March 30, 2007 GMT
Indonesia - Nusa Tenggara

It takes one hour in Bali to realize that the average tourist is a sexually frustrated drug abuser in urgent need of a taxi. At least that is what the Kuta marketplace is all about. Here are the options: You can buy a venereal disease that will kill you slowly. Or you can be arrested for drug possession and get the unforgiving Indonesian death penalty (which will kill you faster). OR you can settle for a taxi ride, but the island is so small that you’ll likely die of backseat boredom before 5pm. Therefore - since the Balinese seem so eager to terminate their visitors - I decided to quickly move on to Nusa Tenggara, the island in the east and the ferry hell of Southeast Asia.

The happy owner of this pile of junk welded from a Vespa took me for a grand tour around Bima. It was a nerve-racking but memorable experience.
First ferry was to Lombok. The ticket master asked about the size of my bike. I said it was 600cc. Then he started to argue that it might be 500cc. I could only repeat myself, but so did he. Being annoyed with this seemingly unnecessary discussion I showed him the registration papers. He sighed, then - and not before then - explained that all bikes with more than 500cc had to pay triple ferry price, and now I had to pay because he knew for sure. Yeah, thanks a lot. Two hours drive and Lombok was history, and the ferry to Sumbawa was much cheaper because Balto was suddenly a 400cc. Then the hotel receptionist in Bima said there was no ferry to Flores going the next day, which was some bogus information to make me stay an extra night in their otherwise empty establishment. I didn’t, though the 8am departure was indeed delayed because the ferry was out of petrol (!). It took eight hours for a fuel truck to drive the 40 kilometers from Bima.
Flores offers some stunning roadside views. Volcanoes are everywhere.
The first person I met on Flores was a young man offering me a blowjob, something that would be a wonderful gesture of Flores hospitality if it was my cup of tea. Nonetheless being boringly heterosexual I quickly moved on because I was told by the tourist office in Ende that the final ferry to Timor would leave on Thursday. But in Ende there was no ferry, only more boys promoting Flores. Then I got a tip about a departure from Aimere sometime during the weekend, which meant that I had to drive back 150 kilometers. Being fed up with mixed messages I phoned the ferry captain in person to be sure. When talking to the man in charge it seemed needless to ask twice, but I’m glad I did.
“The ferry will leave on Saturday at 8pm,” he said.
“Are you absolutely 100% sure?”
“Yes, the ferry will leave precisely at 8pm in the morning.”

The ferry left at 10am.
It was 23 hours of terrified household animals screaming on the deck below. Rust painted water dribbled in because several windows were missing, and at sunrise I woke up by the rudder house rooster (yes, they had one), just to discover that we were behind schedule and someone had poed on my tankbag. But not to worry, Balto and I made it here to Kupang, and we celebrated by cooling down in a hotel with air-con, only to discover that our biggest ferry problem is yet to come. That is, there are no more. The only scheduled shipping route from here to Australia goes from Dili in East Timor (Perkins Ltd.). I had an appointment with them, but the East Timor border has closed due to recent riots and gun fights. The only option is to hitchhike from Kupang with a shrimp boat owned by an Ozzie named Bob, though his engine is kaput and new parts will not arrive before my visa runs out. How shall I get away from here?

Posted by Erik Saue at March 30, 2007 04:05 PM GMT

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