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I could be wrong, but there seemed to be very little tourist traffic (with their own vehicles) going between Malaysia and Indonesia.
If you got plenty of time, I´d most definitely try from Penang first, and if that fails, then think about other options.
As I said before, I heard about people being stuck in Indonesian customs in places like Jakarta airport, WITH a carnet, which was very surprising but maybe gives you a bit of an idea how randomly they work (that, on the other hand, might give you a possibility to enter, if you´re lucky!)
Do note that bribing the customs may not be so easy at all, especially when/if you dont know who to pay. I dont think they spoke very good English, so it might be complicated.
95 ringits for my ticket, 250 - for my motocycle*
Port Dixon (Malaisia) - Dumai (Indonesia)
Port Dixon is a small port between Kuala-Lumpur and Melaka, it's located at the end of route 5, exit 209 from the Main Thailand Highway E1-E2.
High-speed sea passenger boats go from Port Dixon the same as they do from any other port at the shore. The only difference is that Zaharia can place your motocycle on one of them and all others can't.
The pier is not the best in the world and you'd better ask Zaharia use the next one to load your motocycle. And only after that to let passengers to get aboard. As you might find it slightly inconvenient to ride down the stairs above the sea to land on the little ground 1.5x1.5 and after that totarget your front wheel at the tiny little door of passengers salon while the boat is jumping on the beam sea.
Local folks are very friendly. In orger not to waste my time, Zaharia's staff bought a ticket for me, brought a customer officer to stamp the cornet and even tried to feed me all the time.
The boat goes once a day at about 10-11 a.m. If you get there, please, say hi to Zarharia.
Unfortunately, you can't see hunderds of wooden onion boats in malasian porst any longer. They've changed something in indonesian laws and this business is almost dead. Sad Abu standing on an empty pier in Sungai Rambai said that the last boat had left about... a month and a half ago.
Passenger boats are along the whole coast line - I have seen them from Port Klang to Melakka - but their owners don't want to take a motocycle explaining that indonesian customs won't allow it to Indonesia and that just a week ago one guy tried to and I had to take my boat back and you will have to go back together with your motocycle. And that there is a special indonesian law forbidding motocycles in and that you need a special letter from indonesian embassy - IT'S ALL NOT TRUE. I didn't understand all the details but to my mind they just don't want to think how much a ticket will be and how to get the motocycle on a boat.
That's it . That's what we call being relaxed
Summing up I should say that at any unusual (read: inconvenient) situation the first answer you will get is "no!". Don't give up - you will always find the right solution for you.
* Had to think real quick how much the ticket for my motocycle will cost. Based on the weight - if I am 90 kg and my ticket is 95 ringits, how much will it be for 240 kg of my moto-belongings? That's right - 250 ringits
If you don't give them a clear logical system of calculating the price, theywill base it on some fantasies and this won't make any good for you at all.
To brighten up my story
Port Melaka, a small passenger pier, empty office units, very dark evening and not a single person for 800 meters around. From the waiting room, the door being opened with his butt, through a square piece of light a man appears going backwards with a bucket and a duster cleaning the stairs.
My translation of our conversation
- Hey, boss! Is it that the boats to Melaka here?
- Sure, mister. You go away now. You come back in the morning. Noone's here.
- When will someone appear here?
- Well... You come by 9 and you will find out. Where do you wanna go?
- To Indonesia.
- Well... I understand that not to the South Pole. What port do you need?
- To Dumai, I guess.
- There will be a boat to Dunai at 10. Every day at 10.
- Will my motocycle fit in?
- No, absolutely not. Can't take motocycles. Not allowed.
- How's not allowed? It's written on the website...
- Not allowed for sure!! I tell you.
- Wait, wait. Maybe there will be some person in the morning who knows better? And how come you know everything, who are you, an honoured duster-cleaner?
- Mister! I am the security officer of this port. And.. uh.. the duster-cleaner... well... do it part time as our cleaner got really pissed yesterday. So what do you think - is there anyone here who knows better than I do?
Well, I thought. Shit happens. Gotta go back to Port Klang that's almost near Kuala-Lumpur where I came from earlier. There is a big port there. I will find something.
