... And then I got to Bawean – a beautiful, wonderful, super-friendly island that I'd leave under police escort....!
The second stop after leaving Singapore was Bawean Island, which is a beautiful, remote island in the middle of the Java Sea. To get there, I had to fly to Surabaya, then catch a taxi to the port, a ferry to the island and then figure out a way of finding a place to stay.
I must say that the last part of that equation – finding a place to stay – worried me a little because there was no way of booking beforehand, but I'd been reliably informed that simply wandering into the main town of Sangkapura would do the trick.
But as it turned out, I didn't really need to worry. Because there was a group of local Surabaya police on board the ferry who were heading to the island for a recruitment drive, and as we disembarked, they insisted I accept a ride into town in their police truck, have lunch with them and then stay at the same guest house they were staying at!
Ari Wibowo – the man who looked after me so well while on Bawean. I'd love it if one day if I could go back there and show him the film.
But most importantly, they found me a fixer named Ari who could speak a smattering of English and we went to work, driving Ari's scooter a full circumnavigation of the island in about 3 hours – me on the back with my camera equipment, worrying the whole time we'd hit a pot-hole and I'd go flying off the back.
The main purpose of the ride was to find a place for Grant and Charlie to make landfall, but it was also a great way to see the island and its many fishing villages – it really is a beautiful way of life out there, and I do envy those people.
Everywhere I went there was someone smiling and waving. And it's funny, because most people describe places like that as backward, but I can't think of anywhere I've visited where the people are so much more happy and content than the average city-dweller.
I think I was there for a couple of days before Grant and Charlie showed up to be greeted again by all the kids of the town and a few curious adults (It's really interesting how the kids are always the ones to break the ice, before the adults overcome their shyness and come on over to examine the boat and shake the hands of the lunatics rowing it!). And then it was another couple fo days after the guys departed again before the next ferry visited and I could make my way back to Surabaya and on to the next adventure in Bali.
And to cap things off, as Ari was driving me back to the ferry, and I perched on the back of his scooter with a suitcase and a camera bag, I got a tap on my shoulder.
It was the local policeman who was riding on his own scooter next to us.
I told Ari the policeman probably wanted us to stop.
But he just turned and said "nah".
... Then the policeman pulled ahead and turned on his siren.
And I got my police escort all the way to the ferry steps!