Have been in Saumlaki for about 10 days, we arrived here to start the Sail To Indonesia Rally 2013. Five boats including ourselves were starting here where as others were starting in Kupang. Theres another rally starting here called the Sail Indonesia Rally, they have about 20 boats here mostly from Australia and New Zealand. All boats are feeding into the Sail Komodo rally which travels the length of Indonesia and its Islands.
The organisers here put on a great welcome show with a lot of the local and national dignitries present. There were some local dancers and singers performing and the local people laid on a huge table of local food for us all. They all seemed very proud to have us there and were very welcoming. Sadly the numbers of boats that start the rally here have dwindled since it started in 2005. In the beginning there were over 150 boats here but as tourism hasn’t taken off here there isn’t much to see in the way of attractions, also as its only recently become an official port of entry has meant that it was difficult to check in here as Customs and Immigration had to be flown in especially from Ambon.
When we had a few days in the hotel there were a lot of uniforms staying there and after talking to one of them we found out that they were official people from Jakarta who were discussing the issues around tourism/planning/development, etc, so looks like they maybe getting the help they need to develop the town so it could welcome yachties and other tourists more easily.
On one of the days we organised a local mini bus to take us around some of the local sights, we stopped at the village with the stone boat, this was a boat which was apparantly 500 years old ( but equally could have been 5000 years old depending upon which piece of tourist literature you read !). More impressive was the huge flight of stone stairs leading down to the sea.
The kids were on form as ever !!
On friday they had organised the farewell event for us at the local arts center. There was a display of local foods all made by different womens group, they were to be judged by local councillors and then we were allowed to sample the different dishes. After this there was some traditional dancing and singing and then some food laid on for us. It was a big event for them and they wished us a safe and happy trip. It looks like we may be leaving at the beginning of next week for the next stop to Alor about 400 miles away.