AL IIKAI-ISLAND HOPPING PART 1
As we arrive at the “port” I wonder if there is anyway we will actually find where we are supposed to board the Al Iikai. But magically, like most things in Indonesia, we appear at exactly the right spot. There are some Bhugis men who help load our belongings onto the a tender boat and we are off. We wind through quite a bit of boats moored before we approach our home for the next nine days…the longest we have stayed anywhere since leaving Seattle. And I gotta say, she is an impressive little pirate ship. The phinisi is a traditional sailing boat in Indonesia, and ours is staffed by mostly Bhugis men. They are the root of the word Boogeyman. They are sailors by tradition and used to cover the Indian ocean in their phinisi. They were known to terrorize other ships. One story we heard even that they were known to swim under the other baots and drill holes in the bottom of boats to sink their enemies. So allegedly, others knowing that they are on our boats is a protective mechanism…let’s hope so:)
We get on board and meet our traveling companions…Andreas, Guida, Barbara and Stephanie. They are mostly Germans who now live in Brazil and one Portuguese lady and they seem incredibly nice. Did I mention they are mostly in their seventies and now have become my heroes because they are here doing this at that age???
We get a quick rundown of the boat, emergency “procedures,” which I’m still uncertain they will actually help, but then we are off. We have to manage a reef to get off to see and seamlessly one of the three captains does. These captains work four hours at the helm, four hours navigating and four hours sleeping. It’s a crazy schedule. The engineers work eight hours on and eight hours off.
We get down to it and take off for the Lombok straight. We have some rough seas but we are moving at 9 knots which allegedly is pretty good, until we actually hit the Lmbok straight which is much slower going, along the lines of five knots and is pretty rocky. We watch east Bali fade into the background as much as you can with a huge volcano such as Gunug Anug in front of you-it is impressive!!!! From the bow of the boat Deeter and I sit and watch off the port bow as the sun sets behind this impressive landscape and I wonder what on earth I have done to deserve something as amazing as this.
Overall, the boat is pretty impressive. The main deck has four “beds” adorned with pillows and has amazing views. There is a main eating area that seats eight. The covered part of the main deck has a sitting area, Deeter likes to call it the salon and another table that seats another eight. The kitchen is set here as well. Downstairs there are three rooms and on the top deck there is the captains room, three rooms and a sun deck.
We start with a light lunch…the only traditional Indonesian food we will eat on this trip. And it is delicious. I will go ahead and preface that everything we ate on this trip was phenomenal. Suchi was in charge in the kitchen and we wish we could take her home with us-she has definitely spoiled us for the food we are eating now.
We sail/motor on for 12 hours before we hit our port for the night in Lombok. Our first room is in the bottom of the boat and we are fine the first night. The second night we are consumed by fumes and sleep, well Deeter sleeps on deck, until we start getting splashed by waves and I insist we move downstairs to another room.
Our first full day aboard we spend getting used to the water. We start out by watching an amazing sunrise over Lombok…incredible and this day marks two years that we met at the end of an aisle in front of Harry Hewitt with all our friends and family in attendance. I’m a lucky, lucky girl to have such an amazing husband…he is definitely more and better than I deserve:)
We do a quick “test” snorkel and I survive-yay for making it through the fish. Then we head to the Gili Islands, Gili Air to be exact(there are three Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok and we make it to all three before we are done with this adventure). And this snorkel is a little disconcerting. There is a REALLY strong current and man it’s deep. Plus, the older group on our trip keeps drifting into us and isn’t really able to handle the current. But Deeter helps me out and I make it through in one piece and without losing my shit…I count that as a win:)
We watch the stars come alive as we drift along. And minus the crazy fumes, its a great night. We stop sailing around four in the morning and finally I sleep! Today is filled with adventure. We start in a little village(of note there is a funeral taking place in a highly muslim village…I feel a little out of place in my tank and shorts) and walk about an hour to a beautiful waterfall. We get to use a rope to swing into the waterfall and drop into the pool below. There is a rock for cliff jumping as well. It is beyond fun!!! Then we walk back to the village and climb aboard the Al Iikai. We head to Sotunda.
There is a volcano here that we climb along the side and get to see the beautful lake that formed here hundreds of years ago from a tsunami. The lake is a little less than clear and desirable-so we dip our toes in to say we went into it, but mostly it looks like gross water. There is a tree that has so many “gifts” on it. Apparently the pool in the volcano used to bubble and they thought it was the gods coming out, so the natives would come and leave gifts, or offerings for the them.
We spend the afternoon snorkeling. I snorkel for about an hour. and then Deeter is off in the water on his own and he loves it. The coral was beautifl, fairly shallow. We saw a puffer fish and he saw a cuddlefish-pretty frickin cool. Then we climb aboard the boat and set sail for the evening.
So this is installment one-can’t get it all into one post and I have really been enjoying the beach in west Bali this afternoon so it’s a bit distracting, but more to come soon-and pictures too!!!