26th August 2013.
Well we find ourselves back at Tioman Island on the east coast of Malaysia. We were meant to stay on a little island just north called Tulia but the wind and swell were just all wrong, plus a dodgy looking fishing boat rolled up, no flag and we had been watching them fish in the marine park all afternoon so the feelers were twitching.
It feels like ages ago that we headed into Nongsa Point marina on Batam Island but it is only a couple of weeks. It is a pretty flash joint, bit pricey though, Mie Goring was $8.50 for a plate full, this has become our staple dietary intake no matter what time in the day. Pretty safe bet I reckon.
We hired a motorbike off Acok and Jen scored a map so off to find a seafood restaurant, Dilema Seafood, which Muz, Ryan and I had eaten chilli crab at about 8 years ago, what a mission. We pulled people over, asked for directions at traffic lights you name it but eventually we made it to Marina Bay, found the old go cart track, abandoned, the cable water ski was all go though and after a few dead ends came across Delima. All the way, over 2 hours, people had pleaded with us to turn around because it was to far, you’ll get lost, you name it but we got there in the end. Amazingly it was exactly the same, big fish tanks out the front with muddies in one, garouper and barra lookalikes in the other. We ordered cuttlefish and chilli crab, so good we had another crab, their 2 biggest, absolutely cooked to perfection as you would expect, the old boy has probably been doing them for all his life. Had a bit of a shine on by the time we left, possibly the half dozen almost dingin king browns of Bintang we shared but the bike ride back had much more flow about it, we only had one stuff up in direction and as the airport was on the way back directions were easy to extract with arms out like wings and a bit of pointing.
We pulled up at a village called Julan Besar and checked the markets, the fish section was horror, the monger was using a wooden block and just chopping, gutting and filleting fish after fish, each bit getting a wash in a bowl that was full of fish stuff and a bit of water, bugger that, although his way of filleting was pretty good with the whole fish ready to be crispy fried, bit like the boys in Jakarta, they could knock off a 20 litre bucket full of herring in 10 minutes. We were introduced to 2 bits, donut in 2 bits, which we ate straight away, a woman came up to Jen and said her daughter wanted to know why she was allowed to eat, it finally occurred to us that we were the only people eating and to make it sink home everyone, hundreds of them were staring at us. Felt pretty weird, but they would have been hungry as it was 1730, an hour till their fasting for the day finished, poor buggers, no food, no water, no ciggys possibly the hardest for Indonesian men, only thinking good thoughts and being nice to everyone even the 2 boule stuffing their faces with 2 bits. This is the season of Ramadhan.
Had a couple of gin and tonics when we got back, they cost the same as the whole lunch time thing, drinking at Nongsa is ridiculously expensive, they were nice though.
The Breezies went for the hotel in town and sussed a bar with the derby on live so big day at the footy and oh what a day, go dockers go go go.
The people at Nongsa are excellent, the general manager, a Frenchman named Clement, first name, lucky he wasn’t my brother, was good value. The yachts at the marina are good value as usual and then you have Acok. This guy is in the same league as Syamsul, the most lovely bloke you could hope to meet, he would drop anything to make life easier for us. All our paperwork, which remember we are in Indonesia, was simple and they completed it with no fuss whatsoever.
We left with 1 day left on our visa and headed for Singapore which meant following the instructions sent to me from the Keppell Bay marina guys. You must not cross an imaginary line before you advise ATIS that you want to, they then look you up on the AIS and once you are found permission is granted, but they warn you that you should not get in the way of any big ships, there are hundreds of them and the east bound lane was a ship every 400 metres unless they were overtaking each other. The mother of all ships passed behind us, a massive oil tanker I reckon was close to 100 metres wide. We made it across to the Sisters Islands where you must then call up Western Immigration Singapore, I kept saying western irrigation no matter how hard I I tried not to. They tell you where to go then they roll up in a launch with a butterfly net which you place your paperwork in and they do their bit with the stamps, once that is over you are in Singapore, pretty painless. We then called the harbour master and requested permission to enter his port, all good except I drove past the entry and ended up down near the ferry jetties. We came in at just the wrong angle to see the breakwater gap, bit embarrassing when I called him up and asked if we were meant to go up a canal and his reply was what canal are you talking about. We headed back along Sentosa and found the entry the second time.
Once in the marina we were put on dock J05 which was right amongst the big boys, White Rabbit, Elysium and Big Fish all of which I would call ships. Beautiful boats.
The Keppell crew are pretty much the same as Nongsa, helpful, nice and just want everything to run smoothly, suited us. We hit the restaurant for a snack, now the word pricey took over, 1 tiger beers cost $12S, I bought a carton in Julan Besar for less than $18S, a day previous. Welcome to Singapore, make sure your credit card is empty as it won’t be long before it isn’t.