Went to Port Dixon to stay for the night. This is a local name, don't mix it up with the place in Zapolarie. There was a local bikers festival on August 4th, in the pub called.. uh.. Grey Eagle? Well, some sort of eagle anyway, everybody knows where it is. On the programm - whose tuning is most crazy, who can do the slowest drive and who can get pissed real fast... All very serious and friendly. At the end I even heard malasians singing karaoke Hotel California in a choir with a celestial melanholy in their eyes. Horrifying.
Oh. Port Klang is a huge port. It's so huge that there are three of them - and you can't really figure out on which of them you are now - the Northern, the Eastern and the Just Klang. The first and the second are useless - plenty of conteiner ships, security pretending to be serious and suspicious, no agents and everything is kinda large-capacity. If you ask me, the only thing that makes the whole place running safe is their ****ing mentality - noone really knows anything. They don't know how to get from the Northern Klang to the Eastern. They don't know where the passengers or cargo pier is. They even don't know in what port this pier is and if there are any piers at all.
Somehow managed to find a passengers pier in the Just Klang.
First tried to find out how much a ticket for my motocycle will be. Then Lame Leg came - a very loud lady who was bitten by a sharq in her childhood as port taxi-drivers always say. Well, I would say to this sharq - looser! First learn how to bite and after that call yourself a predator. As this loud lady survived andstarted speaking to me with long explanation about the letter. And being shown the letter with allowed destinations from the indonesian embassy she changed the software in her brain and started calling everyone her agents and sending me with them to different places - to the customs or some other useful official offices. Me... being send to places... She probably did hoped that I will get lost on the way there.
After that another guy appeared. A sales... marriage... well... some kind of an agent, strangely insinuating, with a business card, he looked at me and said - why are you talking to them, bebahshid? Their mentality is lame. She is good but she is kindalame, you know.
I say - everything is lame here, where is the main main boss. I mean the very main, the mainest. Munching his main lunch? Show him to me now.
The main main boss turned out to be a sea cowboy from the polish movie about russian military forces. I mean he has tatoos on the chest, guts to look significant and even a proper anamnesis but... you know... something felt wrong.
Here you go. He is not the main main boss. He is just the main cashier but it doesn't keep him from bossing around with an attemp to get some money and celebrate a succesfull end of another working day. As---le (oops, pardon my french, folks). And at this very moment it happened to be 5 o'clock and the working day was over. I guess not very successfully for all the heroes of this story.
The next day.
I appear and some expert appears. First thing he calls somewhere. Having understood that to wait on the phone will cost him grey hair he takes me to the port on his motocycles. A small office for cargo transportation on onion boats... well, these boats also happen to be sheep boats, potato boats, fish boats and other hell-knows-what wooden old boots. A woman with a scarf on her head starts making orders to her staff - an indo-girl and mala-boy. They start calling somewhere and find out that there is a boat. Maybe. On Thursday. And today is Monday. Gotta wait. Can I go with my motocycle, I ask. Well, they answer, if the captain is in a good mood. Well, sounds like a plan. But not a good one. Ok, I say, I will come back tomorrow. If you call me it will be expensive as it's a roaming through Moscow. So I can call you on a public phone but I'd better come tomorrow in person to see you. Yes! Don't be naive. If you don't get on their ass and on their nerves with your kind eyes looking hopefully at their faces (and in their brain) they won't lift a finger to do anything.
The next day.
Came over, zero information. Two hours of waiting to get this zero information. Went away.
The next day.
The next day.
A very long zero day with following the captain, examining the onion boat, listening to the complains that there is no information, that boats come and go and they don't have any idea where and when. ****ing A. This port was built just for the fun of it. I asked a question - is it Friday tomorrow, isn't it the right time? They say, yes, yes, yes, the very right time, mister, the time when all your dreams will come true.
The next day.
As the marriage (read: sales) agent warned me that I gotta go myself with my motocycle and not deal with illeagal helpers. And it turned out that all the boats were going past the indonesian customs and that's why they couldn't get me there. But! There came a "but" from info-girl who started to show a high level of eagerness to help me. Her "but" meant that there was one empty boat that goes to Dumai. And the captain doesn't mind taking my motocycle. And she also has one indonesian friend who can help me (yeah, right... when I saw this friend I felt that you really shouldn't trust him your old and stinky socks to say nothing of any other help with any other personal belongings). Do you understand malasian, asked the girl. And what is your budget? We sent one guy a year ago and he paid 2000 rupiahs. Miss, I said, how much you think is one hour of helicopter rent? As 2000 rupiahs is apprx. 555.555555 dollars.
