Unfortunately our time in Ambon is in the middle of the rainy season. The wind comes from all directions and funnels over the hills, the rain goes straight into the cockpit due to strong currents turning the boat out of the wind.We are happily sitting inside, enjoying the cooler temperatures and the fast internet…
Thanks to our neighbor Santy we have changed to the best mooring in the field and to make sure Reto dives down and checks it.
Only after 1.5 days we hop into a bemo to explore downtown. We are awed by the huge fresh market, check out the Maluku Mall with a „hypermarket“ that deserves the name only for its size but not its choice and walk to several of the city’s tourist attractions.
One of my targets here in Indonesia is also to try as much as possible from the local food.
There are everywhere places to eat, the most popular seems to be the bakso, a soup with noudles, chicken meat balls and a fried cracker on top and sometimes an egg and piece of tofu.
In „our“ village Amahusu we test everything we find from fried banana and breadfruit, Saté Ayam (chicken skewers with peanut sauce), Nasi Kuning (Yellow rice with fish, meat and veggies)
Our favorite is the Nasi Campur, rice with several veggies and a piece of chicken, fish or tofu, and we soon realize that you have to be early and catch the right moment to get the food fresh and warm.
Ukulele Kids in Action
On Saturday afternoon we join the next training session of the Ukulele Kids (see our Blog „From Sorong to Ambon“), and again Nico invites us to join. This time Reto brings his own Ukulele, but after the first song there is a big break -- 60 ukulele need to be tuned…
At 9 am on Sunday morning the kids (together with Reto) play in the monthly children service in church. There is a lot of singing and thanks to the words on the wall we are able to join in the singing.
Ukulele Kids play for the mayor Ambon
In the evening then is the big event where the Ukulele kids are invited to play for the mayor of Ambon. Nico invites us to join as well, of course we come, we are curious.
After the last practice there is a big run to the bus, then I understand why I was ordered to already sit inside. Riding on a bus seems to be a huge attraction, the kids all scream, jump and push each other. Nico gets them to sing a few songs, so they are kept buy during the ride 😉
At the mayors residence villa we are greeted with traditional music and welcomed by the vize mayor.
Then we wait for the arrival of the main guests. The reason for this whole event is the visit from 10 diplomats from Afghanistan who are in Ambon for a Capability Building with the topic of „Living together in peace with different religions“.
The background here is that in Ambon over centuries Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists and Hindus have lived together in peace until the year 1999 when a horrible conflict has lead to many deaths and destruction throughout the city. Fortunately the conflict could be solved an today the Ambonese live again in peace and harmony together.
In the group of the Ukulele Kids there are Christians as well as Muslims playing together, which is a good example for the mayor and the reason they are invited to this event.
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We enjoy the different Indonesian music, the company of Nico, Jeanny and Rio, the performance of the kids and of course the dinner.
On a short visit to the toilet I am allowed to enter the reception area of the mayor and get to know his wife Debby Louhenapessy. Debby speaks fluently German and has worked for three years in Winterthur, Switzerland, just around the corner from our hometown!! After a short chat and picture with her her husband joins us, signs a book about Ambon for us and even takes some time for a chat and picture, in all the action going on around.
Then it is time to go home and of course, the kids are even more psyched. The whole bus is jumping up and down, I have to close my ears and admire the bus driver who still somehow gets us back safely.
Ukulele Kids literally „boarding“ SHE SAN
Two days later the next event for us with the Ukulele kids. Nico had asked us if we agree to take 10 kids on board SHE SAN to make a movie with a song about a sailing boat. Of course, that sounds like fun! Reto takes the dinghy to the agreed time to pick them all up from the pier.
He comes back with 13 kids in the dinghy, no Nico. „Ok, it will be some more than we expected.“ Again he comes back with a dinghy full of kids, no Nico. He confesses „I have to go another 2 times for sure“, in the end it is 5 rides each way and we have around 50 kids on board at the same time…
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On the way back Reto takes the kids the beach closer by, but even with Santy‘s help the one or the other kid as well as one ukulele don#t make it ashore all the way dry…
Jeanny and Rio
The following afternoon we are invited to afternoon coffee by Rio and Jeanny and it is nice to finally find time to chat and get them to know better. But soon Rio brings in two ukulele, his brother joins in on the keyboard and the whole family sings with us the songs we have now heard so often from the kids.
Since Jeanny hasn‘t visited us on board yet, we invite them and Nico again for the next afternoon, as a fare well so to say. At the end of the entertaining evening (with more songs of course) they both agree that we cannot leave Ambon without ever having eaten Papeda, a traditional food from here.
As the winds forecast is also good for one day later Reto happily postpones our departure by another day, we find another hike up the hills behind Ambon passing by nutmeg trees and pineapple farms to the hills overlooking the bay.
We can watch how Rio’s auntie (under the supervision of the grandmother) mixes the starch with the hot water until it becomes pretty gluey and even hard to get into the plate. On top comes the
Goa Ika, a fish soup decorated with chopped Kenari nuts.
