Wednesday, August 20, 2008

14 August 2008 Thursday

14 August 2008 Thursday

First thing this morning the bus took us to the Pasar (Market) at Ternate, where we bought heaps of fresh vegetables and eggs. What a fantastic market! It is huge, with stalls and little shops lining several blocks. We had no trouble finding plenty of good fresh produce, buying small potatoes, tiny onions, garlic, egg plant, cucumber, small tomatoes, green beans, a cabbage, kaffir lime leaf, lemon grass, and two dozen eggs, which were examined against a light before being accepted for purchase. So good to have fresh veg again – we were down to the last garlic clove…

With the veggies deposited back at the boat, those of us not staying behind to do boat maintenance headed off in the bus again, just six of us, from Malaika and Serenity 2. We were taken on a tour of the whole island, 52 miles in circumference, and visited the crater lake high up on the mountain, a lava spot which was also a Japanese war memorial, nutmeg trees, and several beaches. At one of them, our guide Kris explained that on the Sunday before we arrived in Ternate, thousands of people had gathered at this beach to welcome the Rally boats. They had erected a stage, had traditional dancers organized, all in all a major welcoming ceremony. We felt very embarrassed, because we didn’t know anything about it – boats are not vehicles of exact timing, but we didn’t even know this was on so that we might have made an effort to get there in time. Such a pity.

No rain today – every day since we arrived in Ambon it has poured, and in between been cool and muggy, so we’re all slowly going mouldy, to say nothing of our clothes.

Tonight we attended a farewell dinner in our honour, as guests of the Governor of Ternate. The Governor himself was away, so his representative hosted. The Gehoda restaurant was very interesting, with our tables on floors built over the water and linked to each other by little walkways. The food just kept coming, but this time everyone waited until the speeches were over before eating. The main attraction for the night was the Karaoke. Karaoke is a strange phenomenon. It had a brief flaring of popularity in Australia, but it never really took off. Indonesia is quite another story. In Ambon we were assailed by karaoke for hours every night from a little place on shore. In Ternate it seemed that any restaurant of any size boasted karaoke. It is also the custom for someone from each group at a dinner to get up and perform. The local people must practice from birth, because they are mostly very good at it. The MC (our guide Kris) was calling on various departmental Ministers to get up and sing, and generally they did. Hard to imagine the same thing happening in Darwin! Naturally the same request was made of the Rally members. We realised that it would be a bit insulting if we all abstained, so the men of Malaika and Lothlorien - Lex, Richard, Jim and Brian - stood up, manfully, and did what they do best - a rendition of the “Wayward Wind”, minus the dinghy. Minus any alcohol too, I should add - they were better the night they wobbled away from Malaika!! But it was very warmly appreciated, and they were excellent ambassadors for the NT. And Australia for that matter. Once again we were given gifts. A presentation was made to Dinah Beach CYC, and then a plaque to each skipper, and finally a bag to each of us containing a book about Ternate, and some local artifacts. We have been quite overwhelmed by the friendliness of the people here. There were signs all over Ambon welcoming participants in the Darwin to Ambon Rally, but we didn’t expect to see the same here, nor be welcomed so thoroughly. We’ve been treated like visiting royalty wherever we’ve gone, shaking hands and waving out of the bus windows. People seem so delighted to see us! I don’t think many tourists come here so we’re a bit of a novelty. Kris told us that we had been in the media every day since we arrived, both print and tv. We were in the papers in Ambon too, and the owner of one restaurant we frequented there gave us a clipping with a photo of us signing autographs for kids outside the rally office.

Jo was interviewed at the gehoda for Jakarta TV. Of course she was profuse and diplomatic.
Thank you Lex. It was all true!

But truly, everyone we’ve met has been so welcoming, warm and friendly. They seem to be so pleased that we have come to their country, to their city, and are keen to show us everything. People on the streets, in shops, at restaurants or at the markets, all want to talk to us, and are delighted when we try to speak Indonesian too. It was the same in the little villages we visited as well.

Next morning (Friday 15th) we up anchored by 730 am and at 8 am, did a formal sail past with our mainsail and genoas up. The Sultan’s jetty was crowded with people, and we felt like we were leaving some good friends behind. In particular Kris, Nurmina, Nofi (Miss Ternate 2008), and Aseez. My spelling is probably miles out. Nurmina was a lovely young Muslim woman who accompanied us for several days. Nofi was a gorgeous 16 year old we met at the Palace, who was indeed Miss Ternate 2008 and wore the sash to prove it. She took Ali on as her special charge, it seemed, and stuck with her the whole time. Wonderful for us!! Aseez was a police officer assigned to us, in plain clothes, as security. He spoke good English as well, and was extremely helpful. He organised security for our boats at night and while we were away from them during the day. There were others as well who turned up at various spots and accompanied us for a while, mainly from various govt departments.
We’d really like to come back to Ternate and spend a few weeks, just as tourists, not part of a rally, and just enjoy the island at our own pace. Maybe next April, with Princess Ali.

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