Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Stop 19: Lingga - Benan Island. October 26 2016.
It took us 7.5 hours to travel 36 nautical miles to Benan Island from Kentar Island. We anchored at 00 27.91N & 104 26.94E in 17 meters of water, with very good holding. Don’t sail to close to shore here, the rocks and reef stick out a long way.
This was our first festivity venue for quite some time and things hadn’t changed much. Same dancing, same speeches in Indonesian and similar food dished up, but a bit more seafood. We were however honored to be the guests of the celebration, which it certainly seemed like the entire village came out to watch. The girls dancing were beautiful as usual with lovely outfits on.
Most of the village lives out on the water and they live on stilts, the same as Kongka Besar. They are very creative and a lot of activity is on the jetty, including our restaurants where we had lunch and dinner. It’s a very picturesque place, with a very short walk to the northern side of the island bringing you to a glorious stretch of beach.
Our welcome ceremony caused great excitement amongst the locals. We think they all turned out on the jetty. We had noticed as we took the tender ashore to give Raymond our paper work there was a pole in the water with parcels attached to it. Part of our welcome festivities was for the kids to try jump off the jetty, try to swim up the heavily greased pole to retrieve a parcel, but it was too slippery for the kids to reach. Next was a fun canoe paddling race. They had ladies of the village rowing 3 of their canoes with 3 of our captain’s on board beating drums, it was causing much laughter and as so much fun.
Our dinner was in the school ground courtyard. What a humbling experience it was. Earlier in the day we had walked past the very run down building with dirt for the playground with a pole to play with. Rooms were bare, guttering was falling off to nonexistent, and the whole thing was just so run down. If you are reading this and wondering where to give your collected writing pads/books, pencils, rulers, etc this is the place. They could do with some assistance for their kids. At the time they had 100 students attending. We all chipped in some money to assist with a new building they wanted to build for the kids.