I had wanted to return to Indonesia for various reasons but especially to catch up with some people i had met when i came through last year on the sailing rally.
The small town of Jepara is known for making some of the most furniture anywhere in the world, its also home of the Jepara Marina sailing club. When we came through last year the members here gave us such a warm welcome and looked after us i wanted to come back and hang out for a while.
One things for sure, if you’re an expat living in Jepara you’re either in the furniture business or work at the power station. I have met German, Dutch, Finnish, Belgian,French, Spanish,Swedish,South African,Australian,Welsh and probably others but only met 25-30 people, a real old mix. Two of the people i met Rob from Wales and Peter from Germany had just started a new venture making fibreglass boats, they had made a few more since i was here last and the business was gathering pace. One new boat –
One of the places i hadn’t visited whilst here was the islands of Kiramunjawa, previously only visited by Indonesian people an A-list celebrity visited the islands a few years ago and then it appeared in the Lonely Planet guide. Next thing tourism had taken off in a big way and things were moving fast. The guys in Jepara were quick to notice and some of them snapped up land at a very cheap price. The island group consists of 27 islands most of which aren’t inhabited, in fact a lot is now a national park and therefore protected. Around the islands are large areas of coral reef and in some places you can walk out hundreds of feet into the ocean in cyrstal clear water and still only be up to your waist.
Another day i had met a Dutch couple who had already been to a few places including China & Mongolia, always good to chat with people who have already been to places you want to go. We discussed going on a boat trip and going snorkelling, joining a boat by myself would mean joining a load of Indonesians who tend to fill the boats to maximun to get value for money, they are also all rather excitable !!. We hired a boat and guide and went off ourselves to three different snorkelling sites and one beautiful beach where we had lunch. There was lots of coral everywhere and a lot of small fish, sadly not any big fish a case of over fishing and/or increased tourism i guess.
I spent a great week in Karimunjawa but needed to head back to Jepara for the weekend, the timetable for the ferry seemed to be a bit of an unknown however. The timetables on the internet were wrong/out of date, the people at the terminals didn’t seem to know and even the people on the island gave me conflicting schedules ! When i got there the first placed i stayed told me there was definatley a ferry going back on friday morning, ‘every day’ he said. When i went for dinner to a place i normally had breakfast and dinner at she seemed surprised to see me on thursday night, ‘ i thought you would have already gone ?’, i told her i was going tomorrow (friday) ‘no ferry tomorrow’ she said. She was adamant that there was no ferry and even checked with another member of staff. I walked back to my hotel a little disgruntled but called in to see a contact who i was given, he got a printed shedule out (i never thought they existed) and worked out there was one but at 1 o’oclock in the afternoon. Always very confusing meaning you have to check, double check and treble check everytime you need to organise any form of transport, no point getting frustrated though you just have to go with the flow.
You could always calm down with a Bintang being cooled by the sea breeze……..