Europe, some are involved with the famous furniture industry, others in the power industry and a couple in hotel and catering. They were delighted we had turned up and, though we did not realise at the time, it seems we were something of a rarity. Rob could not believe his eyes when he looked out from his beautiful beachfront home to see four yachts at anchor. The Jepara Yacht Club on the south side of town boasts a fine building and restaurant, where we had a delicious dinner twice, but the membership owns not a yacht between them though there is a keen interest in sailing! Surprisingly then, no foreign yacht had been to the Jepara area before as it is not on the Indonesian Rally circuit.
Teak and mahogany furniture production is key to the Jepara area and we were fortunate enough to be taken to some very small workshops in the backstreets of town where much of the carpentry is done by hand and fashioned into bulky, ornate furniture that could be seen eventually in restaurants or hotels in cities like Jakarta. Higher grade furniture has a market in the US, Australia and China, the European sector having stagnated in the past few years.
The coal fired power station at Jepara is vast, owned by a Japanese company and leased to the Indonesian authorities. Indonesia has huge coal reserves on Kalimantan (Borneo) which are shipped in to the power station’s own jetty.
Like all Indonesian towns, Jepara is loud and vibrant. Just for the fun of it, we took a short becak ride that we could have walked, but it was a novelty being driven in a bicycle rickshaw even though it was a squeeze for the two of us – Indonesians are much smaller in build! The central market was a revelation with vendors selling batik textiles and clothing – we were spoilt for choice. And outside the ever present mobile street snack bar.
On our final afternoon in Jepara we were invited to a pool party and BBQ, hosted by Rob and his wife Alia at their home. All the expats were there plus the ten of us, so it was quite a gathering, beautiful weather and good company. If we were a rarity, then it was a great privilege for us to be welcomed so warmly. We were overwhelmed by their hospitality.
Sandwiched between these social occasions was our trip to Borobodur, Prambanan and Yogyakarta. More in the next blog!