Day 653: As The Miller Told His Tale


First things first, I called the ferry company and found out when the next ship to Borneo was departing – not today but tomorrow, but that’s better than a slap in the face with a wet kipper.

After ‘moving out’ of my hotel to the fleapit next door (come on – it had an en suite shower – it was totally out of my league!) I set out with John from the UK-Oz overland expedition to do two things: 1. buy a ferry ticket to Pontianak – which would get me to the island of Borneo and 2. find out what date the next Pelni ship left Bali for West Timor (East Timor will be country number 183).

After we walked for a good half an hour we eventually found where the office for the ferry company used to be, back in 2008 when my Lonely Planet was written.

Jakarta is a truly unfortunate city: dirty, grimy, polluted, dull, filled with monumentally ugly buildings, gridlocked, over-populated – it’s a very difficult place to love.  It took John and I a good hour just to get to the new ferry ticket office near the port.  I got my ticket for tomorrow’s ferry then we headed over to the port proper to find out about the ship from Bali to Timor (same horse, different jockey), but to our despair the port seemed to be closed.  Grumbling, we took a taxi to the other side of the city (a good hour and a half) to the main Pelni offices.  Which had closed at 3pm.  By now it was 4pm.  All we wanted were the damn sailing dates.

We had tried to get them from the numerous Pelni agents scattered around the city, but they would only tell us the date of the next ship from Jakarta to Timor.  It was a bit like going into a travel agent in London and trying to book a flight out of Manchester and have them say ‘sorry, we can only book flights that depart from London’.  And the Pelni website?  Not updated since 2006.  Gr-r-r-r-reat!

(I’ve since found the ‘real’ Pelni website – the next ship leaves Bali on November 5th – thanks Alex Z.)

So after that hot, sweaty, dispiriting trek around glumtown we were none the wiser and I was ready to kill, kill and kill again.  Luckily for the surrounding population and innocent bystanders, I tempered my murderous desire with mankind’s second greatest invention, beer.

Chiefy was out on the razz and in high spirits and before long I fell into conversation with a wonderfully mad girl from Sweden called Lisa and a top British bloke from Leicester called Shane.  As closing time wheeled around (as it invariably does), Lisa, Shane and I decided to break onto the roof of a nearby hotel to use the swimming pool, which (sadly) didn’t exist.  Then it all becomes a bit of a blur.  You know I mentioned the other day that if I’m going to be recognised by my backpacking peers I should possibly not drink so much?  Well yeah, what can I say?




Whiter Shade of Pale.

Bad David Bowie impression.

Oh. Dear.

As the day broke, Lisa and I (we had mislaid Shane somewhere) were still drinking, talking nonsense with a big scary guy from Cameroon, a crazy woman from Malaysia and making fun of the local guy fast asleep on the chair next to us.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. amanda Newland

    dam! I wish I was there for that one!

  2. Kristin

    A friend posted an article about you completingn your trip (congratulations!) and I thought I’d check your blog to see if you made any mention of the time my two friends and I met you in a random bar on jakes and sang terrible karaoke with you and your friend and then tried to take you to Obama bar … Lo and behold, you did! Congratulations again!!!

    1. Kristin

      Ugh *jaksa and *completing. Spellcheck!

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