Cruising notes on indonesia and singapore

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[NALU] In the small villages the closest thing to bread was a tin of sweet cookies similar to Arrowroot Biscuits. Even in an out of the way place, the storekeepers did not hesitate to try to up the prices. You can find beef, chicken and fish in almost any town, although not of the same style & quality you are used to.

[AP] East of Bali, we frequented the local wet markets, where one can buy fruit, vegies, fresh fish, dried fish, clothes, housewares, you name it. It is an experience: advisable to carry a hanky to put over your nose, as many locals do.
[ARJ] Walking through the open market is an experience only remotely like Mexico. Twice the people exhibit twice the wares in half the space. It's an incredible rabbit warren. The quality of the food is incredible - sometimes the food looks great -- but over all the quality is shockingly poor. The carrots are clearly arthritic, the tomatoes are gnarly, the cabbage fights for survival with all the other exotic fauna (and has the tell tale tracks to prove it), the green beans look lumpy and tough, the corn comes in 4" ears, the papaya is green as grass, and there a bit of unrecognizable produce thrown in as well. But when you get past the gnarling the tomatoes are very tasty, the string beans are quite acceptable if you remember to snap them and pull the strings, the small variety of pineapple beats anything we've ever had, and of course the selection of bananas is fantastic!
[TI] Imported foods are double the price they were in Australia. However, there are a lot of Indonesian products that are good as well as cheap. Some of the items that are widely available in Bali were not available anywhere else, we realized afterwards. Local produce is varied and prices reflect availability. In one place tomatoes were 500 rp/kg and in another they were 3000rp/kg. There were always many inexpensive fruits and vegetables to choose from. Outside of Bali, chicken is bought very fresh ... as in alive and clucking!

[PJ] Toilet paper and other paper products, toiletries and basic pharmaceuticals, tea, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, rice, flour, pulses, butter, margarine and other basic provisions were readily available from Indonesia to the Seychelles, and every village had a market with eggs, fish (if you had no luck catching it yourself), fruit and veggies. Tinned fruit and veg. from Malaysia were stocked in Singapore but difficult to find in Malaysia. Marmalade was too sweet for our taste except in Singapore and Sri Lanka. Sweet biscuits were delicious in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. We preferred those made by the Kong Guan Co., cheapest in Indonesia in large tin boxes decorated with gaudy pictures of happy Western families in 1920s dress, enjoying biscuits with their tea! Cashew nuts were cheap and delicious in Thailand. They were also plentiful in Sri Lanka but, like everything else there, they tasted old and musty. There are no "use by ..." dates in Sri Lanka. The Bintang beer of Indonesia was the cheapest and best in South East Asia. All drink was expensive in Singapore, and in Malaysia except from the duty-free area of Langkawi. Bread was usually good, but occasionally, in Indonesia and Malaysia, there was only soft, sweet bread. Phuket has an excellent fresh market, and provisioning there was generally better than Malaysia. After Singapore, rice, pulses, flour and dried fruit were always infested with weevils, worse in Sri Lanka than elsewhere. Bay leaves are the best preventive although not 100% effective and should be bought in Australia as they are unknown even in Singapore.

[REN] Come well provisioned. We found no good fruits or vegetables anywhere in Indonesia. Sumbawa Besar, Western Sumbawa, has an excellent market they say, but elsewhere the produce is scarce, poor quality, and tends to rot in 2 days. Even old standbys like beans, cabbage and eggplant start quickly rotting the night they are brought back. There is a shortage of dairy products. Canned sweetened condensed milk is everywhere, but margarine, cheese, UTC milk, etc. is rare, as is flour, white sugar, meat, canned vegies, and unsweetened bread. Powdered milk is expensive but sporadically available, while canned butter is bounteous in the big cities. Canned cheap margarine (similar to butter flavored Crisco) is everywhere, as is candy. There are some good canned meats, particularly Bernardi chicken sausages. I find the Halal certified foods best. In a town large enough to have a Harbor Master one can usually find canned fish, beef or pork, often with bones. I came well stocked in canned meat products so only tried some of the beef and chicken sausages, so can't vouch for the rest.
There is no kitchen paper towels, the napkins are lousy and tp is hard in all senses (again I came well stocked so didn't have to buy any). Refrigeration is rare, but where there is even a small shop or snack bar there is usually bottled water or sweet soda. The water seems to have a set price, because the residents drink a lot of it - 1 litre about 1500Rp - while the bottled sodas become less expensive as one moves west. Cans are more expensive. There wasn't any diet anything, until Bali. Film developing is good and cheap at Kuto Beach, Bali. Film is reasonable, cheaper than Australia duty free. The same with cigarettes and bottled local beer (said to be good).

