I returned to Karimunjawa for a second week, this time i wanted to do some diving over there as there were a couple of wrecks and some good amounts of coral and fish? Unfortunately i hadn’t checked how much cash i had on me (most business is done in cash) and when i originally landed i had a great problem getting cash out of the ATMs. For some reason the ATMs don’t like Visa normally only Mastercard, and another problem is that they’re changing a lot of machines from 4 digit PIN numbers to 6 digit. There was only one ATM on the island and of course it didn’t like my card !! Arrgghh !!
I had organised a 3 dive trip but realising i hadn’t quite got enough cash i had to reduce it to 2 then just down to a single dive, a real shame but i just couldn’t lay my hands on any more cash. I even went back to the bank with about 10 dollars worth of Malaysian Ringgit, 10 dollars worth of Thai Bhat and 10 dollars worth of US dollars. The only thing they were interested in was the dollars which totalled about about 6 pounds !! Doesn’t seem like much but it would have bought about 7-8 rice/noodle dish meals !!
I had the dive boat to myself and we set off for an hours boat ride to the dive site.
Ready to go down to the shipwreck Indono
Visibilty was about 7-8 meters at 14 meter depth –
With sadly only one dive completed we went to a local sany beach for lunch before heading off to a snorkelling site for a while. Fortunaley it was a far better snorkelling site that the ones i was at the previous week with more variety of fish and corals.
I returned to the main island and had a budget of 50,000 Indonesian Rupiah per day for the next 3 days (thats about £2.50 !), still enough to buy 3 meals a day and fortunaley the homestay where i was staying supplied free tea and coffee so that was drinks sorted out ! You really can survive in Asia on a very, very small budget if you ate the local food and stayed in cheap accomodation, maybe 15-20 dollars a day would get you by. Luckily i have a bit more than that due to letting out my house so i can splash out a bit more as and when i like !
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 –
They had also purchased some land near a river inlet and created a marina for future use.
By pure coincidence a local Indonesian had bought a large piece of land nearby and was going to build a waterpark on it, before they knew it they had agreed to build huge water slides – all they needed now was somewhere to build them !!
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.
After arriving i spent the afternoon wandering around town and getting my bearings, you could see that this had been more of a locals attraction due to the lack of cafes/bars/restaurants. There were lots of homestays and more being built, you could see it was developing fast. On the second day i hired a scooter and drove all around the island, most of the roads are broken tarmac and when you try and find the hidden remote golden beaches you have to drive down sandy tracks to get there.
The water really is beautifully clear and very warm, you just jump straight in.
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……..