Custom officer appeared and said - no, you need to get your boat ticket with a stamp. Otherwise I won't allow you to go. And where were you two days ago? Well, he said, I was just asked about it now.
Here you go. India, part two. Been there, done that.
After that I went to Abu to Sungai Rambai. Abu called Dixon.
In Port Klang the following things were stolen one after another
1. my beloved matt with yellow laces that I bought at Elbrus in 1995 when I was shooting another Guiness record. It was fastened on the top and was used as a cooler as it was in a tent bag and a bottle of cold water fit it perfectly. My friend, I will never forget you.
2. combination pliers from the tool bag on the steering wheel. During the day!
3. they would steal the bag itself but alarm woke me up. I jumped out, looking sleepy yet hostile. There was a tall and skinny indian sitting on the table next to my bike and pretending that it wasn't his business at all. I am sitting here and smoking, his honest eyes were trying to tell me. When I started explaining him very emotionally what his useless head would go through now, two hotel staff guys appeared and the jerk took off and dissapeared in the darkness. He unfastened plastic locks outside the bag but I am not that stupid to make it that simple . The bag fixed so that noone could take it off.
It all happened at the hotel. I fastened the motocycle with a chain but you can't really see it from the window because of the door roof. The reception is on the second floor, the door is on the first. All other hotels are even worse, either farther than 5 km or more than 100 dollars per night.
A nice and friendly town if you ask me
Hopefully, all other world is full of combination pliers
As soon your boat touches Indonesian land another horror story begins as a bunch of locals rushes through the door. Faster-faster-faster, mister! Go-go-go! They will close the customs - you will never get your visa - Indonesia will be closed for you - and you will stay here forever (and die) . This is how Dumai porters work. Each of them is a customs agent, an expert on local problems, a banker, a security guard and a gangster. Achtung! Ahctung! If you are not in time, you are late
Relax! Take your luggage and to go the pier. Look as if you are the only one here and enternity is waiting for you to make you journey devine. If they see that, they will dissapear in a couple of minutes and you will be able to get you bike without any rush. Everything in this country can wait. Even eternity , to say nothing of a customs officer.
And when you enter a empty room you will get everything what you need - 25 dollar visa, a stamp "used" on it, your passport number typed in their computer and another stamp "arrived at...".
- Very good afternoon, mister, this person will accompany you to the customs that is 1 km from here so that you don't get lost (silly tourist), I mean, we are REALLY pleased to meet you here
PS. To register your bike in local police is not necessary even though they will insist and recommend you to do so.
Am I correct in thinking you had all this hassle even with a carnet ?? (you mention a customs guys stamping a cornet so I assume so).. I am hearing it will be fairly easy to transit with one.
Also assume you mean Malay Ringgits when you say 2000 Rupiah as from memory 2000 Indo rp should be about 20 - 25 cents US ?!?!
Thanks for the report.. Just goes to show the struggle on this border.. And part of why I was hunting for any RORO service even if its into a part of Indonesia thats then harder to get out to main islands from.
..Here I am,
at the edge of the continent,
my feet in water,
thinking - when will it be the time for 'Micheline' to start producing 'J.Christ' tyres ?!
And carnet is in my hand
and the money in the other.
And it was the evening of the 5th day...
Yes, sorry, one thousand pardons - ringgits, of cause,
BTW, if your bike is smaller, perhaps,
it will be easier for you as they put their bikes inside by hand. But when they see my "africa" - here we go..
There is no need to worry about the Indonesian islands.
There are big car ferries going between big ones like the ferry between
Kale and Dover. You drive in - have lunch - drive out,
no problems at all.
And there are plenty of boats going between small ones.
It's an islands country and it's all set up long ago.
I believe you can be right about island-hopping over there right now, as its the dry season.
We were there in January/February, and it was a different story altogether. The seas were at their worst during that time, and there had been 40-foot waves between Bali and more eastern islands. Boats were cancelled, and no-one knew exactly when they may or may not leave (this might not depend so much on the season, though, but maybe there are more departures, when the weather is better)...