[SHL] To get my washing done I generally ask someone in the villages, who will negotiate with you, he then takes the washing to his wife, lets her do the work, but he gets the money. Price works out at 100 to 200 Rp a piece, or between 3 and 5000 Rp per bag. It helps if you provide the soap, as this costs money for them. Again in places with many visitors, the market is spoiled. ln Banda a yacht paid 25,000 Rp for 2 small bags, after bargaining down from 60,000 Rp, the monthy wage of a high school teacher.

Every village has a market for vegetables, fruits and fish. Shop around to get the best price. Canned food is only available in bigger places with a mini or supermarket, but expensive and in limited quantity. I found it cheaper and easier to eat out wherever I could. The "rumah makan" or "restoran" may not look as hygienic as we are used to but the food is tasty, and in small villages you will get to know everybody as they will all crowd in with you. The prices are fixed and usually listed on the wall.

[LEB] Water (air) is questionable everywhere. We did get good water in Flores at Labuhangajo and also Bali.
[MAR] Fresh water seems available and cheap even the smallest villages (often well water and river water are available).
[WR] The other major problem in Indonesia is finding good, safe drinking water. The cruising months from July to October is the dry season in much of Indonesia, and if it does rain it doesn't last long enough to fill the water tanks. An adequate watermaker is very useful, otherwise bottled water is available.
[REN] Water is a real problem. Even the locals don't drink it without treatment. Some people got some in Lubuan Bajo, but I don't know them so cannot vouch for their health. We have survived the Bali filtered marina water, though we added a capful of bleach. It rained only in Ambon. The rivers are extraordinarily foul, as they are also the local waste disposal system. I didn't do laundry until Kananga, northwestern Sumbaya, where a clear, swift river ran. Bliss! It was deep enough for a bath and the locals offered, prompted, but there were too many people watching. In Bali I bought water from the marina at 25Rp/litre, and Made from Bali Yacht Services sells water for 10000Rp/20 litres. Made's is town water & needs treatment and skepticism. The locals boil it.

[SHL] Water is available in most places, sometimes by hose from a tap at the wharf in the bigger harbors, and jerry canning from the nearest tap or well in the smaller places. Northern Sulawesi is an exception, as it is very dry there just before the rains start in November or December. The local people themselves pay 2000 Rp. for a drum. Generally water is at no cost, although in large ports a charge can be made. Check before tanking, it should be no more than 2000 Rp in any case. I have always used the water for drinking but only after boiling. Don't forget the water used for cool drinks or ice, boil it first. The local eating and drinking places do the same, therefore the water on the table is always hot.


[LEB] Diesel (solar) is available, even in remote areas, by jerry jug only. There is a new marina being built in Benoa Harbor, Bali and they may have a gas dock in the future. Diesel is transported in rusted drums and is usually very dirty. We let it set in the jerry jugs, for several days before siphoning and had no problems.

[MAR] Diesel seems available and cheap even the smallest villages.
[ARJ] We use the Baja filter every time we fill and found no trouble with our fast flowing filter (not the cylinder model). We fill infrequently with a capacity of 313 gallons (Darwin-Bali-Penang) and have heard of no one whose taken on dirty or watered fuel. A slower fiiter could be a problem occasionally--like the fuel barge in Lankawai yet the YC is OK. No where else seemed to be a problem that we heard of. . Also if you have a brand of engine oil which you are particularly fond of--get plenty for the trip as only Indonesian oil products are sold in most of Indonesia.
[REN] Made at Bali YS will also deliver diesel, called "solar" in Indonesia. It is dirty sometimes and he always shorts one. He charged PAPA KILO for 20 litres on a partially filled 19 litre jug! That is on top of his markup. Made's employees tried a delivery charge on them as well, but Phil refused. Solar is cheap and available in big towns and sporadically in fishing villages. Gas is generally available as well. Both need lots of filtering.

Propane could be a problem outside of the big cities too. Mine lasted until Benoa, Bali. There Made will refill your propane bottles and deliver them back to the boat.

