The next stop on the Sail Indonesia Rally was the small village near the town of Riung. The town had made some significant accommodations for our arrival including a great dinghy dock that Grateful Diver liked much better than a surf or coral landing. We joined about thirty boats for this event and were greeted at the doc with warm smiles and heightened anticipation. The whole town showed up at the dock and stayed for several days. We were quite an attraction.
We enjoyed one of the local restaurants were a good meal costs about three bucks. Simone became friends with the owner and even helped serve food on our subsequent visits.
Each night there was dancing and music on the landing next to the dock and the whole town showed up. On our last night they threw a “Gala Diner” and had more incredible local dancers. I am now familiar with some of the dances and local tunes. The music, like all else in this culture, has vast foreign influences and a local twist. You can hear the ancient Chinese in the tinny drums, the Indians in the rhythm and the Muslim tone to the melodies.
I met the piano man and a guitar player who supplied music for the events and they invited me to sit in on the last night. Again I played unknown music with musicians with whom I did not share a language and it turned out great. He did know so basic blues riffs and a rock progression that we jammed on for a long time. We also played a Bob Marley and a Beatles tune all with an Indonesian beat.
They offered free bus—actually troop truck—tours each day and many of the ralley folks took advantage. I passed on the land tours but did hop on for the boat tour. We, about 50 of us, were picked up by a fleet of small Indo boats, five to a boat. One of the reasons I went was to ride in these wonderful vessels. The are based on a dugout canoe, about 40 feet long and 5 feet of beam with long sweeping sheer and proud bows. They are propelled by ancient one cylinder diesel engines that when hand crank started sputter and put put put along. They have no transmissions, neutral or reverse so docking is a feat of bravery. The “brakes” are a stern anchor which is deployed just in time to keep the long sleek vessel from “T” boning the dock. The steering system is comprised of a lateral beam attached to the rudder with thin ropes running forward and into the pilot house and around a crude steering wheel. The design was just like a wooden car my pals and I built when we were kids. It worked!
The flotilla left our anchorage and made the first stop at the huge colony of bats. Grundles of large black creatures hung upside down from trees along the coastline. Our guides rousted them up with some bat awakening racket and they all took to flight, thousands of them.
Next we made a dramatic surf landing and exit, many of us falling in the water as the first survivors watched. Up a long trail we went in search of the strangest creature on earth, the Komodo Dragon. They had baited the beast that dwells on this small island with a dead goat. We were just too noisy and large a group for the dinosaur relic to cope with so he made a brief appearance and skedaddled. I am sure he dined on the goat after we left.
Back in the boats, hand cranks spinning, puffs of smoke billowing and away to another island. We snorkeled and sunbathed on the white sandy beach. An industrious native brought a cooler full of Bing Tang, the local beer, and pop for sale. He was quickly sold out. We enjoyed our lunches and offered our boat skipper some food for which he politely declined reminding us it is still Ramadan.
Back on the dock we left our new friends. What a day, ancient boats, bats and dragons.