Arrived in Bintan
The past few weeks, we changed our route to visit an uninhabited island (aka Ko Pulau Island) said to be "National Geographic, man" by some Americans we met in Kupang. On the way to Ko Pulau Island we saw a large school of pilot whales and dolphins, a humpback or other whale close to shore, a blue starfish and hot water vents nearby on the same mostly dead reef, a flock of birds feasting on a dense school of fish, a manta ray, a bonfire on the beach shared with the kids of Rote (who we swapped roast banannas and coconuts with), a clean hull and renewed sea-sickness. At Ko Pulau Island, we saw a long white beach made of small bead things instead of sand, with surf at either end and reef in between, a green lagoon with islands being eaten away at the base, a monkey-head rock, pink coral, reef fish, sea urchins, various pieces of flotsam washed up on the beach (flip-flops, a light-bulb, bottles, wood, burnie-beans, nautilus shells, a seabird egg, a dead seabird and other crap), sunset over the ocean with golden cirrus in the sky, turtle nests, tracks and hatchlings scurrying off into the water, Indonesian fishermen in need of water and turtle eggs, tidal pools with the occasional crab, ghost crabs darting towards the water, a pandanus stand, a small cave surrounded by discarded turtle eggshells, spinifex, hermit crabs, scrambling lizards, sunburn and other things. Later in our voyage, we saw a big lone flying fish, land looming mountainous on starboard, TNI, gratis reef fish, water buffalo and threatening rain clouds. The next major stop was a bay on the south side of Sumba, black cliffs to port and an eroded hillside to starboard. There, we enjoyed the excellent snorkeling against the cliffs and off the beach, birds calling from the forest, wasps - shiny blue and otherwise, meeting roaming cows in the forest, forest fungi and other sights. We met some fishermen and drove through the forested slopes toward a nearby city. On the way, we visited an Indonesian village and saw their traditional animist temple, ample baby pigs & dogs, tons of kids trying to get in photos, satellite dishes and graves in front of houses. Unfortunately, I crashed once we reached the hotel, missing eating and night life, but I did enjoy the sights from the windows of the cramped 4WD we were in. We headed for the 9.8 knot passage of Selat Sape, complete with eddies, currents, a barracuda and the steep slopes of a silent volcano. Since there, we saw an increasing number of interesting and curious Indonesian vessels, fish traps, the grey shapes of dolphins swimming in the aqua water under the bow, a floating sandal, a school of mahi-mahi jumping out of the water, a misty night, numerous schools of feeding fish, entangled luminescent trails left by dolphins swimming in the phosphorescent water beneath the bow, flashes of lightning in the distance, our first rain since Cairns, the associated storm, Jack the fisherman (a mast hallucination) and other things. Our next stop was Kalimunjava (north of Java, Indonesia), more than half way to Phuket. We spent a week there, watched lightning, collected rain, visited the local school, dived and snorkelled on the magnificant reef with some really nice university students (hi Lely, Dudu, Jaos and others) from Java who were doing a study on the corals and hiked up the steep slopes of the island. From there we ambled past Borneo, towards Bintan, near Singapore, experiencing the first non-calm seas in ages, dolphins in the storm, floating lines of debris, big barges, container ships and megatankers, a fancy, shiny yacht, fishing vessels with 50,000 lights, Rain Drop and it's egg (child of Rain the gecko), amazing cloudscapes at sunrise, throughout the day and at sunset on the way. Amazingly, we met the ∞ (Infinity, the new PCRF vessel) one find day in the South China Sea on their way to Bali. Eddie saw them from 5 miles away and knew almost straight away it was them. Michelle came on board and a lone daytime cumi (squid) swam between us as we parted. Before we arrived at Pulau Bintan (near Singapore), we saw seasnakes and a palm tree floating and lots of wind and rain.
We will probably arrive in Thailand by January and I'm thinking of passing thru Sydney on the way home, so let so please mail me if you want to meet up.