[SHL] Fuel can be had in most places, whether by jerry can, or 50 gal. drum, or in bigger ports by road tanker. A proper fuel dock or barge with pump and hose I have only found in Pontianak and Tarakan, West and East Kalimantan respectively. The standard price late 1994 was 370 Rp/L. off the pump or fuel barge. Having a drum delivered cost between 390 and 420 Rp, the same as a road tanker. In Ambon and Banda, the market has been spoiled by the many yachts from Darwin -- Ambon, and has increased to up to 500 Rp.


[SHL] Repairs and obtaining spare parts are a virtual impossibility outside Bali and Java, but the Indonesians are great in emergency repairs, and in most cases, will get you going again. I once tore my No. 1 genoa and had it repaired with a plastic tablecloth by a shoemaker, the only person with a heavy sewing machine. It lasted till the Mediterranean.
[SAR] Miracle of miracles, we needed very few boat repairs during our three months in Indonesia. The only big job was a weld repair to a forward engine mount. The mount also incorporated a bracket for the refrigerator compressor. It was beautifully repaired in a shop two blocks west of the harbor master in Benoa. The welder was squatting on a dirt floor, not a flat surface nor a right angle within ten miles, yet somehow he got the bits and pieces welded back together perfectly straight and true.
[REN] There are a lot of boats floating about Indonesia, but not many boat parts or chandleries. In fact, none that I know of. Some small stores carry propellers and anchors.
[REN] The Indonesians seem to regard bargaining as a fun contest, a challenge, and with an exchange rate of $1.00 US to 2200Rp it is easier for you to see it as fun too. Smile a lot, be patient, I found that outside the tourist areas once a deal was struck it was adhered to honestly. Honesty before a bargain is sealed is questionable. The costs of operation, the distance, quality of materials, level of English or expertise will all be exaggerated, so a bit of research is needed. Once you get a handle on prices, etc., things are easier. The price always starts 10x higher than the actual price. It's still low to us but you are looked upon as a sap if you don't bargain.

Saving face is part of bargaining. You might not get the price down on one apple, but for a penny more you'll get 2 apples or the price will halve by the removal of one carrot out of a bunch of 8, etc. It depends on the seller. Smile and be friendly too. Indonesians seem to smile for all emotions.

[AIR] Bargaining is a way of life and can be fun but is truly exhausting. For artifacts, antiques and souvenirs Lombok was the best; don't wait for Bali except for clothing and some fabrics, but prices are generally higer in Bali as many of the items are made in Lombok or other outer islands. We spent several days at Senggigi Beach, Lombok. This is a fairly new resort area with a few large hotels, restaurants, etc. although there was lots of selling on the beach, it was much lower key than Bali. There are a few small markets here and prices again better than Bali. Bali was a disappointment: such interesting places to see but you are always mobbed by aggressive hawkers selling things.

[NALU] Rule of thumb is to start at 30% of the asking price and hopefully not pay more than 50%.

[MAR] Bargaining is standard procedure, even in retail shops, except for very cheap items. Typically the asking price is twice the fair price, except in Bali, where it is four (or more!) times the fair price. In general, the cost of living is very low here by U.S. standards
[ARJ] In Indonesia charge card draws are not made by all banks so plan your money draws accordingly. We found it to be no problem in the larger towns. Understanding the money is easy even though the numbers are huge. For instance 1,000,000 rupiah is US$500. Just eliminate the last 3 digits rupiah to establish the decimal point and cut the remaining number in half. Similarly 1000 rupiah is US $.50; 400 rupiah is US$.20.
[MAR] In many towns the banks will not change money, but the Chinese shop owners are always willing, provided you gave them very clean, untorn and unmarked bills.

[REN] Forget it in Indonesia.....overseas mail tends to fall into a postal black hole. I know of no mail sent by cruisers that made it to its destination. If the stamps aren't steamed or scraped off or the envelope ripped open searching for money, then the mail is so damaged by these efforts that it cannot be forwarded beyond the trash can. So I didn't even try unless the letter was essential.

Some people had stuff sent to Bali Yacht Services. They had to pay 1000Rp per package and had to take a bemo or taxi into Nusa Dua to get it. Singapore seems to have a good, reasonable postal system. It is $1.00S for an average letter to the US. Folks have received mail at Changi, but there's a $50S fee for membership for 2.

