Sunday, September 7, 2008

2 September 2008

2 September 2008

What an interesting place this is! No trouble with Customs or Harbour Masters – first thing the morning of our arrival Lothlorien received a visit from an Australian friend, Graeme, off catamaran Lipa Lipa, who introduced Arif, who’s been looking after Australian boats coming to Makassar for 20 years. Arif has taken care of everyone’s Customs obligations, organized fuel, water and gas resupplies, and laundry services. He also introduced the water-taxi driver, Sempoh, who charges a flat 5000Rp per person for ferrying us ashore whenever we need it. That’s about 75 cents. We feel very well-looked after!

There was an official function to attend tonight on shore. We were ferried over to a large public plaza where hundreds of people had gathered to watch our official welcome to Makassar by the deputy Mayor and the minister for Tourism. TV cameras, newspaper reporters and photographers crowded in (Richard made the front page of the newspaper next morning) and we were led up a path by a troupe of Sepaktakraw players demonstrating some amazing skills. Once we reached the plaza, they put on a brilliant display and then were photographed with us. Everyone took photos - we are on about a million phones by now I think – and had their photos taken with us. Ali is always flavour of the month because of her youth, height and blonde hair! She’s had about 15 marriage proposals since we arrived in Indonesia. I have to keep telling Lex he can’t accept them.

After the Sepaktakraw we waited with everyone for the sun to set. At 5 past 6 the plaza virtually emptied as people rushed off to break the fast – it’s Ramadan at the moment – and to pray. An hour later we were collected by the officials in very nice cars and taken to an excellent seafood restaurant. An exception was made on our behalf and Bintangs were brought in specially for us. Sometimes it’s helpful having this Australian reputation for beer drinking! There were 15 of us from the four boats and we filled a private dining room to capacity along with the Deputy Mayor Mr Eddy and the Tourism Minister. No karaoke this time, thankfully. However we had already had a final, private Rally dinner the night before, and Lex, Richard, Jim and Brian stepped up to the plate once more with a final performance of The Wayward Wind for the restaurant.

The following day Cruise Missile and Serenity 2 both left port bound for Darwin, and the rest of us made plans to do some sightseeing in Sulawesi. For Malaika this meant we hired a car, guide and driver and headed into central Southern Sulawesi to Tana Toraja.

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