With light, but no spectacular sunrise, arriving around 05:30 today saw breakfast at the almost civilised hour of 0800 on the aft deck. Today we exercised our minds, bypassing the chance to join Ewa for “Stretch & Relax” at 07:30 on the top deck (as we have every other morning, so far) and settled in for a series of lectures/presentations that covered the history of the spice trade with an emphasis on the arrival of European traders in the 16th & 17th Cs. A pretty blood thirsty period and this also showed a side of the Dutch that they do still try to hide. The VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) is arguably the genesis of modern business structure (the incorporated company with shares) and for a while there also showed today’s multinationals a clean pair of heels when it came to behaving like an unelected governing body in these far off places and exerting undue influence on the governments of the day when they wanted something to benefit them and not the citizens.
This was followed by a rather dark telling of what happened to East Timor and with the revelations of perfidy and chicanery on the part of USA and Australian Governments of the day when Indonesia summarily invaded East Timor. A black stain on both countries moral and ethical values to this day.
Of course since regaining independence things haven’t been going to well internally with East Timor’s governance and who knows when things will get better for the majority of people there. And the royalties rort perpetrated by the Australian Government of the day still wrankles.
After lunch those of us that wanted to go snorkelling over the remainder of our trip had to attend a safety and procedures briefing and for those that needed fins and mask a fitting session and issue of gear finished off that session.
Yesterday the galley was open for a couple of tours and now the bridge doors were flung wide and those interested in what happens could nose around and ask questions of our singing Captain Mike. Heather availed herself of this opportunity as both the galley and bridge tours on the Antarctic were cancelled due to the sea state being a touch rough. Heather’s report was that they had fun up there amongst all the gadgets to keep them on course and monitor the state of the ship’s systems.
We again were able to bypass the afternoon trivia comp held by Kathy in the Leda Lounge. But listening to the post comp evaluations by several of the participants it was a hard fought battle yet again.
The final lecture was a tour de force by our expedition leader on “Indonesia: An Unlikely Nation” and covered from colonial to the present day with some very interesting and in some cases alarming stats and observations along the way. It is a real shame that Australia doesn’t make more of an effort with our closest (excepting PNG) neighbour. There are still many, many abuses that need to be stopped in this area and the ecological disaster that is the stripping of forests is a bit mind boggling. All these things will come back to bite not only Indonesia but have impacts on our ways too.
The formal stuff ended with a briefing on what to expect for our days in Indonesian waters and this included the introduction of “rubber time” (things wont happen according to any published timetable), modes of transport (back of trucks in several locations) and whether or not you would want to eat from food carts, bargaining etiquette and what will be acceptable to Customs and Quarantine as things to bring back.
The evening meal was again on the aft Leda deck but in the form of a seafood extravaganza BBQ – We shared our table with the Chappellet sisters again and learnt a bit more about the workings of this family enterprise. When our fearless duo of Kathy (vocals) and Terry (guitar and big box of noises) started up for the Dance Your Night Away Under the Stars I took my leave and prepared the underwater cameras I had brought along for their first outing tomorrow.