[AIR] Regarding mail, the Amex office advised that Indonesia was not most reliable for mail.

[MAR See Bali section for more mail info]

[ARJ] We understand mail service in Indonesia is less than reliable. Singapore is reportedly good. The GPO in Singapore will hold mail for 2 months.
[SHL] Incoming mail is still somewhat dicey. l've tried GPO and the harbormaster, but find it a bit safer if addressed to a hotel or similar with postbox number. In all cases it still needed some cajoling and begging to have the mail produced; it is easier to maintain it isn't there. The safest way is to wait till through Indonesia, and have it sent to Singapore, or Malaysian Sabah or Sarawak. With outging mail l've had no problems, but do not enclose anything that may tempt someone to open the letter and look, and then throw it in the bin, and I mean the garbage bin.

[ARJ] Some numbers you may want:

Half Moon Bay Marina, PO Box 100, Yorkeys Knob, QLD, 4878, Australia

FAX: 617-055-7074

Gove Yacht Club PO Box 935, Nhulunbuy, NT 0881 , Australia FAX: 618-987-2111

Darwin Sailing Club GPO Box 3439, Darwin, NT 0801, Australia FAX: 618-941-0580

Cullen Bay Marina PO Box4470, Darwin, NT, Australia, 0801 FAX: 618-981-2177
Bali Intl. Marina PO Box 621 , Denpasar, 80001 , Bali, Indonesia

FAX: 62-361-771470

Bali Yacht Service POBox 42, Nusa Dua, Denpasar 80361, Bali, Indonesia FAX: 62-361-773515

Nongsa Pt. Marina Batam Island, Indonesia . FAX- 62-778-761348

Sebana Cove Marina PO Box 102, Bandar Penowar Post Office, 81900,

Kota Tinggi, Johor Daru Takzim, Malaysia FAX: 607-825-2413

Changi Sailing Club 32 Netheravon Rd., Changi, 1750, Singapore

FAX: 65-542-4235

Phuket Boat Lagoon PO Box 500 (22/1 Thepaksattri Rd); Phuket,Thailand 8300

FAX 66-76-239056

Manager is Phil Hollywood- Canadian yachtie - runs 40m ham net

Poste Restante, Phuket works well

Ham Net , for Land Contact

[ARJ] Robby's Net in Australia (20 metres, covers Indonesia): Robby & Nancy Beets, 21 Main Rd., Maroochydore, QLD, 4558 Australia (nearBrisbane). Telephone 61-7-443-8414

REN] There are people everywhere in Indonesia, which makes for a very industrious, very very aggressive people. Tourists are to be fleeced if possible, but the people were generally courteous, cheerful, laughing (except Bali), looking upon most things as a game I think.
Women will need to keep their knees and shoulders covered. A mid-calf skirt is preferred by the locals. It really does make a difference, even in the tourist areas. Most of the country east of Lombok is Muslim, but it seems everywhere a woman exposing knees and shoulders is considered loose. I only went off in long shorts once and once only. White female tourists are generally regarded as easy and moralless anyway, that only adds to the problem. I had few problems in a skirt. Everyone I met felt easier in my presence as well. The men wore pants to visit temples, etc. but a sarong worked as well. They are relaxed Muslims, but the calls to prayer can destroy one's tranquillity if anchored too near a mosque.
Between Timor and Flores and in Teluk Putopadou anchorage in western Subawa, people had a tendency to leap aboard for a visit without permission. We have been told by experienced people that these people merely want to look, but quite a few asked for things. When visiting someone's house, you will be served extremely sweet white tea. It is okay not to drink it. Everyone will want their photo taken - demand that their photo be taken - until Lombok and Bali. It's easy to go through a lot of film this way, though most don't expect the photos to be sent to them.

[ARJ] Even though many people speak a little English a small Indonesian phrase book is essential to wade your way through a menu and bargain with the bemo (minibus) drivers; the becak (pedicab) drivers, and the market vendors. A vocabulary of 30-50 words makes getting around quite easy. We carry a pen and paper everywhere so we can negotiable prices easily---and in Indonesia you DO negotiate! To help you with your first meal out try ayam satay (chicken satay) and nasi putih (white rice), cap cai (vegie chop suey with meat bits pronounced chop cheye) and nasi putih, or mie goreng (fried noodles with microscopic to large pieces of vegies and meat). Udang asam manis is heavenly sweet & sour shrimp, and Indonesia is famous for its chilli crab!

