Monday, 27 December 2010

The voyage to Malaysia

Friday 17 December: It's an early morning goodbye to the Bandas as I board the Pelni liner KM Ciremai for the six-day cruise westward to the port of Kijang on Bintan island, a short hop from Malaysia and Christmas. Arriving at Ambon at 3:00pm I jump ship to send Christmas e-mails and I'm lucky to get back on board just before she sails at 5:00pm (I was told 6:00pm). Three young lads don't quite make it ashore in time and have to throw their mobiles to catchers on the dock, plunge in and swim ashore. I just love it.
Saturday 18: My first-class cabin is comfortable and I have it all to myself. At noon we dock at Bau Bau on Sulawesi, this time in daylight. I would like to go ashore but dare not risk it - one hoot is an hour to departure, two is half an hour and three is ten minutes - I must remember this.
Sunday 19: At 6:00am Makassar too is in daylight and a tug shoves us into place. In the afternoon the ship's alarm sounds off. The crew go through the drill but all the passengers, except one, ignore it. My life jacket fits but the light and whistle are missing.

Monday 20: At midday we reach Surabaya on Java and as usual the porters are the first to scramble aboard, fighting and shoving to be first.
Tuesday 21: At lunchtime we arrive in Tanjung Priok, the port of Jakarta. It's a seven-hour stop over so I take the number 14 bus into the city centre for a chicken tikka lunch and an ice cold Bintang beer, yes! There is no alcohol on Pelni ships.
Wednesday 22: We finally arrive in Kijang just before midnight where I get a bemo or shared minibus to Tanjung Pinang, Bintan Island's main town and fast-ferry port for Malaysia.
Thursday 23: "Sorry Sir, all of today's ferries to Malaysia are full . . . "
Fortunately, a few seats are available on the fast two-hour ferry to Singapore, so that's where I'll spend Christmas. There are worse places in the world, but few more expensive.
Photos of the voyage to Singapore.

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