Bima, Indonesia: Leaky Boat v Dodge Plane

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
Trip End Feb 06, 2014

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Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Thursday, January 16, 2014

We woke to our Dutch compadres informing us they were going to the harbour to check the boat situation. Please please please be going. Despite our prayers St Christopher wasn't playing ball and neither were the ferries. Two reasons were given (1) high seas (2) a ferry had sunk between Lombok and Sumbawa ten days previous and the government had halted all ferries until things were check and signed off (aka enough time had passed for people to forget about it).

Right, so now what? Food, we need food. Meeting a Swiss man, Thierry, travelling the world on motorbike and a German guy who had just flown in from somewhere, we all headed to a restaurant for some grub and a debrief. Stories making the rounds were:

1. A family from England had already being stuck in Sape for three days waiting for a boat.
2. Four travellers were spotted leaving in a small fishing boat in the early hours of morning.
3. The ferry was not likely to leave until at least 21 January, some 6 days away.
4. A local boat was leaving today but they wanted 50 people on it before going.

So options are:

1. Wait in a town with no beer for god knows how many days until the ferry left. Not a chance.
2. Take a risk with the locals and see what it's like being a boat person. Possibly.
3. Fly. Possibly.

Narrowing it down to those two options we spent the morning on the internet (thank god there was internet!) checking flights and walking to and from the harbour sussing out the wooden boat, hmm do we, don't we. Minimal shade, no toilet, 50 people, rough seas, 7-9 hours. Could be dodgy. Reasoning that if it sunk we had Marc's surf board and my lilo it was agreed we'd risk it and take the boat. Decision made we packed our bags, checked out and said our goodbyes to Thierry and the German guy.

There were already a few people on the boat when we arrived but they were still loading things on and didn't look likely to set sail for some time. One hour we were told. Yeah right, heard that one before. With it being unlikely to leave before 2pm our arrival into Flores was calculated to be between 9pm and midnight. So we would be sailing in the dark, with no navigation system. "Don't worry" we were told. "We know the reef well". Yes and I know my mother's voice well and at the moment she's screaming blue murder. We thought about taking a photo of the boat and sending it to our parents saying "If you don't want us to catch this can you pay for a flight" but we figured the response would either be bugger off or more likely "Yes, but only to Australia/London" depending on which set of parents.

Listening to the voice of reason, and with everyone in agreeance that we didn't want to sail at night, we walked back to the hotel and booked flights. Bima - Bali - Labuan Bajo; so we basically had to fly back in order to fly forward. Frustrating but what can you do when that's the only option.

Getting four boys on motorbikes to drive us to the bus station we said our goodbyes once again and off we went. My driver took off like a lightening bolt leaving the others for dead. Steaming through the town we then set off down some back streets. Not seeing anyone behind me I started to get a little weary. "Where's the bus station?", "Just up ahead". "Can you stop and wait for the others please." Which he did and soon enough along came Maaike, Marc (with surfboard under arm) and eventually Sam whose motorbike had blown a tyre. Never a good thing when driving. Luckily no harm done.

As always we had to wait a while for the bus to leave but when we arrived in Bima the driver dropped us off right outside the hotel which was nice. On the search for the Amber Nectar we walked into town, found a restaurant and settled in for an evening of cards.

A couple and two kids walked passed and we got talking. Turns out they were the people who had waited in Sape for three days for a ferry. They were from England but living in Perth. Like us they had decided to fly to Flores the next day.

We stayed in the restaurant for dinner which was a BIG mistake. The chicken curry was more like a couple of shrivelled pieces of chicken in a bowl of water with stock cube thrown in. My french fries were a hit but it's pretty hard to screw up chips. The chicken and cheese sandwich I ordered never eventuated and when we asked the guy simply shrugged and said they were meant to be closing soon and they didn't have any chicken. Lazy so and so. So we ordered yet more french fries and that was dinner. Healthy eating at its best.

Walking back to the hotel we came across a roadside stall selling pancakes and oil soaked omlettes. The poor lad looked slightly confused when Marc and Sam went behind his cart and started messing around with the butchers knives pretending to chop each other's heads off. Opting for a chocolate pancake I was pleased to received two massive half inch sponge pancakes with chocolate in the middle. Delicious. It certainly made up for the disastrous dinner.

Having started the day off on the wrong foot we were pleased to end it with a laugh and outbound ticket in hand.


Motorbike: Sape to Sape Bus Station IDR 20,000 (A$2) ea
Bus: Sape to Bima IDR 25,000 (A$2.50) ea

Hotel: La ila - can't remember how much. Probably IDR 150,000 (A$15)
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