As we sailed towards Pulau Belitung this morning, we enjoyed some lectures on board. National Geographic photographer Dan Westergren spoke about his work and connecting with people he meets while on assignment; undersea specialist Rory Mulloy shared information on mangrove ecology and the challenges facing restoration.
After lunch we arrived and were greeted with an overwhelming welcome by the people of Tanjung Kelayang, on Belitung Island. Everywhere we have visited on this trip through Indonesia, the people have greeted us with extraordinary openness and genuine hospitality. This time our welcome was exceptional, and many of us were left speechless. There were choreographed dances and rehearsed performances, all set to the hypnotic drum beat that has become synonymous with our time ashore here. Afterward we were presented with an array of local treats to enjoy.
After enjoying the welcome and showing appreciation for the kindness of the local community, we cooled off with a swim in the clear waters, chasing fish amongst the patches of coral. We had a small beach on Pulau Kelayang to ourselves, with a spectacular backdrop of granite rock formations, smoothly carved by the wind and seas. Before sunset we had the chance to assist in a local turtle conservation project by releasing hatchlings into the ocean.
Once back on board, we enjoyed an Indonesian barbecue dinner on the sundeck. Then our guests experienced what was surely the highlight of the trip — the famous National Geographic Orion “Crew Show.”