Sunday, June 29, 2014

Miri landing

So we have arrived at Miri marina on Thursday 19th (left Sat 14th) right on time for high tide and before a small storm started. Got in the dock, got some welcomes from other sailors already here, helped Ocelot (see more below) to get in just behind us and rushed for lunch with our legs still wobbly and the ground moving under our feet. All sins committed straight away: Pizza for lunch (the best I eat in Asia), Starbucks coffee and a cake, shopping and back to boat for clean up and full 8 hours sleep, aaaaahhhh :).

The journey was interesting. It was my very first sea crossing, my very first sea sickness and many other first times. These 600 miles took us about 5 days of nonstop moving. Unfortunately not sailing all the way as we lost the wind for a while and had to motor last two nights and a day. First 24 hours were challenging, I was seasick, my stomach didn't like the water movement, I felt tired and drowsy  and it was a bit busy, especially at night as we were going through a very busy shipping channel and had to keep a good watch for all the ships nearby. Fortunately, we were ready for all that, we had meals and snacks ready and Dale is well experienced so he needed me only for the night watch shifts, so I could have been left sitting or lying around not doing much. We were also pretty fast that time as we had pretty good strong wind. The wind and the sea had calmed down a bit later on the second day when we were passing by the Anambas islands and we could relax as those huge cargo ships were not using this part of South China Sea. Next day went pleasantly on at the same peaceful pace and we were slowly moving towards our destination. I have to say I felt much better for the rest of our journey and enjoyed it. I was able to cook down below again and that was a good sign.

Star gazing is amazing, each early morning, around 4am the moon, which was just approaching New moon would appear in front of us as we were heading east. And the sun rise and sun sets,... When the wind died out and the water got glassy one morning, I spotted around 50 sea snakes floating around enjoying the peace and a few fish jumping out in front of the boat. We got a few more visitors: One fly, one butterfly, one bird and some moths. Flying fish kept us company all the way. But I was disappointed, this was not much, I was expecting a bit more wildlife during such a long journey. I guess the fishermen are doing a too good job here... Or we just were not lucky as Ocelot has seen some dolphins on the way.
There were more things to look for in the water once we got closer to Borneo. Rubbish, yes and lots of logs and wood and we saw some huge whole trees floating fortunately only in a far distance. We hit a log only once during night, that was pretty fortunate because, you can avoid them in the day light, but there is not much you can do at night time.
Ocelot is a catamaran which left about two hours before us for the same passage and same destination as us. We have found out only one hour after we left when they contacted us on radio (and were already out of sight), that was pretty happy surprise. This nice couple is well known for their sailing blog (link above) where they share much useful information. We managed to catch them on the last day as we were motoring a bit more then they did, but it was still surprising as catamarans are usually much faster (they kind of fly as they don't dip as much) than monohulls. So we overtook them just a few hours from the land and entered the marina first. That way we could help them with getting in on radio. What a pleasurable meeting! We have spent some time together talking on their beautiful and spacious deck over past few days.

You can see us on the pictures here and also Ocelot in beautiful morning sun. Yes, we were shooting each other :D.

Miri is a wealthy town which got its' riches from Oil industry (started by brits long time ago). The Oil platforms are all around at sea, we saw about 6 of them. Scary metal constructions, they are. The city it self is not very interesting. Surprising is the number of shops of all kinds and two big and well equipped shopping centres. The chinese community is very strong here and where chinese people are, there is business. The population of muslims is much smaller and it's clearly notable on streets. We have not done much exploring yet, but as we are flying to Kuching tomorrow, we hope to see more of Borneo soon. We are planning to do some jungle trips, caving and cultural exploring. So that is about it for now, please comment if you have any questions! :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bali trip

Hello my dear readers, I am finally catching up with writing and sharing my latest stories with you. It's been long I know. I've chosen to go to Bali for my visa run as I wanted to serve a Vipassana course there and the date fitted me well. Well as we Dhamma people know, if you take care for Dhamma, Dhamma will take care for you. No, I am not relying on it, it just happens naturally. So I have registered for the course, but few days before my flight, they emailed me that course is full for service and sitting equally, but I got a contact of Sara W.  who is the driving force for Vipassana on Bali. She was kind enough to recommend me a nice guesthouse ( owned by an old student. There is a meditation room and number of yoga classes, swimming pool and it's 5 mins. from beach. I enjoyed this place a lot more because I was not feeling very well, so most of the time I stayed in, did yoga or just relaxed and enjoyed solitude. Sara came to meet me, introduced me to a nice girl who was volunteering there at the time and we had great fun. Sara usually manages the courses and after some chatting, she got an idea! She didn't sit a course for a while and was happy to swap with me and sit which meant I got a place! This was a great news, I was happy. We sat one day course with Balinese old students and teacher Anna and I moved to Ubud by the evening for few days before the course start. Ubud is a nice place packed with good shopping opportunities for good quality and beautiful Balinese goods, eco products and food. Ubud is a bit cooler then coast and full of expats, this really changes the market and many aspects of this place are very westernised - especially healthy food options. Hmm, still not for me, I must have got a pretty bad so called Bali Belly, which normally takes a day and I had it for a week. I had to get ready for the course and regain strength and health so I went for acupuncture to a local Chinese doctor. His needles hurt, I can tell you, but that is supposed to be a good thing. I wasn't much better after day and half so I got some activated carbon and an appointment with Australian Chinese medicine specialist. By the time I got there, the carbon worked and I was feeling better so his magic only strengthened me and I was cured. Anyway after this week my guts were so clean that the food was coming out totally unprocessed... I believe that everything happens for a reason and this might have been a good thing for my body after all, as there is a suspicion that I had mild dengue fewer before in Tioman as Dale and other sailors had it confirmed by doctors and I had the symptoms, so who knows maybe this was the final reaction to it.

OK, enough of illness! :-) Landih ashram lies in mountain area close to volcano Gungung Angung which I originally wanted to hike to so at least we ha a pretty good look at it. It's beautiful and scarcely visible (10 days is long enough to catch a good glimpse). This whole area is pretty cold, humid and foggy which makes it even colder, everything gets damp and moldish unless the sun is out for few hours and you take your stuff outside to dry. The ashram is more of a place for rent then a monastery, but nice and totally in nature. We had a great team of 6 servers and lots of fun. We left the ashram together and 4 of us spent one more day exploring Bali on scooters and foot. It was pleasure to meet you all my Dhamma sisters and brothers! Everything just fell in place very nicely.

At this moment, I am on ferry back to Tioman where the boat is getting ready for Saturday take of. And we shall scream out loud "atravestiamo" and appear in Kuching on Kalimantan island 5 days later and after some 600 nautical miles of sail! Wish us a good wind!
Pictures from Bali.