We had played host to several boat loads of young children who had rowed over from the local stilt village to look at our boat and say “hello” but after a while we had to shoo them away as we had a visit of our own to make.
Having met up the previous day with our friend and fellow yachtie (singled hander and skipper of S/V Thalassi from the 2015 Sail2Indonesia Rally) and his lovely Indonesian wife, we were looking forward to also meeting his Father-in-law and Mother-in-law who had graciously invited the Yantaras and us to lunch.
Etiquette is very different in South East Asia compared to what we are used to and while we were aware of some of the conventions we hoped there wouldn’t be unexpected ones that we hadn’t come across before. The last thing we wanted was to offend our kind hosts.
We needn’t have worried – all was fine and we had a lovely meal of free range “village” chicken, parcels of coconut rice cooked in bamboo, a delicious cucumber salad and various other delicious dishes.
Although we sat on the floor we were saved from making a messy attempt of eating with our hands as we were thoughtfully given spoons to eat with.
After lunch we sat on cushions leaning against a wall while chatting away. Although our host and hostess spoke only a little English their two daughters and son had excellent language skills and saved us having to dredge up our few words of Indonesian Bahasa to use in conversation.
There was great excitement in the family as their second daughter was about to become engaged. We were interested to learn that in strict Muslim families the betrothed couple are not allowed to touch each other in any way before they get married – even to the extent that the engagement ring is given to the mother to put on her daughter’s finger.
When it was time for the men to visit the mosque for early afternoon prayers we took our leave after a very pleasant and interesting lunch.
We hadn’t been back on Bal Hai very long when another group of young children rowed up on their sampan.
Thereafter we had a stream of sampans coming and going eventually we had to call it a day as we were expecting “official” guests- our friend’s brother and sister-in-law who we had invited on board earlier in the day.
The following day we were picked up early from our yachts by a “pong pong” a motorised sampan which took us to Pulau Singkep where we were going to meet our friends and also take Yantara’s malfunctioning anchor winch to the excellent mechanic that had fixed S/V Thalassi’s recalcitrant but romance inducing engine.
I can truthfully say I have never been in any mode of transport that was as loud as this one. Even yelling on top of my voice I couldn’t hear myself shouting! It was just incredible.
However it is a great way to travel and the trip over the water went too quickly.
A short taxi ride and we arrived at our friends’ cosy beachside cottage with a view.
We had a delightful day – one of the highlights was to see the sampan our friend was converting to a sail boat – once a sailor, always a sailor!
After a delicious lunch we all piled in our taxi (which we had hired for the day) and our friends showed us around their island home.
As the sun was beginning to dip we were taken back to our yachts by sampan – the perfect end to a great day.