This is my third attempt to write in the past week. I've had writer's block -- or rather, writer's traffic jam -- whatever it is the words don't seem to pour out on the page like they have in the past. Perhaps this is because we are now in the bustling, entertaining and slightly overwhelming city of Singapore, or perhaps this is because I can't find the right words to convey my gratitude for and awe of Indonesia.
Sail Indonesia is over. Sayanara, sampai jumpa, hasta luego and see you later Indo. It was rad. I have been thinking about how I want to sum up my three months in Indonesia -- best, worst and funniest; top ten; favorite places and the people I met -- but really, in an act of laziness (not to be confused with apathy) I will let my previous posts speak for me.
I will say this: Sail Indonesia was an incredible experience highlighted by overwhelming gratitude, enthusiasm, and curiosity from local Indonesians we met, and I felt undeserving of all the luxury and expense lavished upon us from day one. But really, Sail Indo did itself no favors, because by the time we reached Bintan it was hard to impress us. After seeing 12,000 dancers dance in your honor, do you really care about ten or twenty dancers doing a traditional dance? Maybe not so much. And after being fed fried bananas by a cute girl of marriageable age, why would I want to feed myself -- even if the food is good?
Ok, now I am just being a brat. But I hope you get the idea. I do, however, feel the need to give a shout out to every amazing person who made my Indo experience so incredibly special. In Saumlaki we were greeted by Desi and Grace who patiently took hours of their time to teach us how to say "terima kasih" (thank you). They were my first friends in Indonesia. Their colleague Boby invited us to our first party in the country.
In Wakatobi our steadfast guides not only treated us royally but also invited us into their homes. Cayu, Dian and Sesi were great guides -- taking us to their school and to meet their families -- and we will be friends forever. Aldi was there too. We also had a special dinner at Ade's house (and Cayu drove me there -- my first scooter ride!).
Buton was outrageous because we were not only treated like royalty but like rockstars as well. My best friends from Buton were Tati, Tika and Salam, the three guides who helped me and Kyle to fit in a little bit better. They also protected us from the mobs who wanted pictures taken with us. Tika and Salam sent us gifts after we left the island via another boat, which was very sweet, although they shouldn't have. At Sagori island Ralf and Adi were excellent tour guides and we had interesting conversations trying to understand one another's culture. In Bintan we had a great time with Zul, who came out to the boat and took beautiful pictures of Rutea.
I also have to give a massive thank you to Sam, the organizer of Sail Indonesia, who made the whole thing possible. He took on the daunting task of organizing 80 boats to sail two different routes through Indonesia, which is like trying to herd cats through a fun house. Regardless, he put up with whingey yachties and all the challenges that Indo can throw in the mix with a smile and a dry, witty comment to follow.
These were the people who made the Eastern route so special. I thank each and every one of you for your genuine friendship and wish you the absolute best. I hope that you come visit me in the U.S. someday.
As you might be able to tell, I fully endorse Sail Indonesia. Sure, you could cruise Indonesia on your own, but even with 13,000 islands it is tricky to find good anchorages -- let alone pick which islands to visit. Sail Indo takes care of everything, including parties, tours, safety and making sure you get a full on Indonesian experience. And while I found Indo to be some of the trickiest navigation that we have encountered, the diversity -- both geographically and demographically -- is worthy of a lifetime of exploration.
I love Indonesia. From epic surf to cheeky oragnutans to incredible underwater scenery, Indo has it all. I can't wait to go back. Someday.