The ferry to Flores

“No VIP tickets, finished”

Yelled the man “No problem, normal ticket ok.”

Now I’m sitting on a deflated blow up mattress on the cargo deck of the ferry to Flores.  Around me in no particular order of importance are:

About another 20 people who were also too late (or too poor) to get a seat or bed upstairs.

7 small ponies

12 boxes of chicks (as in small chickens), all “cheep cheep”ing their miniature hearts out.

One very irate girlfriend

Lots of trucks

Many small motorbikes

Hundreds of sacks filled with everything from garlic, to used plastic bottles…


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sally enjoying the cruise…

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the view from the top deck

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ponies to keep us company

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just about to disembark.

Fast forward 18 hours.

On the upside, we did manage to make it to Kupang in time to ship the new tyres we’re carrying to Bali, and then catch the 4pm ferry (which actually departed at 2pm).

The plan was to get a VIP ticket, which while it sounds great, just means you get to lay down in a cooled room full of bunk beds with another 40 people, mostly snoring, or playing different music on their phones at maximum volume.

The other class of ticket is “not VIP”, where you get to sit on a metal chair, in a hot room with 200 other people, most of whom are smoking, with bizarre music being played at eardrum shattering volume.

We arrived at the terminal at 1:55pm, and the loading door for the ferry was already being closed, so in the panic to get tickets and get on board, I missed the rising hysteria in Sal’s voice at the prospect of a 16 hour ferry trip in “not VIP” class.  It may have been more complex than that, but let’s not get bogged down with details here…

Once on board however I did pick up on some fairly clear signs that all was not well.

Anyway, we opted to sleep down on the cargo deck where at least no one was smoking.  The blow up mattresses we still have came in vary handy, and aside from the wind blowing a fucking gale, the horses screaming in panic every half hour or so, the chicks screeching all night long, the blindingly bright lights that were left on all night, the lack of any food or water and the 100% humidity from the fog that we passed through, it was quite nice night.

Did I mention the sea water running across the floor?

Never mind, it can’t all be white sandy beaches and Balinese villas can it?

We FINALLY arrived here in Larantuka at about 7am, and staggered into town to find another room, eat some food and crash out in another mosquito infested, then poisoned room.

Today was spent walking through town looking for some bits and pieces, getting a local sim card (our number is +6781337026357), eating some more and trying to find some vacuum hose for a minor repair on Betsy.

They don’t get many tourists in sleepy traditional Larantuka, so walking into a mechanics workshop with Sally in her short summer dress, while we tried to explain ‘vacuum hose’ in sign language – caused quite a stir.  Especially after I drew a picture of a piece of tube (that Sal said looked like male genitalia), and Sal made a sucking face complete with sucking noises to complete the mime.

The look on all the boys faces was priceless.

“Must be time for a beer” – Sally.

On that note, bye all!!

We finally get moving

Many amazing things have just happened. For possibly the first time ever, a shipping company was on time, and definitely for the first time ever, a shipping company charged LESS than they quoted. WTF?

There was also the taxi driver who took me to the shipping yard, he managed to make the 5km trip at no more than 35km/hr in top gear slipping the clutch the whole way there.  (Something to do with saving petrol I assume).

Then after being stored for a month, Betsy started up right away, we rode to the border, and (technically) entered Indonesia with invalid visas (YEAH BABY!!).

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cutting the customs lock, and…

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lucky Betsy was at the front!!

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tank full of fuel, and we’re off!

‘Technically’ you aren’t allowed to apply for 2 visas for the same country in 2 different passports.  However if say for example, a friend of mine… wanted to fly to Indonesia while a bike was being delivered to Timor, and then go get the bike and re enter Indonesia over the land border, ‘technically’ he would have to get a visa on arrival in Bali, but then apply for a second visa from the Indo consulate in East Timor (ten days turnaround) to then cross the land border (visa on arrival is only available at an airport).


Well anyway, if that friend instead applied for one visa at the Indo consulate before leaving home, but then entered Indo the first time with a different passport, then that person might get away with using the now ‘technically’ invalid visa at a remote border crossing where they couldn’t match the two passports as all they have in the way of technology is a mobile phone and a generator being propelled by three goats.

Back to the amazing things that happened today… At a town 100km from the border we found a room for $10, 2 single beds, no bathroom, toilet down the hall with a mandi (traditional Indonesian wash room – i.e. insect infested damp filthy room with a shallow water tank in one corner, a squat toiled in the other, and a plastic scoop to deliver the water to either the toilet, or your body while washing. And… Sally used the mandi.  Let’s not dwell on that though, as there will be more mandi’s before the end of this adventure.

Then… “ Hello my name is Jeffrey, how are you?”  said the random young Indonesian guy standing at reception “I’m good thanks, my name is Dino.  How are you?” “I am very well, but I need to go to my English class now, I will return afterwards” “um OK…” Our ten dollar room was of course insect infested, so I asked the guy at reception if he had some fly spray (in sign language).  He nodded, and went off to get what I assumed would be a can of fly spray…  But no!  He came back with a thing that looked like the garden sprayer that my nonno used on his fruit trees – you know the sort, big long brass tube with a plunger and a jar of liquid screwed to the bottom of it.  Um OK. He went into the room and pumped the hell out of the thing, spraying “I cant believe it’s not Diesel” all around, then closed the door and told me to come back in 5 mins.

“Sal that guy just sprayed our room full of Diesel, I doubt we’re going to get any sleep tonight”


So off we went to find dinner and let our room fumigate.

“Hello Dino, this is my friend Mary, and this is Stef, is it ok if we join you, we want to practice our English?” We spend the next 2 hours finding cold beer, eating dinner and then just chatting with the three lovely guys from Kefa in West Timor. We taught them a little English, and they taught us some Bahasa, pretty good deal all round.

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Sally with her new admirers “how can she be so beautiful?!”

By the time we returned, our room was considerably less stinky, although it still smells like a  mechanics workshop, but the mosquitos and cockroaches littering the floor are evidence that whatever it was worked. Lovely. What else?

We actually had a nice time in Dili, drank some beers at the seaside bars, watched a movie in the Dili Cineplex (for old times sake), ordered cocktails at the rooftop bar next to the cinema, and then ate Thai for dinner before going to bed rather early last night.

Oh and I took a wrong turn just after the border and we ended up on an alternative road to get here, which took us up a little in altitude, which is really nice because it’s much cooler up higher, it also took us through some very remote villages where they don’t see too many tourists on motorbikes, and in a brief photo stop, we were surrounded by a big group of children wanting their picture taken, the kids on this end of Indonesia are really cheecky, lots of fun!

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For our first day on the road things are going swimmingly.  Tomorrow we head to Kupang city hopefully in time to get the ferry to Flores.