Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Exploring Pasar Bau Bau

After leaving the Kraton and Fortress, we made our way to the Pasar... the central market for Bau Bau. Here, chef would shop for fresh fish and vegetables and my companions and I would search for photo-ops. Asian markets are a personal favorite of mine. The smells... strange fruits and vegetables, the frenzied activity involved in the haggling over prices, the welcoming faces of strangers... hopeful that you might purchase something from their stall. 

The Pasar Bau Bau was no disappointment. It had all of the above and more... fish mongers, fruit and vegetable kiosks, spice merchants, t-shirts and homewares, butcher stalls, even a hardware store where Mr. T purchased several spools of fishing line and some small hooks in anticipation of some hand line action from the boat while we were at anchor.

While touring the markets, we were constantly stopped by everyone  wanting to have their pictures taken. This proved to be great fun and after a while, we realized that a handful of the same men on motorbikes kept showing up ever couple of minutes for their portraits. It seems they would circle around the market area and then come back to us repeatedly for another photo. After they had made 4 or 5 laps around the Pasar, their faces became familiar and we realized that these guys were serious hams, intent on photo-bombing us at every opportunity.

While wandering thru a dark and congested maze of stalls deep in the interior of the Pasar, two young girls approached me and really began mugging for the camera. They followed me everywhere for at least 1/2 an hour. Cute as pie and sweet as they could be, they stole my heart quickly.

After a while of playing with these girls, they took my hand and led me thru the maze of stalls to what I can only guess was their mother's stall. Further camera mugging ensued here as Mom summoned all of her nearby friends to pose.

While at the Pasar and besides the fishing equipment Mr. T purchased, we bought some dried green beans which would be our breakfast the following morning, bunches of fresh, delicious bananas and some small fish for Mr. T to use as bait. Chef had also purchased several bags of goodies to supplement our meals for the next few days at sea. Loading our newly acquired treasures into the waiting minivan, we headed back down to the port to rejoin our boat & crew.

Arriving dockside in late afternoon, we discovered that the Manta Mae was now tied up alongside of the wharfs and was in the process of being filled with petrol from a large tank truck. The Coast Guard and Police were still on deck, laughing, talking excitedly and making a good dent in our beer supply. More photos with the assembled officials ensued, more chatter and beer consumption also. At one point during the conversation, in my limited ability to understand spoken Indonesian, I heard Mr. T laughing and talking with the Police Officers about the rampant corruption of government officials. Lots of smiles, laughter and head nodding followed as everyone joined in to offer their opinions on what could be done to solve the problem. This entire conversation was, of course, ludicrous (they were obviously waiting around to be given some money) and Mr. T's gentle and persuasive way of letting the officials know that they would indeed be getting their palms greased but they had better not get greedy.

It wasn't long after that conversation that a few bank notes where discreetly exchanged and the officials returned to land, waving and smiling after a day of hanging out on our well-appointed boat and consuming a large portion of our beer stash.

As the sun began to drop lower in the sky, we began to wish they had stayed onboard as being tied up to the wharf gave easy access to anyone wishing to board the vessel. Small groups of men began paying us a lot of attention from the docks. One sketchy looking guy sat in the shade of a scaffold nearby, casting looks in our direction and talking with someone on a cell phone. As waters around Indonesia and SE Asia are notorious for pirate activity, we began to suspect that some of the locals might have plans for us. With a discreet nod from our Captain, I grabbed all of our camera gear from above deck, as well as other valuables below deck, and locked them in my cabin. 

The Captain informed us that we would remain in port until a second truck of fuel could arrive to top off our tanks and portables. It would probably be a few hours more of waiting. We would need to leave the wharfside and anchor in the harbor waiting for the truck to arrive as space along the wharf was needed for a large Indonesian domestic cruise ship that was rapidly approaching. Leaving the dockside was a welcome move given all of the attention we had been getting during the past couple of hours. A couple of hours later, just as it was getting dark, a cell phone call arrived... the fuel was waiting. We made our way back to the wharf, topped the tanks, waved goodbyes and set out to sea again at around 8pm that evening. It would be another two days at sea before we would see land again...

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