Trip Reports

Bali, Hi (11-Nov-2001-06-00):
6:00 AM local time, Sunday, Nov. 11 (2230 Nov. 10 UTC) (Sorry about the date last time) 08 44 S 115 13 E. Temp. 79, Humidity 78%, Cloud Cover 15%. Bali Marina, Benoa Harbor, Bali, Indonesia.

Greetings from the crew of Maverick.

We arrived yesterday morning in Benoa after picking our way through the reef and took a berth at the Bali Marina. The people here facilitated our acquisition, through an agent in Jakarta, of a cruising permit for Indonesia, something which to our knowledge cannot be accomplished without employing an agent who presumably uses part of your $130 fee for bribes. A move is afoot, partly by Dick McCune, the manager here, to either streamline or eliminate the month-long processing of the permits, which may line a few people's pockets but also deprive others of the income which could be generated by attracting more boats.

The eight-day sail from Darwin, about 1000 miles, was easy after we gained our offing from Darwin and the Beagle Gulf, wherein we were forced to tack against light northwesterlies and unfavorable current. By about the third day we were able to fetch our first waypoint and after that it was mostly a close reach in 10-15 knots with sunny skies, past Timor, Sumba, Sumbawa, and Lombok. We have been knocking off these thousand mile passages without much fuss, having seen no rough seas since Fiji, and may be a little softened up.

Benoa harbor is notoriously dirty, smelly, crowded, and noisy, and if this were all that characterized it, it wouldn't hold many attractions. But it is in Bali, and Bali is a pretty unusual place to be. We can handle the rest.

Today we took a half-hour, two-dollar cab ride into Denpasar, the largest city on the island, and toured the main temple and the bazaar in the middle of town. Throughout the Pacific we had been to the traditional markets where vendors sell produce, and if they were not so dark inside we would have sent pictures. They generally consist of a large number of privately run stalls under what has now in most places become a permanent roof. Although they are a bit exotic to the person raised with Safeways, we'd gotten used to them. But this was really on a completely different plane.

Downtown Denpasar is very busy and chockablock with motorbikes. And once inside the dark, labyrinthine market, the crowding is overwhelming. Stalls with baskets of fresh produce and cages of live poultry are so tightly packed together that the vendors may be sitting on their wares and the aisles are not sufficiently wide for two people to comfortably pass, particularly if one encounters, as often happens, someone carrying a fifty pound bag of lemons. (This is best accomplished, because of the cramped space, by putting the parcel on one's head.) The vast area, packed with chattering local people, is not paved so one walks through mud the entire way, and the stench of decaying vegetable matter and whatever which has been dropped and walked on is enough for the uninitiated to quite lose any appetite for fruit or vegetables he may have had. Women approach you, pulling at your shirt and asking where you are going, to attempt to become employed as your interpreter and no doubt guide you to the produce of their relatives. Any encouragement at all will have them trailing you throughout your entire outing. Our experience there, though brief, will not soon pass from memory. Bali is 90% Hindu and temples seem to be on every other block. Nearly every dwelling hosts a shrine in front with its daily offering to the gods, which in one's home will be primarily ancestral, a Balinese modification of the practice of India. Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists make up the remainder of the population. Our bartender here at the marina is a Muslim but says he is not a "fanatic" and doesn't mind serving alcohol, prohibited for him. Ship's Interviewer Terry Shrode managed to ask him the obvious question about New York. He said that in his view Mr. bin Laden, or is it Mr. Laden or Mr. Osama, should go to America, turn himself in and face the punishment. This unlikely scenario was presented matter-of-factly, and surely is quite a bit more than he needed to say just to appear friendly. He seemed to really think this was the appropriate and just solution. He also was proud to point out that one of his brothers is Christian, and another is Hindu, and they get along fine. I suspect one of the themes in the coming weeks of these dispatches could be that Muslims may fail to fit into a stereotype.

The reader may justifiably question our use of bartenders as a source for representations of general views on important matters. But the fact is, one is not easily placed in an intimate enough setting with the local people to comfortably broach delicate subjects, though at times the Captain has been known to throw caution, and manners, aside to get his facts. Bartenders the world over are used to the talk that occurs in front of them. Like cab drivers, they are models of discretion when called for, and willing sounding boards and educators when asked. I recommend them to searchers of the truth everywhere.

PS to Feller: Well, OK, but Berkeley is not really a city, is it? Plus, Berkeley, the Bishop, wasn't really so much of a scientist as a metaphysician, wasn't he? Plus, are you belittling Professor Kalamazoo and his groundbreaking work on the theory and practice of Boombah?

PS to Hank: Well, I also confirmed on the Endeavor that "The cat is out of the bag" refers to the cat-o-nine-tails being taken out of the bag wherein it is stowed, for disciplinary use, even though the connection between that context and current usage is not quite linear.

TECHNICAL NOTE: When we left home, for a time we sent our missives from the boat by changing the bits to radio signals and transmitting them via high frequency radio to a station in Palo Alto that automatically converted the radio waves back into bits and sent them through the Internet to you. As we moved along, it became easier to contact a station in Hawaii, then Australia, and now we come to you through the good offices of the people of the Islamic sultanate of Brunei.

Next Report from this location: Ain't No Bali High Enough

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