Bali- First Impressions

I DO NOT like it.

The anchorage / mooring field is like living in an industrial zone. My first impressions are that Indonesia has done an excellent job of creating a split personality tourist destination. The Yin and Yang. The Good and Bad. From the cruising perspective; mine, the cruising part is bad. We will see if that lasts and how long it lasts.

In Labuanbajo from the boat we could get to the city proper easily. Here the city proper is difficult to get to and to even find. Obviously there was NO city planner. A western concept. There are tourist areas and then the Central Business District (CBD) and the rest. Getting to shore is challenging. Dinghy access is problematic taking into consideration the tides and dockage. Where there is dockage there is a great deal of traffic, the majority is tourist. There the high speed boats take groups of tourists. They transit to some of the (other) beautiful Indonesian islands.

Bali is schizophrenic. The tourist stuff is… well … very nice. The resorts, the restaurants, the beaches. We’ve not yet been to the monkey jungle, the waterfall(s) or the rice paddies. What we have done is acclimate ourselves to the harbor, transportation, supplies and medical. W/ needed some skin checks and she’s cleared all those. We found a dermatologist that was excellent. The Dermatologist recommended a surgeon for the growing cyst on her neck and that’s been taken care of. We’ve learned to use private cars and the Gojek transportation system. They have few if any public transports like Bemos here.

I close my eyes when in traffic. Hold my breath during low tide in the harbor and continue to look for Peanut M & M’s. Traffic for westerners is exciting. Much like a video game with few if any rules. The one rule I believe is: don’t ever hit anyone. A good rule. But a scary rule. To cross traffic I hold up my hand and begin walking across. They have cross walks here but they don’t seem to mean anything. As I walk cars will either stop and let me pass or move so as not to knock me off my feet. Some motorcycles will stop; the majority will flow like water around. In a car it seems no one uses mirrors. With the adage of “Don’t hit anyone” they only care about what is in front. The line in the road is a guide, not a rule. It is crossed whenever there is little or no opposing traffic. Bikes and cars will move to give room to any and all comers. At stop lights (there are a few) cars leave room on the outside of the road so bikes can all move to the front. Some cars will leave room in front of them so bikes can work their way around everyone to the front. In the 10 days here I’ve not yet seen a bike even touch a car or another bike. Two were close but not touching! While riding in the Gojek (their taxi) and only a few centimeters away is a bike traveling paralleling us. A FEW CENTIMETERES! As room ahead opens up they zoom off. At intersections cars turn on their 4 way blinkers and ease into the intersection. There are no STOP signs. The only vehicle with priority is the one in front. If you ease forward and get in front then you may cross. All this time bikes may be passing in front, behind and beside you.

Yesterday I watched one bike pull up beside us. She (the driver) was talking to herself the whole time. I don’t know if she was praying or telling herself to stay alert. As we reached an intersection she pulled ahead and I never saw her again.

At Low Water we push though the muck. Dinghy is at the Dock T

The harbor is; well the best way to describe it, a mess. With rain and tides rubbish is picked up from the shore and ends up in the harbor; all floating by. Not a time goes by where as I’m going or coming from the boat I need to avoid floating plastic in the water. Only a few things I’ve not yet seen floating; condoms, baby diapers and dead fish. Maybe I’m not observant enough! Yesterday Dan on Vagabond was slowly motoring and the engine grabbed ahold of a T shirt. At low tide the area smells of rotten eggs. As I dinghy to shore I see bubbles rising from the bottom. The water is always dirty. Mississippi River water is cleaner. The two docks we use to reach shore usually have water access. During King tides we’ve had to push through the mud to reach water deep enough to float the dinghy. As we use the oars to push through we encounter a plethora of obstructions. Not coral. I doubt coral could grow here. And yet on the one dock there are always fishermen. They catch fish that are about 10 cm long. I don’t imagine they eat them, I think they either sell them to the fisherman that go offshore in the spiders or use them as bait.

We’ve found these fishing boats (called Spiders) 25 nm offshore!

While this is to be the “dry” season we’ve had heaps of rain this last week. So much so that one day we need to use the generator to charge the batteries. No Sun for three days depletes our battery bank. Looks like today I will need to run it again for an hour.

The hardest working crew Elysum has had

Before we head out we hope to add a layer of varnish to our exterior wood and see a little of the tourist Bali. Dan on Vagabond has been here over 6 months and knows the places to go. We’ll use him as our tour guide. Dayat (a local Indonesian waterman) has already shined all our stainless. An excellent worker. We expect to use his assistance as we go about the varnish job. But right now we wait. During all this we went to a travel agency and have tickets back to the states. We’ll head first to Kuala Lumpur (KL) and get our annual medical checks completed. They are extremely thorough in KL. After that we fly to NYC via Doha: I say “yuck” and W/ cheers. Not against me but for heading back to the “Land of Instant Everything”.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long