We checked out of Indonesia at Belitung, an island to the east of Sumatra, and then ran the gauntlet of fishing boats and thunderstorms through to Singapore.
During this passage we crossed the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere, and this time, after over two and a half years sailing south of the line, enjoyed another bottle of bubbly to pay homage to Neptune, timed to coincide with a great sunset.
So accustomed have we become to plotting in southerly latitudes, that we managed to place the pin on our ‘Where are we now?’ blog page in the incorrect location, putting us on mainland Sumatra instead of nearing Singapore! We also had hitch hikers on board – an egret and 3 swiftlets. These are similar birds to those we saw using the nesting buildings in Kumai, and were incredibly tame staying with us for some hours.
We then had an overnight stop at Nongsa Point Marina, (still Indonesia), which left us well placed to cross the Singapore Straits early the next day. This was our first stay in a marina since March. Our very first task was to hook up to shore power and switch on the air conditioning – BLISS!
After three months in the country that comprises about 18,000 islands, we have visited a mere 12 of them, and so as we say goodbye, or adieu, here are a few jottings and photographs that may be of interest.
Ikat has been mentioned and photographed several times in the Indonesian articles, but not described concisely. It is the Indonesian word for tie-dying fabric. Textiles are made from hand spun cotton, normally using natural dyes and woven by hand, the process from planting to finishing being a totally female domain. As depicted in earlier blogs, women sit on the floor (or ground) for hours bent over their small hand looms and weaving lengths of intricately patterned cloth. Natural dyes include indigo and a rust colour made from bark and root of an endemic tree.
Produced in many regions across Nusa Tenggara and Bali, Ikat is found in a rich variety of colours and patterns, depending on the area, clan and purpose. Garments are worn by men and women as skirts or dresses with shawls or scarves. At different celebrations, we were fortunate enough to be presented with several attractive shawls, and in Alor were even dressed in local Ikat.
About Rice Cultivation
Due to the equatorial climate that prevails in Indonesia intensive rice cultivation is still dominant and ‘nasi’ continues to be a staple for a large and growing population. Not dependent on seasons for growth, a hillside of constantly irrigated paddies can depict the whole cultivation cycle in one – from ploughing (still with water buffalo in some areas) to planting, growing and harvesting.
Carts are still used by farmers to transport their wares to market. Horse-drawn carts or ‘cidomo’ carry people laden with wares from market, small boats seem unsinkable under the weight of heavy cargo. Becak (bicycle rickshaws) are the local taxi in Jepara, Java and then there is the heavy scooter and motorbike traffic jostling for position alongside ‘bemos’ (minibus taxis), small public coaches and the few private vehicles on the road.
Still on the water … we have encountered a huge number of tugs and tows carrying varying cargoes that are difficult to identify even in daylight.