The Pelni ships were a joke, no-one knew anything solid about them, even at the Pelni offices, in the end we werent able to use them at all. Even if they knew something, which was rare, it was only about arrivals/departures into their nearest port, and the next port, they always told us to go ask there. Check out their so-called website, maybe you´ll see what I mean.
They might be ok, if you got lots and lots of time, but for us it was not possible to wait for days and weeks, if some ship would sail in the near future. Some said Pelni ships will transport a motorbike, others denied sharply that this will definitely NOT be possible. Who knows, maybe it just depends on whether you are able to bribe the right persons at the port... another thing, where you got as many answers as you made questions.
Boats between Sumatra-Java, and Java-Bali worked okay, but eastwards from Bali, it really seemed to get all too complicated, time-consuming and possibly dangerous. They do have lots of sinkings every year, no wonder when you look at those rust-buckets that they dare call oceangoing vessels! I didnt like the idea of spending a night on such a ship, going from Flores to Kupang, on possibly stormy seas at all.
CARKA SHIPPING TRADING
187, third floor
10300 PULAU PANTAI
Boats go Monday and Thursday. Sailing Thursday risks you getting stuck in Medan for the weekend.
Mr Lim's phone: 042625879 or mob 0124709717
In Indo the agent is:
PT MELDA JAYA
JL. BANGKA TIMUR No 49
tel 77671410 (may have to add a city code here)
Beware of "helpers" and rip-off merchants in the customs office. Expect to pay customs about 150000, not 500000.[/quote]
Hey Peter I just spoke to Mr Lim, He is still in business!
The 'Vege Boat' service is still available, every Monday and Thusday.
From Penang to Belawan(Medan) aprrox sailing time is 16hrs!(freight/doc/port fees) RM350
You have to take the passengger Ferry or fly instead, once reach there look for their agent.
Expect not to pay more than RM200.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CARNET for Indo or else you have to pay a BOMB!!
Thanks Osama for all your efforts, including sending me an SMS! I'm still in Mae Sot, Thailand and will be here until some time in September. This weekend we are going to test a few bikes and look at one for sale. Departure planned for about November, but we won't get down your way until about March, I guess.
Assuming we will enter Indo some time around May, 3 months max allowed in Indo (although I have been told that it's possible to further extend visas) that gets us to August. Further assuming my partner can get an Oz visa we may be back in Godzone about October/November next year.
Then again, having just learned that there are ferries between Java and Borneo and between Borneo and Philippines we may just take a little detour. No plans have been made for this, though.
Just out of interest: anyone shipped between Malaysia & Indonesia lately? Did you use the Cakra Shipping boat between Penang and Belawan (it´s still operating or no?), or possibly some other ports?
As of February -08, that particular route seemed like the only reasonably straightforward way to go, especially when going to Indonesia. They will require a carnet (though there was this one guy at gt-rider.com, who managed to get there without one, but not after a massive test of patience between him & Indo customs!)
While in Indonesia, we met a German biker, who´s bike had been airlifted from Taiwan (hadn´t been allowed entry there, either) to Jakarta, where it was stuck at customs, even though he had carnet. They claimed he´ll need a recommendation letter from the freakin United Nations!!! And we also met an Italian, who had had his bike stuck several weeks at Surabaya seaport, and roughly the same story: all papers ok, but customs simply refusing entry into Indonesia.
Also heard about travellers having a hard time clearing their vehicles in Dumai, but some seem to have gone through there ok. But in general, it did seem like the point of entry to Indonesia needs to be chosen very carefully, even if you have the carnet. Will probably be easier, if going from Indo to Malaysia.
And do not take for granted, if it says ´ferry´ in internet or some guidebook, as it may or may not refer to a ship with a cardeck. The bigger/heavier the bike that you got, the bigger the problems you may encounter, if you want to get it transported on passenger-only ships. A one-cylinder thumper for example, that can be easily lifted to/from the boat with a little help from a few people, will be a lot easier to get going.
Indonesia is worth a little hassle, without a doubt one of the most interesting and beautiful countries I´ve ever visited.
Another Q: is it safe to leave bags on the bike or do we need to remove anything that's not padlocked? I don't think we will be able to carry all our stuff onto the ferry, it's just too much. The lady at Cakra thinks it is, as long as you remove your valuables.
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