13 August 17, 2008 Wednesday
Second day in Ternate. This morning we were taken to the Town Hall to meet the Mayor of Ternate at a special reception. Speeches, hot sweet tea and plates of cakes. An interesting cultural difference we first noticed in Ambon, is how Indonesians serve and eat cakes during a speech, while we wouldn’t eat in the same situation, except at a dinner, and then most people stop eating anyway. The Australians all looked at the cakes, wondering when they could get at them, until they realised the Indonesians were all happily tucking in, and followed suit. A plaque and a book were presented to Dinah Beach CYC, and then we were taken to the Sultan’s Palace.
This was the very large house we had seen on our way in yesterday. It’s an older style building, not out of place anywhere in Australia, with gabled roofs and a large verandah at the front, built in the 1800s and lived in by the Sultan when he is in Ternate. He is a serving member of Parliament so spends a lot of time in Jakarta as well. He came out to meet us, and sat and spoke with us about our travels, and about Ternate. He is the 48th Sultan, and his family line extends back to the 13th century. At age 11 he spent 18 months in Australia when the royal family was evacuated to Brisbane during the war, so his English was very good. His sense of humour was also very good, which was just as well, as Ali’s ears pricked up when he said something about having 13 sons, and the Queen being his fifth wife. I was too far away from Ali to intervene, so had to sit helplessly while she had an animated discussion with him about being married to multiple wives. Choosing a queen from all of them must be difficult, she said, and he laughed and said he just chose the most beautiful one. I was waiting for her to create an international diplomatic incident, but it was fine… So much so that when we were leaving, and Ali was hugging the Sultan and the Queen goodbye, as only Ali could do, he announced that we must return next April, for his birthday, and he would have a special ceremony to inaugurate Ali as a princess, and have a dress made for her. “Make sure you are here two days before,’ he told us.
‘Are you serious?’ said Ali in disbelief.
‘A Sultan is never not serious,’ replied the Sultan. ‘His word is law.’
So there we are. Guess we’ll be back in Ternate next April! Our Indonesian rally organiser, Hellen Delima, said to me it was a very great honour, and that it was a serious offer. Hopefully it means she’ll be an honorary daughter and not a potential wife! Then again…….. The palace also houses a museum about the royal family which the Sultan and the Queen showed us around. Most of us wanted to take a photo of the royal couple but weren’t sure about the protocol, but Ali just rushed in and organized them into it, so we all ended up with great photos of them, and with all of us as well.
After that we were taken to lunch at a lovely restaurant, Balicepo, on the water, as guests of the Mayor this time, and treated to some really wonderful food, all local dishes. We were then presented with T-shirts by the Mayor’s representative, each with a photo of a different yacht on the front, and the words “Darwin Ternate International Yacht Rally 2008”. A tour of several old Portuguese and Dutch forts followed, and we arrived back at our boats late in the afternoon.
Jim and Brian from Lothlorien came for dinner on our boat, bringing the steaks with them as our supplies were getting a bit low, so we had another good night, with lots of singing. Who said anything about drinking? Lex and Richard took the Sloths from the Loth back to their boat at the end of the night, and Patsy and I watched, laughing, as they weaved their way across the water, four blokes in the dinghy singing “The Wayward Wind” in perfect unison. It’s become a signature song.