Thursday, November 25, 2010
S/Y Aspen – November 24, 2010 – Log #57
Position: 01 degrees 14’ N 103 degrees 49’ E (UTC +8.0 Hours)
Wow, what a change 20 miles brings! We left Indonesia on a rising tide and 20 miles later arrived in ultra-modern Singapore.
Sailing across the busiest shipping lanes in the world was quite a challenge as we tried not to get run over by the massive number of ships traversing the Singapore Straits. Our AIS system identified 100 targets in our path but the AIS unit cannot handle more than that number so there were probably twice as many ships around us. Of course we had squalls, a water spout and lightning accompanying us on our short 4 hour trip.
Once we were inside the breakwater we saw a sight that was absolutely stunning (see the attachment). This is the marina we are staying in. It is ultra-modern as is all of Singapore. Restaurants, shopping on Orchard Road, parks, zoos, China Town, India Town, shopping malls that dwarf anything we have ever seen in the US are everywhere! Luckily Singapore is where east meets west so there are a tremendous number shops from Europe, the US and elsewhere in the world. This is one amazing city/country.
We celebrated our Thanksgiving dinner by going to Raffles, the original home to the famous hotel is here in Singapore. This is where the Singapore Sling drink was invented. We had to try one and afterward ate their famous curry buffet. This was a really special treat for us and hopefully our credit card will pay for this!
For the next few days we will luxuriate in the excesses of Singapore before heading north to Malaysia. There are more pictures on our blog if you are interested too.
Sail on sail on Aspen...
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
S/Y Aspen – November 15, 2010 – Log #56
Position: 0 degrees 0’ S 104 degrees 55’ E (UTC +8.0 Hours)
The crash and banging of the mainsail shook me from my peaceful daydream as I absently watched the deep blue sea flow past Aspen's keel. The Tradewinds have died, leaving us nearly stationary on our journey northward toward the equator. But the wind shall return and sail on we will.
It seems so long ago that Aspen was sailing south with the Southern Cross guiding her across the vast Pacific Ocean and into the land of so many dreams. Yet today, Aspen sails northward and will cross the Equator into the northern hemisphere, carrying with her two sailors profoundly changed by the journey at hand.
Smiling faces, storms, ships passing in the night, brave fishermen plying their trade out on the sea, surly government officials, deadly and dangerous creatures that walk on land and swim in the sea, volcanoes tsunamis and earthquakes rattling the planet, the vivid colors of sunset and the eternal welcome of a new dawn at sea are a small sampling of the wonders left in Aspen's wake.
Many become what they must be, not what they want to be. We are fortunate to live our dream and be what we want to be: sailor, traveler and explorer experiencing the treasures of the world. It doesn't get any better than this!
We hope you are enjoying our voyage vicariously with us. We have now sailed over halfway around the world on Aspen and the next half promises to be at least as exciting as the first half. The pendulum swings backwards and forwards so stay tuned!
Sail on sail on Aspen...
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Captain Steve working on the non-functioning windlass (the mighty machine that pulls the anchor up and lets it down).
Indonesia - Legalities, Temples, Shopping and even a Big Fire
Hold off on the lawyers, guns and money for now! We are finally checked into Indonesia, legally. It was quite a process that took 2 days and quite a few gifts to the officials but we have permission to remain in Indonesia finally.
The tsunami and earthquake occurred well northwest of us so we missed those too!
Aspen is at the Bali Marina, a dilapidated place they call a marina. The docks are crumbling, what little electricity there is functions erratically and the marina is in a very remote part of the island, near the local fishing fleet. Did we mention that it is really hot here? Really HOT!!! The air is stifling, and the humidity matches the air temperature. There are very few places that have air-conditioning here and we can't use ours on Aspen because of the power issues.
But the restaurant at the marina is nice and the local food is good. Prices are cheap here for just about everything. However, you have to bargain hard for everything you buy, except groceries of course. It is challenging to pay 80% less than the asking price every time!
So where is the Bali of legend? Well, things change with time and most of Bali is very crowded, noisy and busy. However, outside of the main town things are better. We are now in Ubud, the cultural center of Bali in a very nice hotel called the Mansion. The people are nice with the local Hindu people taking care of us.
Bali is Hindu with temples every 100 feet or so! Everywhere you look there is a temple. We must wear a sarong to enter the temples but they rent them to you outside, no worries. They have traditional dances inside the temple that are colorful and always tell an interesting story.
Maria enjoys shopping but in Bali you cannot shop, you buy. If you pick up an item you may just as well have bought it. Asking a price for something also tells the Balinese that you have bought the item. That is when Captain Steve steps in and has to negotiate a price. Having a good poker face really helps! We can never look happy when we buy something because that shows weakness. Instead we celebrate once we return to the boat and look at our purchases. The shop keepers or street vendors always ask where we are from and when they hear USA they always light up because of the ties with Obama during his youth here.
We thought we were going to rent a car here but after our first day of taking a taxi we decided that demolition derby is not fun for us. The driving is indescribably horrible in all of Bali. Police officers lurk around every corner looking for rental cars so they can pull them over and fine them on the spot for any made-up traffic violation. But there are no rules here and practically no traffic laws so any fines are whatever they want them to be. Strange! We hired a driver and a vehicle for the same price as a rental car with all the fines so it works out well when we want to go somewhere.
We decided to escape the heat, dirt and noise of the marina for a few days and are at Ubud as we said. The Mansion is a 5 star hotel with lavish gardens, air conditioning, huge suites, attentive staff and best of all a great spa. Maria has only had 3 massages in 2 days so far. I think she is going for a record! The massages are pretty inexpensive so we can afford to splurge on them.
Today is a historic day in Ubud. They are cremating the old king! Yes, he passed away and lucky for us the cremation is today. We visited the site and it is adorned with huge monuments surrounded by hoards of people waiting for the big fire in the main street where the cremation will be held. There will be 6,300 pall bearers carrying the body. They also sacrificed a sacred cow and the cow's head rests near the king's body. It is quite smelly yet impressive to see it on a large plate at the foot of the temple.
We hope you enjoy the photos on the blog site!
Sail on sail on Aspen...