We had a three-night sail from Lovina Beach in Bali to Karimun Java – our first night passage since the end of August when we sailed from Hoga Island to Lowoleba on Lembata Island.
It was great to be out on the ocean again and we had good winds for the first 30+ hours but at 2 am on the second night we had to switch on the engine and during the rest of the night and next day we switched it on and off several times.
For the first time we experienced travelling through oil rigs – they were a long way off but we could clearly see the great columns of flame leaping into the air.
The third night we gave up trying to sail and motored the whole time which was just as well as we had to pick our way through literally scores of squid boats. Fortunately they were all lit up like oversized Christmas trees on steroids so we weren’t in any danger.
The only problem we had during the trip was that every time we tried to start the engine it wouldn’t fire until Jonathan had bled the fuel intake. So frustrating!
Eventually he realised that there was a wire missing off the lift pump which meant there was no fuel going to the engine. This discovery was a relief as we were worried that the next time we fired up the engine it wouldn’t start at all and we didn’t relish the thought of entering the next Karimun Jawa by sail.
Karimun Jawa couldn’t be more different than Bali but as with every other stop, we found plenty to like. The town was rather dusty but it was a charming little place and everyone was extremely helpful and friendly.
Interestingly, there were no children paddling to the boat in dug out canoes calling out “hello mister” and asking for notebooks, pens and caps. I think that the island’s proximity to Java meant less poverty, and maybe generally, a more educated and sophisticated population.
There was a thriving night market selling cooked food, clothes, toys and various household goods. There were also lots of home stays, dive shops and a couple of backpacker “drinking holes”.
We didn’t spend much time on the island as we decided to take a side trip to the famous Buddhist temple in Central Java, Borobudur.
Our journey began at 5 am when we were picked up by one of the local puk puks (so called because of the noise their engines make) and taken to the wharf. A car then took us to pick up the 6 am high speed ferry to Semarang on Java where we were met by another car and whisked off to a hotel for breakfast.
Samarang sits more or less dead centre along the north coast of Java and was once the largest port in the Netherlands East Indies from which all the sugar, tea and coffee from Central Java began their trip to Northern Europe.
But we didn’t linger – as soon as we had eaten our omelettes we were off again, making our way to Borobudur – a ninth century Buddhist Temple (the largest in the world) in Central Java – a four hour trip.
UNESCO has been involved in its restoration, as like Ankhor Wat in Cambodia, it was lost in the jungle until its rediscovery by Sir Thomas Raffles (of Singapore Sling fame) after the the British took over Java for a short time following the Battle of Trafalgar.
Borobudur is famous not only for its sheer size (it is the world’s largest Buddhist temple) but also for having more than five hundred (504 to be precise!) statues of Buddha. Sadly many of the heads had been looted and in the past the eruption of a volcano had caused much damage but the restoration is just marvellous.
The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and the central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.
An amazing place and very well worth the long trip!