We used the trains to get around, pretty easy, went looking for sate at gardens by the bay which I misheard as garden spider bay, a place no taxi driver had ever heard of so we always ended up at the sate club in the city. Sate stall 7 and 8 are the best, pretty easy to knock off 30 or 40 sates quick smart. Also had a crab one night, expensive compared to Indo but pretty bloody good.
We caught up with Willie, Corrine and Melvin, the Singapore connection and had some filthy meals with them, hit Sentosa for the waterparks and the standing wave, harder than it looks and had a stiff neck for days after it. Good fun but at 40 bucks an hour it would want to be. The rest of the place was overcrowded with cues for cues at all the slides. The malaysian food hall was good though.
Found a chandellery store at Raffles Marina, had most things and got stuff in so alls good, bought some black stain remover, that’s what it’s called, to clean the crap off the boat from Jakarta and now Singapore. Started to do it at Keppell but it is so hot there with no breeze so I gave up. We had pretty much decided to go back to Batam to do the shopping, fuel, beer and food. It was worth the $25USD visa fees to get back in.
Moe arrived and we used the trains to pick her up and bring her to the boat, she was a bit red by the time we got back to the boat, it was hot. We had sate and hung around air conditioners pretty much. Although my earlier hearing deficiency was cleared up when the taxi driver said we were at the wrong botanical gardens, we were meant to be meeting the Breezies at Gardens by the bay, not garden spider bay, the penny dropped and a mystery was solved.
We walked the gardens and the 2 new indoor environments set in huge glasshouses. They are OK but stung the wallet as is always the case in Singapore.
We had a feed of yumcha and some beers in Chinatown then headed home. The last night was a sate feast once again with Brian and Lyn and was a bit of a sad farewell to the only remaining Freo Bali mob.
My parts arrived at Raffles so a train trip out west was called for, hung over and a bit of a crook guts just made it all the more testing but in the end had charts and parts, rhymes with farts which was something I was to scared to do.
We left Keppel, said our goodbyes to the crew and headed out to repeat the process this time in reverse. The Singapore strait was not as crowded so set sails and headed for Nongsa Point, 10nm away.
We were met by Acok and tied up. Over the next couple of days the girls got the stores sorted and I replaced all the broken stuff. Just bits and pieces. I got a price to scrub and polish the boat, $1000000rp, couldn’t believe it, told him to bugger off and did it myself. Used a stiff scrubbing brush and the black mark remover on all the decks, now back to a blinding white, had it done in 5 hours, told Acok to tell the boat boys they were robbers, he agreed. Bummer really that the only rip off in Indo was in labour costs, not what you would think in Indonesia.
The last day and a half they had to work on a boat opposite us, must have been some rich sucker from Singapore, so sat there and watched them as I drank beers. Felt good. Also got to fault find a Westerbeke genset for a bloke, he had the mechanic there half a day but still no go, ended up being no coolant in the heat exchanger, hard to get good help. Told him to change his oil and top and put some coolant in and all good. Scored a beer, a t-shirt and a couple of bikinis for the girls.
We filled up with diesel and said our goodbyes to Nongsa Point, real sad saying goodbye to Acok, he is a beaut. He gave Moe an excellent present, some puppet dolls that now stand proudly on Boomerangs trophy shelf.
We crossed back across the strait and up around the east coast of Malaysia where we run over a net, the owners were heading for the long end so we pissed off out of there, no warnings at all but in hindsight if a boat shines a torch at you probably pays to stop up here. We had the sails up so there was not much chance of us stopping anyway.
There is a good 1.4knt current up this coast so we arrived a bit early so shut everything down and drifted for an hour until the sun came up. Once light enough dived on props and removed the poor old Fishermans bits from the port prop, felt pretty bad but only cut the top rope and didnt have any net, could have been worse.
It’s 0400 and I am sitting here in the middle of a tropical storm, 30kns but the mooring is holding, dived it the day we arrived, feel pretty safe. It’s a bit rocky trying to type but doing OK. We have been diving everyday, the fish here are unreal, it spins you out when the surround you and start having a nibble, tickles then one takes a bit more makes you jump and the whole school jump to. We hired a couple of motorbikes and pretty much drove up and down the main street on Tioman, we were going over the other side but the road is pretty full on and Moe was as relieved as me when we canned it for safety reasons, it is first gear all the way up for a few ks. Moe had already crashed into a parked bike and burnt her leg on the pipe so around town it was. She was styling after a few hours, good to see and when we took them back the girl seemed happy to see her bikes in one piece.
The airport is pretty cool, wouldn’t mind coming in to land here, they have to bank sharply to line up the strip which is in the centre of town.
Well that’s about it for now, we were meant to be heading for Penang in a few days but I reckon we might just hang here for a bit, crystal clear water, hot sunny days, duty free drinks and the occasional tropical storm, what more could you ask for.