Wednesday, August 20, 2008

12 August 2008 Tuesday

12 August 2008, Tuesday

Latitude 00 45 628S Longtitude 127 22 106E

Ternate, North Maluku, or North Molluccas. As close to the Philippines as we get on this voyage. We arrived at 2.30pm, after an overnight anchorage on the way from our Equator party. The first thing we noticed were the number of mosques. From the boat on the way in we counted almost ten, including a massive one under construction, close to the water’s edge, with four small onion tops surrounding the main central dome, all tiled in gold and green. But the first sounds we heard were not wailing muezzins calling the faithful to prayer, but loud raucous western music blasting out of the construction site.

Police boats escorted us into our anchorage, sirens wailing, and we could see a large crowd gathered on the jetty where Cruise Missile was already tied up. Lothlorien and Malaika had waited for Serenity 2 to catch up as she had lost all her navigation instruments, and were guiding her in, so the three of us sailed serenely into port and all turned in to the wind and dropped our sails at the same time. We went ashore a little while later to be welcomed by a crowd of people all shaking hands and smiling. Lex went off do the paperwork on board Cruise, while we chatted with the locals in broken Indonesian. It was then announced that we were to be taken to lunch, so we hopped on board a bus, just the 12 of us with a retinue of Ternatans, and drove through very narrow streets to the restaurant. Bus drivers in Ternate must take special lessons. They can fit large buses into incredibly small awkward spaces. Doing three or more point turns in the middle of a divided road is no trouble either. The traffic just flows around like water past a rock, wherever there is sufficient room. We pulled up in front of a restaurant, and all looked at each other. None of us had brought any money with us, assuming we were just going ashore to report to Customs. After several phone calls and discussion amongst the retinue, we were happily informed that the Governor of Ternate was footing the bill, and we could order whatever we liked.

I asked our guide, who spoke good English, what he would recommend as a local Ternate dish, and his face lit up. The coconut crab, with vegetables and a special padang sauce. It was the best crab I’ve ever eaten, outside of fresh muddies on the coals in the NT. The padang sauce was a mystery, but absolutely delicious.

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