[ REN] Folks will try to speak English, but most don't know how. It really helps to know some Indonesian. A phrase book is a must. The more Indonesian you know the more you'll enjoy Indonesia, and the easier will be the bargaining.
[MAR] We spent most of our time in S.E. Indonesia, the string of islands between the Tanimbar Islands and Bali. We found the lndonesia Handbook by Bill Dalton (Moon Publications) extremely useful. !t's often quite subjective and opinionated, but still contains a wealth of information. An English-Indonesian/Indonesian- English dictionary is a must and should be bought before arrival, as they are hard to find in any of the outer islands. The Bahasa Indonesia (natal language) is a beautifully simple one and with little effort you'll be able to carry on basic conversations pretty quickly.
[AIR] Many of the remote islands don't see tourists so it's as if you arrived from outer space. They will all board your boat without permission if you allow this and hard to have some privacy when near a village. These people need everything, most often asking for clothes and hats and shoes. Very little English spoken unless you are in a popular tourist area.
[JIM] The crowds of children that followed us everywhere ashore and behaved very wildly certainly marred our visits. Ivan got so upset by this that he often chose to remain aboard "AVENTURA."
[VIS] Our best experiences in these beautiful islands were in small fishing villages where visitors are uncommon. We have not met any people friendlier or more interested in knowing us, even if language was a difficulty. By the time we anchored and got a dinghy in the water, a crowd would be gathered on shore waiting for us. No problems with security, but there could be a lack of privacy as they are very curious. Some people complained about dirt, smells and a lack of things to buy, but we met happy, friendiy people, without noticing any dirt.

[LEB] It is like no other place we have been, both good and bad. We felt safe in all areas of Indonesia when alone or in company with another boat, but theft can be a problem in bigger cities. Indonesia was a "learning experience," with everything from a complete lack of sanitation to new fruits and vegetables and proverty to pearl farms. We especiaily enjoyed the local boats from the smallest sailing outriggers to the 100 foot Bugis schooners. The people of Indonesia are sailors and very friendly and happy to have tourists visiting.

[ARI] There are many things we liked of Indonesia and some we did not like. We were fascinated by the sailing crafts of all sizes and shapes still widely used for fishing and trading among the islands. The people were mostly kind, but privacy is unknown and most of the time we had somebody trying to watch inside the boat from the wharf or from a canoe. In spite of the fact that we found some nice officials, most of them were not kind and only tried to get money from us.

[MAR] Indonesia is unlike any country we've ever visited and was a memorable experience. In general, the people were incredibly friendly in the out islands, and insatiably curious about our modern yacht. This friendliness can become overbearing, though, and privacy is an unknown concept to Indonesians. But in no other country have we had so much sincere friendly contact with the local peopie. There is some outstanding volcanic scenery in the island chain east of Bali, and an incredible variety of sailing, cargo and fishing craft, many sail powered only.

[SHL] In the past 15 years I have sailed through Indonesia three times, taking a different route each time, this year being very much off the beaten track. Many yachts are still reluctant to travel in Indonesia, naming officialdom and piracy as the main reasons, and therefore either miss this beautiful island-country altogether or visit only places like Timor, Flores, Bali, Ambon, sometimes Java and Southern Sulawesi. Although I have noticed that over the years yachties are getting more adventurous, there are still large areas, with beautiful scenery and diving, and right now, without yachts. When I sailed Indonesia in 1979, the only other foreign yachts I met, were in Bali. In 1991 on my second visit, I met yachts in Banda, Ambon and one in Udjung Pandang. This year I took a route where I met no other yachts after Ambon, except 2 yachts traveling in company along the East coast of Kalimantan, chosen by them only after reading the excellent description by RAI VITA on their trip in reverse along the Sabah coast (SSCA Bulletin 1993, p.410). Hopefully this general information will entice more yachts to break away from the milkrun and enjoy those areas still little spoiled by tourism. There are reefs that have possibly never been dived upon, and people still largely untouched by modern civilization who still live as they did hundreds of years ago. Indonesia is currently forging ahead fast though, and within a few years many things may have changed. More and more diving resorts are being built, roads pushed through and airstrips laid to catch the tourist dollar. Indonesia has its own TV satellite, and TV is wide-spread, bringing home the rest of the worid.


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