Day 158, Year 3: Arrival in Belitung
Date: Hari Selasa (Tuesday), Bulan Oktober 14, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Bright Sunshine with Some Puffy Clouds
Latitude: 02 degrees 33.225 minutes S
Longitude: 107 degrees 40.578 minutes E
Location: Belitung, Indonesia

This place is amazing. We had absolutely no idea what it was going to be like and we were delightfully surprised. There are rounded gray and white boulders piled on top of one another on one side of the anchorage and people who have been to the British Virgin Isles say it is just a mini-version of there. The snorkeling is evidently good among the rocks and the water is crystal clear. The beaches are white sand and the people of the island have gone all out to make cruisers feel welcome. We have heard from some cruisers that a million people live on this island. I have absolutely no idea if that is true, but those that were here on the weekend say that 30,000 locals came to the beach to greet cruisers and to enjoy the day. That’s an amazing number of people to come to this beach, but there are a number of shanty-type restaurants lining the shore to accommodate the weekend crowds. We are told the food is great. So good snorkeling, clear water, white sand beaches, beautiful scenery, great food, and cheap Bintang (beer)-what more could one ask for? The answer to that would be a calm anchorage, which evidently this one has been except for a few hours every afternoon. But since we arrived it has ramped up a notch and getting on and off the dinghy is a dicey affair and coming back to the boat from shore is a wet affair. I guess you can’t have everything. But I must add that the people here have vans waiting onshore to take us wherever we want to go and they refuse to charge us. Everyone has been giving the driver 50,000 Rupiah which is about $5.00US, but it is a donation. Unbelievable.

We arrived at 10 am this morning and had planned to spend a quiet day on the boat. We always plan that, but it never happens. No sooner had we arrived than we heard that there was a 12 noon trip to a nearby village. So off we went. The village was about 30 minutes away and it was called Balitung, instead of Belitung. It is Balitung because the people originally came from Bali. I can’t wait to get to the internet to find out why there are people from Bali here and who the other people here came from. But until then, we’ll just keep enjoying the place. The village was just like being back in Bali. Every home along the road had a little shrine out front. We went to the real temple and loads of people were there to greet us. They were dressed in their Hindu best and were so gracious. They seated us under a roofed area just outside the temple and then the show began. Women were constantly carrying offerings to the temple while all of the elementary and middle school-aged children performed beautiful Balinese dances for us accompanied by gamelan music. The young women dance, then the young men danced, then the players in ornately decorated animal costumes with fantastic masks performed. After the dances, we went into the temple to see all of the offerings that had been brought in today and to mingle with the people. All too soon it was time to head back to beach.

It was late afternoon when we returned and Mark was able to complete the check-out procedure for Indonesia. We then came back to Windbird to write and send this log and to turn on the anchor lights and then return to shore. There is a special Full Moon Festival tonight and we don’t want to miss that. And there are special performances planned for all day tomorrow and a farewell dinner tomorrow night. We had planned to leave the next day, but I think we will stay here for an extra day or two to snorkel and just enjoy the people. We made reservations today for a marina in Singapore for next Tuesday, so one way or another we will be in Singapore by then.

We are anxiously awaiting word that Justin and Jo have made it home safely, but that won’t be until our tomorrow morning. So I’ll have to report on that in tomorrow’s log.

081014 Day 158 Belitung, Indonesia–Kumai to Belitung
081014 Day 158 Belitung, Indonesia–Kampung Bali Giri Jati Visit
081014 Day 158 Belitung, Indonesia–Full Moon Festival at Tanjung Kelayang
Day 159, Year 3: Belitung Farewell Dinner
Day 157, Year 3: Second Day of Passage to Belitung