Monday, September 05, 2011

My first rice paddy

Bau Bau was a very different experience. When we were in Wangi the police were there, but they were in the back ground. We had many a pleasant talk with them, they said they were there to protect us but we were not overwhelmed by them. In Bau Bau which was our next stop, they were omnipresent . The day we arrived the police boat came along side, we thought they were there to look at our papers, off gets a bunch of police in uniform, then one fellow in plain clothes and two children about 8 and 11, it was the police chief and his children. Ramadan was over and it was a big holiday, rather like Christmas, and he wanted to show off our boat!!!!! The bunch of them sat around our boat and one fellow crept around taking pictures and they spoke Indonesian to one another. The official in charge of our visit, whom we named Mr. Bau Bau, who could speak English made no effort to translate what was being said, he just toadie up to the police chief. We were quite mystified about the purpose of the visit for awhile.
We had chosen to anchor away from the down town area, the anchorage there was busy and there was no place to land our dinghies and one boat had dragged their anchor. We were out of town in front of a small resort which had a beach landing. The officials insisted that we go downtown but we politely tried to explain why we were staying. Then they decided that we needed protection 24/7 so they moved in on the resort. They commandeered a room and would not pay for it and caused no end of grief to the people that owned the resort. With the police sitting about no locals wanted to rent the cabins at the resort. At one point we went downtown and the officials and police had picked us up in vans and they insisted that we go back to the resort. We all staged a revolt and said we wanted to stay downtown and would find our own way back to the beach. A compromise was broached and they allowed us to wander around on our own for 2 hours. I am pretty sure they were following us though because when we went to buy some fireworks and we were arguing over the price all of a sudden one of the plainclothes police showed up and the vendor then gave us a very good price. One of the yachties offered to take Mr. Bau-Bau out for dinner the last night and then he asked if we would include the police and his driver!!! Their presence and heavy handed dealings with us and the resort owners left us with a very bad taste in our mouths.
We did have some wonderful experiences though. We were taken to a cave, when we arrived the generator which was to light the cave did not work so at first we scrambled around in the cave with very inadequate little torches. We climbed out and waited until they brought another generator. It roared away and we clamored down into the cave. It had all your cave characteristics, stalagmites and stalactites, a few bats, slippery floors, and tight holes to fit through. In other words it was a blast making our way down down into the ground!! In the flickering generator run lights we slipped and stumbled about 50 meters to find a beautiful under water pool of fresh water. Mr. Bau-Bau was already in the water, so I decided he needed some company so I slithered in. It being a Muslim country I went in fully clothed, my clothes were already grimy from contact with the walls and floor so a good rinse was needed. The water was wonderful, what a treat!
On Friday, which is the Muslim holy day, we escaped Mr. Bau-Bau (who had to go and pray) and spent a wonderful day visiting a Balinese village. I saw my first rice paddy, we were invited to one of the guides houses for lunch,we were introduced to a new fruit, we examined a brick factory Indonesian style and I got to pick ripe tomatoes from a field. The rice paddies were as green as green could be, there were acres of them on either side of the road and occasionally there would be a woman in the middle bent over planting. I was thrilled to see them and the realization that we were in Asia hit home. The new fruit was called jeruk Bail and it looked like a grapefruit but had a tougher skin, which had to be peeled with a knife and it was very sweet, almost like a grapefruit without any of the citrus tartness. I just googled it and I think it is a variety of orange. On our way around the village we stopped at an Indonesian brick factory. The locals dig up the ground and then shape the mud into bricks, they are then baked on top of a big outdoor kiln, many of the local building are made with these hand made bricks. It was such a treat to wander around a tomato field and pick ripe tomatoes, they were delicious although they were not a variety I had ever seen in Canada, the smelled and tasted like a fresh garden tomato.

The brick kiln.

Late that afternoon we were taken to a fortress that had been built on top of the hill by a sultan in the 1600 century. Bau Bau originally had a king and once the Asiatic traders influence became upper hand the country was converted to Islamic rule and the leader became a sultan. We were not allowed to see the museum (not on Mr. Bau-Bau's itinerary) so gleaned our information from Lonely Planet and Mr. Bau-Bau's nephew who was our guide!! The fortress was massive encompassing 22 hectores. There were no original building left but the houses that were built in that area had to be of traditional design and there were a number of graves that had been found.
We have moved on to Tanah Biru where there is a vibrant boat building industry. That is a whole different blog.

'An Indonesian Bank, any question where the money is??
Maybe here? A mosque in downtown Bau-Bau!