It tastes really nice and we both give it a try to eat the Papeda in the traditional way, from the top of the plate!! With banana flower veggies, fried fish, tempeh and rice in addition we are more than full, but it is just too good.
When Jeanny tells us that she has picked up the fish fresh from the market in the morning we realize that she has taken a day off from work in order to cook for „her brother and sister from Switzerland“, and that with only 12 days of vacation per year!!
Unfortunately it is late too fast, after a last song together we once again have to say goodbye to good friends with tears in the eyes.
To complete the goodbyes on the way home we meet our friend Santy who has always looked after our boat and helped us with everything we needed. We cannot leave without accepting another bag of food and some more tears…
Wanci on Wangi Wangi, Wakatobi National Park
An easy almost downwind sail brings us in 2 days the 300 miles to Wanci on the island of Wangi Wangi in the Wakatobi national Park.
Reto steers SHE SAN through the channel which has 5 meter depth (while our cruising guide still speaks of 2.5 m at high tide…)
Wakatobi Information Center
Right after the apperantly also quite new breakwater we find Libby at anchor and park ourselves in right next to them even though Gino from the Wakatobi Information Center would like to have us use less space and move closer in. We try to calm him down „we don’t stay until the yachts from the railly arrive, no worries…“
On our first visit to shore we are pretty surprised. 4 teenagers start straight at us, politely introduce themselves and ask where we are going and if they can join us. I am not really happy, as I would like to check out the night market by myself, but Yuyun, Serli, Agi and Rezha are friendly but won’t let go that easily. They accompany us through the market and wait until we eat a (pretty dry) fish skewer.
„Would you like to see the water holes?“ they ask us. Well, why not. Together we walk past the market to two water holes where the kids are bathing and the women are washing their laundry. We understand that our four guides belong to a group of English students who would like to practice their English with the arriving yachties and at the same time show the yachties their island.
Bajo Mola village
The following morning we walk -by ourselves since our students are at school- all the way through Wanci. In the South we find the community of Bajo Mola where people from the Bajo seafaring tribe settled more than 60 years ago. The village is famous for their houses that are built on wooden poles and often out into the sea.
Wanci’s Pasar Malam -- Night Markets
Two days later we check out the second night market in town and find out that there you can buy the already cooked veggies, tofu and fish. The standard price for one portion of veggies is IDR 5000.- (USD 0.35)…
From this moment on I stop cooking the veggies myself, that’s really not worth the water and the gas..
With the bicycle up and down and around Wangi Wangi
We find out that there are no dogs in this island, a good reason to get out the bicycles again (the last two times in Kosrae and in Majuro we were chased by too many of them that I had given up on it..).
On two different days we explore the island with our bikes, the people are super friendly everywhere, we feel extremely at ease (and there are really no dogs chasing us!!!)
Traditional Performance at the Lookout Point
Already two days earlier Agi has asked us if we want to join a performance at the lookout point and Reto spontaneously said yes. In the morning we pass the location on our bikes and get another invitation from the organizers mounting the tent there.
When we meet Agi and Serlie in front of the WIC, Agi asks „Where are you going?“. „With you to the performance at the lookout?“ Oh, it seems that he didn‘t really expect us to come after all, and how do we get there now (we don‘t want to take the bikes in the evening)?
Shortly after Yuyun arrives, they organize two helmets and we follow the group on Yuyun‘s scooter up the hill to the lookout point.
We quickly enjoy the view from the viewpoint, have time for a chocolate shake and getting connected on facebook, then the performance starts.
We sit in the first row, watch the traditional singing, dancing and theatre, have to dance ourselves and are at the end of course welcome subject for fotos and selfies.
Workshop in the Wakatobi Information Center
Gino asks us to give an English lesson for the 30 students, to keep them motivated to learn English.
Of course we are happy to do that, we draft a little concept and off we go. With the help of a whiteboard we work on the topics „What does a tourist expect in Wakatobi?“ and „What do you expect from a tourist?“. The participation is good, everyone seems to have fun.
After the workshop Yuyun, Serli, Agi and Rezha accompany us to the market, on the way back I spontaneously ask them if they want to come on board SHE SAN. Of course they want, probably it was about time we asked!! While I make some popcorn and ice tea they enjoy themselves in the front on our „jumping net“.
Farewell party in the WIC
The next day we want to say goodbye to Gino, who informs us that the group makes a farewell party for us. There is a lot of singing, dancing and in the end Yuyun sings „for me“ a super difficult song. She has a beautiful voice and does a great job, even dancing with me at the same time, I am impressed 😉
And again don’t forget to look around by yourself in this 360 degree video about Wanci --
In the morning we get our anchor up for a daysail to Pasarwajo. When we leave the harbour we hear on the radio that an additional 3 yachts are approaching from the Sail to Indonesia Rally which makes a total of 6, this is getting a bit crowded for us anyway.. 😉