The nature of an expedition means that itineraries aren’t always the final plan, and it is this sort of flexibility that enables us to seek out the best opportunities during our voyages. Sometimes this enables us to take advantage of local events or better weather, and sometimes circumstances mean that we must adapt.
And so it was that today, instead of the anticipated trip to Borobudur Temple, we awoke off the island of Pulau Bawean. A morning of snorkeling beckoned, but the weather gods were not on our side. As the Zodiacs were deployed, great monsoon clouds rolled across the island. Bright flickers of light preceded throaty rumbles that echoed across the sea. As the monsoon enveloped National Geographic Orion, the ship was closed up for an early lunch.
In the afternoon, we sailed into a small harbour outside the principal coastal town of Sangkapura. Brightly coloured fishing vessels–decorated in a style unique to this island–gently rolled on the incoming tide. Piling into an assortment of cars (there are no buses on Bawean, and Toyota is the number one car brand on the island), we made our way to a small school in the town of Penabur. Driving along the well-paved coastal road, we passed through small settlements and villages. We waved at children as our drivers expertly dodged the thousands of scooters used for everyday transport.
Open to children of families with insufficient funds for formal higher education, the school teaches agricultural skills essential to this island community. Young boys demonstrated a traditional dance while the school’s girls sang for us and showed us their dyed fabrics. After an equally enlightening drive back, we returned to the ship just as darkness settled on the picturesque island.