We woke early on 1 July to the sound of small boats passing very close to us – everyone who went passed us seemed to want to get as near to the boat as possible to have a good look at us!
We needed to get ready quickly as this was the first day of the Wonderful West Kalimantan rally (and there was me thinking it started on 2 July!)
While we were hurrying to get ready it seemed to us that we were getting very close to Yantara. It suddenly dawned on us that we were dragging – albeit very slowly! So despite being in rather a hurry to get to shore for the first rally welcome ceremony, we had to bring our anchor up.
Our usual routine is for me to be up forward raising the anchor and the skipper at the wheel and that’s exactly how it was that morning.
I could feel the anchor coming up with what can only be described as reluctance. The reason for its sluggish behavior soon became apparent – the anchor was covered in a thick conglomeration of mud, twine, plastic, fishing net and line and goodness knows what else.
With the anchor swinging precariously we took Bali Hai out into the centre of the river. The crew of Yantara nobly came to our assistance and after much cutting and shoving, the tangled, muddy mess was eventually cleared and we were able to re-anchor.
We belatedly got to shore for the opening ceremony which took place in the grounds of the customs building. Before we got to the venue for the celebrations we were overwhelmed by the welcome we received from the local people and of course posed for (and took) lots of photos.
The ceremony was kicked off by two very talented boys performing a cross between a martial art and a dance.
After that six girls in bright cerise dresses performed a beautiful welcome dance which ended with another girl accompanied by two young men walking towards us and throwing rice over us.
After the official welcome and a snack (and of course more photos!) we boarded a bus and were taken to a beautiful lily-filled lake where we were entertained in the holiday house of a local dignitary.
We were served delicious fresh squeezed orange juice (Sambas is famous for its sweeter than sweet oranges) and had yet more photos taken!
Later we walked round the shore of the lake to a restaurant where we had lunch.
In the afternoon we had another display of local dancing in the precincts of a local mosque. This time we were obliged to join in which we all did with enthusiasm that kind of made up for the lack of skill!
There was a wedding celebration happening very close by so we were dragged away from the dancing to meet the bride and groom who were dressed in elaborate wedding costumes and had endured hours and hours of – yes you’ve guessed it – photos with every wedding guest (even the uninvited ones).
We were ushered to an open sided marquee where beautiful girls dressed in vibrant purple with bright orange hijabs (bridesmaids?) ushered us to the tables groaning with food – rice, chicken, fish, hot sambals and vegetables including corn on the cob.
We arrived back at the anchorage a little after five and were greeted by a large crowd all wanting “selfie, selfies”.
It was a thrilling time for them and they were very excited to be able to take photos with us on board.
As the last rays of light disappeared we were alone again and able to enjoy the tranquility of the night, away from the cameras and the crowds.