17 July 2012
Kupang, Timor to Aimere, Flores (by ferry)
The plan now is like this. Ferry to Aimere, Flores. Drive to Labuan Bajo. And from Labuan Bajo there is a scheduled ferry service for Sulawesi. It's a bit sketchy though. It hasn't been running lately but they say it ran last week and will again this week. I hate retracing my steps but this seems like the best way.
It's a 27 hours boat ride. I come prepared. Ear plugs, eye mask, booze, food, and won't be going #2 for at least 36 hours.
As soon as I get on the boat I figure this isn't going to be good. No place to lay down, only hard plastic seats very close together. And it's going to be full. I've heard that the crew will often rent out their personal rooms for the right price (normally $40). Good time to find out. I find the first mate. He wants $100 and won't budge below $80. I look at the cattle car situation developing on the peasant deck and agree. For $80 you get a private room with a bed, air conditioner, and satellite TV. Really what you are paying for though is to NOT be down there. At first I'm a little ticked about the high price but then I fart alot in his bed and I feel that we are even.
The crew likes me. Not only am I a novelty but also nobody else has even been a big enough sucker to give them $80 for a one day trip. They're going to party hard with that soon. I get to drive the boat. They force food on me, more than a reasonable share. They cut up a watermelon and several crew don't get any. I had 3 pieces :)
The crew area is a bit shabby but spacious. The exact opposite of the lower decks. As our voyage progressed that $80 seems like more and more of a bargain. 12 hours in to the trip I'm convinced it's the best money I've ever spent.
Again, you're not paying for comfort, you're paying to not be miserable.
A steel ladder leads down to the passenger deck. There's so much smoke pouring out of the whole in the floor that I think there might be a fire. But no, that's just ALOT of people smoking in a small place with little ventilation.
I went to check on Mr Ural once. It was about 6 hours in to the trip and I could barely make it through the mass of people on the floor, stairs, under trucks, on trucks, beside the toilet, on the bulkhead, everywhere. In typical clumsy moves I stepped on about 5 people.
Mr Ural was the center of a small village. Already it had served as a table, bed, ashtray, chicken coop, garbage can, and chair. I step on a few more people on the way out. It's impossible not to. I try to get something from the bike again a few hours later but by then it is impossible to make it through the crowd.
Trash is starting to accumulate. They don't bother to consolidate. You don't put your peanut shells in a chip bag or put small items in to larger items. You just throw it all on the floor. Wow I'm glad I'm up on the crew deck! I can't imagine how anyone sleeps below. So many people, so little space. So much smoke and blaring pop music.
When we reach port the next morning and the boat empties out I head down to the bike.
It's covered in chicken feathers and brown sludge. WTF! The fuel petcock is petcock is moved to some crazy impossible position and it's been put it neutral which allowed it to roll around and F up the fender. Damn!
Snack up before the boat
These trucks are everywhere. Hard working and reliable. Japanese! As the third world grows so will their fortunes. I've been meaning to buy stock in Mitsubishi.
Every bit of space is used. Poor Ural is bottom left.
When you walk in and see this, think about packing in there for the next 27 hours then pay up and get a room!
Everyone on the deck, notice the one girl looking at me and smiling. Love this pic.
Chilling with the crew. Good guys.
Driving the ship
crew rec room